What is an insulin response?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
This is a tough question because insulin responds to virtually everything you put in your body.  But we will briefly describe insulin’s functions: insulin is a hormone that promotes the body’s use of glucose (blood sugar), protein synthesis (the making or repairing of tissues) and storage of nutrients, some of which you may not immediately need. Insulin is the primary hormone the body uses to maintain your blood sugar within a healthy range. Therefore when you consume foods, and especially carbohydrates (because they are the first foods converted to blood sugar), you illicit an insulin response in order to keep you alive. Inadequate secretion of insulin (poor response) results in the improper metabolism of carbohydrates, protein & fats, leading to diabetes characterized by high blood sugar that then causes many other health problems.
If you eat pure sugar on an empty stomach, you will get large quantities in the blood very fast, which will then trigger an immediate insulin response that might “overreact” and send your blood sugar to the low side of normal, making you feel temporarily weak or dizzy. If you are basically healthy this feeling passes quickly or you may want to eat something that contains carbohydrates, but less sweet to improve your mood until everything normalizes. To avoid this, don’t eat pure “sugar” by itself on an empty stomach or other very simple carbohydrate treats in this manner. It's always best to eat meals containing all 3 macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats, because it helps maintain steady blood sugar.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.