Benjamin Bikman, PhD

Episode 002
Understanding The Role of Glucagon and Insulin

Welcome to the Mastering Blood Sugar podcast! This is episode two, with Dr. Benjamin Bikman — a Ph.D. scientist who specializes in insulin resistance. Dr. Bikman earned his Ph.D. in bio-energetics and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Duke National University of Singapore in metabolic disorders. Currently, his professional focus as a scientist and professor at BYU is to better understand chronic, modern-day diseases with an emphasis on the origins and consequences of metabolic disorders (including obesity and diabetes). He frequently publishes his research in peer-reviewed journals and presents at international science meetings.

During this interview, Dr. Bikman discusses why diabetes is more of an insulin disease and less of a glucose disease. He describes the glucagon to insulin ratio and what that actually means for you — and how you can use his findings to improve your blood sugar control. He also speaks about the important role of glucagon in metabolism and blood sugar regulation and gives his formula to optimize protein consumption.

Dr. Bikman also talks all about why we should not be afraid of protein in regards to gluconeogenesis in the liver, and explains why someone eventually moves from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes and what the triggering event might be. He explains why insulin is the worst treatment for type 2 diabetes, and gives his insight and recommendations for a low-carb, low-fat diet — and goes into detail about why it makes the most sense from a scientific perspective.

“Living a life that keeps insulin in control is a cardio-metabolically healthy life.”

Key Takeaways:

[:58] About Dr. Mowll’s guest today, Dr. Bikman.
[3:20] Head on over to iTunes and leave a review and subscribe to the Mastering Blood Sugar podcast. Dr. Mowll will be reading a review and sending you the best of the Diabetes Summit on a flash drive as thanks.
[4:24] Welcoming Dr. Benjamin Bikman to the podcast!
[4:51] Dr. Bikman speaks about his recent talk at the Low Carb Breckenridge event, as well as the glucagon to insulin ratio, and people’s fear of protein because of gluconeogenesis.
[7:02] What glucagon does in contrast to insulin.
[8:56] How does the body balance the glucagon hormone for type 1 and type 2 diabetics?
[13:00] What is insulin’s main role?
[15:29] Is the insulin’glucagon ratio something that’s clinically useful or it more of a research tool to learn about how these hormones interact with the body?
[17:49] Dr. Bikman summarizes some of his findings and key takeaways that he presented at the Low Carb Breckenridge event — especially in regards to gluconeogenesis.
[20:51] Should insulin-resistant individuals (prediabetic or early type 2) with hyperinsulinemia be careful about the proteins they consume?
[25:59] Why someone with extra weight may not need extra protein to fuel their metabolism.
[28:51] Dr. Bikman’s definition of type 2 diabetes.
[33:00] Dr. Bikman’s story of how a talk he did made a physician realize he was treating his patients wrong.
[35:54] How does Dr. Bikman feel about the other model to reverse insulin resistance (that is being pushed by the vegan community)? The model says insulin resistance is caused by ectopic fat, and by cutting fat down to nearly 0% in the diet, the fat can be burned and reverse the insulin resistance.
[41:22] What else promotes ceramide accumulation other than keeping your insulin low?
[44:25] What Dr. Bikman believes to be the central message of his work.
[47:30] If Dr. Bikman had a good friend of family member that was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had three minutes to give them advice, what would it be?
[52:59] If Dr. Bikman was sitting around with the leaders of the world to solve the diabetes epidemic, what would be his advice?


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“As an insulin resistance scientist, I’m studying the systemic or whole-body effect of insulin not working.” — Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“We can’t keep talking about gluconeogenesis in a negative light. … [Gluconeogenesis] helps the low-carb individual maintain normal glycemia.” — Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“People are talking about gluconeogenesis as if it’s a very negative thing — and yet, it is essential. If it weren’t for that process, we couldn’t do low-carb — and as a species, we couldn’t have survived in a low-carb environment.” — Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“The older we get, the more we need to be mindful of: ‘Am I getting enough protein?’”
— Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“If there’s an older person listening who’s wondering, ‘Well, am I getting enough protein?’ … If you don’t think you are … I would say get some leucine — the amino acid leucine.”
— Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“Yes, there’s support to suggest that non-fat tissue taking up fat causes insulin resistance — but that is not justification to eliminate dietary fat because that isn’t what puts the fat in the tissue in the first place; it’s insulin.” — Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“Living a life that keeps insulin in control is a cardio-metabolically healthy life.” 
— Dr. Benjamin Bikman

“One of my goals is to really show people just how pathogenic insulin is.” 
— Dr. Benjamin Bikman

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