Balance Your Blood Sugar and Boost Your Energy

If we could just balance our blood sugar, we would feel less fatigue and more sustained energy through the day. We’d feel less irritable leading up to meal time. We’d sleep better. We’d crave less sugar and caffeine and be more apt to make healthy choices for snacks.

Blood Sugar

 

So how do we balance our blood sugar? Well, let’s talk about how the body deals with sugar first.

When you eat, your food is digested and broken down into molecules of glucose, which is a sugar (so I’ll use sugar as our common language to refer to glucose in the blood stream). When sugar is absorbed into the blood stream from the digestive system, insulin is released. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas that makes it possible for the sugar to be absorbed from the blood into tissue cells. When insulin increases, sugar flows into tissue cells and blood sugar levels decrease. That’s when cortisol kicks in.

Cortisol is a hormone made by the adrenal glands and one of its functions is to bring sugar from the tissues back into the blood. The body is always trying to keep blood sugar in balance in order to provide a steady flow of fuel to the brain.

Problems arise when this cycle gets out of whack. When you eat too much sugar (or refined flour, which very quickly converts to sugar in the body), your insulin spikes too high and then cortisol, in return, spikes. You feel an energy kick when your blood sugar is high and then an energy low when your blood sugar is low.   As soon as you eat something sugary or highly processed, you start a ride on a rollercoaster of energy highs and lows that is difficult to stop.

blood sugar

If you continue on this pattern over weeks, months, or years, you will eventually overtax your adrenals and your cells could become resistant to insulin (the beginning stages of diabetes). If you stop eating sugar and refined carbohydrates, your body will start to balance itself out. But the first few days as your blood sugar dips after swearing off sugar, your energy dips too and you will crave something that can give you that energy high again. That’s the tricky part: managing to get through the initial cravings without eating sugar.

What are the best ways to manage cravings stemming from blood sugar lows? Here are 5 of my top strategies.

    1. Protein at breakfast: start your day with a protein-rich breakfast. Protein is satiating and digests more slowly than carbohydrates. You will get a more sustained, gradual increase in blood sugar instead of the spike that would accompany a bowl of cereal, a white bagel with cream cheese or a muffin. If you can commit to starting the day on the right foot, I can guarantee, the rest of the day will be easier. If you start with refined carbohydrates or sugar, it’s all downhill from there. Eggs or a protein smoothie make better choices than something high in carbs.menstrual cycle
    2. Reduce your caffeine intake: even if you take your tea or coffee black, caffeine causes tissues to release sugar into your blood stream, causing an energy boost as that sugar gets to your brain. But then you get the drop as insulin kicks in and decreases blood sugar. And the rollercoaster starts again. Start weaning yourself off by exchanging a cup or two for decaf versions or drinking green tea, which has less caffeine. Eventually, you’ll be able to get right off of it and you’ll feel much better.PMS
    3. Enjoy lots of high fiber foods: fiber slows the rate at which sugar and fats enter the bloodstream. The best sources are beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Be wary of dried fruit as it contains a very concentrated form of fruit sugar (fructose) and too much could spike your blood sugar.
    4.  Don’t be afraid of healthy fats: fat is satiating and makes you feel full longer. Stay away from low-fat or fat-free versions of yogurt, milk and salad dressings. Add healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, coconut oil/milk, olive oil or camelina oil to your meals and snacks.coconut
    5. Eat more often: eating smaller meals more often throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar balanced. Instead of your mid-morning coffee, have some nuts and fruit. To avoid the mid-afternoon slump, have a protein-rich snack such as hummus and veggie sticks, Greek yogurt, or canned tuna on wholegrain crackers.

I promise, if you follow these five little pieces of advice, your blood sugar will begin to balance out, which will lead to all sorts of other positive changes in your body. You’ll feel calmer, happier, and more energetic!

 



  • Categories: Hormones, New

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