Insulin Response To Food

Insulin Response To Food

Carbohydrate content

Carbohydrates cause the pancreas to release high levels of insulin. This insulin reduces the ability to burn fat and lose weight. Controlling insulin levels by reducing carbohydrate intake is important to assist with weight loss.


Almost everyone will enter a state of fat burning known as ketosis if daily carbohydrates are restricted to less than 20 grams. Others may be able to have 50 grams of carbohydrates daily, or even more and remain in ketosis.


Low carbohydrate              <5% (<5g per 100g)                Eat freely

Moderate carbohydrate    5-20% (5-20g per 100g)         Restrict intake

High Carbohydrate             >20% (>20g per 100g)                        Avoid


Three methods can be used to determine the carbohydrate content.

  • Nutrition label
  • Internet search
  • Reference table

Phases of Low Carbohydrate dieting

Phase 1: induction

To increase your ability to burn fat, a low carbohydrate, high fat diet is required. Over a period of time, as short as a few days in some, or as long as two weeks in others, the capacity of the body to burn fat for energy is increased.

There may be a period of reduced energy while the body is transitioning from a carbohydrate dependent energy supply to predominantly fat. This can be reduced with the controlled use of supplemental medium chain triglycerides (particularly caprylic acid). This supplementation can reduce your own fat metabolism however and should only be performed for a limited time.

Phase 2: weight loss

Following the induction phase, the ability to burn stored fat for energy will be enhanced. This is usually associated with the production of ketones from fat tissue. These ketones will lead to suppression of appetite, making it possible to create an energy deficit without hunger. During this phase, a reduction in meal frequency will be recommended.

The ratio of energy intake during this phase may be modified to reflect the fact that a substantial amount of energy will now be supplied from stored fat.

Phase 3: maintenance

There are two main strategies for maintaining weight, the choice of which depends on whether you wish to remain in ketosis for extra health benefits, or are happy with simply maintaining your weight.

The most effective strategy for weight maintenance is to continue the high fat diet seen in Phase 1. Of course, less strict compliance is needed than for weight loss, allowing for increased enjoyment especially with respect to social occasions.

Another strategy is to increase dietary carbohydrates to a level where weight is stable, but you are no longer in ketosis. It is possible to supplement with medium chain triglycerides or ketone esters in this phase for some of the benefits of ketosis. This approach is increasingly used by athletes looking for a competitive edge.