Last week I covered how to listen to your hunger & fill your plate with more satiating foods to set yourself up for success. This week I’m diving MORE into balancing meals and the science behind blood sugar regulation. This isn’t something I’ve covered yet here so I’m really excited to talk about how balancing your meals properly will help you feel less tired, obtain more steady energy, reduce sugar/carb cravings & set yourself up for better health long term.
So what is blood sugar? It’s quite literally the amount of sugar in your blood. When you eat sugars/carbs, they release glucose into your blood stream very quickly spiking your blood sugar. Glucose is simply the preferred immediate fuel for all of your body’s cells. Which is a GOOD thing but when it’s out of balance, it’s no longer beneficial and can cause serious health issues down the road along with those things you feel instantly (energy spike & crash, fatigue, cravings, mood swings etc).
So how do you balance your blood sugar to set yourself up for more steady energy, less cravings & a healthy body? Luckily, the answer to that is very simple: balance your meals!
At each meal you’ll want to include:
A source of protein (grass fed beef, pasture raised poultry, wild caught fish, tofu, tempeh, cultured dairy, high quality protein powder)
A source of complex carbs (whole grains, root veggies, beans/legumes)
A source of healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, nut butters, avocado, butter, high quality cheese)
A source of veggies/fiber (any veg you can think of!)
**You are not limited to the examples here, they are just some off the top of my head!
Protein: building blocks of muscle, skin, cartilage & bones. Directly helps stabilize blood sugar.
Complex Carbs: fuel for your brain, organs & muscles.
Healthy Fats: longest lasting source of fuel, helps balance hormones, protects your heart, brain & joints.
Veggies/fiber: micronutrients give your cells LIFE & help with all metabolic processes. Fiber helps with healthy digestion & keeping you full.
Having balanced meals like this help slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, will help manage your appetite & is better for your metabolism & digestion.
If you have a meal thats mostly carbohydrates, you’re setting yourself up for a up & down blood sugar cycle. Spikes & crashes lead to strong, difficult to control cravings for MORE carbs. This is because as humans, we instinctively know that carbs are immediate sources of fuel. It becomes a vicious cycle!
Excessive blood sugar spikes make us sleepy and the crashes that come along with it make us crave. When you eat non fibrous, carb heavy meals without enough protein, fat or fiber, your blood sugar will spike & therefore you get hungry (& tired) sooner and faster!
When you have too much glucose in your bloodstream, you’ll likely crave sugar right after a meal and feel ready for a nap. When you have too little glucose in your bloodstream, you’ll likely feel famished, weak, shaky and light headed. If your meals aren’t balanced, you’re going to put yourself on this up & down cycle that is 0 fun.
BUT if you’re eating high quality protein, carbs, fats & veggies/fiber, you’re setting yourself up to be in a healthy blood sugar range and feel way more energized & in balance.
**sports nutrition aka pre & post workout nutrition is the only time I stray from these guidelines (just focusing on protein & carbs surrounding workout) but that’s a newsletter for another day!
Lastly, there are certainly other factors that come into play when it comes to balancing blood sugar like adaptogens, certain herbs & spices, managing stress & sleep etc BUT balancing your meals is #1 and a great place to start!
Now, is this to say every time you eat something it has to be perfectly balanced? NO!!!!! That’s not realistic or sustainable. It’s simply a concept to strive for most of the time and I think you’ll notice how much better and more energized you feel while practicing this! I also find that when clients try this, they end up snacking less (or not at all), having better digestion (because they are eating less frequently) and having less cravings (especially carbs and sweets) because they are properly fueling their bodies!
Again, these aren’t golden rules, simply something to test the waters with and see how you feel. At the end of the day, you need to honor what works best for YOU.
Let me know if you give this a try! I would love to hear how it goes for you.