How to increase insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance is one of the trademarks of type 2 Diabetes.  Every person with type 2 diabetes should be making an effort to increase their insulin sensitivity at all costs because it will reduce the amount of insulin the body depends on to maintain your blood sugar.  Let’s breakdown insulin, insulin resistance, and insulin sensitivity first to understand what we are talking about.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is released in the body when it detects the presence of glucose or protein.  Beta cells are responsible for signaling the insulin in a couple phases.  When you ingest something containing glucose, it enters through these b-cells using your bodies transporter mechanism known as GLUT2.  GLUT2 effectively transports glucose at a controlled rate so your body doesn’t get overloaded.  GLUT2 and Insulin want to clear the glucose from your blood so you don’t die essentially.  The first phase your body goes through lasts around 10 minutes and then the second phase kicks in and last a couple hours.  The first phase is kind of like an emergency response team.  Your body sees this massive catastrophe and it wants to attend to the needy first.  The second phase is kind of like the cleanup crew.  It will spend the next few hours making sure everything is cleared from your blood.  In type 2 diabetes the first phase seems to be the most effected so your emergency response team is less effective than a person without type 2 diabetes.  The less effective nature of the phase one insulin release is known as insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance occurs when your body stops responding effectively to the presence of insulin.  Because your body is resistant to the insulin, your body requires much more insulin to clear the same amount of glucose from the blood than someone without an insulin resistance.  For someone that has to take insulin to regulate their blood sugar, this can become problematic as the amount of insulin you need can vary depending on what u eat.  By increasing your insulin sensitivity, your body can effectively clear this glucose without the need for additional insulin.

Let’s see what science says about increasing your insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.


The study “Metabolic Effects of Aerobic Training and Resistance Training in Type 2 Diabetes” will be analyzed.


The method they took

Researchers published this study in the journal of diabetes care in 2012.  They wanted to see what the metabolic effect of both aerobic and resistance training has on people with type 2 diabetes.  They took 40 people with type 2 and assigned them to either an aerobic or resistance training group and had them exercise for 4 months.  Each group exercised for 60 minutes a day for 3 days a week.  The ages ranged from 40-70 years old and none exercised on a regular basis prior to this study.  They measured their insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance (a B-cell function test), body composition via DXA, visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue via MRI, and finally cardio respiratory fitness and muscle strength.

The method explained

The took 40 adults ranging from 40-70 years old that never really exercised but had type 2 diabetes.  They had one group do cardio and one group lift weights.  They measured both what their insulin sensitivity was and glucose tolerance throughout the study.  In addition, they wanted to see if they lost any body fat and made any improvements in strength or cardiovascular improvements.  In other words, they wanted to see if they got healthier.

The results

The results of the study show some promising results.  Participants in each group had a significant improvement in there HbA1c.  The cardio group improved by .4 and the weight lifting group improved by .35.  This improvement was primarily seen because of the improved glucose control that was measured.  The improvements in the table below show the significant benefits each group experienced by their 3 day a week workout plan.  Increases in strength, cardiorespiratory (VO2 max increase), and reduction in body fat was seen across all participants.  All of this was accomplished with little to no dietary changes across all participants.

Table showing the results that 4 months of exercise had on health markers
Table showing the results that 4 months of exercise had on health markers in type 2 diabetes study subjects



This is only 1 study of many that proves the exponential benefits of adopting a regular exercise routine as a type 2 diabetic.  Using exercise to control your blood sugar levels without the need for change in diet is huge.  If you combined a better diet combined with a regular exercise routine, you can definitely see lifelong benefits.  Stop procrastinating and take control of your type 2 diabetes.

Here is the study so you can look at it yourself!

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