| Are You Sensitive, Bro? (Part 3 of 3)

Author / Hunter Waldman

7 - 20 minutes read

And here we are at the end of the road on our blog series about insulin sensitivity (see Part 1) and how to measure it at home (see Part 2). If you have made it this far, congrats. You either have an attention span greater than 99% of the population or you are really into at-home metabolic testing (or both). Either way, we are wrapping up this series by looking at four lifestyle factors that have the biggest influence on improving insulin sensitivity and the other indirect markers we discussed in Part 2.


I hope you are not shocked that the first lifestyle factor is sleep. In my opinion, this is the base of any hierarchy when discussing metabolic health or performance. In a recent Power Athlete podcast with Dr. Parsley (Episode 738), it was discussed that a good night of sleep should last 7-9 hours . When an individual falls below this threshold, we begin to see an impaired ability for 1) nutrition partitioning and 2) glucose regulation. In other words, you simply do not handle nutrients as well in a sleep deprived state than when you have had a great night of sleep. So if you find yourself struggling with the factors that we outlined in Part 2,first ask yourself, “Am I getting enough quality sleep”? If not, I direct the reader to a more in-depth blog article here (The Importance of Sleep for Performance).  


  1. Dim the lights ~1-2 hours prior to bed.
  2. Aim for a room temperature between 69-72 degrees.
  3. Eliminate blue light (phones, computers, and TV) during this time.
  4. Sip on a warm beverage, preferably non-caffeinated tea, that contains chamomile and/or valerian root.

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Is there any way that you thought training would not be a lifestyle factor discussed on this blog? Come on, this is Power Athlete. We train and we train hard.

There is not much here for me to discuss that has not been discussed on almost every single podcast episode of Power Athlete. But for that one reader who has stumbled upon this blog series for the first time, assuming you are getting sufficient sleep, we know that physical activity has the biggest bang for buck when it comes to improving metabolic health, glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity. Bar none. While nutrition is important, training simply creates a larger metabolic disturbance that requires ALL systems to kick into hyperdrive. We simply do not see this same magnitude of effect from dietary patterns, although nutrition is also important (don’t twist words here).

So, you should be training and you should be training intensely. I know there has been a lot of discussion recently about lower intensity training (i.e., Zone 2) and while this is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, there are some metabolic changes that are only induced with a higher intensity (?~70%) of training. Essentially, you should be training the spectrum of intensities and if you think your 10,000 steps a day and 1-2 sessions per week of Zone 2 is going to do this for you, you are mistaken. I suggest then if you need guidance, jump on any of the Power Athlete training programs. Nothing like going into the gym and having all the thinking already done for you by none other than John Welbourn himself.


Yes, the one topic everyone has an opinion on and loves to discuss. Well, the actual data is less exciting than what people want to theorize about. Overall, there are three dietary factors that dictate insulin sensitivity. Listed in order, they are: 

1) Placing the body in a caloric deficit 

2) Ensuring a high protein intake 

3) Some level of carbohydrate restriction. 

It turns out, dealing with numbers 2 and 3 tends to do a great job of placing you in a caloric deficit. In my own research examining carbohydrate restriction and metabolic health (1-4), everytime we lower carbohydrates in an individual, they have an option of either increasing their fat intake or protein intake. Everyone will want to increase their protein if they get the choice due to the high satiety factor of protein rich foods and the greater retention of muscle mass that comes with increasing your protein throughout the day.

Pretty simple right? Turns out among the lifestyle factors I discuss here, nutrition is the hardest one for people to get right. There’s likely a lot here to unpack regarding hedonic eating and evolutionary patterns, but rather than going down those rabbit holes, my suggestion would be to either follow a Power Athlete nutrition template or, even better, hire a Power Athlete Nutrition Coach. Even a coach needs a coach, right? Let the nutrition ninjas assist you on your nutrition journey to better health and better performance.


  1. High protein diet (~1 g/lb of bodyweight per day)
  2. Moderate CHO restriction (usually a ~10-20% reduction from your overall CHO intake per day is a good place to start)
  3. Consider supplements that help with regulating blood glucose:
    1. Chromium
    2. Essential Fatty Acids
    3. Cinnamon
    4. Creatine (some evidence, but not as much as the other three)


Connection is probably not a factor you’ve considered and, until recently, it is not one I have spent a lot of time considering. Provided I still have a lot of my own reading on this topic to do, I will keep this final factor brief. Overall, we know that men and women who are part of a community tend to have lower incidences of disease and cancer and tend to just be happier. How then does this relate to insulin sensitivity? If I had to guess, it would make sense to me that being part of a community reduces stress and, in turn, reduces the stress hormone cortisol. When chronically elevated, cortisol is a primary factor for inducing insulin resistance (5). Therefore, connectedness and mindfulness are both factors that should be seriously considered by anyone reading this. At Power Athlete, we are not just hard-charging coaches and athletes, we are also thinkers, intellectuals, readers, modern renaissance men or women. Take a breath (seriously), get a grip on your stress and see if lowering your everyday stress does not single-handedly improve your metabolic health.


  1. Put the phone down and disengage from social media
  2. Get out in nature
  3. Join a group (e.g., Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school) or club (e.g., YMCA).
  4. Volunteer for an organization
  5. Consider 3 things each morning that make you grateful (e.g., food in the fridge, roof over your head, and clothes on your back).


While this series of blogs may not be the typical strength and conditioning topics you are used to reading about, numbers in the gym do not always carry over to numbers on a metabolic or blood panel. Keeping track of both can ensure that you or your athletes are maximizing performance on all fronts. Again, this series of blogs is not intended to replace medical advice or your physician’s recommendations. They were intended to empower you with a set of tools that you can use at home to monitor your health and, hopefully, improve areas that need improving.

For those interested in being part of the larger Power Athlete community of high-performing coaches and athletes that continuously share this knowledge between one another, go check out the Power Athlete Methodology course to begin your journey of becoming a Power Athlete Certified Coach and joining our ranks.


1.  Waldman, H. S., Smith, J. W., Lamberth, J., Fountain, B. J., & McAllister, M. J. (2019). A 28-day carbohydrate-restricted diet improves markers of cardiometabolic health and performance in professional firefighters. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 33(12), 3284-3294.

2.  Waldman, H. S., Smith, J. W., Lamberth, J., Fountain, B. J., Bloomer, R. J., Butawan, M. B., & McAllister, M. J. (2020). A 28-day carbohydrate-restricted diet improves markers of cardiovascular disease in professional firefighters. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(10), 2785-2792.

3.  Waldman, H. S., Krings, B. M., Basham, S. A., Smith, J. E. W., Fountain, B. J., & McAllister, M. J. (2018). Effects of a 15-day low carbohydrate, high-fat diet in resistance-trained men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32(11), 3103-3111.

4.  Waldman, H. S., Heatherly, A. J., Killen, L. G., Hollingsworth, A., Koh, Y., & O’Neal, E. K. (2022). A 3-week, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet improves multiple serum inflammatory markers in endurance-trained males. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

5.  Geer EB, Islam J, Buettner C. Mechanisms of glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance: focus on adipose tissue function and lipid metabolism. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2014 Mar;43(1):75-102. doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2013.10.005. PMID: 24582093; PMCID: PMC3942672.





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Hunter Waldman

Hunter Waldman is a former DII collegiate linebacker who found his passion in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology during his undergraduate years. After working as a Strength and Conditioning coach/personal trainer for several years, Hunter pursued his doctorate in Exercise Physiology while also serving as a Sweat Scientist for the Gatorade Sport Science Institute (GSSI) in Florida. Hunter is now a Professor of Exercise Science at the University of North Alabama, Researcher, Director of the Exercise Biochemistry Laboratory, and Power Athlete Block-1 Coach. Hunter's research area is in Nutrition and Metabolic Health/Performance, where his lab is attempting to understand how to increase cell stress resiliency via nutrition, supplements, and exercise.

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