Can Fluctutuating Blood Sugar Really Affect Your Weight loss Plan
An imbalanced blood-sugar levels could be the exact reason why you’re not losing weight – especially if you feel like you’ve tried everything else to no avail.
Blood sugar simply refers to the amount of sugar (or glucose) in your blood, which comes from carbohydrates. Whenever you eat, your body receives an influx of nutrients, including carbohydrates.
During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules and sent to your bloodstream, which naturally raises your blood-sugar levels. The hormone insulin is then released to bring the sugar out of your blood – and into your cells to be converted into energy.
How Imbalanced Blood-sugar Levels Can Make You Fat
Your body only needs so much energy at once. So if your energy stores are already full at the time of digesting the carbohydrates, any excess sugar from your meal (that isn’t being used for energy right away) gets stored in your liver or muscle-tissue cells. That way, it can be converted back to energy later on. But if those stores are full, the sugar still has to go somewhere.
Most of the time, your body will store the excess sugar as fat in your adipose, liver, or fat tissue.
The type of carbs that is most likely to get stored as fat are those that contain white sugar, such as bread, pasta, muffins, pastries, chocolate bars, sugary juice, alcohol, soda, and candy.
White sugar has such a harsh impact on our blood-sugar levels because it doesn’t contain any fiber, which is needed to help slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. When you eat refined sugar, the high concentration of sugar floods your bloodstream and causes your blood-sugar levels to quickly spike. Then you’ll feel a quick burst of energy which may not last for a long time.
Since your body can only handle so much sugar at once, it works overtime to produce the extra insulin it needs to rapidly pull the sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells. That’s when your blood-sugar levels will begin to crash, and you’ll be left feeling tired, hungry, and ready for another sugar fix an hour later. So the vicious cycle of blood-sugar spikes and crashes begins.
If you already have a high-sugar diet or are out-of-shape or overweight, your body works even harder to pump out enough insulin to keep up. The constant demand for insulin to be released wears your body out, and makes your natural ability to regulate blood sugar less efficient.
So insulin dysfunction can trigger fat storage and make weight loss impossible.
Once your body becomes accustomed to always getting its energy from carbohydrates, its ability to burn fat for energy becomes severely depressed. Sugar is used as energy and stored as fat, but the reverse—utilizing fat for energy—rarely occurs; thus, stored fat remains as fat (because it is never used). In other words, insulin inhibits the use of stored fat for energy. If your blood sugar level is high you will not be able to burn fat!
Furthermore, a high-sugar diet can also set you up for weight gain by releasing excess leptin (the satiety hormone), this is the hormone that tells your body when you’re full, which prevents you from overeating. It gets released when sugar is being metabolized in your fat cells. And just like insulin, your body can become resistant to leptin when it’s constantly being released.
Since leptin resistance interferes with your hunger and satiety signals, the result is an appetite that’s never satisfied, an overconsumption of calories, and impossible-to-reach weight-loss goals.
In addition, high blood-sugar levels are considered a stress to the body, which can cause the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain, especially in the midsection area. The midsection has always been one of the most common parts of the body that people struggle with when it comes to weight loss target.
But here’s where the connection between blood sugar and weight gain comes in.
5 Easy Ways to Balance Your Blood-Sugar Levels to Promote Weight Loss
1. Always Eat Breakfast with a Good Source of Protein
Whether you’re a breakfast person, it’s always best to make sure your first meal of the day contains a good source of protein. Protein is the primary nutrient that keeps your appetite satisfied; it’s slow to digest and keeps blood-sugar levels stabilized.
2. Reduce Carbs (Sugar)
The goal is to avoid insulin spikes and reverse insulin and leptin resistance—re-training your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. The way to do this is to reduce carbohydrate intake, thereby decreasing insulin production. Over time, when the ingestion of carbohydrates is dramatically cut back, your body will be retrained and forced to once again begin utilizing its natural fat-burning pathways.
Low, stable insulin levels are also ideal for sustained energy throughout the day; the lower, and the less your insulin levels fluctuate (such as spiking after your body is exposed to a large dose of sugar and then falling dramatically shortly thereafter and causing lethargy), the better. In fact, the key to losing weight is to maintain low, stable levels of insulin throughout the day so your body can produce large amounts of hormone-sensitive lipase and continuously burn fat.
To accomplish this, pay astute attention to what your body is telling you. Only eat when you are hungry. Cravings—especially for sugar—don’t mean you are hungry! These cravings may be tough to ignore at first, but as you start to eat healthier, exercise, and cut sugar intake, your cravings will slowly diminish as your body adapts to lower sugar and insulin levels. This is a positive signal and indicates your lifestyle change is working!
3. Try healthy low-carbohydrate snack options
To prevent dramatic blood-sugar spikes, it’s best to snack on low-carbohydrate options, such as nuts and seeds. If you like to snack on fruit, low-carbohydrate fruits include berries, apples, and pears. Since fruit is still a source of natural sugar, your blood-sugar levels will benefit from pairing fruit with a protein or healthy fat to slow digestion (such as avocado or almond butter).
4. Natural sweeteners are not the King
Although they are worth alternatives to white sugar, natural sweeteners, such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut nectar, and raw honey are still simple carbs that digest rapidly. They should be used sparingly to promote a blood-sugar balance.
And while these sweeteners are the lesser of the evils when it comes to sugar, green-leaf stevia is a better option; it’s been shown to have little to no impact on blood sugar.
5. Embrace good sleep
Research suggests that sleep deprivation can promote weight gain and sabotage your blood-sugar levels. In one study, sleep restriction was shown to decrease insulin sensitivity (i.e., insulin stops responding to sugar in the bloodstream) – and impair the functioning of the appetite-control hormones, leptin and ghrelin. As mentioned above, without leptin, your body will have a hard time knowing when you’re truly full or hungry. That promotes constant food cravings and puts your body in a state of stress, which raises cortisol levels. This tangled web of hormone imbalances is another major cause of having difficulty losing weight.
Since sleep deprivation is also a form of stress, it can cause your body to release excess cortisol. And as you now know, the prolonged release of cortisol can promote fat storage around your midsection.
5. Switch to Low-Glycemic Foods
Lastly, referring to a list of low-glycemic foods can also help you choose the foods to eat that will keep your blood-sugar levels balanced. The glycemic load measures the impact a certain food has on your blood-sugar levels as it gets digested.
Food that ranks between 0-11 is considered low-glycemic. It will have a minimal impact on blood- sugar levels. Meanwhile, 11-19 is moderate, and 20+ is high. The glycemic load takes the serving size of food into consideration, whereas the glycemic index only measures how quickly food can digest into sugar. In other words, a banana could be highly glycemic, but based on serving size, it actually has a moderate glycemic load.
Avoiding simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) is perhaps the most important rule to follow in losing weight. Sugar consumption causes the release of insulin, which signals cells of your body to absorb sugar and store it as either glycogen or fat. Leptin signals your body it is full and should start burning fat for energy. Hormone-sensitive lipase breaks down stored fat for use as energy and is activated by glucagon (when your blood sugar levels are low).
Exposing your body to excess sugar continuously will over time, lead to insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and the inhibition of hormone-sensitive lipase. This state not only makes it very difficult to burn stored fat for energy (and thus lose weight), it also makes your body more likely to break down muscle for energy. Furthermore, insulin resistance results in constantly high blood sugar levels—which can cause many harmful health conditions including atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, and damage to blood vessels and tissues throughout the body.
Remember, when first cutting carbohydrates and shifting to the burning of stored body fat for fuel, you may feel lackadaisical and have strong cravings for carbohydrates. These cravings are normal (you don’t have to eat carbohydrates) and will subside as your body adjusts to burning fat. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates helps keep your insulin levels low—which decreases your creation of body fat, escalates your burning of dietary fat, and increases your use of stored fat for energy.
Be careful of food companies that often add multiple different simple sugars to a single food product, which may push each of these sugars down the ingredients list. Be aware of how much total sugar is in a product by checking the Nutrition Facts label. Of course, eating whole, natural, minimally-processed foods when possible is ideal.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions about the steps or want to express your opinion, leave a comment below.
1. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
2. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels
5. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women.
6. Glycemic index for 60+ foods