Conventional thinking says that weight management is all a matter of calories in vs. calories out. Turns out, there’s more to it than that. This is part 2 of a 3 part series about other factors that may play a role in your trouble keeping your weight balanced.
Today, we’re going to talk about the role that blood sugar regulation plays in weight loss resistance.
I’m sure you’ve heard how Type 2 Diabetes is a real health crisis. What I want you to understand today, is that just because you don’t have that debilitating diagnosis, that doesn’t mean that your blood sugar levels don’t play a huge role in how you feel and how you manage your weight.
Here are a few of the signs that your blood sugar regulation could use a little love:
- Cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Fatigue/low energy, especially if it’s relieved by eating
- Weight gain/difficulty losing weight
- Feeling shaky or irritable when meals are missed
- Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- Hungry again soon after meals
- Insomnia, especially waking during the night
If you relate to any of these, this article is for you!
How blood sugar regulation works (the real simple version):
You eat food.
The pancreas releases insulin, a hormone whose job is to lower the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Insulin goes after sugar molecules created by the foods, especially carbs, and stores them in the liver and skeletal muscles, and when those run out of space, in fat cells.
When you need sugar for energy, the body uses adrenaline and cortisol to release stored sugar. What’s stored in the muscles is used to power them, what’s stored in the liver can be used throughout the body.
How blood sugar regulation can go off track:
What the body wants, all the time, in every situation, is balance. If a person regularly eats too much sugar or too many simple carbohydrates and/or too many refined foods, or is under too much stress, keeping this balance is difficult and the system gets dysfunctional.
Sometimes when blood sugar levels get too high, too fast, the body the body perceives it as an emergency situation and over corrects, releasing too much insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to drop too much. The body also perceives this as an emergency situation and releases adrenaline and cortisol to raise blood sugar back to the ideal level. Note: adrenaline and cortisol are also released when we’re stressed out, with the same result – increased blood sugar levels. This is why managing stress is important in regulating blood sugar.
For lots of people, this process gets repeated over and over and over again. Cells eventually become insulin-resistant – they don’t accept any more sugar, which causes a general increase in blood sugar levels. Left unchecked, this can ultimately lead to type 2 diabetes.
So how does this prevent me from losing weight?
There are a few ways.
First, nutrition 101. When we eat a bunch of junk food, simple, refined carb foods in place of nutrient dense, whole foods, we’re not getting the nutrition we need for our bodies to function properly, and metabolism slows.
Metabolism is the process of converting the foods into energy. While our bodies were designed to use either fat or carbohydrates as energy, most of us have lost the ability to use fat and we get all of our energy from carbohydrate foods.
Next, when there’s too much sugar in the bloodstream, sugar that’s coming from those refined simple carbohydrates and sugary foods, the body can’t process it, and stores it as fat. And this ties back to what we talked about in Part 1 – if the liver is all gunked up with toxic chemicals, it’s not able to store sugar from the bloodstream OR release it for later use. So, more sugar has nowhere to go and the body stores it as fat.
Then, between meals, the liver doesn’t have any sugar available to be released for energy, causing that between-meal energy crash, cravings and that feeling of being “hangry.” So what do we do then? Most people eat some sort of sugary snack or chips or crackers (refined simple carbohydrates) and start the whole dysfunctional process all over again.
And that results in a continually slowed metabolism and more fat stores. And we can’t burn that fat because our sugar/carbohydrate heavy eating habits have programmed us not to.
So the weight stays.
Whew! That’s a lot of science! And a real problem.
What to do??!!
- Eat a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet.
- Avoid sugar.
- Reduce simple and refined carbohydrate intake.
- Include healthy protein and fat each time you eat, to slow the sugar metabolism process.
- Be sure to get plenty of fiber in your diet.
- And drink lots of water.
- Avoid processed, refined and fast foods as much as possible.
- Get plenty of movement to allow the muscles to absorb and release glucose.
- Rest, relax and avoid/manage stress as much as possible to keep adrenaline and cortisol levels under control.