Insulin Resistance | Endocrinology and Diabetes

Endocrinology and Diabetes

Insulin Resistance

We support you with treatment plans designed to reduce insulin resistance and lower your risk of developing diabetes.

Medically reviewed by Berit Bagley, MSN on Nov. 08, 2023.

Close up on person’s hands using a glucose monitor

Specialized Care and Treatment for Insulin Resistance

Our diabetes and endocrinology care at UC Davis Health ranks among the best in the nation. We offer specialized support and treatment for insulin resistance.


What Is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas. It helps your body convert glucose (sugar) in your blood into energy. When you eat food, your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels rise. Insulin helps prevent your blood sugar from getting too high.

When you have insulin resistance, your body grows less efficient at converting glucose to energy. Your pancreas needs to produce more and more insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes or diabetes, in which your body can't produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar stable.


Insulin Resistance Symptoms

Insulin resistance rarely causes symptoms. If it leads to prediabetes (higher than normal blood sugar levels) or diabetes, you may begin to experience symptoms. However, insulin resistance itself is a symptomless condition for most people.


Causes of Insulin Resistance

Several medical conditions may lead to the development of insulin resistance. These include:

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can interfere with your body’s ability to convert blood glucose.

High Triglycerides

High triglycerides (fat in your blood) make it harder for your body to convert food into energy. This contributes to insulin resistance.

History of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes during pregnancy can cause continued insulin resistance after you give birth.


Excess weight (especially around the waist) is a leading cause of insulin resistance.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance in your body and can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.


Risk Factors for Insulin Resistance

Certain genetic and lifestyle factors can increase your risk. These include:


People over the age of 45 are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

Family History

A family history of diabetes increases the likelihood that you will have insulin resistance.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Not exercising enough increases your risk.


Diagnosis and Testing for Insulin Resistance

We don’t test specifically for insulin resistance. Your provider may diagnose you with the condition if blood tests show you have:

  • High blood sugar
  • High LDL cholesterol levels (“bad” cholesterol)
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL cholesterol levels (“good” cholesterol)

If you receive a diagnosis of insulin resistance, it doesn’t mean you will develop diabetes. Our experts will recommend a treatment plan to reduce or even reverse your body’s resistance. 

Insulin Resistance Treatments

Our treatment plans focus on healthy diet and lifestyle habits that can reverse insulin resistance. We put you in control of your health. Our diabetes and endocrinology specialists may recommend:


We may prescribe diabetes medications that lower blood glucose levels.

Meal Planning

Our experts understand the effects of different foods on blood sugar levels. We’ll help you plan healthy meals to control your blood sugar.

Educational Resources

We offer a series of diabetes classes recognized by the American Diabetes Association. These classes educate and empower you to manage and reduce your insulin resistance.


Preventing Insulin Resistance

Making changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your health and prevent you from developing insulin resistance. Healthy lifestyle habits include:

Eating Well

A heart-healthy diet low in refined sugar and simple carbohydrates reduces how much insulin your body needs.


Exercise helps your body become more sensitive to insulin. This helps balance your blood sugar levels and reduces the amount of insulin your pancreas has to produce.

Losing Excess Weight

Studies show that losing weight can reduce your chance of developing insulin resistance and prediabetes if you are at a high risk.

 “Insulin Resistance & Diabetes," National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues,

Who does it affect?

40%Of adults between ages 18-44 have insulin resistance

Source: National Library of Medicine: Insulin Resistance

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