Eating fat causes your basal insulin to go up?


(Bob M) #1

Been listening to this podcast with Dr. Naiman and Dr. Bikman:

At about the 48 minute mark, Dr. Naiman relates his theory that there are two types of insulin responses, basal insulin, and post-prandial insulin. I get that, sounds reasonable. (I’m assuming “basal insulin” is basically morning, fasting overnight insulin levels.)

But then he makes the statement that eating fat causes your basal insulin to go up. Ah, what?

He bases this on people eating very low fat, very high carb diets. They do tend to have lower basal insulin, but that’s a very weird diet. Even Peter D from Hyperlipid has a hard time describing this diet:

Because people eating this diet have low basal insulin does not mean that eating fat causes basal insulin to increase.

Does anyone have Ted Naiman’s book or can otherwise expound on his theory as to why eating fat causes basal insulin to go up? Because I’m at a loss. I think it’s complete bullocks, honestly, and can’t think of any mechanistic way this works.

Ah, to have an insulin meter. I’d place good money on a bet that I could eat a very high fat diet and my basal insulin would decrease or at least not increase.

(Then again, I thought eating high protein was like eating a candy bar, so I bought a CGM and tested very high protein, low fat, and got zero blood sugar change.)


(Joey) #2

Perhaps the tangled up part has to do with what “up” means and how one separates “basal” from the total insulin response.

I mean, even if you eat zero carbs, you still have an insulin response to food. So the “up” part is directionally correct regardless of LCHF vs HCLF.

As for the “basal” part: While I can’t speak to my insulin levels (lacking a home test kit), I can speak to an elevated “basal” glucose level since staying on keto for almost 3 yrs. It’s not a concern - only slightly higher and much more importantly it stays within a very narrow band and never much above 120 mg/dL.

But my slightly higher (narrower) glucose levels may well suggest slightly higher (narrower) “basal” insulin levels - insulin levels that also stay within a much healthier band, not causing the kind of systemic inflammation that would otherwise occur with a HCLF WOE, wilder swings even if the basal level were lower?

Food for thought? :thinking:


(Bob M) #3

That’s 100% true, and they do discuss low carb people with low post-prandrial (or at least intermittent) insulin response, but high basal insulin, and they even get into the dang Kitavans.

But my “fasting” insulin (>12 hours, taken usually in the morning after a water fast) has varied from <4 to 33.0. And even Dr. Bikman said 9 was a high value. Mine is typically over 9, usually around 10.

Is that level of insulin bad? (Dr. Bikman implies it is.) And is it really being driven higher by fat? (I highly doubt it.)

Now, under Dr. Naiman’s theories, he does not like high fat, and instead likes higher protein. While I do well on higher protein, I’m not ready to say that fat causes higher insulin.

In fact, see this:

She ate a very high fat diet, and her fasting insulin went down.

It’s just when I heard Dr. Naiman’s theory that higher fat intake = higher basal insulin, I was shocked. I’ve never heard that anywhere, and cannot think of a plausible mechanism for that to happen.


(Bacon is better) #4

It may have something to do with how he is defining his terms. Insulin is required for survival; people who lack the ability to secrete insulin (also known as Type I diabetics) starve to death. All food causes insulin to be secreted, just in different amounts. Carbohydrate, of course, because it is pure glucose, has a major insulin response, whereas the insulin response to fat is just enough to allow us to make use of the energy it contains.

When we eat an appropriate diet, insulin goes up at meal time, causing some of the food energy to be stored in our fat cells. Then, later, between meals, insulin falls, allowing the stored energy to feed our bodies until the next meal. The threshold, according to Ralph DeFronzo and his team, is 25 μU/mL. Above that level, fat is stored; below that level, it is available to be metabolised. How much insulin gets secreted at any given time depends not only on the stimulus, but also on how insulin-resistant we are, if I am understanding Prof. Bikman correctly.

Ted Naiman is notorious for taking data and running far in advance of it. I have learned to take anything he says with a large shaker-full of salt. A very large shaker-full.


(Joey) #5

He does seem to swing for the fences sometimes. Nonetheless, I found his “PE Diet” book to be an enjoyable read with as many cartoons as one can cram into a carb-restriction treatise.

I did point out that he changed some of his math between his book and his website and he agreed. Didn’t seem terribly concerned enough to fix it or even explain it further after acknowledging as much in an email exchange. Still enjoy his material and his good spirit.