THE BITTER SWEET TRUTH: 5 TIPS TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Do you want to climb the career ladder, build relationships, socialise and get up to work out the next day? Plenish nutritional therapist, Jenna Hope shares why balancing your blood sugar levels could be the answer.
Do you have an energy dip mid-morning? Hit that 4pm slump? Or crumble into an evening couch crash? It might be down to your blood sugar levels. A hectic lifestyle of course has a role to play here but for consistent energy there’s a direct link to our fluctuating blood sugar levels and what we consume.
WHY WE CRASH
To achieve peak energy levels, we first need to balance our blood sugar.
Eating foods high in the sweet stuff stimulates a quick spike in blood sugar levels, which is why we feel almost immediately energised. However, after the sugar spike an insulin response is released bringing levels back lower than what they were originally, this is the crash. As a result, we often end up reaching for another sugar laden snack and the vicious circle continues. By learning to balance our blood sugar levels we can help prevent this energy roller-coaster and maintain consistent levels.
5 WAYS TO GET YOUR BLOOD SUAGR IN CHECK
Don’t skip meals.
Skipping meals can often lead to low blood sugar levels. New studies found that females who skipped breakfast had higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) by lunchtime. Plus, cortisol promotes abdominal fat storage contributing to weight gain if this sounds familiar to you.
Opt for protein rich foods.
Protein rich foods can help to stabilise blood sugar levels and promotes satiety keeping you fuller for longer. One study suggested that individuals who consumed a high protein breakfast reduced the intake of high-fat snacks in the evening. For a protein rich breakfast go for eggs or try adding a high quality protein powder to your porridge and top up with Plenish nut milk.
Take it with a pinch of fats + protein.
There are times when we crave something a sweet and that’s normal. When cravings hit you’re best off combining the sweet stuff with a source of protein or healthy fats to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream and reduce the roller-coaster effect. Opt for a date stuffed with almond butter or some sliced apple topped with peanut butter.
Listen to your hunger signals.
It can be all too easy to ignore your hunger signals when you’re focusing on work, rushing from place to place or simply attempting to shed some pounds. However, ignoring your hunger signals can cause your blood sugar levels to drop which lead to low energy levels, tiredness, moodiness and irritability. Not only this, but it revs up the energy roller-coaster and makes you more likely to over eat or opt for high sugar foods when you do come to eat.
Focus on your food.
Whilst it is important to listen to your hunger levels and eat when necessary, it’s key that you can identify the difference between physiological cues (i.e hunger) and environmental cues (i.e watching TV or adverts). Snacking and watching TV have become all too habitual. If you are distracted from the food you’re eating and aren’t giving each mouthful the attention it deserves you could be over eating and consequently spiking those blood sugar levels. Take time when eating, chew each mouthful properly and enjoy the moment without distractions.
Take these 5 steps and you should be on your way to a life bursting with energy!
Witbracht, M., Keim, N. L., Forester, S., Widaman, A., & Laugero, K. (2015). Female breakfast skippers display a disrupted cortisol rhythm and elevated blood pressure. Physiology & behavior, 140, 215-221.
Leidy, H. J., Ortinau, L. C., Douglas, S. M., & Hoertel, H. A. (2013). Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese,“breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 97(4), 677-688.
Bellisle, F. (2014). Meals and snacking, diet quality and energy balance. Physiology & behavior, 134, 38-43.