Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through diet and watching calories helps people lose weight easier, and keeps vital organs healthy.
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels isn’t for diabetics only; everyone should strive to eat a diet that manages blood sugar levels properly. For people trying to lose weight, watching blood sugar levels can help them lose weight and keep it off. Healthy blood sugar levels are also beneficial for overall good health.
Where does Blood Sugar come From?
Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is made up from the foods people digest, and used as the main source of energy. Of the three sources of foods – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar the quickest and are stored in cells throughout the body for energy. If there is more blood sugar processed than needed, the excess is stored in the liver or muscles to be used later or converted into body fat.
In order to manage high levels of glucose in the blood, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin to move high amounts of blood sugar into cells. If blood sugar levels are low, the pancreas releases the hormone glucagon to help release the sugar stored in the liver and muscles. Therefore, the pancreas works to maintain balanced blood sugar levels in the body.
Why Manage Blood Sugar Levels?
Fluctuating blood sugar levels cause organs in the body to work overtime as they try to maintain a balance. If blood sugar levels spike, the pancreas releases insulin and works to move excess blood sugar into the liver and cells as well as fat cells. This overproduction of insulin can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low and have the reverse effect, causing the pancreas to release glucagon in order to raise the blood sugar levels.
In response to this stress on the body, the adrenal glands release cortisol to help level out blood sugar. Too much of the hormone cortisol in the body has been found to increase belly fat in people. If blood sugar is continuously spiking high and dropping low due to an unhealthy diet, cortisol levels can lead to belly fat and fat cells hold onto blood sugar as a defensive measure. This can lead to becoming overweight or obese and even developing type-2 diabetes as well as other chronic health conditions.
Causes of Fluctuations in Blood Sugar
Blood sugar can rise and fall for several reasons. Skipping meals or not eating for long periods of time causes blood sugar levels to fall. Eating foods high in simple carbohydrates or sugar causes the blood sugar in the body to rise quickly, leading to the need for the body to stabilize it.
Drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks stimulate the adrenal glands so they will increase blood sugar levels in the body. If the drinks are also high in sugar, this causes blood sugar to spike even higher.
Drinking alcoholic beverages also plays havoc on blood sugar highs and lows. Alcohol prohibits the liver from producing glucose thus inhibiting the body from raising blood sugar levels. Since many alcoholic beverages contain sugar, this in turn forces the blood sugar in the body to rise. When the insulin response pushes the blood sugar levels too low, the body is unable to balance out blood sugar levels.
How to Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Continuously eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates and sugar and not using all of the blood sugar as energy, causes fat to accumulate in the belly and all over the body. For this reason, it is important to cut back on foods that cause fluctuations in blood sugar and eat foods that help maintain a balance.
Simply cutting back on carbohydrates and sugar may help, but it may not stop the unhealthy blood sugar highs and lows. There are many diet programs that follow the glycemic index, which basically helps people cut back on foods that spike blood sugar. Many foods that spike blood sugar are also high calorie, but not in all cases.
Fruit and fresh squeezed fruit juice is healthy and generally low calorie, but the natural sugar in fruit can spike blood sugar. Instead, following a diet that lowers calorie intake along with eating foods in the proper order may be more beneficial for losing weight and maintaining blood sugar levels than just cutting back on carbohydrates and sugar.
Diabetics are taught the proper way to eat in order to balance out blood sugar levels, and even to lose weight. The basic principal of their eating plan is to eat meals that consist of:
- 10 to 20% of calories from protein
- no more than 30% of calories from fats (no more than 10% of saturated fats)
- the remaining 50 to 60% of calories from carbohydrates
- sodium intake should be limited to under 3,000 milligrams per day or 2,400 milligrams per day for people with high blood pressure
The majority of carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates, such as fruit, instead of from the simple carbohydrates from processed foods. In general, complex carbohydrates have more fiber and digest slowly, which slows down the blood sugar process. Limiting caffeinated beverages and alcoholic beverages is also suggested for both managing blood sugar and losing weight.
It is also recommended to eat four small meals a day as well as two small, healthy snacks. This keeps blood sugar levels on an even keel throughout the day.
Eating a diet that manages blood sugar levels is healthy for everyone and is beneficial to losing weight. Not only can people lose weight by managing their blood sugar levels, but they can also enjoy the benefits of a healthier body.