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Diabetes Health Center

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What Is Insulin Resistance?

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What is insulin resistance? Does it mean you're going to get type 2 diabetes?

If your doctor has told you you have this condition, you're probably asking these questions. 

It means your body can't respond properly to the insulin it makes. Over time, this sends your blood sugar levels up. That can set you up for type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease, but it doesn't have to. Exercise and a good diet can help you stay healthy.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

You can't tell that you have insulin resistance by how you feel. You'll need to get a blood test that checks your blood sugar levels.

Likewise, you won’t know if you have most of the other conditions that are part of insulin resistance syndrome (high blood pressure, low "good" cholesterol levels, and high triglycerides) without seeing your doctor.

Simple Lifestyle Changes Make a Difference

If you already have insulin resistance, you can take actions that will help your health.

  • Exercise. Go for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity (like brisk walking) 5 or more days a week. If you're not active now, work up to that.
  • Get to a healthy weight. If you're not sure what you should weigh or how to reach a weight loss goal, ask your doctor. You may also want to talk with a nutritionist and a certified personal trainer.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, legumes, and other lean protein.  

Some people with insulin resistance may also need to take metformin.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on October 22, 2014
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