Balance Blood Sugar
- Do you battle to wake up in the morning?
- Do you have energy slumps, mood swings, headaches, cravings for sweets and refined carbohydrates?
- Are you constantly hungry?
- Do you need coffee or tea to wake you up and keep you going?
If so, your blood sugar levels could very likely be unbalanced.
Unbalanced blood sugar levels are harmful to your body and health. Constantly having unstable blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, strokes, eye problems, nerve damage, kidney problems, gum disease and tooth loss.
A healthy, even blood sugar level or blood glucose level can help you to lose weight, have oodles of energy and leave you feeling great! G.I. Lean has discovered this and it is the essence of the G.I. Lean lifestyle.
Firstly let’s explain how blood sugar levels, insulin and glucagon function in the body.
Blood Sugar Levels, Insulin and Glucagon
When your sugar levels are low, like when you haven’t eaten or when your energy levels have spiraled down after a blood sugar high, your body produces glucagon. Glucagon causes the liver to release its stored up glucose into your bloodstream to try and even out your blood sugar. This is not ideal, as when you need extra energy and your blood sugar is even, your body would use your fat as energy.
If you constantly have fluctuating blood sugar levels, your body overuses insulin which eventually makes your body unresponsive to its effect. This is called being “insulin resistant”, meaning insulin cannot lower your blood sugar levels. This state is very harmful to your health and organs and will very likely lead to diabetes.
Uneven blood sugar levels can also cause fatigue, unwanted fat storage, constant insatiable hunger, energy highs and slumps, sugar cravings, moody behaviour, obesity and depression.
Thus it is very important to achieve an even blood sugar level and keep it stable. This article talks about a few healthy habits you should take on in order to achieve this.
Eat Low-GL (Glycaemic Load). Low-GL foods sustain you for much longer and keep your blood sugar level even. Low-GL foods are broken down slowly into glucose (blood sugar), and are slowly released into the blood stream. This slow release of glucose over a long period of time allows for stable blood sugar levels, which allows the body to use up all the glucose, leaving none to be stored as fat.
- Eat 5 small meals a day. You should eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack and dinner. Eating 5 meals a day prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping and helps keep it stable. Also you are full throughout the day, preventing you from craving bad snacks. Don’t forget to make sure they are Low-GI.
- Cut out the junk. Highly refined carbs and sugary sweets and chocolates will send your blood sugar levels sky high and then send them shooting down. Your low sugar level will make you hungry and more likely to eat again or even pick up another unhealthy snack. So avoid greasy takeaways, sugar, white bread, milkshakes, donuts, chocolates, sweets, pastries, sugary drinks, crisps, chips and biscuits.
- Combine protein with carbohydrates. Protein does not have a GL, this is because it does not have an effect on your blood sugar like carbohydrates and sugars do. When you combine a lean protein with a carbohydrate is helps to slow the absorption of the food in your body, which means it sustains you for longer and has a positive result on your blood sugar levels. Great protein options include eggs, lean chicken, lean beef, grilled fish, low fat dairy, beans and lentils.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine has a similar effect on your blood sugar levels to chocolate or sugar. It raises your blood sugar levels, giving the drinker lots of energy, and then plummets dramatically. Switch to decaffeinated coffee or organic decaffeinated coffee and caffeine-free herbal teas.
- Avoid sugar. Rather replace this blood sugar level spiker with better options like xylitol. Xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar and is suitable for diabetics when used as part of a balanced eating plan. Use xylitol over cereal, in smoothies, in tea or decaffeinated coffee or over grapefruit. Try G.I. Lean Xylitol.
- Drink water. Drinking H2O helps keep you trim and stops you from overeating, which helps keep your blood sugar levels even. Often when we think we are hungry our bodies are actually thirsty, so keep a jug or bottle of water within reach to sip on throughout the day.
- Add fibre to your diet. Fibre is not broken down by the body and it slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. It helps to keep you full and satisfied and helps to lower the GL of food when included in meals. You can add fibre to your meal by eating whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables, eat whole grain breads, rolls and crackers and remember to drink 6–8 glasses of water per day to avoid constipation.
- Include cinnamon in your daily diet. This wonderful tasting spice has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and balance cholesterol levels. Add it to oats, yoghurt, smoothies, make Low-GL cinnamon toast, sprinkle it on your butternut, or add it to soup.
Getting physically active is one of the easiest ways to use up glucose or the sugar in your bloodstream and “force” the body out of insulin resistance.
During exercise your body uses more sugar for energy than when your body is at rest. This can result in lowering of your blood sugar. Exercise also helps to increase the sensitivity of your body cells to insulin. With this increased sensitivity, your own insulin works better and your blood sugar levels improve. When exercise is done at least every other day it is more likely to have this effect. Exercising regularly and following a meal plan will help get your blood sugars in the stable target range.
You need to exercise vigorously for 20–30 minutes a day to get optimal benefits. A combination of weight training and cardio is ideal.
Make sure you stretch and warm up slowly before exercise, and cool down and stretch again after. This allows you to ease into the exercise easier than if your muscles and body started out cold, and prevents injury.
The benefits of exercise include:
- Helps to balance blood sugar levels
- Burns fat
- Strengthens the heart
- Builds and strengthens muscle
- Helps to maintain healthy blood vessels
- Improves mood by releasing endorphins
- Increases general energy levels
- Improves sleep patterns
- Enhances physical strength
- Improves sports performance
- Builds and maintains healthy bones and joints
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Improves blood circulation
- Helps to manage diabetes
Join your local gym and try out the classes, weight machines, free-weights and cardio machines. Get a helpful gym employee to show you around and teach you how to get the most out of your time there. Hitting the gym is a great idea, but it is not the only way to exercise – here are some alternative ways to exercise to help you achieve your weight loss goals:
- Fast paced walking or running around your neighborhood or beachfront. To multi-task, walk with your friends, dog or with your baby in the pram.
- Cycling with the kids, your husband or in your neighbourhood.
- Cycling to gym can boost your workout and help you save money on petrol.
- Look for exercise options in your area. You can learn a dancing style at a local dance studio, do yoga in the park or beach boot camp. First check your gym for their options, they may surprise you.
- Work out to an exercise DVD at home – kata boxing, hip hop, bums and tums.
- Tennis, squash and racket ball are great ways to socialise and burn those calories at the same time.
- Swimming is a great workout that places no strain on your joints – perfect for all-round toning.
- Console fitness programmes – many game consoles offer exercise workouts that are both interactive and fun.
- Exercising with a friend/partner helps you keep you on track and adds a social side to exercise.