Michael would wake up in the morning, rush around while consuming his coffee with cream and sugar, fail to eat breakfast and grab a muffin and another coffee on his way to work. The muffin was low fat so he thought it to be a good choice.
He started to notice that about 2 hours after he had the muffin he didn’t feel good. He would get shaky and couldn’t concentrate. A co-worker suggested he try some juice and it worked so he kept on doing that.
Michael’s pants started get tighter and he felt really bloated. He couldn’t figure out why this was happening because he was dieting and eating healthy…or so he thought.
When I evaluated his 5 day food tracker I noticed a pattern that was contributing to his hypoglycemic reactions and his inability to lose weight despite his ‘healthy’ choices.
Michael asked me how much orange juice he could have because sometimes he got the shakes and the orange juice helped him immediately. He said he always had an endless supply of mini chocolate bars on hand just in case he ‘needed’ them.
I believe that Michael suffered from hypoglycemia.
Eating rapidly digesting carbohydrates, such as refined bread, cake, pretzels, crackers and breakfast cereals raise your blood sugar. The swift increase can set off a chain of events starting with an increased insulin release that can lead to an equally swift decline in blood sugar a couple of hours later.
When your blood sugar levels drop your body gives you a nice little nudge in the form of the shakes, light headedness, irritability, cravings or nausea to signal you to eat something that will raise your blood sugar levels.
You probably have experienced these feelings before, right?
You are craving a carb or have the shakes, you eat the carb (refined, white), you momentarily feel better and the shakes go away but within 1-4 hours later you experience the whole thing again.
Michael and I discussed the best carbohydrate choices that will help to stabilize his blood sugar, help to keep him feeling full and support his weight loss effort.
After only 5 days of implementing the changes we discussed, he sent me a THANK YOU email because he felt so much better. He said his energy levels were stable and he didn’t need to drink orange juice for the past 3 days.
Go figure that the same carb choices that help to stabilize blood sugar are also great in helping support weight loss.
- Go high fiber. Fiber is a term used for indigestible carbohydrates found in plant foods like beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Because it is not digested, the carbohydrates in fiber don’t add to blood sugar swings, nor do they provide calories. Fiber also slows the digestion and absorption of the non-fiber carbs in that food. Try substituting beans for rice or pasta in a side dish or soup, or toss some chickpeas onto a green salad to add fiber (and filling protein). When having bread, crackers or a bagel make sure to choose ones that have at least 3-5g of fiber preserving. Berries are rich sources of fiber and packed with nutrients, and contain less sugar per weight than many other fruit choices, so they can help with contributing to blood sugar stability.
- Have some very lean protein with each meal. Some of the amino acids from dietary protein are used to generate blood glucose, so even though protein rich foods like meat and eggs don’t have any appreciable amount of carbohydrate on their own, they help contribute to blood sugar too. The conversion causes the glucose to be produced steadily over several hours, which is favorable for preventing blood sugar lows. And as you may have heard, protein satisfies appetite better than fat or carbohydrate, and helps maintain your lean mass while you trim down, so there are bonus reasons include protein as well. Lean meats, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, seafood, eggs, or soy foods are all great options.
- Reduce overall refined carbohydrate consumption. The foods that many dieters turn to to cut calories are high in fast digesting carbohydrates: low fiber crackers and cookies, pretzels, high sugar cereal bars, etc. There are so many wonderful carbohydrates that you can choose from that will aid in the weight loss effort and keep your blood sugar levels stables.
- Watch portions, but don’t fear the fats. Since fats are calorically dense (9 cal per gram, or 120 calories per tablespoon) limiting fat is a standard strategy to curb total energy intake and achieve weight loss. I do recommend being aware of your fat intake as a means to moderate your energy intake (no chugging olive oil from the bottle, okay?), but don’t skip it entirely, especially when cutting back dietary carbohydrates.
Fill half of your plate with vegetables, include 3-5oz of very lean protein (depending on body size), add 1 tsp of healthy oil or sprinkle on a FEW nuts. Enjoy 2-3 pieces of fruit per day. Try to get in ½ cup of beans or lentils in PER day. Drink lots of water and don’t forget to move your body.
Good Morning Power Parfait
1 cup of yoghurt, plain and low fat
1 tbsp of rice bran
½ cup Fiber 1
1 cup of mixed berries, frozen or fresh
¼ tsp of cinnamon
1. Mix in the 1 tbsp of rice bran into the yoghurt
2. Layer the yoghurt, Fiber 1 and berries in a bowl
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon
1 dairy, 1 starch (25g fiber), 1 fruit
This recipe provides you with the minimum daily amount of fiber.
Dairy alternatives: goat’s yoghurt or turn it into cereal by substituting the yoghurt for 1 cup of unsweetened almond or soy milk.