Most roller coasters are fun. Your stomach full of butterflies. Anticipating the unknown. The gigantic ups and downs. The delightful dizziness in your head. Most roller coaster rides last two to three minutes. Now, imagine riding a roller coaster all day long...no thanks! While it’s fun for a few minutes at an amusement park, when it comes to everyday living, riding the blood sugar roller coaster day in and day out is exhausting. It depletes you of energy, focus, and sets you up for weight gain. It’s no way to live. You know you’ve been for a ride when you’re constantly fighting sugar cravings, having trouble focusing, struggling to fall and/or staying asleep, experiencing mood swings, staving off low energy levels and battling with undesired weight gain or having trouble losing weight. Sound familiar?
Let's get off that roller coaster. But first, we need to know who's to blame for the ride.
What fuels the roller coaster?
Carbs. Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients (fat and protein are the other two). All carbohydrates are metabolized as sugar in your body. That means when you eat a carbohydrate, regardless of the source (bread, pasta, rice, cookies, candy, soda and even vegetables and fruits), it turns into sugar the moment it hits your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels spike, which is alarming to your body, so it triggers your pancreas to quickly secrete your fat-storing hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to unlock the door to your cells, allowing sugar to get into the cell and out of your bloodstream, in turn driving blood sugar levels back down to normal. Ultimately, your body’s goal is to bring you down from the top of that roller coaster!
Now, you can use that sugar in your bloodstream for energy. If you’re active shortly after consuming it, you’ll burn it off. The problem is so often we’re consuming more sugar than we need, and most of us have desk jobs. We aren’t running marathons all day long, and I wouldn’t recommend it. When insulin takes that sugar to your cell, the sugar is turned into fat and stored since it’s not needed. What happens next? You eat again, which means you don’t tap into your fat stores. So you continue to store fat instead of burning it, all day and all night long. I repeat: your body stores that sugar as fat. Carbohydrates, the very foods you’ve been eating as you’ve been so focused on eating less fat, have been packing on your pounds.
What’s happening in your bloodstream?
Your blood sugar levels—which were spiked by the carbs—now drop once that sugar is stored in your cells. (Anything that goes up must come down! Thanks a lot, Isaac Newton.) The more carbs you eat in shorter time intervals causes your blood sugar levels to hit their greatest highs and lows.
I’m referring to the vicious cycle of spikes and drops in blood sugar levels that happens when following the Standard American Diet (SAD), an eating regimen consisting of high intake of carbohydrates with minimal healthy fats, and sporadic protein. Feeling great, having consistent energy levels, ability to focus, maintaining stable moods, feeling no cravings and even having a handle on weight maintenance and loss comes down to blood sugar regulation.
When we eat carbs, we do not receive a message to stop eating until our stomachs are physically stretched and full. When we eat fats (and proteins too), they help slow the digestion of carbs in addition to sending our brain a hormonal message (cholecystokinin) telling you to stop eating. That’s why when you eat a banana by itself it doesn’t fill you up, and an hour or so later, you may even be hungrier than you were before you ate it. Okay, so you understand that eating a lot of carbs and/or sugar take you for a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster, causing your fat-storing hormone, insulin, to do its job and store fat.
Now, what about that magical hormone we want to be best friends with—the one I told you about earlier—glucagon?
Here’s the key: Glucagon is released by your pancreas to do its job when you’re not riding the blood sugar roller coaster. It can get to work when your blood sugar levels are nice and stable. Imbalanced blood sugar levels can lead to weight gain, and stable blood sugars are essential for weight loss. Remember, you can’t burn fat and store it at the same time. So in order to be in touch with glucagon, we’ve gotta stay off that roller coaster.
5 steps to stable blood sugar levels (keeping you OFF the blood sugar roller coaster!)
1) PFC Every Three! We get off the roller coaster by having protein and healthy fat with our carbs, every time we eat. “PFC Every Three” is the key to keeping you off the roller coaster because it keeps your blood sugar levels steady.
Here’s how it works: You know that carbohydrates, which are the foundation of low-calorie and low-fat diets, cause your fat-storing hormone, insulin, to be released and store fat. Fat and protein, on the other hand, aren’t metabolized as sugar. They act as buffers, slowing down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and, in turn, help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Again, when your blood sugars are stable, that wonderful fat-burning hormone, glucagon, is released, which burns stored fat for energy. Get on glucagon’s good side by eating more butter and bacon, thus giving glucagon a chance to shine. You come out ahead too, because when your glucagon is rocking and rolling, so are you! You become a fat- burning machine with more energy and a better chance at shedding the pounds.
2) Take the "Every Three" part seriously. It’s not just about what you eat, but also when you eat that is important. I’ve found for both myself and the thousands of clients we’ve worked with that having a P, F and C every three to four hours—starting within an hour of waking, all the way up until you lay your head on the pillow at night—is the best way to support overall blood sugar balance and weight loss. This could sound overwhelming if you’re used to only eating three meals a day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating more food overall. Eating snacks between your meals often results in reduced hunger at mealtimes, so you tend to eat smaller portions. That’s because it boosts your metabolism by keeping your blood sugar levels stable. This also lowers your levels of your fat-storing hormone, insulin and supports the release of your fat-burning hormone, glucagon, and in turn, weight loss.
Snacking between your meals is a great preventative measure to stay off the blood sugar roller coaster. When you don’t snack, your body learns to live in “starvation mode,” and your metabolism slows down as your body adjusts and compensates. Your body then hangs onto extra energy at meals by turning it into fat because it’s expecting that it will need that fat in case you don’t eat for a while again. Snack on protein, healthy fat, and vegetable and fruit carbohydrates every few hours to keep your metabolism high and to stay in fat-burning mode.
3) Try to never eat that banana (or any other carb) alone. If you’re in a pinch and cannot find all three PFC, opt for two out of three. Try to find a protein or fat source to go with your carbs to soften the effect carbs have on your blood sugar levels.
4) Consider GlucoVive™. This supplement helps promote stable blood sugar levels and healthy glucose metabolism. If you are someone who is super sugar sensitive (like me), or has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, I highly recommend supplementing your real food eating regimen with this key supplement to help you keep your blood sugars stable so that you can feel great, focused, energetic and stay off that roller coaster.
5) Eat less sugar and processed foods. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth saying because these are the carbs that spike blood sugars MOST. Choose carbs that give you the biggest bang for your buck, like berries, spinach, sweet potatoes and kale. If you're someone who craves sugar like no other (like me!), you'll wnat to be sure to grab the guide below for my BEST tips to BUST (and prevent!) sugar cravings so that you can gain control and get to your healthiest self and more energetic life!