This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on early indicators of Insulin Resistance, which is typically a precursor to and indicator of the likelihood of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In Part 1, we reviewed the many physical, mental and emotional signs and symptoms for you to be on the lookout for, that can indicate that you are on a diabetes trajectory. In Part 2, I talked about several common blood test markers that you can track to keep an eye on your insulin resistance and blood sugar regulation status.
Now, in Part 3, I give you 3 DIY calculators that you can plug your own numbers into, to get an even better idea of where you are on the Insulin Resistance path.
Quick review: Insulin resistance is the condition where your cells no longer fully respond to insulin’s signal to open up and let blood sugar in, which causes sugar to remain in the blood, thus elevating your blood sugar levels. This leads to an increased production of insulin, which is damaging to your health. If insulin resistance is left untreated, it usually leads to the development of pre-diabetes, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, other metabolic conditions like heart disease and fatty liver disease, and many other health conditions as well.
The good news is that when insulin resistance is identified early, it can almost always be reversed! That is why I recommend using these insulin resistance calculators to detect even subtle insulin resistance, well before it is evident in more traditional screening measures like A1c and fasting blood sugar.
The TG:HDL Ratio
The first calculator is for figuring out your Triglyceride to HDL ratio, or TG:HDL. Before we jump to the calculator, though, let’s review what triglycerides and HDL are.
When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides – fats in your blood – which are then (eventually) moved to and stored in your fat cells. This stored fuel is released later, as needed, for energy between meals.
HDL – aka “good cholesterol” – is primarily a transport molecule, moving cholesterol from peripheral tissues and vessel walls to the liver for processing and metabolism into bile salts (an essential component of fat digestion). HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol” because it is thought that this process of moving cholesterol from the peripheral tissues to the liver is protective against heart disease.
The protective properties of HDL may be due to its ability to influence absorption and binding of LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol, though LDL is not actually “bad” and performs many essential functions – for a deep dive into the topic of cholesterol, check out Dr. Peter Attia’s in-depth post series The Straight Dope on Cholesterol).
Now, to the calculator. Take your Fasting Triglyceride number and divide it by your HDL Cholesterol number, and you get an indicator of your insulin resistance level, as well as your heart disease risk, and your “all-cause mortality” risk, meaning your risk of all disease-related causes of death. The optimal TG:HDL ratio is 1.0, with risk increasing significantly when this ratio rises above 1.5. Click here to go to the TG:HDL Calculator and input your numbers:
The next calculator you can use to measure your degree of insulin resistance is called the HOMA-IR score, or Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance. The HOMA-IR is a well-validated, non-invasive method for measuring the relationship between your glucose and your insulin, and assessing your level of insulin resistance. If your HOMA-IR is elevated, it’s time for you to make diet and lifestyle changes that will bring your HOMA-IR score down into the insulin-sensitive range and improve your overall health.
For the HOMA-IR calculator, you’ll need your Fasting Insulin and your Fasting Glucose (blood sugar) numbers.
Our final calculator for early detection of insulin resistance (so you can know asap that you need to work on reversing it!) is the Triglyceride-Glucose Index. The Triglyceride-Glucose Index, aka TyG Index, is a measurement which has been demonstrated to have a high sensitivity and specificity in identifying metabolic syndrome, and is an accurate predictor of insulin resistance.
If you’ve used these calculators and determined that, yes indeed, you have some insulin resistance, it’s time to take action! Over the next several posts, we’ll dive into Reversing Diabetes Naturally, with specific guidance on diet, lifestyle, herbs, vitamins, minerals and other supplements that you can start using right away to reverse and even prevent many diseases, slow aging, and improve your overall health!