Diabetes Management

How To Know If You Have Insulin Resistance?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 16 August 2023, Updated on - 17 August 2023

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Insulin plays a pivotal role in regulating blood sugar levels and maintaining energy equilibrium. However, when the body's response to insulin becomes disrupted, a condition known as insulin resistance emerges, thereby posing challenges to overall health. Insulin resistance is linked to various metabolic illnesses such as type 2 Diabetes, which has detrimental effects and can lower quality of life. We will go into the depth of the subject of insulin resistance in this blog, by exploring the importance of testing and effective management strategies.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition where the body's cells don't respond properly to the hormone insulin. Some of the key characteristics behind it are:

  • Decreased Cell Response: Insulin Resistance occurs when there is diminished cell responsiveness to the presence of insulin, which is essential in taking glucose from the blood.
  • High Blood Sugar: Since cells don't respond well to insulin, glucose absorption is hindered. As a result, blood sugar levels remain elevated.
  • Pancreas Overcompensation - In response to the reduced effectiveness of insulin, the pancreas often works overtime to release more insulin into the bloodstream. However, this can strain the pancreas over time, leading to the gradual decline and progression towards Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Genetic Factors: Genetics can also contribute to insulin resistance, with a family history of diabetes potentially increasing the risk.
  • Inactive lifestyle: Low physical activity and prolonged periods of sitting can contribute to the development of insulin resistance.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Certain underlying medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormonal imbalances, and metabolic disorders, can contribute to the development of insulin resistance.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance often develops gradually and may not initially showcase noticeable symptoms.

  • Increased hunger and cravings: Individuals might experience disruptions in normal signals of hunger and satiety, which can cause constant feelings of hunger and intense cravings.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy: Insulin resistance can make it hard for cells to use glucose for energy, making people feel tired and sluggish.
  • Weight gain, particularly around the abdominal region: Insulin resistance encourages the storage of extra glucose as fat, which results in weight gain. 
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Insulin resistance can intensify hypertension by altering blood vessel function and causing a rise in fluid retention. 
  • Elevated triglyceride levels: Insulin resistance can lead to having too many triglycerides in the blood, which can raise the risk of serious heart problems.
  • Darkened skin patches: Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterised by dark, thickened patches that can develop due to insulin resistance.

Causes of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can develop due to many factors. These consist of: 

  • Obesity and excess body fat: being overweight or obese considerably raises your risk of developing insulin resistance. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Reduced physical activity and sitting for a long time may have some link with developing insulin resistance. 
  • Unhealthy diet: Processed foods, sweet drinks, and refined carbs might make insulin resistance more likely.
  • Genetics and family history: Certain genetic factors and family history can predispose individuals to insulin resistance.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Many hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also cause the development of insulin resistance. 

How to Test for Insulin Resistance?

Several tests can help assess insulin resistance. The most common ones include:

  • Fasting Insulin and Glucose Levels: Fasting insulin test looks at your blood sugar and insulin levels after not eating for a while. If your insulin levels are higher but your blood sugar is still normal or a bit high, it could mean you have insulin resistance.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This test involves drinking a sweet drink, and having blood sugar and insulin checked at different times. It gives a full picture of how your body handles glucose and insulin.
  • Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): It is essential in measuring the average blood sugar levels over the past few months. Elevated HbA1c levels can be a sign that your body isn't using glucose well, although it might not always directly mean you have insulin resistance.

Understanding Insulin Resistance Test Results

Results from serum insulin tests may reveal metabolic problems such as reduced glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, or other issues. These findings become a starting point for more tests to measure how serious insulin resistance is and plan the right treatment.

Additional tests may be necessary to evaluate glucose metabolism, insulin levels, and related factors. Healthcare professionals provide personalised recommendations according to your needs. This could involve changes to your lifestyle, taking medicine, or other actions to manage insulin resistance well and lower the chances of problems.

Risks Associated with Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance, if left untreated, can have a high chance to develop into type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is also found to be linked with factors responsible for the rising risks of many serious heart conditions. 

Treatment for Insulin Resistance

Fortunately, the following methods can be used to effectively manage insulin resistance.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Making important changes in your daily life can improve how your body responds to insulin. This includes staying active, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, and finding ways to manage stress.
  • Medications: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications to help improve insulin sensitivity and manage associated conditions.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and ongoing healthcare support is very important in effectively managing insulin resistance and preventing complications.


Testing for insulin resistance is vital for early detection and effective management. By recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and undergoing appropriate tests, individuals can take proactive steps to address insulin resistance and prevent its progression to more serious health conditions. Through lifestyle modifications, medications, and regular monitoring, individuals can successfully manage insulin resistance and improve their overall health.

To know your risk of insulin resistance, Book An Insulin Test


1. Can insulin resistance be reversed?

In many cases, insulin resistance can be effectively managed or reversed by making changes to one’s diet, exercise routine, and weight. 

2. Is insulin resistance reversible?

In many instances, one can make lifestyle changes like switching to a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and keeping a healthy body weight will help reverse or greatly improve insulin resistance. Early detection and proactive management are key to reversing insulin resistance.

3. Can insulin resistance lead to type 2 diabetes?

Yes, type 2 diabetes can develop from insulin resistance if it is not treated or managed. The pancreas produces more insulin in response to insulin resistance to make up for the cells’ reduced sensitivity. Diabetes may eventually arise as a result of the pancreas’ inability to cope with the rising demand over time. 

4. Are there any risk factors for developing insulin resistance? 

Several things can increase the chance of getting insulin resistance including being overweight, not being active, making unhealthy food choices, having diabetes or a family history of insulin resistance, and having hormonal conditions like PCOS.


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


Diabetes Management

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