nutrition tips for weight loss
Written by Valerie Goldstein

Type 2 Diabetes & Insulin Dysfunction

Did you know there are 5 stages leading up to type 2 diabetes?  Each stage involves varied blood sugar levels and insulin dysfunction, eventually leading to full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Regardless of the stage, most people with abnormal blood sugar levels are walking around without even knowing their blood sugar levels are not normal.

Upon the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, there is a typical sense of shock or denial.  Yet at the same time, type 2 diabetes represents an estimated 13 year losing battle for the pancreas. Your high carbohydrate food choices are not handled properly, blood sugar levels rise and trigger excess insulin release.

After many years of being on a blood sugar/insulin roller coaster the pancreas loses its function.

Prevention and intervention should focus on stage 1, the earliest point of pancreas dysfunction, insulin resistance.  Unfortunately, because clinicians focus on blood sugar and not insulin as a standard test, years are lost. Treatment typically begins at stage 3 when high blood sugar levels are present.


The Stages of Diabetes

Stage 1, insulin resistance: Blood sugar levels seem normal because the pancreas balances high blood sugar by releasing higher amounts of insulin.

Stage 2, blood sugar levels rise (pre-diabetes): The pancreas has difficulty keeping up with the demand of producing more insulin to maintain normal levels of blood sugar. The pancreas becomes fatigued from overworking and it puts out less insulin, blood sugar levels begin to rise.

Stage 3, high blood sugar levels (diabetes): Damage to the pancreas begins. Insulin output cannot cover the rise in blood sugar levels rise more quickly.

Stage 4, damage to the pancreas (diabetes): An elevation in blood sugar level is the result of years of the pancreas overworking. The pancreas works excessively to lower blood sugar.

Stage 5, Failed pancreas (diabetes): The pancreas produces too little insulin or none. The body needs insulin injections to survive.

Early Detection: Before Blood Sugar Levels Rise

There may not be any symptoms, or symptoms may not be apparent, throughout any of the stages of type 2 diabetes.

One of the first signs might be appetite change or weight gain in stage 1. When insulin levels are high, controlling appetite and maintaining weight can be difficult.

Insulin’s Role in Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin is a fat storing and blood sugar regulating hormone. High insulin levels can affect appetite naturally increasing hunger.

This makes it more difficult to lose weight than for those who do not have high insulin levels. High insulin levels, low blood sugar and high blood sugar create a vicious cycle of increased appetite and  excess eating. This  leads  to weight gain.

Once the weight is gained, higher insulin levels can make it more difficult to lose weight.

Simply, while you may visit a physician on a yearly basis to ensure good health, the doctor using blood tests may not identify dysfunctions in insulin or blood sugar levels.  Your awareness of symptoms may be the best and first step to the early detection of disease, supporting a good functioning pancreas and a long healthy life.

Early Type 2 Diabetes Detection Includes Insulin Levels 

Current diabetes test standards don’t include measuring insulin levels. Make no mistake this is a huge oversight within the medical community.

Measuring insulin levels would detect diabetes in the first stage of pancreas dysfunction.

Fasting insulin should be less than  < 25 mIU/L.

It’s prudent to monitor insulin levels at the same time as blood sugar levels. A comprehensive test is an oral glucose tolerance test with fasting and 3-5 hour insulin levels.

With insulin levels measured, the earliest stages of diabetes can be detected along with other medical conditions (hypoglycemia, PCOS, insulin resistance, syndrome X…).

Five Stages of Diabetes Wrap Up

Blood tests or not, lifestyle and most importantly food habits are the best tools to remedy any stage of type 2 diabetes.

Managing total carbohydrate intake is the optimal way to control every stage of any blood sugar issue forever.

Unfortunately, blood sugar issues are not identified early. And, pharmaceutical advancements remain at the center of aggressive treatment for high blood sugar. Health leaders support this while doctors pile on the diabetes prescriptions starting at the time of diagnosis.

Most people think taking medication is a first line standard of care but it’s not, eating is. A ketogenic diet has advantages in managing each stage of diabetes. It is critical to prevention in stages 1 and 2 and in recovery especially in stages 4 and 5 as it helps support the pancreas.

Check out these resources to learn more about the ketogenic diet:

The Stubborn Fat Fix

The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet


About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.