Balancing blood sugar is step one for all my nutrition clients. It is one of the easiest ways to feel more energetic and alert throughout your day. Balanced blood sugar also signals your body to use the calories you ingest, instead of storing them as fat. If you can’t get through the day without a 3 p.m. caffeine boost or sugary treat, make sure you read this.
So what does balancing your blood sugar mean? When you eat something, your body breaks it down into sugar, primarily glucose. This causes your blood sugar to rise. Then the pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which signals the cells to absorb the glucose for energy, thereby reducing our blood sugar. This is the normal process of how our body gets energy from the food we eat.
Ideally, we want the rise and fall of our blood sugar to be gentle. But, if we eat something that can be broken down very quickly like simple carbohydrates or straight up sugar, our blood sugar spikes and rises very quickly. Our bodies regulate the amount of sugar in our blood very strictly, so if there is a big spike, the pancreas will release a large amount of insulin to quickly reduce the sugar. This causes a big drop in blood sugar, signaling the body to release the stress hormone cortisol. The big spike and subsequent crash, what I call the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster, sends the wrong signals to our body and we can experience sugar cravings, weight gain, mood disturbances, and foggy thinking.
5 Reasons to balance your blood sugar:
1. Reduced sugar cravings
Are you always reaching for a sugary snack at 3 p.m.? Get rid of that addiction by balancing your blood sugar throughout the day. Sugar cravings arise when your blood sugar drops quickly and your body needs another quick fix of energy immediately.
2. Hangry no more!
Make sure you stay on good terms with your friends by avoiding any hangry episodes. Know that a sharp drop in blood sugar can cause mood disturbances like anger.
3. Avoid weight gain
Feeling fluffy around the waistline? Excess cortisol released during blood sugar crashes signals the body to store calories. Guess where? Primarily in your belly fat.
4. Reduced stress
No one needs more stress in their lives, right? Spikes and crashes of your blood sugar signal to the body that it is under stress. Keeping your blood sugar balanced tells the body that it’s well fed, so it can relax.
5. Clearer thinking
Keep on task and stay productive throughout the day. Don’t let low blood sugar, a.k.a. hypoglycemia, cloud your thinking.
Ok, so you’re on board with balancing your blood. Wondering how to do it? You just need 3 simple steps!
Eat a balanced breakfast.
Ideally you’ll have breakfast within 1 hour of waking to avoid excess cortisol and to stay satisfied for the next 3-4 hours. This means having some protein and good fat, not just carbohydrates when you get up. Try local, pastured eggs, sauteed kale, and avocado for a good balance.
Always eat balanced meals and snacks.
Make sure your next meal or snack isn’t a sugar bomb. You want some sort of protein and/or good fat to blunt the spike of insulin. For example, instead of munching on an apple on its own, add in some almond butter.
Eat a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours.
This will let your body know that more food is coming so it won’t have to store calories. Eating regular balanced meals gets you into a routine where you give the body enough time to digest your food and use up calories, but it won’t go into starvation mode.
Balancing your blood sugar is a great way to keep your energy up, avoid excess belly fat, and to be free of those hangry episodes.
Karen is a certified nutrition consultant, trained chef, and real food enthusiast. She earned a B.A. in anthropology from University of Colorado-Boulder in 2000 and a professional Food and Wine certification from CookStreet in 2007. After adopting a primal-type diet in 2009 and finding great health improvements, she attended Bauman College in Boulder, CO to receive her certification as a nutrition consultant in 2011. She has been working with clients since then, helping them learn what foods to eat, how to cook them, and how to find greater health and vitality. For more information, check out her website, Go Primal by Karen.
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