A big complaint I hear from many people is that they are constantly tired. And yet, when I take a look at their food journal I see that they often go six or more hours without eating. No wonder they’re tired!
Going hours upon hours without eating is not only a surefire way to feel lethargic, but it is also a poor pattern of eating to achieve weight loss. Instead, the best thing you could do for your body is stabilize your blood sugar levels.
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My super scientific graph below shows what your blood sugar levels should look like versus what they often do look like in many people:
When your blood sugar levels are low, your body recognizes that it’s in need of energy and stops caring where you get it from; all it knows is that it wants energy NOW. This is why you rarely crave raw carrots when you’re ravenously hungry—because you’d have to consume a bajillion carrots to get the same amount of energy you'd get in a chocolate chip muffin.
Refined foods like your typical store-bought muffins, pastries, potato chips, and white breads break down into glucose (sugar) extremely quickly, flooding your body with energy all at once. It feels good temporarily, but since that sugar leaves your bloodstream as quickly as it enters it, you’ll feel hungry soon after. Plus, refined foods like these often lack nutrients, meaning you’re not really giving your body anything to use other than sugar. No vitamins, minerals, enzymes, nothing.
Fluctuating Blood Sugar = Fluctuating Insulin
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas that is in charge of telling your cells to absorb sugar from your bloodstream. If you overload your body with sugar all at once though, it means your body also has to release a ton of insulin too to get that sugar out of your bloodstream. The result: All of the sugar your body doesn’t need in that moment gets stored as fat thanks to insulin. To put it simply: more sugar = more insulin = more fat storage. Period.
How to Stabilize Your Blood Sugar Levels
1. Pair carbohydrates with protein and/or healthy fats.
Having a well balanced meal that contains protein and a small amount of healthy fats is a tremendous way to stabilize blood sugar levels as it lessens the amount of insulin that needs to be released. Instead of just having an apple, enjoy an apple with some nuts or seeds instead!
2. Eat regularly.
The best thing for blood sugar stabilization is to enjoy five or six small nutrient-dense meals and snacks throughout the day. If you go hours without eating, your blood sugar levels will inevitably dip too low and that vicious cycle of starving and overeating will begin all over again. Just make sure that your meals and snacks aren’t excessively caloric or this will lead to weight gain.
3. Spice up your life with cinnamon.
(Firstly, did anyone else immediately think of the Spice Girls when reading that heading?) Cinnamon is not only a super delicious spice, but it has amazing effects for stabilizing blood sugar levels. Add it to your coffee in the morning, your smoothies, and yogurt to reap its fantastic benefits.
4. Add fibre to your meals.
The more fibre a food has, the slower it’s going to break down in your body, meaning that sugar is going to enter your cells at a much slower rate. Whole grains, complex carbohydrates, beans, and fruits and vegetables are all great sources of fibre!
5. Eat breakfast.
A study by the University of Bath in the U.K. revealed that people who skip breakfast experience bigger spikes and drops in their glucose levels later in the day when they did eat a meal. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and eat a wholesome breakfast like a piece of 100% whole grain toast topped with some avocado, arugula, and a poached egg. Delicious! For more breakfast ideas check out my other post!
6. Stick to foods low on the glycemic index.
The glycemic index tells you if a food is going to dramatically increase your blood sugar levels or not. White potatoes, for example, have a very high score while asparagus has a low score. In other words, you’ll experience higher blood sugar and insulin levels after eating a potato versus eating a bunch of asparagus. Sticking to foods with a low score on the glycemic index will reduce the amount of insulin your pancreas is secreting and do amazing things for blood sugar stabilization.
7. Avoid sugar.
Stop adding three teaspoons of table sugar to that cup of tea. Resist the urge to have a couple Mentos here and there. Avoid buying store-bought muffins which are basically just cake in disguise. Stick to real, whole, unadulterated foods that contain as few ingredients as possible and your blood sugar levels will surely stabilize.
8. Choose carbs wisely.
Complex carbohydrates that contain fibre, vitamins, and minerals are better for you than the refined garbage. Some of the best options for weight loss and blood sugar stabilization include: barley, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, acorn squash, black beans, oatmeal, and kamut.
The Bottom Line
Insulin and blood sugar levels that dramatically fluctuate throughout the day is never good. This will not only impede your ability to concentrate, but make you moody and impulsive when it comes to food. Remember, it is not always a “mind over matter” type of deal; if you’re constantly starving your body of nutrients and fuel, it has no choice but to get a little desperate and want those potato chips. Work on stabilizing your blood sugar levels and you’ll notice a tremendous difference in your energy levels and likely your weight as well over time.
You Tell Me!
What are your tips for steadying your blood sugar levels throughout the day? Let me know in the comments below!