Are you feeling tired, puffy, bloated, and irritable?
I get these questions often, "Why am I so I tired?" or "Why can't I lose this excess weight?"
While there is no doubt there could be an underlining health condition present, the majority of people I work are actually dealing more with blood sugar control issues than anything else.
When it comes down to it, the matter is often more about making small tweaks to your diet and changing up your meal and/or snack composition than feeling like you have to overhaul your entire life.
What does blood sugar have to do with anything though, you ask?
Balancing blood sugar through meal composition is crucial to helping stabilizing energy levels.
Blood Sugar: The Tricky Roller Coaster Ride
When you consume any carbs (whether it's brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, fruit, bread, candy etc), this causes an increase in blood sugar. While of course some of these carbs are going to cause less of an impact on your blood sugar, it’s important to look at what you’re eating these carbs with.
Are you consuming meals that are primarily carbs? Maybe you have a rice dish for lunch or an orange or an apple for a snack?
While I think these sources of carbs are great, the composition of that meal or snack is also important. All of these examples listed are primarily carbs, which eventually breaks down into sugar.
When we consume too many carbs and possibly not enough fats, protein or vegetables, this in turn causes a greater spike in blood sugar. It is these three meal components (fats, protein and vegetables) that play a very crucial role is stabilizing blood sugar as well as maintaining energy levels, promoting weight loss and creating hormone balance.
When our blood sugar rises, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that helps transport from the blood into the cell, so it can utilized as energy.
However, often insulin overcompensates and drives blood glucose to below normal levels. This in turn signals the adrenals to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is hormone that is released in response to stress. Essentially, our blood sugar dropping to below normal levels is a sign of stress and causes our body to go into fight-or-flight mode.
For the people who eat the sweet treat instead of say the apple, shame and guilt start to set in. They begin to believe it was a "lack of willpower" that got them to this place, when in actuality it is a result of your blood sugar dropping and your body needing a source of immediate energy to bring your blood sugar back to normal levels.
When we eat carbs and/or sugar, our blood sugar rises and drops, and the adrenals mobilize cortisol to raise blood sugar, this also signals the mobilization of muscle tissue and preserve body fat.
See, fat is makes up all your cell membranes, it's needed to digestion essential vitamins A, D, E, K, and it's surrounding your organs, so fat is essential and muscle is secondary.
This mechanism of your blood sugar rising and dramatically dropping causes a cascade of energy highs and lows, inflammation, and weight gain. It is also a leading cause of many underlining health conditions, like insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
Going for that sweet treat or "quick fix" snack might feel like a good idea at the time, until you begin to feel the food coma set in, the energy spike and inevitable energy plummet, the guilt, and the cycle of feeling irritably hungry all over again.
Furthermore, cortisol as well as other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone share the same precursor, so in order to be processed they need the precursor (cholesterol) to be available. However, due to the constant need for cortisol in the scenario of your blood sugar dropping or you experiencing any other daily stress, cortisol begins to steal from other hormone pathways, thus preventing their production. So inevitably, this blood sugar imbalance can lead to to a hormone imbalance as well.
Now that you have this newly discovered knowledge, let's talk about mainstream diet principles, how they are doing more to harm us, and what steps we can take to actually effectively live a healthy, happy life.
Mainstream Diet Principles
Mainstream diet principles teach people to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day as a way to "increase their metabolism". It also teaches people to avoid fat.
But why is that actually doing more to contribute to the very problem at hand?
This concept and belief inadvertently causes people to rely more on low-calorie, low-fat small meals. However, these low-fat snacks are often high in carbs, and since we talked about how fat helps stabilize blood sugar, you now can see how these snacks (or low-fat meals) may actually contribute to blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, weight gain and general fatigue.
So, what's the solution? Eat chicken and broccoli all day?!
Here are my key nutrition tips to set you up for success.
6 Nutrition Tips To Boosted Energy Levels & Faster Weight Loss
1. Incorporate More Healthy Fats
Healthy fats will play a great role in stabilizing blood sugar and keep you full for longer. Examples Include:
- 1/4- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 Tbs butter or coconut oil
- 2-3 Tbs raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- A handful of raw nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, etc)
- 1 Tbs chia seeds or ground flaxseed in smoothie or in your yogurt
2. Make Sure At Least 1/3 Of Your Plate Is Vegetables
Vegetables play a key role in blood sugar stabilization, but they are also helping your body receive micronutrients.
We all need micronutrients, but if you’re experiencing blood sugar control issues, your body is at an even greater need for nutrients, as this series of events depletes our bodies of essential vitamins and minerals.
3. Eat Good Quality Protein
Most have the protein concept down. They realize it's important to get some protein in at each meal, but often we overdo it. Quality over quantity is important. A serving that's equivalent to a deck of cards is all you need. Examples include:
- 3-5 oz grass fed beef
- 3-5 oz wild-caught salmon
- 2-3 pasture-raised eggs
- 1 can wild caught sardines or tuna
4. Always Pair a Carb With a Protein, Fat or Vegetable
- Meal 1 – 1 small sweet potato (carb), 4 oz Chicken (protein) 1 Tbs butter over veggies or sweet potato (fat), 1 cup broccoli (vegetable)
- Meal 2 – ½ apple chopped (carb), 4 oz Salmon (protein), ¼ cup walnuts + 2 tbs vinaigrette dressing (fat), 2 cups leafy greens + radishes (vegetable)
- Snack 1 – ½ apple (carb) + 1-2 tbs almond butter (fat) maybe add a handful of beef jerky if you’re still hungry
- Snack 2 – Whole Fat yogurt (protein/fat) + berries (carb) + 1-2 tbs raw nuts or ground flaxseed (fat)
- Snack 3 – Guacamole (fat) + Carrots + celery (vegetable)
5. Don’t Skimp On The Meals and Snacks
Notice how the meal and snack examples are well-rounded. I’m purposefully making sure there are less carbs and more protein, fat or vegetables. I’m less concerned about calories and more concerned about finding a meal or snack that’s going to keep me satisfied and not snacking an hour later.
6. Listen To Your Body
Above all else, listen to your body. If you’re hungry within an hour after that meal or snack, something’s really going on here. Look back at the meal or snack you consumed. Did it have a balanced ratio of proteins fats and vegetables? Was it possible that there was more carbs than you anticipated? Perhaps you had forgot the fat or vegetable? Get curious around what could be the cause?
And if you’re having trouble figuring out how to boost energy levels, get rid of stubborn belly fat, and feel confident in your skin and your skills once and for all, don’t hesitate to reach out! That’s what I’m here for!
Email at Ali@NourishedAbundance.com to schedule a free 30-min informational session!
In Abundant Health,