Control your blood sugar
(First of two parts)
PICTURE a car engine getting fuel in huge spurts. With each spurt, the car engine rears to life, throwing you back in your seat, but then it coughs, sputters and nearly comes to a halt. The cycle is repeated over and over until you turn green and nauseous. Now picture a huge turbine jet engine of exquisite fuel-control devices that deliver a steady, even flow of fuel and a powerful ride so smooth you feel motionless. That’s the difference between crash-and-burn eating and eating that steadies your blood sugar.
Why steady your blood sugar?
Decrease belly fat
One of my new clients said that he couldn’t lose the last bit of fat around his belly. He simply worked out longer and harder while eating less food but it didn’t work. Why? He was trapped in a vicious cycle of eating bulk quantities of highly refined white flour disguised as what he believed to be healthy, even athletic, foods such as bagels, pastas, breads and cereals. Large quantities of refined white flours and simple sugars have a common effect. They can cause large increases in blood sugar, raising it from a fasting level as low as 70 to 180 or higher. This signals the body to store fat around your belly. Why? The high levels of blood sugar trigger your body to release excess amounts of the hormone insulin. Each time a high blood sugar level triggers a large release of insulin, excess calories are turned into fat, which is, by preference, stored around your belly. This belly fat is the worst place to store fat, since it poses the highest risk for heart disease.
When he stopped eating refined flours and simple sugars, his belly fat vanished in a matter of weeks without an serious attempt to diet. Controlling blood sugar is one of the vanishing few “tricks” there are to force your body to shed fat. The body doesn’t need high levels of blood sugar and functions much better on the steady, moderate level that whole grains, beans and fruits and vegetables deliver. Excess blood sugar simply spills over into fat.
One prominent reason men get hungry between meals is a rapid fall in blood sugar brought on by large quantities of simple sugars or highly processed foods, especially when combined with caffeine, alcohol or tobacco. Try this. Have a bagel or several pieces of toast for breakfast. Eat enough to satiate your hunger. Now see if you’re not ravenously hungry by late morning. Research has shown that by eating foods that make your blood sugar rise and fall quickly, you will eat more calories at your next meal. How many? At least 300. One of my client has found this out the hard way. After his morning workout at the gym, he’d take a large sugary carbohydrate replacement beverage. Boom! One hour later he was ravenous. He ingested four slices of chicken, two big pieces of cornbread, two ears of corn and gravy. He was so hungry he couldn’t control his intake less than one hour after
consuming his sugary beverage of 700 calories. However, if he maintained a steady, moderate blood sugar level, he could control precisely what he wanted to eat.
Controlling your blood sugar is a great example of feed forward eating. Don’t spike your blood sugar and you’ll be able to pick and choose foods that are really good for you. Pep your blood sugar and your appetite will spin out of control.
End wrecked workouts
How many times have you “bonked” during a workout because your blood sugar fell into the sewer? “Bonking” is when your brain feels like the power has been pulled and your legs turn to rubber. Reduced, refined and concentrated sugars have an erratic effect on blood sugar levels. Unless you carefully control your intake of foods that raise blood sugar levels abruptly, your workouts are prone to disaster. A stable blood sugar level during exercise increases workout output and prolongs the time you can play until exhaustion hits.
Slow out-of-control aging
People with diabetes who have continually high blood sugar levels run into terrible long-term complications. High levels may destroy their hearts, eyes, kidneys and limbs. One theory is that high blood sugar levels destroy the body’s connective tissue. Researchers on aging speculate that ordinary mortals who artificially keep their blood sugars high by eating massive amounts of processed foods hasten the aging process.
Cut mental fatigue
Low blood sugar can cause fatigue so profound that it’s just not possible to concentrate on the mundane mental chores of daily living. This is most noticeable in crash-and-burn eaters who don’t eat at all after they burn. They have a bagel and coffee for breakfast. To avoid gaining weight, they avoid eating after their blood sugar has plummeted at mid-morning. By lunch they can barely see straight to get to the cafeteria.
Most foods that increase blood sugar are nutritionally bankrupt. That goes not just for soft drinks and hard candies, but also for many products made with white flour. Replacing them with whole grains, fruits and vegetables adds high doses of thousands of energy-enhancing, body-building and disease-preventing nutrients. (To be continued next Monday)
More from this Column:
- Turn stress into strength
- Six-pack midsection
- Six-pack midsection (First of two parts)
- The benefits of walking
- Lower back pain