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Thread: Insulin, hunger and fasting questions page

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    Insulin, hunger and fasting questions

    Insulin is released when you get hungry, right?

    And without a blood sugar load to use it up, it just stays there?

    So does that mean that being hungry prevents fat loss?

    In turn, does that mean that fasting is only a fat loss solution as long as you don't get hungry?

    Wouldn't that mean that being hungry would prevent ketosis?

    I am a fairly bright person, and I've been reading heaps, but I can't get to a place of understanding this aspect of insulin and fat loss! Are there big gaps in my reasoning here??
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    I'm pretty sure insulin is at its lowest when you are fasting. I know ghrelin release makes you hungry. I don't think fasting or being hungry prevents fat loss in any way.

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    Insulin is not released when you get hungry, insulin is released in response to food intake as a means of removing the sugar from the blood and packing it away for later use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by runnergal View Post
    Insulin is not released when you get hungry, insulin is released in response to food intake as a means of removing the sugar from the blood and packing it away for later use.
    Hmm, I've just been listening to Taubes explain that when we get hungry we immediately start to release insulin in preparation for carb intake, then the first mouthfuls of food prompt a further release. That's the bit that has me confused! But he's very clear about it. It's an audiobook, so I can't give a page reference.
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    If insulin released when we got hungry, what would happen if we didn't have any food to eat? That insulin would still pack the sugar in our blood away, causing low blood sugar. Just like if I take too much insulin, it doesn't hang around and wait for extra sugar to put away, it will put it away even if there isn't much there. So it would cause some problems if we couldn't get to food--and we are designed by nature to be able to fast for periods of time in case there is no food. We would have some real problems if we were required to eat to sustain blood sugar levels every time we became hungry.

    I haven't read Taubes' book though (yet!). From what I understand, there is phase 1 insulin release, and that is in response to amylase in our mouths breaking down carbohydrates. Then phase 2 comes along later when we break down starches in the stomach/intestines.
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    Jac, is the following what you are referring to? On pg 114-5 of Why We Get Fat Taubes states,

    "You'll start secreting insulin (from the pancreas) even before you start eating--indeed, it's stimulated just by thinking about eating. This is a Pavlovian response. It will happen without any conscious thought. In effect, this insulin is preparing your body for the meal you're about to eat. When you take your first bites, more insulin will be secreted. And as the glocose from the meal begins flooding the circulation, still more is secreted."

    My experience -- I have had my fasting insulin tested. I was hungry when my blood was drawn and I was thinking about what I was going to eat once I was done. My fasting insulin was less than 2.

    If insulin is released by the thought of food/hunger I would think my fasting level would have been, at least, detectible (2 is the lowest that registers at my lab).

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    OK, reading and listening some more about this - this is the response Pavlov worked on in his operant conditioning study. Taubes just says it and moves on without exploring it (I have GCBC ordered, so might be more in there).

    I kept searching and found the magic terminology - it's called a 'cephalic-phase insulin response'. Kurt Harris mentions it briefly on his blog, and there are a few studies into it on Medline. This one interested me most:

    Karhunen, L J. Lappalainen, R I. Niskanen, L K. Turpeinen, A K. Uusitupa, M I (1996) Determinants of the cephalic-phase insulin response in obese nondiabetic subjects. Metabolism: Clinical & Experimental. 45(2):168-73

    This study and others on rats have proposed that this insulin response is generated from the brainstem or midbrain, not the gut. It seems to be weaker in obese people and is linked to reduced insulin production during the first phase of digestion and depleted insulin stores resulting from insulin resistance.

    These guys are also interesting; they say it "might contribute to the behavioral reaction to highly palatable sweet food" - a possible extra explanation for cravings?

    Berthoud HR, Bereiter DA, Trimble ER, Siegel EG, Jeanrenaud B.(1981). Cephalic phase, reflex insulin secretion. Neuroanatomical and physiological characterization. Diabetologia. Mar;20 Suppl:393-401

    Not sure if this link will work - it's from a more recent study: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/406042
    Last edited by Jac; 03-17-2011 at 07:42 PM. Reason: I was wrong!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcadav View Post
    Jac, is the following what you are referring to? On pg 114-5 of Why We Get Fat Taubes states,

    "You'll start secreting insulin (from the pancreas) even before you start eating--indeed, it's stimulated just by thinking about eating. This is a Pavlovian response. It will happen without any conscious thought. In effect, this insulin is preparing your body for the meal you're about to eat. When you take your first bites, more insulin will be secreted. And as the glocose from the meal begins flooding the circulation, still more is secreted."

    My experience -- I have had my fasting insulin tested. I was hungry when my blood was drawn and I was thinking about what I was going to eat once I was done. My fasting insulin was less than 2.

    If insulin is released by the thought of food/hunger I would think my fasting level would have been, at least, detectible (2 is the lowest that registers at my lab).
    Yes, that's the bit thanks! I know I probably have too much time on my hands today, but it's been bothering me, lol. It is interesting that it isn't a feature of much current research, and also that your bloods didn't register a change. I had some taken this morning, while I was hungry, which got me thinking about it again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jac View Post
    Insulin is released when you get hungry, right?

    And without a blood sugar load to use it up, it just stays there?
    Insulin is released in response to a spike in blood sugar, not to being hungry. If your blood sugar drops (i.e. you're hungry) insulin is not present. Where'd you get the idea that insulin rises when you're hungry?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jac View Post
    Hmm, I've just been listening to Taubes explain that when we get hungry we immediately start to release insulin in preparation for carb intake, then the first mouthfuls of food prompt a further release. That's the bit that has me confused! But he's very clear about it. It's an audiobook, so I can't give a page reference.
    Art Devany has mentioned this as well. It's an adaptive response in preparation for food. A bit Pavlovian.

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