How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
Sugar is a common term used to describe the white stuff on your coffee counter. It is a disaccharide that is broken down into glucose and fructose. “Sugars” are actually carbohydrates that are single saccharides, like glucose, and disaccharides like table sugar. Sugar the simplest form of the carbohydrates1 https://www.britannica.com/topic/sugar-chemical-compound.
Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes are also carbohydrates, as are kale, spinach, celery, tomatoes and fruit. Sugar and all other carbohydrates are turned in to glucose in the body. Glucose is transported by the blood to cells for fuel. All carbohydrates, from sugar to kale, can be categorized on a scale of how much of an effect they have to spike your blood sugar levels.
When we consume carbohydrates our liver converts them into glucose and sends it out into the blood stream. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin. Insulin is the hormone that sends a signal to the cells to open their doors and allow glucose into the cell to be used for immediate energy or storage. The more glucose the liver pumps into the blood, the more insulin the pancreas has to send out.
If the amount of sugar in the blood stream is chronically high the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin. The pancreas can become burned out and stop producing insulin (this is the beginning of a disease called Diabetes Mellitus type 2).
When there is not enough insulin to shuttle the sugar in to the cells, the sugar is left in the blood stream. The sugar in the blood stream can create major problems which include: Damages to the arteries; sugar acts like a scouring pad on the inside of the artery walls causing arterial damage which leads to plaque buildup and cardiovascular disease. Sugar in the blood suppresses the immune system: 1 tsp of sugar suppresses the immune system by 70% for up to 6 hours (not surprising that flu season follows so closely behind the holiday season. Think about all the parties…sugar consumption and alcohol consumption (which is just concentrated sugar).
With the rage of low carbohydrate diets out there, it is important to note what type of carbohydrates you are consuming. The spikes and crashes in blood sugar not only are bad for us but the highs and lows create stress and inflammation. The roller coaster of blood sugar levels makes us feel crappy throughout the day. If you can maintain your blood glucoses at a consistent level, then you will feel better. By eating lower glycemic carbohydrates combined with good sources of fats and lean proteins, the liver and pancreas will not be as taxed.
Glycemic Index scale measures each food’s effect on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is a tool to tell us how much 50 g of a certain food will spike blood sugar; the foods are rated from 1- 100 (pure glucose being 100.) The Glycemic Load (GL) tells us how much a normal serving size will spike our blood sugar. GL is combination of GI and serving size. GL tends to be more accurate measure for weight loss and health, for example the GI of watermelon is 70 which is high. Which is measure 50 grams of the food. So for a GI of 70 one person would have to consume one pound of watermelon in one sitting. The GL of watermelon is 4, a low measure as it is based on actual number of carbs consumed with a normal s serving size. Another example of a high GI but low GL are Carrots: GI 71 (high) GL 6 (low) because the GI is based on sugars in 1.5 pounds of carrots. To find out more information on the GI and GL of foods look here http://www.glycemicindex.com /foodSearch.php
|Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|High 70- 100||>20|
|Medium 56- 69||11-19|
|Low < 55||<10|
Low glycemic carbs (basically veggies) fats and proteins are a slow burning fuel sources. Once our body gets accustomed to using fats and protein for fuel the body is able to maintain a steady source of energy to function throughout the day. By using fats and proteins for fuel we are able to decrease cravings, maintain energy for hours and most importantly, feed brain tissues.
Fueling yourself on carbohydrates will keep you satiated for a very short time, you will have to eat much more frequently throughout the day. Your blood sugar and insulin levels will spike and plummet. Your hunger and carbohydrate/sugar cravings are caused by the dependency on an inefficient fuel source. This is most notable around 3 the afternoon, when the cravings for a Frappuccino and a cookie are more than anyone can bear!
GOOD fats are essential for brain health, cell membrane health, heart health and nerve function. Fats are needed for the absorption of vitamins A, D, and K- without which we see immune, mental, bone and cardiovascular health plummet. Using a good quality olive oil to your salads or sautéing your vegetables in coconut oil will increase absorption of vitamins by at least 20%.
The biggest offenders of high glycemic meals are processed foods. Breads, baked goods, processed grains, potatoes all have high GI/GL . To add insult to injury the vitamin density of these foods is lower than other foods.
Here are some comparisons of Glycemic index
|Tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, ham or bacon, 2 eggs
Glycemic Index 17
|Cheerios 1/2 cup: skim milk, 8oz:
Glycemic Index 106
|1 cup: Sweet Potato full of phytonutrients, B6, Manganese, Vit A and C,
Glycemic Load 12
|1 cup: Rice minimal nutrients, manganese-mostly added after refinement.
Glycemic load 24-53
|1/2 cup: Steel cut oats, slow cook:
Glycemic Load: 6.4
|1/2 cup: Instant Oatmeal:
Glycemic Load 13.7
To reduce your glycemic intake, focus on dark leafy green veggies, cruciferous vegetables, organic sources of clean lean animal protein, and healthy fats (coconut, avocado, tallow and olive oils). Even natural sugars such as fruit and honey will still spike insulin and should be consumed in moderation. Here are two great recipe ideas for lower glycemic meals. Links to original web-sites included.
MANGO CABBAGE SLAW
3 Cups Purple Cabbage, Chopped
1 Cup Cucumber, Chopped
1/3 Cup Purple Onion, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Green Mango, Diced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamin Vinegar
Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
1 Lb Grass Fed Ground Beef
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/4 Cup Green Salsa
Brown meat, add seasoning and salsa, stir and eat on a lettuce leaf topped with the purple cabbage slaw, avocado and fresh cilantro.
Mustard Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Chicken
- 2 4-5lb whole chickens
- 2 Tbsp lard, extra virgin coconut oil, or unsalted butter (I used lard)
- 2 Tbsp brown or Dijon-style mustard (check ingredients GLUTEN-FREE )
- 1 ½ Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (measure after chopping, or use 1 Tbsp dried)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove chickens from packaging, pat dry with paper towels, remove any giblets (save these for making bone broth!) and place on your roasting pan, using the rack insert that comes with the pan.
- Melt lard or coconut oil and mix with Dijon and rosemary. Baste the entire surface of both chickens with the mustard sauce (I just use my hands).
- Roast chickens for 20 minutes per pound (or until a meat thermometer reads at least 165F—it’s standard to cook until breast meat reads 180F).
- Make pan gravy with the juices if desired. Carve and serve!
By learning which foods will give you the most nutritional value with the least amount of sugar you can lose weight, reduce your inflammation, and generally feel better fairly quickly. Making consistent small adjustments to your diet will teach your body how to use a more efficient healthier fuel source. If you are used to eating a high glycemic diet which the standard American diet is this way of eating may take a bit of time to get used to. Once you have it down you will see the difference in energy levels, reduction in cravings and improvement in general well-being that will make the effort worth it.