Managing your blood sugar is important for weight loss, weight management and minimising the risk of chronic disease like heart disease and diabetes.
It’s a good idea to eat a food plan that moves you towards your weight loss and weight management goals as being overweight makes it more difficult for your body to control blood sugar levels.
The role of managing blood sugar spikes is even more important. Foods and drinks are the main reasons your blood sugar spikes. Specifically, it’s carbohydrates in foods and drinks that cause blood sugar to rise.
A temporary (say up to 60 minutes) rise on blood sugar is not by itself a bad thing. It becomes problematic when your body cannot quickly dispose of the excess blood sugar, to swiftly bring your blood sugar to normal.
Highly processed carbohydrates are broken down quickly by your body, causing an almost immediate spike in blood sugar. These foods include cereals, biscuits, sweets, bread, pasta and sugar containing drinks, including fruit juice.
These foods are the same to your body as consuming sugar, full of empty calories and associated with the development of insulin resistance where the body becomes unable to control blood sugar effectively.
When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars, which enter your bloodstream. Your pancreas releases insulin to help your cells dispose of sugar from the blood into cells (muscle and liver) and then, hopefully, your blood sugar levels drop.
If your body’s system is not operating efficiently, this can result in feeling hungry again (about 90 to 120 minutes later) and can increase weight gain and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Glucose spikes not only affect our bodies but also our minds. They can cause lethargy and hunger. Over time, your body may not be able to lower blood sugar effectively, which can lead to pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), or type 2 diabetes which is a growing health problem around the world. Blood sugar spikes can cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, which may contribute to heart attack or stroke.
Here are some ideas to help when planning your meals and snacks to reduce any blood sugar spikes:
- Prioritise protein, high-fibre low-calorie carbs (green leafy vegetables) and small amounts of healthy fat to blunt drastic spikes. Eating this way and avoiding processed carbs can avoid blood sugar spikes. If you are planning a high carb meal always eat with protein, fibre and a small amount of healthy fat.
- Eat greens first as the fibre lines the stomach and makes digestion of the whole meal slow down. The fibre in many vegetables and some specific low-sugar fruits can help you feel full and reduce your appetite and contributes to a steady rise and fall in blood sugar, rather than a spike. Concentrate on fibre from vegetables, fruit with the skin on, whole grains and beans also helps with digestive health.
- Dehydration negatively affects blood sugar control. Ensure you stay hydrated with water, clear soups, mineral water, tea, coffee, or bone broth.
- Apple cider vinegar in water may help flatten any blood sugar spike and assist blood sugar control, so try drinking it with water before eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
- Move after you eat. Lace up your shoes and take a quick 20-minute walk as this causes your muscle cells to absorb sugar from the blood, helping to lower blood sugar levels and burn off some glucose in your bloodstream.
- Good quality sleep is crucial for blood sugar control. Poor sleep can trigger stress hormones, increase cravings for high carb sugary foods, increase moodiness, physical discomfort, and add a higher risk of disease. Poor sleep stimulates the appetite.
- Magnesium may help insulin sensitivity and can be found rich in the following foods: spinach, almonds, avocados, cashews and peanuts. Alternatively taking magnesium powder in water may also help with sleep after your body gets used to it.
- The spices cinnamon and fenugreek have both been linked to blood sugar control. Add them to your protein shakes or meals.
- Swap sweet for savoury. All sugar is the same and affects the body in the same way. Most sugar eaten comes from processed and prepared foods, sweets, cookies and sodas, bread, rice, pasta, cereal. If you have a sweet tooth or develop a sweet craving first drink a glass of water as you may be thirsty. Cold meat, cheese, eggs and nuts are some great savoury options.
- Eating too much can cause your blood sugar to rise as well, even if you have eaten a well-balanced meal with protein, carb and fat. Getting some exercise or having a workout on an empty stomach the next morning will help.
- To prevent hunger between meals ensure you have a protein shake or snack that is protein based. This reduces hunger and cravings. Studies suggest that people who prioritise protein in all meals and snacks stay satiated and tend to eat less total calories as a result. It helps them lose weight.
- Stay away from or greatly reduce your intake of liquid carbs. This includes alcohol, flavoured mineral waters, iced teas, tonic water, juices and milky coffees.
- Best to avoid any products labelled “Sugar free”, “reduced sugar” or “no sugar added “. These are often high in carbohydrate so check the labels.
Lifestyle interventions that improve good quality sleep, avoid stressors, increase sunlight exposure, along with some daily movement combined with a diet that minimises or reduces blood sugar spikes will help you burn fat as a preferred source of energy, reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and many other diseases.
Our 8 week online eating plan is designed to include many of the above strategies to give you the best weight and health outcomes.
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