When trying to lose weight, most people’s first thought is cutting calories. What most people don’t consider is something extremely important: blood sugar.
Blood sugar is the little thing in your body that determines whether you are burning or storing fat in your body. We so often think only diabetics need to worry about blood sugar, but we are mistaken. Even us with “normal” blood sugar levels need to understand how it affects our bodies.
High blood sugar triggers a massive release of insulin into the body. How does this happen? Well whenever you eat your body converts carbohydrates into glucose. The more simple or refined carbs you consume, the higher your blood sugar levels rise. When you have an increase in blood sugar your good old pancreas creates a hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to get the glucose out of your blood and into your cells where they will convert them into energy. The problem with simple and refined carbs is that they break down glucose very quickly, which then causes a spike in blood sugar. And what happens when your blood sugar rises dramatically? Insulin. Too much insulin.
Simple/refined carbs turn into glucose. Glucose tells the pancreas to make insulin. But it makes too much. Too much insulin=no budging the scale.
Weight loss becomes nearly impossible when your body is producing too much insulin. Why? Well insulin activates lipoprotein lipase which is a fat storing enzyme. It tells your body to store fat instead of burning it. While signaling lipoprotein lipase to store fat, insulin is also keeping the enzyme know as hormone sensitive lipase to stop working. This enzyme usually breaks down stored fat. So you can see, too much insulin causes weight gain.
If your immediate instinct is to eliminate carbs, HOLD IT! When you eat too few carbohydrates, your blood sugar drops. In turn, your energy drops and you crave sugar. Natural carbohydrate-rich foods contain necessary vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to keep your body functioning properly. Carbs also provide your muscles with energy, so if you are exercising than carbs are essential to optimal results.
Foods to avoid: High fructose syrup, artificial sweeteners, white flour, white rice, white pasta, and excessive sugar.
Stick to whole wheat and make sure it is the first ingredient. “100% wheat,” “multi-grain,” “wheat flour,” and “stoned wheat” are usually indicators on the ingredient label that a food contains refined carbs. Try to eat as much fruit and vegetables in their raw state as possible. Pay attention when buying canned and frozen foods as sugar is often added. Drink water as much as possible. Sodas, juices, and sweet teas are a disaster to your blood sugar levels.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to balance blood sugar. Exercising 45 minutes a day helps muscles take up glucose at nearly 20 times the normal rate and causes insulin levels to DROP. Make sure you are consuming enough fiber. Fiber helps slow the absorption of glucose.
So in short, you are what you eat. Look at your labels and monitor how much of what you consume is a simple/refined carbohydrate. If you are having trouble losing weight, adjusting your foods may be the trick to stabilizing your blood sugar.