Insulin Index: What To Eat, With What To Eat

Many of us are capable of calculating calories in head, distinguishing non-starchy vegetables from starchy by the eye and are oriented in blood sugar levels better than some dietitians. However, such a thing as the Insulin Index can stump even the most advanced healthy eating fans.

What is this rate for? Do I need to take it into account when developing a healthy menu? We will further explain what are the advantages of knowing the rate of insulin release in response to food intake, and what other life-hacks you can use when combining products with each other to lose weight fast.


Glycemic index (GI) is an indication of an average rate of a carbohydrate product cleavage, as compared with the rate of glucose cleavage.

Since pure glucose is absorbed by the human body amazingly fast, it is taken as the “zero point” (Glucose GI = 100).

Accordingly, the higher the glycemic index of a given product, the faster and more intense its consumption causes blood sugar level rise, and – as the inevitable consequence – insulin release by the pancreas.

Protein products and fats have no GI, since they contain no sugars or starches.

Insulin is the principal storekeeper of body fat reserves, therefore the general picture is as follows:

  • Your menu contains a lot of food with a high GI
  • There is lots of sugar and insulin in your blood
  • Fat rolls flaunt on your sides
  • On top of these, hunger keeps torturing you.

Note: this hunger is not true. It is hormonal. That is why it is insatiable.

What to do?

To understand that the more often you eat simple carbohydrates, the greater the risk of overweight, and it’s not about the quantity of food, but about the hormonal mechanisms.
Glycemic index diet recommends creating the menu by the principle:

  • lots of foods with a low glycemic index (leafy vegetables, zucchini and aubergines, beans, mushrooms, cabbage, nuts…),
  • fewer products with an average glycemic index (rye and wheat flour and products made of these, cooked and canned vegetables, oatmeal and pasta …),
  • almost no products with a high glycemic index (bakery, semi-cooked food, sweets, beer…).

Surprises by the Insulin Index:

Usual combination of fish with rice or potatoes should be abandoned!


While people, who are interested in weight loss and healthy eating, are well aware of the glycemic index for several years, insulin index is an innovation of the nutrition world and is makes many people shrug their shoulders in disbelief.

Most of the available material on the subject take the reader away into the biochemical jungle. Let us express the essence:

The Insulin Index (aka II) of the products is an indicator of the rate and volume of insulin release in response any product consumed.

The authorship of the term and the methodology for determining the II belongs to Jennie Brand-Miller, a professor at the University of Sydney. Many years in a row, Brand-Miller enthusiastically explores the vicissitudes of the body assimilation of sugars and starches, fact for which she was nicknamed “glycemic Jenny” by her colleagues and journalists.

Data relating to the glycemic index of foods was enough for the professor until the moment she realized that, in addition to blood sugar growth rates, she could also pay attention to:

  • How fast and what volumes of insulin come in response to this sugar
  • Whether high sugar every time causes a strong insulin release.

The “zero point” for II was not pure glucose, but a piece of white bread. It is a product that causes the most rapid response to insulin (insulin index of white bread = 100).

What to do?

If you already count calories, take into account the protein-fat-carbs ratio, check the glycemic index and have no power, nor are willing to deal with some more figures, you can relax – GI and II coincide in most cases.

However, there do exist some curious nuances that distinguish them, and after reading this weight loss review, you will learn a lot more about them.

Looking ahead – in neither of the cases you will find sensational differences that can turn upside down your impression about healthy nutrition.


  • A really new was the fact that protein and fat have no glycemic index, but do have the insulin index.
  • As “glycemic Jenny” found, protein products have no effect on blood sugar, yet do affect the rate of insulin production.
  • Fish (II – 59) and beef (II – 51) can get it grow quite quickly.

Do not hurry to be frightened and remove salmon and steaks from the shopping list. Long before Jennie Brand-Miller set out to find out the speed of insulin release in response to the consumption of certain foods, scientists were well aware of the fact that both proteins and fats affect the level and volume of the hormone release.

  • It is important that such release is not connected with the intake of glucose in blood.

Insulin, released in response to carbs-free foods, serves for delivering proteins and fats into the liver, where the process of gluconeogenesis takes place.
Thus, a special “non-sugar” form of glucose is synthesized, which omits the stage of stocking in voluminous fat accumulations and “settles” in a compact way in the liver, kidney cortex and muscles. It can become an energy fuel for your muscles.

  • Gluconeogenesis is one of the underlying processes of such diets as the ketogenic diet.

This is another reason why Jennie Brand-Miller in all her publications said that during the experiments, volunteers received food on an empty stomach. This means that each product was processed and showed the growth of hormone concentrations in isolation. In ordinary life, this is not seen. Food you consume during the day is broken down and digested in different times.

Thus, meals do have a mutual influence over each other.

What to do?

  • do not eat fish and beef with easily digestible “accessible” carbohydrates with a high GI (e.g., potatoes, white rice, bread) that release an impressive amount of sugar into your blood.
  • High sugar + high insulin = undesirable fat deposits.


It is interesting to know that some of the popular products in the hands of researchers have demonstrated that they, on the contrary, have virtually zero effect over the rate and amount of insulin.

This means that these foods are able to provide satiety for a long time!

Here is this nice list:

  • Olive oil – II = 3
  • Avocado – II = 5
  • Walnuts – II = 6
  • Tuna – II = 16
  • Chicken – II = 20.

The opposite are products with the maximum insulin index.

Their list will be a surprise for those who have studied the subject of the glycemic index.

Record holders in II are the same simple carbohydrates and starch sources:

  • Gummies – II = 120
  • Pancakes made with white flour – II = 112
  • Melon – II = 95
  • Potatoes – II = 90
  • Breakfast cereals – II = 70-113 (depending on the composition, and the additives used in the production of sweeteners)
  • Finally, two artful products that have an unexpectedly high insulin index in comparison with a relatively low glycemic index.

These are:

  • Yogurt (GI is 35 to 63, depending on the composition, while II is 90-115)
  • Oranges (at low GI not higher that 40, its II increases to 60-70).

While everything’s more or less clear with the oranges, the researchers have not yet agreed, why yogurt makes insulin so seriously “jump”. Apparently, it depends on the combination of galactose and proteins in its composition.

What to do?

Remember about the synergistic effect.

Yogurt that raises your insulin with fruit and other foods with simple sugars in their composition are quite a bad combination, if you are watching your health and shape. While as yogurt with oranges, as it turns out, is a real strength test for your pancreas!

However, now you have another reason to complement your menu with healthy fats (nuts, oil and avocado) and chicken with tuna. You may have already noticed that these products make you forget about hunger, and now you know that it’s not just about the stomach, but about your hormones, as well.


The consumption of products that do not provoke a surge in blood sugar levels and insulin release is considered to be a reliable insurance against the occurrence of insulin resistance syndrome. This metabolic disorder occurs when the tissues lose their sensitivity to the hormone.

The consequences are bleak: obesity and a full bouquet of diseases.

Biochemistry specialists know that some foods may reduce the glycemic index of foods.

The most glaring example is fiber, which has no GI, yet possesses the ability of making other carbohydrate foods more healthy by “pulling back” on itself a part of the glucose impact.

The rate of insulin secretion is affected by a number of acids, including lactic acid. Its available source is found in yogurt, which, as we know, triggers the release of insulin…

An unexpected solution of this dilemma was found by Swedish researchers Elin Ostman, Helena Liljeberg and Inger Bjorck.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they published a study, which involved 10 volunteers. Scientists have found that although yoghurt and other products from fermented milk do have a high insulin index, they reduce insulin release rate in company with another source of organic acids (this role in the experiment was played by pickled cucumbers).

This works even if you eat them with white bread, this example of an absolute insulin evil. Whole milk and fresh cucumbers, which is characteristic, didn’t provide such action (no matter how ironic this food tandem looked).

What to do?

If you can not refrain from foods high in sugar or starch, try consuming them with something pickled, sour or acidic.

Yogurt also turns more useful, when eaten with pickles, rather than the more traditional fruit additives.

It is impossible not to recall the Greek tzatziki sauce, the original recipe of which includes:

  • Yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Herbs
  • Garlic.

It is not a surprise that this sauce is one of the secrets of the magic Mediterranean diet for weight loss.