Is sugar crashing and crushing your fitness goals?
Too many people are not paying attention to their blood sugar. Are you one of them? Stabilizing your blood sugar is not just for diabetics. It is the secret to staying full of energy, health and best of all; staying FIT. Over the years I have met so many women getting into fitness who have received really bad advice from their personal trainers.
One of the worst I’ve ever heard was from a young lady who looked marvelous although she admitted she was not getting enough sleep; however she had been told by her personal trainer to eat Pixy Stix after her workouts. Say whaaaaaat? This is BAD advice and shows how much we need to learn how to manage the highs and lows of blood sugar balancing act.
Are you trying to lose weight?
A well-balanced blood sugar level is crucial to your overall fitness and well-being, regulating your hormones, triggering your body to burn stored fat, and increasing your metabolism to help you lose weight. (source)
Groundbreaking studies prove that blood sugar is a primary factor in determining your health level. If not only affects the strength of your immune system, but also the quality of your sleep and even how fast you age! Women need to know about the surprising ride that blood sugar roller coaster ride will take them on. If you want to be more beautiful inside and out, balance your blood sugar levels.
So you might be thinking, “I thought blood sugar levels were something only diabetics worried about.” Well, blood sugar is also known as glucose, it serves your body by providing energy for your muscles, metabolism and your brain. Glucose enters your bloodstream fairly quickly after you eat, this causes a bump in your blood sugar levels. Production of insulin is started by your pancreas which help your cells to absorb glucose and use it to function.
Healthy whole foods such as veggies and lean meats will cause a small yet steady rise in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This is good. However, some foods, like white rice, white bread, white potatoes, pasta, cookies, pastries and other highly processed foods will cause a huge spike in these levels. This is NOT good.
Blood sugar impacts so many different areas of your body that researchers are still doing studies to be able to fully understand them all. Not only does what you eat have an impact on your blood sugar levels, but so does how much you exercise and when and how you eat meals. A rise in free radicals can cause inflammation.
Also, steep rises in insulin and blood sugar will cause you to have an energy crash where your body starts storing fat. Ironically the more you use your muscles, the more sensitive they are to insulin, according to the chairwoman of the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at George Washington University. Unfortunately, for women who workout, this may mean greater blood sugar lows occur more frequently than women who don’t even workout!
Blood sugar levels also have a direct impact on the performance of your brain! Evidence shows that blood sugar spikes become blood sugar lows and thus limits the amount of glucose received by your brain. This leads to brain fog and fatigue. Your body then might then produce higher levels of stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. These hormones can cause sleep disruptions.
Are you beginning to see the snowball effect here? Going back to the young lady I spoke of in the beginning. She was working out and spiking her blood sugar, was unable to sleep, taking melatonin at an increasing dosage. This was creating a cascade of problems.
Your fitness level is not only determined by your weight and your BMI. It is partly determined by your blood sugar levels. It is important to keep those levels stable so that you will have the energy you need to get in the gym and hit those goals. Low blood sugar can cause some fatigue which can have a definite negative impact on your workouts.
Elevated blood sugar levels trigger a surge in free radicals, which are the major cause of aging and declining health. These free radicals also speed up the aging process because glucose causes collagen production to slow and thus the skin looks stiffer and older.
Signs that your blood sugar is too high:
- You feel strangely anxious or nervous
- You begin sweating even while doing nothing
- Your heart rate is too fast for your current activity level
- You become very thirsty
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
Blood glucose is commonly considered too high if it is higher than 130 mg/dl before a meal or higher than 180 mg/dl two hours after the first bite of a meal. However, most of the signs and symptoms of high blood glucose don’t appear until the blood glucose level is higher than 250 mg/dl. Some of the symptoms have a rapid onset, while others require a long period of high blood glucose to set in. If you feel your blood sugar might be too high, please see your doctor.
Here are some simple tips you can use to keep those blood sugar levels in balance:
- Drink plenty of water; health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. You could also use this hydration calculator
- Use cinnamon on your food. Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar by stimulating insulin receptors, giving them a stronger affinity for the blood-sugar lowering hormone. In response, the body needs to produce less insulin in order to create the desired effect. This creates less pancreatic stress, improved metabolic rate, and decreased inflammation. (source: Natural News)
- Don’t sit around. Unfortunately, many of us working at a desk. It’s important to do something active after a meal so that your cells can use that glucose for fuel and keep your blood sugar level balanced. Try taking a short walk after meals before heading back to your desk.
- Get some bacteria. The good kind. Keeping a healthy intestinal flora is also important to stabilize your blood sugar levels. You can do this by eating more fermented foods like kimchi (Hi Yon–I’m out of kimchi), sauerkraut and dill pickles as well as Greek Yogurt. You can ferment your own foods and yogurt!
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. According to Dr. Mercola, artificial sweeteners make your body store fat anyways! It worsens your insulin sensitivity and promotes weight gain. So put down that diet soda! Artificial sweeteners alter the environment in your gut, leading to obesity and raising your risk of diabetes.
- Balance your workouts. Because aerobic exercise boosts the energy-burning ability of your cells and helps to burn fat more efficiently while resistance workouts build those glucose utilizing muscles doing both cardio and strength training at each workout will reduce your risk of diabetes over the long run.
- See a chiropractor. Believe it or not, it is beneficial to overall health not just for back pain. It improves the ability of a body to regulate its internal conditions, which is called homeostasis.
- Supplement with Magnesium. Over 80% of the population is deficient in Magnesium. It is well known that people with insulin resistance also experience increased excretion of magnesium in their urine, which further contributes to diminished magnesium levels. This magnesium loss appears to be secondary to increased urinary glucose, which increases urinary output. Therefore, inadequate magnesium intake seems to prompt a vicious cycle of low magnesium levels, elevated insulin and glucose levels, and excess magnesium excretion. In other words, the less magnesium your body has, the less it appears to be able to “hang onto it. (source Mercola.com)
- Don’t exclude healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, and butter. at slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevents sugar highs and sugar crashes. This keeps us full longer so we can reach or maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat protein with meals. I prefer to consume healthy fat and protein at breakfast, rather than carbs. I usually eat eggs, coconut oil, and low-carb veggies for breakfast. I tend to consume carbs for lunch and dinner. This isn’t a hard-fast rule, but include protein at each meal. Shoot for about 20 grams of protein at meals. Protein is high in nutrients that improve your workout results.
- Don’t skimp on sleep! Sleep is vital to a healthy body. If you are not getting enough sleep, all the systems of your body will be competing for energy. That’s not what you want. Learn to create the best atmosphere for sleep and create a routine that will help you sleep consistently better at night.
- Don’t overdo grains, even the “healthy” ones. You want to limit your carb intake at mealtimes so that you don’t spike your blood sugar levels. Carbs have come under so much scrutiny in the last decade, much like fats in the 80’s and 90’s. Let’s not vilify carbs, rather let’s highlight the good ones, omit the bad ones, and eat them with caution in moderation. Any diet that requires you to completely cut out a food group is hardly sustainable, that is why I find certain low carb diets hinder rather than help you achieve health. To see more about the sustainable weight loss lifestyle I recommend go to my Weight Loss Page.
- Get your vegetable intake up! Cruciferous and green leafy veggies are great for helping to balance your blood sugar levels, makes your body more alkaline and improves recovery time
Now, back to the young lady who was advised to eat the Pixy Stix. Rather than ruin her health, I would recommend drinking a protein smoothie with fruit (especially berries which have antioxidants and support recovery) and Pristine Protein Powder.
I understand that many people worry that carbs will make them fat. If you are dieting to lose body fat and are cutting back on carbs, you might want to consider eating your carb heavy meal right after your workout. This is the time of day when your body is least likely to convert them into fat. Carbs can be very useful to optimize your workout routines.
If you are an avid gym enthusiast, you will want to maintain your health by making smart choices when it comes to fueling your body. By the way, collagen powder is a great pre-workout supplement to add to your fuel. Carbs before workout with collagen powder are great, for example, a cup of greek yogurt mixed with ½ a banana or applesauce.
After a workout, you could try a shake with protein powder, a healthy fat and up to a cup berries, you could even add in some spinach. This is much healthier than eating candy to restore your glucose. Also, if you are taking advantage of the smoothies and shakes offered at your gym, I would highly advise you to ask what the sugar content in those concoctions are. You might be surprised to find out.
If you're dieting to lose body fat and you're consuming carbs at any other meal of the day, the last thing that you want to do is nix the post-workout carbs. If anything, cut carbs from other meals and save them for right after your gym session.
What are your favorite healthy pre and post-workout fuels?