With so much focus on calorie counting, excessive exercise, low-fat, no-fat diets, etc. it is increasingly difficult to know what the REAL solution is to natural, sustainable weight loss....FAT loss to be exact!
Weight loss could consist of water loss, muscle loss or fat loss so it's important to know that any downward movement on the scale is due to FAT loss and nothing else.
So the next question is, how do you make sure that your body is programmed to BURN fat instead of STORING it? Well believe it or not, WHAT you eat and more importantly HOW you eat it is the KEY. Because HOW we eat is very important to make sure our blood-sugar levels remain stable throughout the day. And when our blood-sugar levels are stable, your body will have to tap into STORED fat for energy.
When you hear the words "blood sugar" it probably conjures up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections. Well you don't have to be diabetic to pay close attention to your blood sugar levels. We should ALL be making sure our blood sugar levels are stable if we want to experience natural energy and reduced cravings in order to manage our weight more effectively.
Simply put, blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.
The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.
This fluctuation is caused by numerous factors including nutrition and lifestyle habits. When you eat food with sugars or starches ("carbs"), these carbs are broken down into simple sugars and your digestive system absorbs these sugars into your bloodstream. Simple sugars spike blood sugar levels quite quickly so your body has to secrete insulin just as quickly to try and balance out the blood sugar levels again.
Why keep my blood sugar level stable?
Insulin takes excess sugar out of your bloodstream and delivers it into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy. At least this how how it works in an ideal world. The problem, especially when it comes to weight gain, is when there is so much excess glucose that, once the liver and muscles have taken their share, the rest gets stored in our fat cells.
Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you're not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn't scrambling to remove excess from the blood.
When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as "hypoglycemia."
When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to "insulin resistance."
Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high. PLUS, when our pancreas has to keep secreting insulin in high amounts on a regular basis to try and balance out blood sugar levels, the pancreas gets exhausted. And we know ourselves, that when we are exhausted we don't function at our best. The same can be said for your pancreas over time.
Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to Diabetes.
If that wasn't bad enough, here is where unstable blood sugar levels contribute to weight gain and inability to lose weight effectively......
As I mentioned before, the job of insulin is to take excess sugar out of the bloodstream and deliver it to the muscle cells for energy. This is all well and good IF the muscles NEED that energy. For example, you are about to embark on a long run or a heavy exercise routine. The problem is, most of us are not doing this so our muscles don't need the excess sugar so it gets stored as fat instead. Now we all know how stubborn fat can be to get rid of once it has made itself at home. So the key is to NOT to build up those fat stores in the first place!
So let’s look at how you can optimize your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
What and how to eat for stable blood sugar levels
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.
Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the "spike" in your blood sugar level. Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state. Processing foods removes their fiber content). Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
INTERESTING FACT! Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.
HOW you eat also has a lot to do with balancing blood sugar. Try not to eat carbs, even healthy ones like fruits and vegetables on their own. When carbs are eaten in combination with a protein and/or fat, the carbs break down much slower and therefore absorption of the simple sugars into the bloodstream will also be much slower and lessen the likelihood of a sugar spike!
And remember, what goes up MUST come down and vice versa! So if the blood-sugar levels don't spike, then they won't crash either which means LESS CARB CRAVINGS!
If you find yourself struggling with carb and sugar cravings and want to learn more helpful tips and strategies to overcome them so you can finally reach your weight loss goal, CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR FREE ONLINE STRATEGY SESSION TODAY.
Lifestyle habits to help stabilise blood sugar
Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity. This means that insulin will be much more effective in getting excess sugar out of the bloodstream. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn't you?
Would you believe that stress also affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the "fight or flight" stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to "fight" or "flee"? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress you're under and manage it more effectively. Simple tips are meditation, deep breathing, gentle exercise and stretching. Relaxation techniques such as taking a bath with stress-relieving essential oils like lavender is another great way to reduce those stress hormones!
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don't get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Good quality sleep is very crucial and is often overlooked when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority and you will notice a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional health quite quickly.
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired if they are forced to work harder and longer than they need to. Long-term blood sugar imbalance can lead to serious health complications however these can be avoided if focus is placed on balancing blood sugar levels now!
There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable and keep those dreaded sugar cravings at bay.