Some of you may be confused as to what your blood sugar levels are and why you have to worry about them when we are on a clean eating plan. Blood sugar is also known as glucose, which is the sugar in your blood stream that has been broken down from carbohydrates that you've consumed. It sends quick energy to your cells when needed, or if you flood your system with glucose then it is stored as fat. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable helps to keep your mood, energy, cravings and hormones all within check. Your metabolism also stays revved when you keep your glucose levels stable, because glucagon your fat burning hormone, can do it's job. So basically it's just a win-win situation.
I may make it sound pretty simple and most of us want to be "balanced" in all areas of our lives, but let's be real... most of us are completely unbalanced as we have to choose where we divert our energy and time.
To break it down we fluctuate between high blood sugar levels where our body can't mop up all the extra glucose and it's stored; which is exactly what insulin (storing hormone) likes to do. Other times our levels are so low that we begin to burn through our lean muscle (that we work so hard to get) eventually slowing down our metabolisms.
Here's how to get your glucose levels right where they should be:
- Eat every 3 hours. This is the way we are programmed to eat! If you've ever been around a baby you've probably noticed that all they do is eat, and all that eating happens every 3 hours. By eating every 3 hours you will help to keep your blood sugar levels within a constant, almost rhythmic fluctuation. Most people believe that they only need to eat 3 meals a day and this is where your body gets 3 huge spikes in glucose, where insulin is on overdrive and you end up in storage mode. For the remainder of the time your body is in starvation mode using it's lean muscle for fuel, and slowing down your metabolism. When you do eat again and splurge on one of your 3 meals your body is yet again in storage mode.
- Consume fat. Fat is super important when it comes to keeping us fuller longer, which in turn helps to keep our levels balanced. By fat I'm referring to healthy fats like nuts, avocados, almond butter, olive oil, coconut oil, chia seeds, etc. Eat your protein first before your fat, or make balanced meals where you get your protein, fat and high fiber carb together.
- Low glycemic carbohydrates are carbohydrates that are metabolized slower, so these are the healthier carbs to eat. Think steel-cut oatmeal, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, fruit, and peppers. Carbs that are processed or "white" (bread, pasta, cereals, granola bars) cause a big spike in glucose and should be avoided.
- Try to eat balanced meals that include protein, fat and carbohydrates. Lead with your protein, include a healthy fat so that your food can stick a little longer and add a low glycemic carb. Sauteed bell peppers in olive oil and then serve over egg whites, or Greek yogurt with berries and almonds.
- Add cinnamon into your diet. I put a cinnamon stick into my hot lemon water, I add it to my oatmeal and my occasional coffee. Cinnamon has been shown to have proper "insulin like effects" where it helps to bring your blood sugar back to normal levels and it also lowers triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
- Carry snacks with you. Since I have two kids I'm always packing lunches, snacks, or grabbing food. Now whenever I'm planning for their meals I'll also plan out my own. When I'm in a pinch I'll grab a small pre-packed bag of cashews, almonds and cranberries...thank you Trader Joe's! I'd love TJ's even more if they didn't carry so many oh-so delicious, glucose spiking, sugary snacks that go straight to my thighs. I really don't shop there as much as I should, because it's hard to avoid all their chocolate treats, desserts, pastries, and the list goes on, but that's another post. Ha!
- Find a healthy sugar substitute that you like. Most of my clients are hooked on Stevia which is a plant based sweetener. I hugely prefer the liquid drops than the powder form and I'll add a few drops to my oatmeal, tea, smoothies and coffee. There's coconut palm sugar for baking, and my kids get agave syrup over their whole wheat pancakes, or yogurt. There are so many different, healthy alternatives so that when you give up traditional sugar there are still ways to enjoy your food.
Now that you know how to balance out your blood sugar here's to a happier, hopefully craving free 21 days of clean eating. In case you need a little more help here are a few other posts dealing with cravings...here and here.
The first few days of eating clean are always the hardest and by few I mean the first 4 days. I'm not sure why day 5 seems to be so much easier, but it does and by then you will already be seeing and feeling some amazing results.
If you have any questions leave us a comment and thanks for reading.
Happy New Year!!!!