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What is insulin's role in storing fat?

Humans, as periodic eaters, need insulin to survive. Following a meal, insulin is secreted, with its job being the storage of energy (glucose, amino acids) in the liver, muscle, and adipose tissue (fat). We will always eat more at a meal than can immediately be used for energy, making this storage necessary. As the hours after a meal go by, this stored energy is released to fuel the continuous needs and activity of the body.

The predominant fuel source for the human body during normal daily activities is fat. As insulin levels diminish after a meal (within an hour), another hormone, Glucagon, is secreted. It signals the body to begin releasing stored energy (glycogen from the liver and fatty acids from adipose tissue) into the blood stream to fuel the body's energy needs, even though no new energy is coming in (from food). The cycle is repeated with every meal.

Whether you increase or decrease the size of your fat stores day to day depends upon the relationship of calories consumed and absorbed versus energy expended on metabolism and daily activity. If you were in a caloric deficit at the end of the day, then more fat would have come out for energy than went in for storage, so your fat stores would be decreased. However, if you were in caloric excess, then more would have gone in than went out, so your fat stores would increase. As you can see, insulin is only a mechanism for fat storage. It needs material to work with to cause fat stores to increase and stay that way. That material is the calories we eat.

 

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