An unstable blood sugar balance could be the reason you’re not losing weight. Here’s why.
Eat less, move more. That’s how you lose weight, right? Not so. The process of losing weight is not so simple. Everybody is unique in the way it responds to the absorption and utilisation of food and nutrients, and how it responds to exercise. Not to mention the personal lifestyle considerations, such as stress levels and sleep. All these factors influence weight loss and gain. Add to this, they fluctuate throughout our lifetime, which complicates matters even further. But there is a further element at play, the complex relationship between blood sugar and hormones.
A brief lesson in how hormones work in regulating our blood glucose
Though most often associated with diabetes, the hormone insulin is a big contributor in maintaining a healthy weight. To put it simply, the way it works is this: After you eat, the sugar (glucose) from the food enters the bloodstream. The pancreas then produces insulin whose job is to move the sugar from the bloodstream to the cells where it is converted into energy. If this energy is not used up (when you’ve had a day-long Netflix marathon for example), this excess sugar is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen until such time as the body needs it. A different hormone, glucagon is released when your blood sugar levels are low (such as at night when you’re sleeping or when you’ve been exercising) and converts the stored glycogen back into glucose and releases it back into the bloodstream to be used as energy. But if there is an excess of glycogen in the liver and muscles, this is then stored in the fat cells as triglycerides – and you put on weight. On the other hand, when your glycogen is all used up, your body taps into your fat stores. The result? Weight loss.
Problems creep in when your blood sugar is too high, and your levels of insulin are chronically high. This can often lead to you becoming insulin resistant which means your body stops responding to insulin. It’s a vicious cycle because, with the increase in blood sugar, the pancreas produces more and more insulin to try and move it into the cells, but being insulin resistant, the body can’t covert this sugar into energy, which results in weight gain.
So hence, the role of insulin and glucagon have a complex balancing act to play in regulating blood sugar levels, and if you don’t keep them in check, your insulin production will go into overdrive and your weight will suffer, not to mention put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Tips for regulating your blood sugar balance
While everybody’s body is uniquely different, there are certain lifestyle tips one can do to help keep your blood sugar levels in check:
- Exercise regularly: Exercise uses the blood sugar for energy and uses the glycogen stored in the muscles as fuel. It also helps maintain a healthy weight which prevents insulin resistance.
- Include strength training in your exercise routine: Strength training improves heart health, builds muscle and prevents muscle loss, as well as boosts bone density, all of which improves insulin health and lowers high blood sugar levels.
- Eat a healthy diet of with plenty of fibre, healthy fats and whole grains: These all slow carb digestion and sugar absorption, and keep you fuller for longer.
- Manage your carb intake: Too many carbohydrates can cause the delicate balance of insulin production and blood glucose levels to go into overdrive, so try focus on a low carb diet.
- Eat small portions throughout the day: Not only does this keep your blood sugar levels stable, but portion control can also help maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a balanced diet of protein, fat and carbs: Protein builds muscle, fat assists in the absorption of vitamins and carbohydrates sustain energy. Try and eat a combination of all three in one meal. (e.g. Greek yoghurt and oats, crackers, cheese and avocado, pasta and protein)
- Eliminate stress: Stress triggers a “fight or flight response” which causes the body to produce glucagon and cortisol, both of which cause blood sugar levels to rise.
- Choose food with a low GI: Foods with a low glycaemic index such as non-starchy vegetables, oats, yoghurt, lentils slow the digestive process down which in turn reduces blood sugar levels.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water will flush out the excess sugar through your urine.
- Eat meals at set times: Studies have found that men at risk of type 2 diabetes benefitted from restricting all their eating into a nine-hour timeframe. (For example between 11am and 8pm). We suggest consulting a nutritionist for further guidance on restricted eating.
- Take a supplement: Supplements can assist with balancing blood sugar levels and curb cravings.
What NOT to do
Whatever you do, don’t starve yourself. Skipping meals will simply lead to higher blood glucose levels, slowed metabolism and ultimately weight gain.
Herbex Blood Sugar Balance
Herbex has recently launched Blood Sugar Balance comprising the actives, Gymnema sylvestre and Chromium polynicotinate, both of which help balance blood sugar levels. Gymnema sylvestre is a plant also known to fight sugar cravings and may increase insulin production. Chromium polynicotinate is an essential trace mineral which helps with the absorption of chromium and helps the body to metabolise carbohydrates and fats. Take two tablets midday, after lunch. Available at major retailers nationwide.