10 tips to improve insulin sensitivity

10 tips to improve insulin sensitivity

This article provides tips to optimise insulin sensitivity. The tips will also assist to: help manage blood glucose levels, prevent and/or reverse type 2 diabetes and reduce cardiovascular risk factors, PCOS and other insulin resistant associated conditions.

The article ‘An introduction to insulin, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes’, explained a little about insulin, the master player in determining where sugar (glucose) goes and whether fat is stored. Being insulin sensitive is associated with being in tip top shape – being healthy and having an improved ability to be able to lose weight (although chances are that you probably won’t need to lose much weight if you are already insulin sensitive). Check out these facts and tips to improve your insulin sensitivity!

Reduce your carb intake and overall calories.

Whilst not completely essential, reducing carb intake has consistently shown improvements in insulin and glucose levels (1,2). Fundamentally though, for most type 2 diabetes, lower fat levels is the most important thing, so creating a calorie deficit is critical.

Tip: Visit our recipe section in our health hub to explore hundreds of recipe ideas.

Eat cinnamon

Although the research on this one is mixed, with some studies showing improvements in insulin resistance but others not (4,5), it is consistently shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar (glucose) levels. It also does improve the insulin resistance that results from sleep loss (6). So that in itself is positive and may potentially have a subsequent effect on insulin resistance/sensitivity.

Tip: start adding cinnamon to the food you eat! It’s always great to add with anything that you are eating with sugar already in it, for example fruit. Next time you’re having yoghurt and mixed fruit, or a morning smoothie, sprinkle some cinnamon on top to improve your blood glucose response.

Get adequate sleep

Even sleep restriction for one week reduces insulin sensitivity (7). Sleep restriction leads to elevations in levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and impairs glucose metabolism, affecting insulin sensitivity (7). Also, the hunger and appetite for carb rich food that usually results from sleep-deprived individuals, is not going to help insulin sensitivity levels! Insufficient sleep is associated with increased risk of: obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure.

Tip: assess your sleep status and what needs to be improved. Identify one habit you can change tonight – Creating a consistent wake up time is one of the best initial changes that you can make.

Weight loss

Weight loss has a potent effect on insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals (8). In particular belly fat, where there is the type of visceral fat stored around the organs, is associated with insulin resistance. Check out Insulin resistance and weight gain to learn more.

Tip: if you’ve got some excess weight to lose, consider which lever you’ll use to get into a negative energy balance: diet, exercise or both? Although you will need to be in an energy deficit, keep it moderate for an approach that is healthy and long lasting. Consider adding exercise for optimising your overall health and assisting with losing fat rather than muscle.

Add vinegar

When individuals with type 2 diabetes / insulin resistance add vinegar to a higher carb meal, it improves their insulin sensitivity (9).

Tip: why not make a tasty vinegar-based dressing and add it to your salad to have before your main meal, or you could try a capful of apple cider vinegar mixed with a little water taken as a shot before a meal.

Restricted feeding

This significantly improves insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. This is independent of weight loss and also improves the health of the cells that secrete insulin (10).

Tip: simply watch the clock! Assess the time you have breakfast and the last meal of the day – if it’s over 12 hours, then practice eating within a 12 hour window. So, if you have breakfast at 8, then finish eating your dinner by 8. If you’re already used to doing this, perhaps experiment with reducing it to an 8-10 hour feeding window.

Check magnesium levels

Magnesium is necessary for so many vital and different physiological functions in the body, so you can’t afford to be deficient! Individuals with type 2 diabetes are frequently low in magnesium and when provided with magnesium supplementation, their insulin resistance significantly improves (11).

Tip: incorporate tasty sources of magnesium into your diet, such as dark leafy greens, (spinach), nuts, seeds, avocado, dark chocolate, tofu and fatty fish like halibut. Oral supplementation, Epsom salt baths and magnesium oils are all ways that you can increase your magnesium levels. 


The research on the benefits just keeps on increasing! Some benefits include reduced perceived stress, reduced anxiety, reduced depressive symptoms, better quality of life, decreased sleep disturbance, improved cognition (12). Long term meditation practise is associated with improved brain health, offsetting typical age-related decline. And, it importantly improves insulin resistance and glucose intolerance – as well as reducing blood pressure, oxidative stress and inflammation (12).


Curcumin, the major part of turmeric, has multiple effects, some of which include: reducing blood glucose levels, stimulating insulin secretion and improving the function of the cells that secrete insulin (15).


Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best ways to improve glucose uptake into our cells. Exercise can induce transporters in our cells that help draw glucose into the muscle tissue, clearing it from the blood.

Here are some science-backed exercise tips for insulin sensitivity.


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Here to Help

Our team of Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioners are on hand to support you with with goals. Whether you have insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or diagnosed type 2 diabetes, our team specialises in helping clients reverse all the above through natural therapies.

For more information on how we help those with or at risk of type 2 diabetes, CLICK HERE.


  1. Gower et al. (2015). A lower-carb, high fat diet reduces abdominal and intermuscular fat and increases insulin sensitivity in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes.
  2. Bhanpuri et al. (2018). Cardiovascular disease risk factor responses to a type 2 diabetes care model including nutritional ketosis induced by sustained carbohydrate restriction at 1 year: an open label, non-randomised controlled study.
  3. Volek et al (2004). Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carb and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women
  4. Namazi et al (2019). The impact if cinnamon on anthropometric indices and glycaemic status in patients with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.
  5. Deyno et al. (2019). Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: a meta-analysis and meta-regression.
  6. Jitmoir et al (2009). Cassia cinnamon for the attenuation of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance resulting from sleep loss.
  7. Buxton et al. (2010). Sleep restriction for 1 week reduces insulin sensitivity in healthy men.
  8. Goodpaster et al (1999). Effects of weight loss on regional fat distribution and insulin sensitivity in obesity
  9. Johnston et al. (2004). Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high carb meal in subjects with insulin resistance to type 2 diabetes.
  10. Sutton et al. (2018). Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and oxidative stress without even weight loss in men with prediabetes.
  11. Rodrigues-Moran (2003). Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomised double-blind controlled trial.
  12. Innes (2014). Meditation as a therapeutic intervention for adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease – potential benefits and underlying mechanisms.
  13. Mahluji (2013). Effects of ginger on plasma glucose levels, HbA1c and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients.
  14. Padiya et al. (2011). Garlic improves insulin sensitivity and associated metabolic syndromes in fructose fed rats.
  15. Ghorbani et al. (2014). Anti-hyperglycaemic and insulin sensitising effects of turmeric and its principle constituent curcumin.