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What’s the Link Between Obesity and Insulin Resistance

Published on: May 30, 2023
6 min Read
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You might have heard the age-old riddle – What comes first – chicken or egg?

It should be the chicken, no the egg, no, the egg, then the chicken

Oh… the question will make your head spin metaphorically.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter quotes, ‘A circle has no beginning’. Nonetheless, researchers found that chicken comes first, as the egg is formed inside a hen.

In the same way, for the cycle between obesity and insulin resistance, there’s a confusion – what happens first? Obesity or insulin resistance.

Let’s talk about insulin resistance. An impaired body response to insulin causes an increased blood glucose level. Unfortunately, this definition of insulin resistance is insufficient to know the root cause behind the issue and how to reverse it.

Let us find the answer and dig deeper into the relationship between obesity and insulin resistance and what can be done to manage them.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Think of insulin as a key and the cells in your body as locks. When you eat a meal, insulin is released into your bloodstream to unlock the cells and allow glucose (sugar) to enter and be used as energy.

However, in obese individuals, the cells may become resistant to the key (insulin) and don’t allow glucose to enter as easily. This is similar to a lock becoming rusty and not turning as smoothly when a key is inserted. This is known as insulin resistance.

As a result, the body has to produce more insulin to try and get the cells to unlock, but eventually, the cells become even more resistant to the insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels and potentially type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance: what is it, and how can it be reversed?

Does Insulin Resistance Lead to Obesity or Vice Versa?

Now, here’s where the connection between the two:

Insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain Obesity can lead to insulin resistance
When our cells resist insulin, glucose doesn’t enter them efficiently, so our body thinks it needs more energy and signals for more food intake.

This can lead to increased hunger and cravings, causing us to eat more and potentially gain weight.

When we carry excess weight, especially around the abdomen, it can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance.

Fat cells, particularly visceral fat, release certain substances that can interfere with insulin’s actions, making our cells less responsive to it.

So, insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain, and obesity can increase the likelihood of developing insulin resistance. This creates a cycle where one condition can worsen the other.

Breaking this cycle often involves making positive changes to our diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight to help improve insulin sensitivity and overall health.

This is where scientifically proven programs like Fitterfly Diabetes Care Programs can help.

Let’s dig deeper on how obesity leads to insulin resistance?

Have you ever wondered why most individuals with diabetes are overweight or obese? If you have extra pounds around your tummy, you are susceptible to insulin resistance, the precursor for diabetes.

Now, do all people with obesity have insulin resistance? The answer is no. However, being obese or overweight increases the chances of developing insulin resistance compared to others because of the below:

1) Inflammatory Response

Insulin resistance happens because of genetics and lifestyle factors, resulting in an inflammatory response in your body. The pancreas will secure more insulin when the body struggles to maintain the ideal blood sugar level. Attempting to remove or store sugar will make it less sensitive to insulin.

2) Disruption in Fat Metabolism

Obesity can also trigger certain metabolic changes in our bodies. It will push the fat tissue to release the fat molecules in the bloodstream, affecting the ability of cells to respond to insulin. In this way, insulin resistance might result in either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

3) Insulin Resistance, Obesity and its link to PCOS

While obesity and insulin resistance can cause chronic diseases, it is also the primary driver behind the onset of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

Insulin resistance plays a role in both obese and lean females with PCOS. High amounts of insulin secretion impact ovulation and make the ovaries produce excess testosterone male hormone.

Symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person. PCOS can increase weight and cause other issues due to the hormonal imbalances that occur in the body. Therefore, paying attention to your diet is important. Fitterfly weight loss program can help you here.

How Do You Know That You Have Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance could be both the cause and symptom of diabetes. Furthermore, it is also the culprit behind various metabolic syndromes including high blood pressure. Now, it’s time to find out if you have insulin resistance. Fortunately, your body has some tell-tale signs. Let us read those.

1) Weight Gain

If you see fat building up in the tummy area, it’s time to check your insulin levels.

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2) Dark Skin Patches

When you have insulin resistance, your pancreas will secrete more insulin. As a result, it will cause dark coloured patches on the skin, especially on the neck, under the arms, and in the groin.


Women with PCOS are more prone to insulin resistance. They start exhibiting certain symptoms like dark hairs on the belly and face, irregular menstrual cycles, heart diseases, cysts, and more.

How to Treat Insulin Resistance in Obese People?

Making healthy lifestyle changes can assist your body in responding better to insulin and aid in better insulin resistance management. Here are some effective changes that would improve the condition.

1) Healthy diet modulations

The macronutrients you eat, like carbs, fats, and proteins, directly correlate with insulin resistance. Moreover, following a healthy diet (after consulting a qualified nutritionist) helps in weight loss. Therefore, it’s better to ensure to

  • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods like lentils, whole grains, and beans
  • Relish high protein foods like seeds, nuts, fish, and legumes
  • Avoid certain food sources like processed foods or refined grains
  • Include low-glycemic foods (Note – glycemic index refers to the value of the capacity of certain food to raise your blood sugar level)

2) Indulge in an Active Exercise Regime

Lack of physical activity is the primary cause of insulin resistance. Therefore, regular exercise will lower your blood sugar level and aid in insulin resistance management by indicating the cells to take the sugar from the bloodstream.

For instance, you can follow aerobic exercises like brisk walking, climbing stairs, or strength training by lifting weights or doing push-ups at your convenience. (Add a line about consultation/advice from qualified physiotherapist/trainer)

3) Get Adequate Sleep 😴

The average sleep duration for a healthy adult is 7 – 8 hours. When you sleep for only five hours or less, it will be difficult to address insulin resistance.

Experts have found that the amount of time, stages of sleep, and the time when the person sleeps affect the blood sugar level. Therefore no matter what, ensure to get restorative sleep every night.

4) Get Rid of Stress

When we experience stress, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with insulin’s actions and contribute to insulin resistance.

By implementing effective stress management techniques, such as practicing relaxation exercises and adopting stress-reducing activities like meditation or hobbies, we can help lower our stress levels.

This, in turn, can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of elevated blood sugar levels. Additionally, stress management techniques can also support overall well-being, promoting healthier lifestyle choices and better management of insulin resistance.

Taking care of your mental and emotional health through stress management is an important aspect of managing insulin resistance and enhancing your overall health.


Obesity and insulin resistance are strongly associated and have been potential contributors to chronic ailments. However, the best thing about insulin resistance and obesity is that we can prevent and in certain cases can even aim at reversing it by unlocking a healthy lifestyle.

The key to weight loss is sustainability and consistency in sticking to a plan. Taking a step to tackle both of these conditions with the help of our Fitterfly Weight Loss Program and Fitterfly Diabetes Care Program have been designed to take care of not just your diabetes or weight loss problems but it aims to improve your overall well-being.

That’s why our 360-degree approach lays great emphasis on sleep and stress management apart from diet and exercise.

Speak with us and implement small daily habits, paving the way for better health. We are just a call away on 022 4897 1077


This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

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- By Fitterfly Health-Team

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