How Long Does It Take to Reverse Insulin Resistance?

In this video, Dr. Ekberg discusses the different aspects of insulin resistance and how to reverse it. He explains that insulin resistance is a long-term process that develops over time due to excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption. The first thing that changes when reversing insulin resistance is glucose levels, which can happen relatively quickly. A1C levels, which provide a three to four-month average of blood glucose, take longer to change, usually within four to six weeks. Lowering insulin levels, measured by the HOMA-IR test, is a slower process, taking months to years. Additionally, there is a discussion of cell memory, setpoint, and genetic factors that influence insulin resistance. Dr. Ekberg advises incorporating exercise, stress reduction, low-carb high-fat diets, and fasting to speed up the process of reversing insulin resistance. However, he highlights that one cannot return to a „normal“ diet that caused the problem in the first place but can adopt a real food-based and low-carb diet to maintain insulin sensitivity in the long term. Finally, Dr. Ekberg emphasizes the importance of individualization and finding a personal balance that works best for each person.

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Key Insights:

  • Insulin resistance is a long-term process that develops over time due to high sugar and carbohydrate consumption.
  • Reversal of insulin resistance varies from person to person and depends on various factors such as genetics, severity of insulin resistance, and lifestyle changes.
  • Glucose levels tend to decrease relatively quickly after reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake, while A1C levels take a few weeks to months to see significant changes.
  • The need for medication to control blood sugar decreases as blood glucose levels and A1C levels improve.
  • Measuring insulin levels and HOMA-IR can indicate the body’s insulin resistance, but it may take months to years to reverse insulin resistance, especially for those with severe insulin resistance.
  • Cell memory and setpoint play a role in insulin resistance and weight management, and reversing insulin resistance may take years to fully reset these habits.
  • There is a genetic component to insulin resistance, but lifestyle changes can still help manage and reverse it.
  • The order of powerful tools to speed up the reversal process includes exercise, stress reduction, low-carb high-fat diets, fasting, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reversing insulin resistance does not mean going back to a standard American diet, as it is not a healthy or sustainable way of eating. Instead, focus on whole foods and a low-carb diet to maintain insulin sensitivity.
  • Individual differences and trial-and-error are essential in finding the right balance that works for each person when it comes to reversing insulin resistance.


To answer the question of how long it takes to reverse insulin resistance, we need to understand the mechanisms of insulin resistance and how to measure progress. Additionally, we can explore ways to speed up the process and whether complete reversal is possible. We also need to consider the lifestyle changes necessary to maintain insulin sensitivity.

Insulin resistance is a long-term process that develops over time due to factors such as diet and lifestyle. It is not an overnight occurrence, as it takes several years to develop. When glucose levels increase, the body produces insulin to bring it down and maintain normal levels. However, with continued high sugar and carbohydrate consumption, the insulin becomes less effective, causing insulin resistance. This process can take around 20 years for severe insulin resistance to develop.

When it comes to reversing insulin resistance, the first thing that typically changes is blood glucose levels. By eliminating sugar and carbohydrates from the diet, blood sugar levels can decrease relatively quickly, although the exact time frame varies among individuals. Another marker to consider is the A1C, which provides an average of blood glucose levels over a few months. It takes four to six weeks to see significant changes in A1C, and several months to achieve a normal range.

The need for medication to manage glucose levels will decrease as blood sugar levels decrease. However, it is essential to consult with a medical professional regarding medication and potential adjustments.

Measuring insulin resistance through the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) takes time, as it reflects years of developing insulin resistance. Even with all the right lifestyle modifications, it can take a long time for insulin resistance to significantly improve. Fasting, both intermittent and extended periods, can be helpful in reducing insulin levels, but it may still take years to reach a normal range for some individuals.

Another consideration is cell memory and setpoint. The body has a certain metabolic rate and weight it tends to maintain, making it a challenge to reverse insulin resistance fully. There is no specific timeframe for changing these factors, but the longer insulin resistance has been present, the longer it may take to reverse.

Genetics also play a role in insulin resistance, with some individuals being more genetically predisposed to developing it. Although genetics can’t be changed, lifestyle modifications and avoiding sugar can help prevent developing diabetes even with a genetic predisposition.

To speed up the process of reversing insulin resistance, certain tools can be utilized. Exercise, stress reduction, a low-carb high-fat diet, and fasting are effective strategies. Exercise and stress reduction are the least powerful, while reducing carbohydrate intake and entering ketosis are more potent. Fasting is the most powerful tool available.

In terms of reversing insulin resistance completely, it depends on one’s definition of „normal.“ Going back to the typical Western diet that caused insulin resistance in the first place should not be considered normal. It is crucial to transition to a healthier diet consisting of real, unprocessed foods. A low-carb diet, possibly around 75 grams of net carbs per day, may be suitable for some, but for others with stubborn setpoints or genetic predispositions, stricter measures may be necessary. Finding the right balance is essential, and it may involve trial and error.

In conclusion, reversing insulin resistance varies among individuals and depends on certain factors like glucose levels, A1C, insulin resistance measurements, and lifestyle modifications. It can take several months to years to fully reverse insulin resistance. Sustaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for maintaining insulin sensitivity.