Which Type of Diabetes Is an Insulin Resistance Disorder?

Article based on scientific evidence

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are substantially different. While type 1 is an autoimmune disease, type 2 is induced by diet. Therefore, learn which type of diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder.

Insulin Resistance Definition

Insulin resistance is the body’s impairment to process insulin.

It’s best explained using an analogy. Since insulin is a hormone, it acts as a messenger or key to a cell’s receptor. If insulin cannot fully open the door to a cell anymore, the cell has developed insulin resistance.

Given that the door to the cell didn’t open fully, less glucose than demanded can enter the cell. As a result, the cell longs for more glucose.

Therefore, the body reacts to the cell’s energy shortage by producing more insulin, ensuring sufficient glucose uptake.

Let’s suggest that a healthy cell just needed one key (insulin) to let in twelve glucose molecules, while one with an insulin-resistant receptor only could uptake six molecules.

As a result, the body now has to send two keys to fully open the resistant cell and let in the twelve units of glucose. This way, energy provision can be secured.

But it comes at the cost of persistently high insulin levels, also known as hyperinsulinemia.

Because once cells have developed insulin resistance, fasting insulin levels rise. And that causes a vicious cycle:

  • Insulin resistance increases insulin production
  • Higher insulin levels cause increased insulin resistance

Therefore, insulin resistance can drive itself to extremes over time (Fung 20161).

due to insulin resistance cells cannot uptake sufficient glucose from the blood

Which Type of Diabetes Is an Insulin Resistance Disorder?

To elaborate which type of diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder, we need to clarify the following points:

  • Relationship between diabetes and insulin resistance
  • The differences between type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes
  • The fate of type 1 diabetes before insulin

Once you have understood the connection, there is no doubt which type of diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder.

Type 1 Vs Type 2 Diabetes

Comparing type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes reveals that those related disorders are opponents of one another.

Firstly, the immune system’s friendly fire eradicating the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas for unknown reasons is what causes type 1 diabetes.

Given that the immune systems’ antibodies induce type 1 diabetes, it’s an autoimmune disease.

On the contrary, diet and lifestyle choices induce type 2 diabetes over the years.

Due to the elimination of the insulin-producing cells, you can’t reverse type 1 diabetes. But type 2 diabetes can be reversed the way it developed – through diet and lifestyle.

Type 1 Diabetes Before Insulin

History shows that humanity has been aware for centuries that type 1 diabetes literally can melt flesh away.

With this in mind, the weight loss characteristics of type 1 diabetes caused absolute fatality before insulin could be manufactured.

Without insulin treatment, type 1 diabetics lose weight no matter how many calories they ingest.

Therefore, we know that low levels of insulin evidentially cause weight loss.

For this reason, insulin is called the human body’s storage hormone.

type 1 diabetes before insulin was discovered used to be fatal

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

More than 50% of the U.S. population already shows a prediabetic state (Menke et al. 20152).

And there is a lot more to come, especially if you have an eye on the reckless sugar consumption in Asia.

But in terms of pandemic measures of diabetes, we are talking about the type of diabetes that is an insulin resistance disorder.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes share symptoms and names, but we now know that they develop in a totally different way.

While type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, type 2 diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder.

Moreover, Insulin resistance is not just associated with obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes – it’s their primary driver.

Hence, we need to have a look at how insulin resistance develops and progresses to type 2 diabetes to understand the connection.

From Insulin Resistance to Type 2 Diabetes

Which type of diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder? It’s type 2 for the following reasons.

In essence, type 2 diabetes is a very severe state of insulin resistance disorder (Fung 20183).

If food choices frequently lead to high blood sugar, the body reacts with hyperinsulinemia to get the glucose out of the blood.

And such excessive insulin secretion leads to the underlying force of type 2 diabetes over time – insulin resistance.

With this in mind, hyperinsulinemia is the root cause of insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes (Corkey 20124).

Likewise, here’s what the path to type 2 diabetes looks like:

  1. Diet rich in fattening carbohydrates
  2. Persistently high insulin levels
  3. Insulin resistance
  4. Higher insulin levels
  5. Obesity, severe insulin resistance (pre-diabetes)
  6. Even higher insulin levels fueling resistance
  7. Type 2 diabetes

Hence, everything starts with excessive glucose and fructose consumption.

In short, type 2 diabetes is a disorder entirely induced by too much sugar.

As a result, hyperinsulinemia leads to insulin resistance in the liver.

And fatty liver leads to more severe insulin resistance unless fat starts to accumulate in other organs like the pancreas.

Once fatty pancreas has developed, the pancreatic beta cells are not able to secret insulin normally anymore. Then the previously high insulin levels begin to fall.

This decline in insulin production over time is called beta cell dysfunction (DeFronzo 20095).

Finally, it takes about one to two years until the diagnosis of full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Testing for Insulin Resistance

An accurate way to check for insulin resistance is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). But this method is expensive. Similarly, a blood test consumes time and money.

But to test the first signs of insulin resistance at home, we need cheaper and faster options.

Also, the body mass index (BMI) isn’t a great sign of insulin resistance since people within a healthy range can develop it.

waist to height ratio is a good indicator for testing insulin resistance at home

In contrast, large waist circumference is a better indicator since it correlates with visceral fat deposits. It’s a measure of body mass distribution around the trunk (Fung et al. 20186).

Because visceral fat is the type of fat accumulating in and around organs in that area, it better indicates insulin resistance.

If fat accumulates in the liver, liver cells become insulin resistant. And that’s not just disastrous for metabolism. It’s the root of severe insulin resistance – fatty liver.

Therefore, researchers found that your waist circumference is optimal when it equals half your height. For example, a waist size of 34 inches (86 centimeters) is ideal for a person who is 68 inches (1.72 meters) tall.

The waist-to-height ratio is easy to measure and to apply since the desirable values between 0.4 and 0.6 are independent of age.

Moreover, waist-to-height-ratio is a superior predictor of years of life lost compared to body mass index or other total weight or body fat-based measures (Ashwell et al. 20127).

For this reason, waist-to-height-ratio (WHtR) is a simple measure to test for insulin resistance at home.

Insulin Resistance Treatment

Bariatric surgeries have proven that the removal of visceral fat in and around the liver and pancreas can reverse type 2 diabetes (Schauer et al. 20178).

But according to studies, proper diet and intermittent fasting are even more effective insulin resistance treatments (Lingvay et al. 20139).

Insulin Resistance Diet

If we want to fight insulin resistance by burning off sugar and visceral fat with the help of intermittent fasting, we need to shut down the supply of insulin-secreting foods first.

In this case, we can even tackle the core of the problem – hepatic fat.

The ideal diet has to show three significant elements:

  • Shutting down dietary fructose directly fostering fatty liver
  • Shutting down insulin-spiking carbohydrate supply
  • Substituting carbohydrates and with healthy fats

With this in mind, most low-carb diets fail because of the overlooked fact that protein elevates insulin levels. Hence, sufficient fat is a mandatory part of the insulin resistance diet since it doesn’t spike insulin.

Similarly, studies suggest that low carbohydrate healthy fat (LCHF) and keto diets are suitable for reversing insulin resistance (Westman et al. 200810).

type 2 diabetes is induced by too much sugar

Insulin Resistance Fasting

Fasting is a natural way to get rid of the excess sugar in our bodies.

Moreover, recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting is a safe treatment for insulin resistance and more effective in burning off visceral fat than a low-carb diet (Catenacci et al. 201611).

Exercise may support insulin sensitivity, but it’s limited to skeletal muscle. In contrast, intermittent fasting addresses the underlying issue, fatty liver.

Therefore, fasting can reverse insulin resistance, which most diets can’t (Halberg et al. 200512).

Since it improves the hormonal balance of the body, intermittent fasting is the most effective natural treatment for insulin resistance.

Furthermore, it’s fighting both primary and secondary causes of insulin resistance:

  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Hepatic fat

In short, intermittent fasting can reverse insulin resistance naturally.


The answer to which type of diabetes is an insulin resistance disorder is type 2 diabetes.

In contrast to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune disorder. Instead, diet induces type 2 diabetes over the years.

Hence, everything starts with high insulin levels caused by too much sugar. And this hyperinsulinemia causes insulin resistance.

Once insulin resistance has developed in the liver, it gets more severe. As the disorder further progresses, the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas cannot produce insulin normally anymore.

Then in a matter of one to two more years, full-blown type 2 diabetes is developed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance the same thing?

Since insulin resistance is a primary driver of type 2 diabetes, it’s the same disorder but on an earlier stage.

What is Type A insulin resistance?

Type A insulin resistance is a rare and extreme insulin resistance syndrome. It usually comprises signs of hyperinsulinemia, acanthosis nigricans (skin lesions), and hyperandrogenism in young females.

What causes insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes?

Consistently high insulin levels cause insulin resistance. And this hyperinsulinemia is induced by too much dietary sugar.

What is the difference between insulin resistance and diabetes?

Insulin resistance is the same disorder as type 2 diabetes but on an earlier stage. Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease and not introduced by insulin resistance.



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Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

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