Sugar Rush: Insulin Spike

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If you want your days to be more productive and rewarding, launch them with a nourishing meal. You will be more productive all day long if you could just invest few minutes in eating a healthy breakfast. Yes. A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day! Hot cereal or granola or an egg omelette with toast that jump-starts the brain, and fire up the metabolism and gives you energy that lasts till midday, sounds great!  But not all food is created equal. Foods burn at different speed. Sugary cereal and drinks goes up faster than the food packed with little fat and protein.

What you eat impacts your insulin level. Unable to believe? Do you know that more than any other hormones in our body our diet is key in regulating the insulin level?

Everything you eat is converted to sugar. Yes… The carbohydrates, the fats, the proteins are converted to glucose, that ends up in your blood, and are ready to travel around the body, no matter where they come from your meal!

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Fast foods are more tempting especially when you are hurry and hungry. They are a complete package of fats, calories and sodium that leads to your “blood sugar soaring!” Do you know that fast food meals spikes blood sugar levels by 30% even in a healthy person? An average hamburger size in early 60s were just 1.5 oz/42.5g but today it is more than 8 oz/227g! Can you imagine the sugar rush! The regular sodas and juices in this package are loaded with sugars and in fact, your body doesn’t need so much!

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Your body is unprepared for this sudden sugar rush, and have to release a massive amount of insulin all at once to deal with the rise in blood sugar. High spike in insulin lead to a dramatic drop in blood glucose, which can cause your body to feel hungry again. What next? You will end up eating more food since you are hungry and the cycle repeats. The sad thing is the frequent sugar rush and the insulin spikes can lead to mood swings, constipation, and lower your energy levels. Ultimately it can worsen the diabetes condition and promote weight gain. In addition to this cycle repetition, the huge amount of sodium that is hidden in the food will increase your blood pressure, too!

Sugar rush, insulin spike, high blood pressure, weight gain and all these together, sounds terrific!

What you eat with your carbohydrate also matters. Sugar level rises about 15 to 20 minutes after you eat. But it peaks the same time if your meal is with quickly digested carbs like white bread, white rice, candy, soda and juice! Larger the portions of processed carbs higher the spike of sugar! Eating too much food can make you feel uncomfortable and tired.

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If your meal is very well balanced with complex carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber, the blood sugar tend to peak about one to two hours after eating. Protein and fats tend to slow down the absorption of glucose. A bowl of rice with beans / lean meat and vegetables will naturally reduce the blood sugar impact of the whole meal! Beans are digested slowly, hence the small impact. You can enjoy your dessert too, as long as it is a part of a healthy meal plan that is combined with exercise.

So, you need to be mindful of portion sizes, the quality of the carbohydrates, proteins and high fat add-on like salad dressings, sauces and cheese.

It is wise to stay away from high GI foods like white bread / rice and sugary drinks. Rice cakes & crackers, baked potato, breakfast cereals, cakes & scones, donuts, made of refined flour are High in GI

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Eat less refined carbohydrate and more whole foods like apple, plums, beans, lentils, barley, whole meal bread, nuts, pasta, green jade noodles, buck wheat soba noodle, shirataki noodle that are low in GI. Other Asian noodles like udon, rice vermicelli, hokkien-mee  are medium in GI

Large spike in insulin can cause muscle loss!

The body normally combats low blood sugar by releasing energy from stored fat, but the high level of insulin will not allow this process to happen. The only source of energy left in this situation is protein. Your body will breakdown the protein. You gain fat and at the same time you loose muscle. Not a good sign!

High insulin, turns off the fat burning and turns on the fat storage switch. This is not we want!  We only want the fat to be broken down for energy generation and this can be achieved only when the insulin levels are low!

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Eating meals rich in whole grains, lean meat, unsaturated fats, nuts, fruits & vegetables at regular intervals along with regular exercise – combination of aerobics, strength and stretching exercises, for 30 minutes every day, will help to keep the insulin and blood sugar well balanced.

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