Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Insulin resistance – How to use it to your advantage to build muscle and lose weight

Insulin resistance, timed feeding, and saturated fats. Chances are this post will ruffle some feathers.

I would use a more explicit phrase but let’s keep this PG13,  for the children. As they say, the children are our future. Sadly that is wrong – I’m the future!

But thats a different story, and before we go off the rails, lets return to the beginning.

No not the Big Bang, but the start of the post. Most of what I will write today will be contrary to what is the current belief in the fitness and nutrition world.

Insulin resistance
Majestic despite ruffled, unlike certain readers

Especially the IF and Paleo crowd will be told things that go against their beliefs, but what can you do.

Beliefs are beliefs, while facts are facts. Well unless we talk about alternative facts, but that different topic.


We live in a black and white world in absolutes, where things are either good or bad, regardless of context.

It’s the same with insulin sensitivity. Being insulin sensitive is good, and insulin resistance is bad. The reality?

It’s a little more complicated than that. Context matters.

 Having insulin sensitive muscle tissue is good, having insulin sensitive adipose (fat) tissue is bad.

Why? If we want to gain the most muscle mass and as little fat mass as possible, we need to have insulin sensitive muscle and insulin resistant fat tissue.

With that most of the calories we consume will go towards building muscle tissue. It will not go towards expanding our waits, due to improved nutrient partitioning.


Here is the part where the majority of IF’ers will trip. But if you’re interested in facts, I suggest that instead of fasting in the morning and pushing your meals later, you do the opposite, and eat as early as possible.

Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night. It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and fats.

The reason for that is that you start your day with insulin-sensitive muscles and insulin resistant adipose tissue (Loboda et al., 2009), which reverses its trend towards the night. when you end up with the opposite.

A couple of studies showing that muscle is the most insulin sensitive in the morning. 

The insulin sensitivity was higher in the afternoon (1200-1800) as compared to the night. (Schulz et al., 1983).

These findings suggest that insulin sensitivity with respect to glucose metabolism was lower in the evening than in the morning (Yoshino et al., 2014).

Glucose tolerance becomes impaired towards the evening (Morgan et al., 1999).

And a study that specifically focused on adipose tissue.

We hypothesize that the diurnal transition of the expression of energy metabolism genes reflects the shift in the adipose tissue from an energy-expending state in the morning to an energy-storing state in the evening (Loboda et al., 2009).

That’s why it makes sense to eat fat heavy and calorie rich meals earlier in the day for breakfast and lunch.

Your body tends to oxidize fats for energy more during the day, and it’s primed more for storing them later in the evening.

Turns out she was right, who would have guessed?

“These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what we’ve seen in animal models – that the timing of eating during the day does have an impact on our metabolism,” said Dale Schoeller, PhD


So the million dollar question. How to manipulate insulin resistance to your advantage? 

Caffeine and weight lifting! Caffeine induces whole body insulin resistance, while weight lifting makes your muscle tissue insulin sensitive.

So you basically improve your nutrient partitioning. More calories go towards building muscle and less towards gaining fat.

Chances are you were advised to take cinnamon, zinc picolinate, ALA or some other supplement to increase their insulin sensitivity.

The problem is, although these supplements do increase insulin sensitivity, they increase it in both tissues.

So your muscles become more insulin sensitive, but so does your fat tissue. This is something we do not want!

So taking substances that increase insulin isn’t the way to go, but what can we do then?

We take caffeine that causes the opposite effect. Caffeine causes insulin resistance in BOTH tissues (Keijzers et al., 2002). Now that our adipose tissue is leaning towards insulin resistance, we’re halfway there.

Now the next part is, we want to increase the sensitivity of our muscle tissue without having an effect on the fat tissue.

And we do that with what? Can you guess it? Weightlifting!

Strength training increased protein content of GLUT4, insulin receptor, protein kinase B-alpha/beta, glycogen synthase (GS), and GS total activity. In conclusion, we found that strength training for 30 min three times per week increases insulin action in skeletal muscle (Holten et al., 2004)


Caffeine plays an indispensable role in this protocol. Not just because it causes insulin resistance. It can also make you go into ketosis and burn fat even during a carb rich meal.

Caffeine given at breakfast significantly stimulated ketone production in a dose-dependent manner (+88%; +116%) and also raised plasma free fatty acids (Vandenberghe et al., 2016).

The drug of greatness

The reason why I recommend taking caffeine before your meal, is that it increases the thermic effect of the food eaten. Which means more calories were “lost” as heat instead of stored as fat.

 The thermic effect of the meal was significantly greater after coffee than after decaffeinated coffee and again fat oxidation was significantly greater after coffee. (Acheson et al., 1980).

And another thing that makes caffeine indispensable is it’s role during carb loading. What caffeine does it activates a series of messengers that activate glycogen synthesizing enzymes.

Well technically it doesn’t actually activate but it inhibits the degradation of one of the messengers, cyclic AMP. cAMP activates an enzyme known as cAMP-dependent protein kinase.

This enzyme activates other enzymes, which can now carry on their various activities depending on their form and function. Some of these activated enzymes are used in glycogen synthesis.

Phosphodiesterase is an enzyme that degrades cAMP. Caffeine inhibits phosphodiesterase activity, so it basically limits the reduction of cAMP.

This causes an accumulation of cAMP, and prolonging its effect, as caffeine is blocking the “off” mechanism in this pathway.

Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone. (Pedersen et al., 2008)


Currently saturated fats are all the rage, be it with paleo or keto diets. While on the other hand polyunsaturated are demonized. 

The first problem is, that most of the polyunsaturated omega 6 fats we get are from processed foods or vegetable oil.

Chances are they where they have been oxidized. This is the reason you need to focus on whole foods that have mono and polyunsaturated fat foods.

As much as I like saturated fatty acids, when going on a bulk, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are probably a better option.

Due to their structure, they are more likely to be be burned and used for energy, than being stored. That is also the reason they cause deeper ketosis.

These data demonstrate that a short-term POLY KD induces a greater level of ketosis, thus, a POLY KD may be superior to a classical SAT KD for chronic administration. (Fuehrlein et al., 2004)

And on top of it they result in a better body composition as they achieve a bigger lean body mass (LBM) increase compared to saturated fats.

You cant compare vegetable oils to this

The PUFA group gained equal amounts of fat and lean tissue, but those eating the SFA diet gained four times as much fat as lean tissue. In particular, the SFA diet resulted in a significant increase in liver and visceral fat relative to the PUFA diet (Bray et al., 2014).


Professional bodybuilders use their chemical cocktails to achieve the same thing, but to a much greater effect.

They use major sympathetic stimulants that counter the fattening effect of insulin. They use psychostimulants that boost norephedrine, dopamine which are strong endocrine regulators.

Combine that with IGF1 + Growth hormone, high doses of anabolic hormones, estrogen blockers and you get the impossible muscular and lean 250+ pounds monsters you see on the Olympia stage.

Due to the massive drug usage their adipose tissue displays high insulin resistance. That is why the additional insulin they use, even further pushes nutrients towards muscle tissue and muscle synthesis.

This is where the saying, “insulin is the most anabolic hormone” comes from. It’s all about the context, and at best, you are usually told just half the truth.


  • Eat the majority of your calories earlier in the day
  • Eat fats with protein earlier in the day, carbs only after weight lifting
  • Do weight training before your biggest meal
  • Your last meal should be protein heavy – low fat
  • Drink coffee or take caffeine pills with your meals 


  1. Schulz, B., Ratzmann, K. P., Albrecht, G., & Bibergeil, H. (1983). Diurnal Rhythm of Insulin Sensitivity in Subjects with Normal and Impaired Glucose Tolerance1. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 81(03), 263-272. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6350027
  2. Yoshino, J., Almeda-Valdes, P., Patterson, B. W., Okunade, A. L., Imai, S. I., Mittendorfer, B., & Klein, S. (2014). Diurnal variation in insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism is associated with diurnal variations in whole-body and cellular fatty acid metabolism in metabolically normal women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 99(9), E1666-E1670. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24878055
  3. Morgan, L. M., Aspostolakou, F., Wright, J., & Gama, R. (1999). Diurnal variations in peripheral insulin resistance and plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentrations: a possible link?. Annals of clinical biochemistry, 36(4), 447-450. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10456206
  4. Loboda, A., Kraft, W. K., Fine, B., Joseph, J., Nebozhyn, M., Zhang, C., … & Chalikonda, I. (2009). Diurnal variation of the human adipose transcriptome and the link to metabolic disease. BMC medical genomics, 2(1),7. https://bmcmedgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1755-8794-2-7
  5. Obesity Society. “Eating dinner early, or skipping it, may be effective in fighting body fat.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161103091229.htm
  6. Keijzers, G. B., De Galan, B. E., Tack, C. J., & Smits, P. (2002). Caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity in humans.Diabetes care25(2), 364-369. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/2/364.short
  7. Holten, M. K., Zacho, M., Gaster, M., Juel, C., Wojtaszewski, J. F., & Dela, F. (2004). Strength training increases insulin-mediated glucose uptake, GLUT4 content, and insulin signaling in skeletal muscle in patients with type 2 diabetes.Diabetes53(2), 294-305. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/2/294.short
  8. Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Hennebelle, M., Castellano, C. A., & Cunnane, S. C. Caffeine intake increases plasma ketones: an acute metabolic study in humans.Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, (ja). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310837290_Caffeine_intake_increases_plasma_ketones_an_acute_metabolic_study_in_humans
  9. Pedersen, D. J., Lessard, S. J., Coffey, V. G., Churchley, E. G., Wootton, A. M., Watt, M. J., & Hawley, J. A. (2008). High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine. Journal of Applied Physiology105(1), 7-13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10852448
  10. Fuehrlein, B. S., Rutenberg, M. S., Silver, J. N., Warren, M. W., Theriaque, D. W., Duncan, G. E., … & Brantly, M. L. (2004). Differential metabolic effects of saturated versus polyunsaturated fats in ketogenic diets.The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism89(4), 1641-1645. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2003-031796
  11. Bray, G. A., & Krauss, R. M. (2014). Overfeeding of polyunsaturated versus saturated fatty acids reduces ectopic fat.Diabetes63(7), 2222-2224. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/63/7/2222.short
  12. Shi, X., Xue, W., Liang, S., Zhao, J., & Zhang, X. (2016). Acute caffeine ingestion reduces insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Nutrition Journal15(1), 103. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-016-0220-7
  13. Acheson, K. J., Zahorska-Markiewicz, B., Pittet, P., Anantharaman, K., & Jéquier, E. (1980). Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. The American journal of clinical nutrition33(5), 989-997. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7369170

Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply