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10 Ways To Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar

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How to Manage Blood Sugars Naturally | Nutrition Stripped

At a recent health retreat in Utah with the awesome team of Albion Fit, I hosted a nutrition lecture and had several questions come up about blood sugars and the dreaded 2-4pm energy slump. Regardless of your current health, everyone can benefit from knowing how to maintain healthy blood sugar from diet and lifestyle and using these tools for life. Reducing the overall amount of sugar in our diet is crucial to our health, but what about balancing our blood sugars as a whole? Remember, carbohydrates aren’t bad, it’s all about knowing how to balance of them, strategically use them, and the quality. Let’s dive into what you can do today to reduce the rollercoaster of high and low blood sugars.

10 Ways To Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar

No. 1

Don’t fear the fat. In a nutshell (ha, pun intended) healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, etc. take longer to digest which helps our body slow the absorption of sugars found in carbohydrates. Fats also don’t cause our insulin levels to spike, which isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing and there’s always a time and place, but overall we want our body to maintain nice, steady insulin levels. Many of my clients, if not all, who deal with sugar cravings, digestive issues, or are trying to reverse/prevent blood sugar issues, are on higher fat, moderate protein, lower carbohydrate diets. With these diets they see significant improvements in their HA1c (a measure of blood sugar levels overtime) and non-clinical based outcomes like how they feel, energy, sleep, weight loss, etc. Give healthy fats (mainly from plants) a chance if you want to maintain healthy blood sugars and receptive insulin!

No. 2

Bulk up on fiber. Fiber, like healthy fats, takes longer to digest which helps our body slowly absorb sugars found in the carbohydrates that we consume. If you’re eating a diet high in whole foods from the earth like vegetables, greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, then chances are you’re getting plenty of fiber. Aim for 30-50g/day, and this can be adjusted depending on your digestive system and energy intake.

No. 3

Befriend smart supplements. There are supplements that may help our body manage blood sugars and help improve carbohydrate metabolism such as chromium, Coenzyme Q10, chlorogenic acid, ground cinnamonL-carnitine, and fish oil just to name a few. As always check in with your physician or dietitian before starting any of these. Read more on supplements here.

No. 4

Be your own health advocate and detective. As much as I lead the way for my clients, one tool and skill I teach them and try to ingrain into their life is to be their own health advocate and detective. Learn from the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle and record any changes you feel whether positive or negative, then go on from there. You know your body best, so pay attention to what foods affect your blood sugars and which ones keep you feeling a steady energy all day long.

How to Manage Blood Sugars Naturally | Nutrition Stripped EDITS-24 copy

No. 5

Move that bod! We all know that exercise is part of living whole and feeling your best, but did you know that exercise drastically improves the way your body responds to sugar? It does! Exercise can help improve insulin resistance, especially in those with diabetes or blood sugar issues (6, 7).

No. 6

Stress less. Stress can not only trigger a hormonal response and increase levels of cortisol, but feeling stress can also lead to sugar cravings and consuming more sugar, which of course is going to contribute to elevated and imbalanced blood sugars. Be mindful of stress and try some of these stress boosting strategies here.

No. 7

Sleep more. We all know how important sleep is, and when we don’t get enough we tend to reach for sugar laden foods and carbohydrate foods to instantly increase our energy and blood sugars to get moving! But, don’t grab that sugar just yet – start with analyzing your sleep patterns. Some studies show that sleep deprivation or sleeping less than 6 hours a night can actually increase insulin resistance (1). Having trouble falling asleep? Cultivate your bedtime routine here.

No. 8

Drink moderately. First off, when drinking alcohol stay away from simple syrups, juices, and sweet mixes as much as possible if not completely for the optimal option. Drinking alcohol can have opposite effects depending on your biological makeup (i.e. diabetics will notice these effects greater). For example, drinking a couple drinks may increase blood sugars, whereas excessive drinking can cause low blood sugars (2). Side note, alcohol can increase cortisol levels overtime, not the best thing for our waistlines amongst other things (3). Still want to know if alcohol is unhealthy? Read up here.

No. 9

Don’t get artificial. Artificial sweeteners may seem okay in the long term because they haven’t been around long enough for us to know, but so far science says no to artificial sweeteners on many accounts. I still recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners, if you do use any use a very small amount of stevia occasionally. Try to train your body to go sugar-free (more on this later in the year!) (4, 5).

No. 10

Balance it out. Aim for balance at meal and snack time! Get plenty of fibrous vegetables and greens (the goal is to make 60-75% of your meal non-starchy veggies) then fill up the rest with high quality proteins and healthy fats. Carbohydrates like fruits, grains, beans, etc. can be toppers/additions in small amounts. This will provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and a powerful blood stabilizing combination!

I hope these tips are helpful for you in managing your blood sugar levels and keeping your energy balanced, but if you’ve tried these and feel like you need support from a registered dietitian, reach out through the Services page!

xx McKel

Resources:

(1): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2084401/

(2): http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/10-things-to-remember-about-alcohol-and-blood-sugar/

(3): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266962/

(4): https://authoritynutrition.com/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar-insulin/

(5): http://www.wsj.com/articles/research-shows-zero-calorie-sweeteners-can-raise-blood-sugar-1410973201

(6): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10683091

(7): http://jap.physiology.org/content/99/1/338

Share your thoughts

  • Fiona

    Really enjoyed reading this, thanks McKel. One thing I wondered if you can answer – I generally don’t have an awful lot of refined sugar and limit the amount of natural sugar I eat too. However, it makes me feel that when I do have something sweeter the effects (sugar rush, increase in internal temperature etc) are greater than they would be for someone who has a more sugary diet overall. Is it worthwhile having a few more sweet treats (eg dates etc) on a more regular basis to avoid sugar rushes and (possibly?) prevent binging at other times?
    Hope you can help.
    Many thanks.

    • McKel Hill

      That’s hard to say without knowing your exact diet and lifestyle routine to say how sugar is affecting you in that way- I’m happy to take you on as a client to get very specific about how much sugar you should/can be eating a day otherwise, I hope this blog post is a good starting point to helping you manage those blood sugars! [email protected]

  • Katie

    Thank you for this article McKel! It really gave me more in depth tips than just “spread out your meals” and “eat protein and fiber in each meal”. I’ve really struggled with energy and blood sugar imbalances (low blood sugar) for a while, and I’m going to put these tips to use. I like that you included alcohol and artificial sweeteners in this. I’ve been weaning myself off of artificial sweeteners (stevia included) because I noticed I was constantly craving sweets, which in turn was effecting my blood sugar negatively. In addition, I use to not be able to tolerate alcohol whatsoever, now I can have about 1-2 drinks and I’m good, as long as I pair it with food, never on an empty stomach! Also, I would say limiting caffeine is also important for managing blood sugars. 1 cup of coffee = I’m fine, 2 cups = my blood sugar dips quickly after, I know you can’t include everything- but that’s just another additional comment 🙂

    Where can I find more on why coenyzme Q10, chlorogenic acid and L-Carnitine are good supplements to take? I’ve heard of the others being good but not those three before.

    Sorry for the lengthiness of my feedback, this is a very important topic to me!
    Much love,
    -Katie

    • McKel Hill

      I’m glad you enjoyed this Katie! You can find out more about those supplements by clicking the link attached to it (examine.com has great info). So glad this was helpful to you, xxM

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