Updated on July 7th, 2023 at 07:26 pm

When you are overweight, the body needs to produce more insulin to transport glucose into adipose tissue cells, resulting in insulin production failure. This is how blood glucose levels increase, and the pancreas is forced to work harder to produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Overexertion of the pancreas causes fatigue and reduction of insulin secretion capacity resulting in type 2 diabetes.

Let’s take a deeper look at the relationship between obesity and diabetes.

Why does obesity lead to insulin resistance?

image of medical tools for diabetes - Extra Large LivingWhen your calorie intake is higher than what your body can use for energy, the body stores the extra calories as fat, also called adipose tissue causing weight gain. The body burns the adipose tissue for energy and releases hormones, fatty acids, and proinflammatory cytokines.

Research shows that the increase in proinflammatory cytokines can lead to insulin resistance. Proinflammatory cytokines are small inflammation-causing molecules that act as signals in cellular pathways. They are released as a body’s response to infection, trauma, or disease and cause inflammation. These cytokines lead to chronic low-grade inflammation that takes a long time to subside.

Over time, chronic low-grade inflammation interferes with or blocks the normal insulin signaling pathways. Consequently, the amount of insulin the pancreas produces becomes insufficient to facilitate normal glucose uptake. The pancreas responds by producing more insulin to try and maintain normal glucose uptake.

For some people, the pancreas is eventually unable to produce sufficient insulin hormone to counter blocked pathways causing insulin resistance. When this happens, insulin-dependent glucose transport is affected, and muscle and tissue cells cannot receive glucose. The glucose left in the bloodstream builds up to high blood sugar levels, a characteristic of type 2 diabetes.

Other risk factors for insulin resistance aside from obesity include:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle. This is because fat cells have fewer insulin receptors than muscle cells.
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Age
  • Diet rich in carbs

Does insulin resistance cause belly fat?

Generally, insulin resistance sparks a vicious cycle that, if not managed well, can cause serious problems. Because of the resistance, cells needing glucose are starved of energy, and blood glucose levels escalate triggering increased insulin production, which signals the body to store more fat to try and dispose of the glucose. The excess fat cells are mainly deposited around the belly and worsen insulin resistance.

Does weight loss help with insulin resistance?

According to research, losing 5-7% of your body weight is sufficient to improve insulin resistance by 58%. This means that a person weighing 100 lbs, losing 10-14 pounds should improve the resistance.

In addition to striving to maintain normal weight, the following can decrease insulin resistance:

  • Quit smoking
  • Taking vitamin D vitamins
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Taking medication to improve insulin sensitivity

How long does it take for exercise to reverse insulin resistance?

If you are recently experiencing insulin resistance, it might take six weeks to reverse it. However, the time needed to reverse insulin resistance varies depending on how far the resistance has progressed, and the lifestyle changes one implements. Moreover, when the pancreas stops producing sufficient insulin, there are higher chances your insulin resistance cannot be reversed.

What exercise is best for insulin resistance?

Any physical activity that can help your insulin work well is great. For instance, aerobic activities, including cycling, swimming, and brisk walking coupled with resistance training, can have excellent results. Aerobic activities usually burn more glucose and calories in a session, while resistance training builds muscle which burns more glucose.

What foods help reverse insulin resistance?

image of different kind of vegetables - Extra Large LivingGenerally, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, fish, and lean poultry. You should prefer fresh food to canned fruits. Also, high fibre foods help to balance blood sugar. Therefore, broccoli, black beans, almonds, and oatmeal are perfect.

While you can still eat carbs when you are insulin resistant, you should pick wisely and avoid unhealthy eating habits. Carbs from processed foods like pasta and white bread are a no-go.

Does fasting cure insulin resistance?

Intermittent fasting can help with insulin resistance and lead to reduced blood sugar levels. Studies show that with intermittent fasting, blood sugar levels reduce by 3-6% by 8-12 weeks for individuals with prediabetes.

How do you test for type 2 diabetes?

You can test for type 2 diabetes using:

Fasting blood sugar test

Sugar levels in the blood naturally fluctuate but within a normal range. The best time to test blood sugar levels is after fasting overnight for eight hours. The normal fasting blood sugar level is below 100 mg/dL. Readings between 100-125 mg/dL mean impaired fasting glucose and indicate you are pre-diabetic. If the test registers 126 mg/dL you have type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Random blood sugar test

image of obese woman walking trying to prevent diabetes - Extra Large LivingUnlike the fasting test, it doesn’t require preparation. If you’ve just eaten, your blood sugar levels should be high but not higher than 20 mg/dL. If it’s higher and you have type 2 diabetes symptoms, expect a positive diagnosis.

Oral sugar tolerance test

Visit a medical lab an hour after your eight-hour fast. At the lab, you’ll drink eight ounces of a liquid containing lots of sugar. Blood sugar levels will be tested before drinking, an hour, and then two hours after drinking. If the blood tests record sugar levels above 200 mg/dL, you have type 2 diabetes.


Losing excess weight can help improve insulin resistance and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy body mass index isn’t easy.

You’ll need a plan and commitment, and maybe a coach to help you through it. A combination of physical activity and diet changes can help reverse insulin resistance if it’s not too far progressed and prevent type 2 diabetes. This is possible because insulin resistance doesn’t always develop into type 2 diabetes. Just make sure you figure out what physical activities will work best with your body. For example, if you need a bariatric knee brace, perhaps running isn’t the best choice.

Losing weight comes with added benefits including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, better sleep and improved mobility. For more information and reviews, check out the Extra Large Living homepage.

Interesting reads: