Updated: Aug 8
Blood sugar (glucose) is your main source of energy. It influences how hungry or energetic you feel. Blood sugar is created when you break down any carbohydrate you eat- from a healthy carb like quinoa to a chocolate-chip cookie.
The importance with blood-sugar is to keep it balanced: not too high and also not too low. Many of us walk around with high glycose spikes happening in our bodies without knowing it. We experience short term or long term the below:
hunger though we just ate an hour or two ago
energy dump in the afternoon
acne on the face
hormonal imbalances (like PCOS)
worsening menopause symptoms
type II diabetes
Optimising our glycose levels allow us to reverse the symptoms we are experiencing. If you eat with every meal adequate amount of protein, fat, fibre together with carbs- you naturally help to keep the blood sugar stable and have consistent energy throughout your day.
How is blood sugar regulated in your body?
Your pancreas creates hormone called insulin, that gets released into the blood stream to regulate blood sugar when you eat. The normal range for blood sugar (empty stomach) is 3,3 - 5,5 mmol/l. Insulin transfers the blood sugar into blood stream and into your cells for immediate energy or storage for later use. If you eat sugar or other carb-rich foods that get way faster converted into blood sugar, then your pancreas goes into overdrive to produce all the necessary insulin for the new blood sugar to be stored in the cells. Such an insulin surge tells your body that there is plenty of energy available and that it should stop burning fat and rather start storing it. Yes, insulin is a fat storage hormone.
Low and high blood sugar
Low blood sugar occurs when the insulin surge causes too much of blood sugar to be transported out of your blood. It can leave you feeling hungry, tired, shaky and anxious. As a consequence, you crave more sugar and carbohydrates, hoping that these will get you to a better place. But in reality, they start the cycle all over again. And your body ends up storing more fat.
Contrary, high blood sugar occurs when your insulin is unable to transport enough blood sugar out of your blood.
Blood sugar and weight Loss
To help with long term healthy weight loss or healthy weight maintenance, you need to keep your blood sugar in balance in between the meals and where there is no excess insulin produced by the body.
How can you balance your blood sugar?
If you avoid simple carbohydrates and sugar, you can naturally balance your blood sugar. Definitely, do not starve yourself as this causes your body to produce stress hormones that prevent weight loss. The resulting low blood sugar from starvation causes your body to go into muscle burning, slowing down your metabolism. Eating balanced meals during the day is what you should be focusing on.
Simple carbohydrates include different types of sugar, such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar (also in honey)), lactose (dairy sugar), glycose (blood sugar). You can read my blog post on sugar and why it's best to avoid it here.
All of the simple carbohydrates get metabolised fast and therefore most likely cause an insulin surge in the body. Think how you feel next time when you eat for example an egg with avocado for breakfast or when you drink a glass of fruit smoothie (with 100% fruit in it). The fructose in the smoothie will have you craving and eating throughout the day.
The easiest and best way to stabilise your blood sugar is to eat protein, fat, fibre and greens with each of your meal.
Fat- if you consume fat alone, it has no influence at all on circulating blood sugar. If you eat it with your meal, it slows down the absorption of your meal therefore helping to avoid spikes in blood sugar. I am talking here about the healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, ghee, coconut oil
Protein- it helps to keep blood sugar levels steady. Again, if you consume protein by itself, it has no impact on blood sugar. But you should be mindful and not consume too much protein as it may converted into glucose. A good size of protein per meal is the size of your palm. I have written a blog post on the highest protein containing foods.
Fibre- same as fat, fibre helps to slow down the absorption of nutrients, including glucose. All vegetables and fruits contain fibre and are best consumed in a whole state, rather than juiced. When you would want to juice your vegetables and fruits is when you are unwell and need a fast dose of vitamins and minerals into your body. But at other times, consume whole vegetables and fruits, make smoothies mixing the two and adding some protein and fat into it to slow down the absorption of carbs. You can read more about the fibre, why we need it and from which foods we can get it here.
Greens- when you add greens like spinach, kale, broccoli sprouts, sunflower sprouts, you add minerals and vitamins to your meals. For example magnesium in green vegetables increases your insulin sensitivity.
Other tips helping you to keep your blood sugar in balance
Different foods affect our blood sugar different ways. For some people eating a banana takes their blood sugar up high, for the others it does not create such a spike. Our bodies are different and how food affects us, is influenced by many factors- what our diet looks like during the longer period of time, what is the state of our health, how much we exercise, how much we sleep, what are our stress levels etc.
Continuous glycose monitor
One good way to measure how food affects your blood sugar, is to use continuous glycose monitor. You attach a sensor at the back of your arm and you will be able to track via app how the food, drinks you consume affect your blood sugar. This allows you to make smarter choices around your food. You can check out for example Levels and Veri.
Vinegar in water before your meal
Vinegar tells your muscles to uptake more glycose quicker. Vinegar also signals your mitochondria to burn more fat. You can help your body to not have such a spike in blood sugar if you take a tablespoon of vinegar in a big glass of water up to half an hour before you eat. You can try apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar.
Eat your food on the plate in the right order
Eat your salad, vegetables, protein, fats before your starches and sugar on your plate. This is especially good if you have a starchy meal, like pasta. If you are having a starch on its own without any fibre and fat, it gets to your blood stream very quickly and spikes the blood sugar.
Eat a savoury breakfast not a sweet one
Savoury breakfast does not have such an impact on blood sugar levels than a sweet breakfast (cereals, bagels, muffins). This allows you not to get hungry after couple of hours.
Examples of savoury breakfast:
Lentils or quinoa or buckwheat with soft boiled egg and avocado
Oats with seeds and almond butter
Smoothie that contain not more than half a cup of fruit or berries and contains good fat and protein
Warm chia pudding with hemp hearts and ghee
Rice cake with avocado, salmon and sesame seeds
Sourdough bread with scrambled eggs, kale, cherry tomatoes, kimchi
Sourdough bread with hummus, sauerkraut, hemp seeds and sprouts
Chia seed pudding with raspberries, nut better and hemp seeds
Ground chia seeds blended with cocoa and avocado
Move after the eating
After eating your energy goes from your head and limbs into digestion system. That's why many can feel tired after a meal. Your muscles are your ally here, where they help to soak up the circulating glycose from your blood stream. A 10 minute walk after a meal is a great choice or taking your dog outside for a walk.
Eat fat or protein with your carbohydrates
Don't eat sweet or starchy food without adding some protein, fat or fibre on it. You could put greek yoghurt on your cookie if you want to eat it. Eat your sourdough bread with some goats cheese spread and avocado on it. If you have some rice, have some eggs, chicken, fish with it.
The flatter you manage to keep your blood sugar after breakfast and lunch, the better you will feel in the evening and the less hungry you'll be.
If you are looking to understand more about better eating habits for your body, lifestyle, don't hesitate to contact me for health coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about my health coaching services under Services menu.