FMS, Weight Gain & Insulin
Which came first – the fibromyalgia or the weight? It may be rhetorical, but it is a serious question. For many people, once they understood they were living with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) they understood why they had gained weight and couldn’t get it off. Others were already overweight and when the diagnosis was finally made, they understood that perhaps their weight was an issue in developing the syndrome. In any event, the fact is that many people with fibromyalgia suffer with weight issues. To add insult to injury, most of them can’t get the weight off, or if they can, they are unable to keep it off.
Metabolic Issues, Insulin and FMS
People with fibromyalgia syndrome have a unique set of challenges when it comes to weight loss and much of it revolves around metabolic issues. This refers to the way the body produces its energy for function. A person with fibromyalgia often has a problem with insulin imbalances that lead to fatigue and increased sensitivity to pain. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and is central to regulating the energy and glucose metabolism in the body. Insulin has many functions in the body. Acting as a storage hormone, it helps to build muscle by storing amino acids from proteins. Magnesium is stored through insulin for future energy production and to keep muscles from cramping. Insulin also takes glucose from carbohydrates and stores them as fat. It controls salt and water retention in the body and may contribute to rising blood pressure and cholesterol imbalances. Adrenalin will be secreted even without stress when insulin is out of balance.
FMS Weight Gain from Insulin Imbalances
You may be wondering what all of this has to do with weight gain and the inability to lose weight for people with FMS. It all has to do with insulin imbalance, something FMS sufferers are inclined to have. The first stage of blood sugar imbalance is called reactive hypoglycemia and the symptoms of it occur within two or three hours after eating a high-carbohydrate meal, usually breakfast or lunch. The symptoms are the result of an insulin instigated release of adrenalin and they manifest as:
- tingling or shakiness
- pounding heartbeats
- problems concentrating
People with FMS generally crave carbohydrates because they need energy. However, the catch-22 is that the carbohydrates stimulate insulin production which, in normal conditions, moves blood sugar into the cells to be burned as fuel. When there is an insulin imbalance there is an excess of insulin as well as an excess of carbohydrates and that means the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat in fat cells. Insulin excesses also prevent the carbs from being used as energy. The result is not only weight gain but also an inability to lose the excess fat deposits because of the carbohydrates.
Symptoms of Insulin Resistance are like FMS
All of this action progresses toward insulin resistance with symptoms of:
- excess body fat
- high blood pressure
- high triglycerides and cholesterol
- fluid retention
- dry skin
- decreased memory
- chronic fatigue
- mood swings
- sleep disturbances
Sounds an awful lot like FMS, doesn’t it?
Another area of metabolism that is affected by insulin balances is thyroid hormone conversion. Thyroid hormone affects the rate at which calcium is absorbed into the bones and it affects how muscles store sugar to burn for energy. When sugar that is stored in the muscles is burned before fat, muscle weakness and fatigue result. It is played out in the lengthy recovery times needed after exercise or exertion.
Diet Can Balance Insulin for People with FMS
It is possible to balance insulin through diet. Remember, all carbohydrate foods stimulate the secretion of insulin. By learning about the glycemic value of foods and using a glycemic index/glycemic load scale, you can lower the amount of glycemic foods you eat (mostly foods with high sugar content or foods that convert to sugar quickly in the body). The fewer carbohydrate foods that have a high glycemic index you eat the more in balance your insulin will become.
We offer a few tips here to get things rolling. However, if weight loss is a goal, learning about glycemic load and glycemic index is important to success.
- Use good fats from fish oil, flax oil, or olive oil to lower the glycemic value of carbs
- If eating bread, put some peanut butter or olive oil on it before eating to benefit blood sugar. Good fats help to balance insulin and counteract carbohydrate spikes
- Reduce the intake of stimulants like coffee, tea, sodas because they trigger adrenalin release
- Eat some protein before ingesting carbohydrates, it helps the digestive enzymes work
- Learn which carbohydrates have low glycemic value and eat those (fresh vegetables, lentils, whole grains and clean protein)
It is possible to control FMS weight gain and lose excess fat by balancing your insulin through diet.