All About Blood Sugar
First of all, what is blood sugar? In short, blood sugar is the glucose that is carried to all of your body’s cells to use for energy. The sugar comes from the food we eat and our body regulates blood glucose levels so that they are neither too high nor too low. The blood's internal environment must remain stable for the body to function properly. However, blood glucose levels naturally vary throughout the day. They are at their lowest point before the first meal of the day. After eating, levels rise and then settle down after about an hour. As more and more cells receive glucose, blood sugar levels return to normal again. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen, or stored glucose, in the liver and the muscles. Glycogen plays an important role in homeostasis, because it helps our body function during starvation states. If a person does not eat for a while, blood glucose concentrations will fall. The pancreas releases another hormone called glucagon. Glucagon triggers the breakdown of glycogen into glucose, and this pushes blood glucose levels back up to normal.
Blood sugar balance is achieved by a combination of proper nutrition, hormonal balancing, and stress management. For example, if you start your day with lots of carbohydrates and caffeine, your blood sugar will spike above normal and then crash. This crash will likely cause to to reach for more sugar or caffeine to provide energy, which will only perpetuate the cycle. In this scenario your blood sugar levels are dramatically shifting between high (fat-storage mode) and low (carb craving mode), and your entire mood and energy for the day is dictated by this internal process.
Besides sending you on a never-ending energy-roller coaster, blood sugar imbalances like these cause excess insulin in the bloodstream, which sets you up for a whole host of new problems. Excess insulin can cause: increased inflammation, metabolic syndrome, imbalanced sex hormones, PCOS, acne, high blood-pressure, high cholesterol, and excess weight gain, among many other conditions. I don’t know about you, but that is reason enough for me to eat a balanced breakfast...and lunch, and dinner.
Plus, when you learn to balance your blood sugar, you optimize a bunch of other hormones that play a big role in your optimal weight and health. Eating properly to balance blood sugar will: lower Insulin (the “storage” hormone); decrease Ghrelin (the “hunger” hormone); decrease Cortisol (the stress hormone); stimulate Dopamine (the “reward” hormone a.k.a balance mood swings); increase Peptide YY (reduce appetite and cravings), among many others!
Basically, we feel our best when our blood-sugar and hunger hormones are at the optimal level - not too high and not too low, or ping-ponging between the two. So how can you naturally stabilize blood sugar and have more consistent, feel-good energy throughout the day? Simple…eat a combination of fibrous veggies and carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats at each meal. Balance your plate and you will balance your blood sugar!
There are of course certain foods that will do this better in some bodies than in others. And if you have specific health concerns you need to address, that should be taken into account as well. If you are looking for more individualized 1:1 guidance, I would be happy to chat with you about your health goals to see if my coaching may be a good fit! Email me at Megan@empowered-bodies.com to learn more and set something up.
*Disclaimer: I also do not believe in the "diet" mentality. I do not believe in following strict meal plans and counting calories and macros and basically making ourselves slaves to food (been there done that. Spoiler alert: it NEVER ends well). I believe in food freedom. And part of that freedom comes from arming yourself with the knowledge of how certain foods affect your body in different ways. So if you work with me, you will be getting an individualized approach that uses many different tools to create food freedom, not a strip diet and exercise plan to miserably adhere to only to fall off of weeks (or days) later.