The Skinny on Insulin

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes


Recently we made a bold statement that was picked up by CrossFit and thrown out in the world of social media to be loved and criticized.  We wanted to explain why we made this statement and give you some information on how nutrition and exercise play a role in eliminating T2.

When you eat your body responds by creating a hormone called insulin.  Insulin is produced in the pancreas and its job is to deliver glucose (sugar inside your bloodstream) to the cells inside your body that use it for energy.  When your glucose levels rise, so do your insulin levels.  When you become “resistant” to insulin your body does not absorb glucose from the bloodstream.  This results in the need for higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter the cells.  If your body is unable to produce enough levels of insulin to keep your glucose levels within the normal range, you have developed diabetes.

Let’s look at how your diet impacts your glucose levels.

Everything you eat is either a protein, carbohydrate or a fat.  Each of these macronutrients has a different effect on your blood glucose levels which directly effects how much insulin is produced by the pancreas.

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The chart shows that carbohydrates convert mainly to sugars within the blood compared to proteins and fats, with fats responding better than the other two macronutrients.  It can then be recognized that your body will have to produce less insulin after eating proteins and fats to regulate blood glucose levels in comparison to carbohydrates.

Removing refined carbohydrates* from your diet will lower your blood glucose levels and your pancreas will have to produce less insulin to regulate these levels.  Not only will this help regulate your diabetes, but it will also help you lose weight.  Insulin is also known as the “fat storage” hormone.  As your glucose levels rise so do your insulin levels.  Insulin makes you hungry and stores the excess food that you eat as fat.  Less insulin produced means less hunger which then leads to less overeating.

Physical activity also plays a role in T2.  Exercise makes your insulin more effective and your cells then can use the glucose more effectively. Adding an exercise program to the cessation of consuming refined carbohydrates will eliminate the chances of acquiring T2 as well as the symptoms of T2.  This could be classified as a “cure” to T2. 

At Octane CrossFit, we encourage individuals to eat real food, not too much, and mostly plant based.  This eliminates the consumption of refined carbohydrates.  This protocol eliminates the risk of developing T2 manifested by poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.  It can also be said that it will eliminate the symptoms of T2 from those effected with the disease, thus being a “cure”.



*Refined Carbohydrate:  Refined carbohydrates are forms of sugars and starchy foods that don’t exist in nature.  Examples can include whole wheats, candy, soda, pasta, crackers and chips, etc… 

Rowing: What you didn't know.


The rowing machine (Concept 2) is a staple piece of equipment we utilize within CrossFit.  Often, the Concept 2 rower settings can be misunderstood or even unknown.  Here is a brief overview and some exercises to try on rowing intensity, stroke rate, and damper settings.

Damper Setting

Did you know that the best rowers in the world row with a damper setting of 3-5?  Having the damper set at 10 does NOT create more resistance or intensity while rowing.  The damper setting controls the amount of air that is allowed into the flywheel, the higher the damper setting means more air.  With more air in the flywheel it takes more power to make the wheel spin fast.  The increased amount of air in the flywheel will also decelerate the wheel quickly on the recover phase of rowing, thus requiring more work to accelerate the wheel again.

Rowing at a lower damper setting challenges you to apply power to accelerate the flywheel, much like rowing in a sleek and fast, rowing shell.  Rowing at a high damper setting like 10 is much like rowing in a big and slow and heavy boat- still a good workout, but more about power than cardiovascular fitness.

Try this:

Row 100m at different damper settings of 1,3,5,7 and 9.  Keep your stroke rate at 24spm.  What feels different?  Which damper setting gave you the best time?

Intensity and Stroke Rate

The more strokes per minute doesn’t correlate to a better workout!  It’s more about how hard you are pulling.  Moving up and down the slide quickly without generating power is called “spinning your wheels”.  Power is created when the flywheel spins faster, which generates a better workout.  A good stroke rate (strokes per minute) for most workouts will be in the range of 24-30 spm.

Try This:

Start by rowing at a higher stroke rate (30-28 SPM) and note your pace per 500m.  Every minute decrease your SPM by 2 beats (30, 28, 26, etc.) and try to keep the same pace per 500m.  It will be challenging to maintain the same power output at lower stroke rates, but if you can maintain this efficiency your overall pace should improve.

Now you can take your knowledge and get into the gym to test out different rower settings and ways to create more power efficiently.  Once you have felt the changes from how you were previously rowing, it is encouraged to go re-test some of the staple distances such as 1k, 2k, and even 5k.  Hopefully you will see and feel significant improvements!