One of the primary nutrition strategies in my online programs is keeping blood sugars stable throughout the day so that you have less physical cravings, hormones stay in balance (meaning less mental or emotional cravings) and energy levels are constant (meaning you’re having a cup of coffee at 1pm because you want it not because you need it).
HOW TO STOP CRAVINGS AND LOSE MORE FAT!
Keeping blood sugar balanced is probably the most important factor in maintaining even energy levels and weight. The level of glucose in your blood largely determines appetite. When the level drops, you feel hungry. The glucose in your bloodstream is available to your cells to make energy. When the levels are too high the body converts the excess to glycogen (short term) or fat (long-term).
If our blood sugar levels are too low, we experience a host of symptoms including fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, depression, headaches and digestive problems.
So how do you keep your blood sugars balanced?
FOUR TIPS FOR KEEPING BLOOD SUGARS STABLE:
1) EATING EVERY THREE HOURS:
When I say eat ever three hours, I don’t mean sit down and eat lunch or dinner every three hours. A great breakdown is to have your three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with two or three snacks in between; this not only keeps blood sugars balanced but food can be very metabolic (you burn calories digesting meals), so eating regularly could also potentially speed up your metabolism.
Even though some will argue that eating regular meals will have no effect of metabolism and the arguments are valid on both sides; its effect of blood sugars cant be argued. By keeping energy and hormones levels stable and in balance can allow you to train harder without the food cravings associated with blood sugar drops and can give you a significnatly better quality of life whilst helping you lose body fat, build muscle whilst get fitter and healthier in the process.
2) AVOID PROCESSED FOOD:
Processed food actually has two major negative effects on your body. Firstly, most processed foods have removed a lot of the ingredients and nutrients from the original source and replaced with it sugar (for preservation and taste) or removed the ingredients that worked to ‘buffer’ i.e. slow down its energy release; meaning blood sugars dramatically rise with consumption of the food.
Secondly, the ‘energy surge/drop feed back loop’ i.e. loads of energy followed by a crash that refined sugar creates can have a really negative effect on your hormones. If hormones are out of balance, your entire body will be less efficient at converting carbohydrate for energy (some can get mild to severe form of insulin resistance) leading to a lack of nutrient uptake for healthy nerve and muscle cells and can have a detrimental impact any fat loss or muscle building goals.
Take home message: avoid processed food like the plague (or at least keep it very moderate).
3) EAT MORE FAT:
This is discussed at length in the fat section; but having a higher level of fat particularly healthy fat like omega 3 from oily fish or hormone supporting fat like saturated fat from grass fed beef can do a tremendous job as balancing blood sugars. The truth is, if you only ate a diet with good hormone-boosting fats, nutrient dense vegetables and quality protein sources; because fat is so satiating and slow releasing, you would unlikely ever have a blood sugar issue.
For the majority of people (especially in the western world), this isn’t feasible, so the key is choosing the correct sources of carbohydrate, timing them right and making them work for you. “Carbohydrates are a great slave but a terrible master” – adapted Chinese proverb.
4) EAT SLOW RELEASE CARBOHYDRATE AT INSULIN SENSVITE TIMES:
There are two times in the day when you will be particularly insulin sensitive; this of course varies metabolism to metabolism but in general, your body will absorb and uptake carbohydrates more efficiently first thing in the morning (after a fasted sleep) and post workout (after you have trained).
If you have ever worried about ‘carbs will make me fat’ – I will try and crush that myth now. True, excess carbohydrates (especially refined sugars and processed carbohydrates) can get transported by the liver and converted to fat but if you are following a tension style training program and using short burst of high intensity interval training for you cardio, you WILL NOT get fat having good quality carbohydrates at this times.
Tension style training elicits a significant tear in muscle fibers, which can give a substantial boost to metabolism. Have you ever read an article that talks about how weight training allows you to burn calories while you watch your favourite TV show? Here’s how.
When you weight train, you tear muscle fibers, these fibers need to repair after every single workout and they use food (amino acids in particular) to do this. You have now given your food another job to do; not only do you have to eat to have enough calories so you brain and vital organs can function and consume enough that you can go about your day; you now have to repair from you workout on top of that!
In order for your keep up with the demands of repairing from your workout, your body elevates its metabolism, meaning you are not effectively burning more calories even while you rest.
Tension style training and HIIT are great systems for ‘getting a better bang for your buck’ meaning you have to do less to get more. The same applies for first thing in the morning, assuming you have been using the training principles mentioned above, those fibres could be repairing for up to 72 hours AFTER the workout so the food you eat goes towards repair and not into fat storage. That’s why I can confidently say eating good quality carbohydrates after your workouts or first thing in the morning will not make you fat (on top of utilising the other principles I’m mentioned in the past).
If you find that you are not losing body fat as quickly as you would like or that you are always fighting cravings (phycailly, mentally or emotionally) or you just find that your energy massively dips as the day goes on, try these tips for two weeks and see how quickly your overall life quality (and physique) can improve. I hope it helps 🙂