Are you familiar with the term “blood sugar roller coaster”? No, it is not the fun roller coaster that you see in the amusement park. I am referring to the vicious cycle of spikes and drops in blood sugar levels that happens when you follow the Standard American Diet (SAD). It is a diet that consist high intake of carbohydrates with minimal consumption of healthy fats, and sporadic protein, which is the worse way of eating for your sugar balance. All carbohydrates eventually turn into sugar in the blood stream causing highs and lows in our energy level. What worse is that we are dependent on the next meal, otherwise we feel HANGRY. Constantly being in this state results in symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, headaches, tiredness/energy slumps, food cravings, feeling jittery/hyper-irritability, depression, and weight gain. I was riding that roller coaster for most of my life but I finally got off of it and I am never going back, so here it is.
Twelve years ago, my eating habits were very different. I didn’t know how to regulate my blood sugar levels. I also did not know that I had PCOS and slight insulin resistance. I followed what I thought was a healthy diet/lifestyle, low fat, high carb, and lots of cardio. I was running marathons and participated in fitness classes that did not include weight training.
I always woke up super hungry and needed to eat right away. I would grab 0% fat Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit to it, strawberries, bananas, whatever I had on hand. I drank my coffee with skim milk of course, on my way to work. I felt instantly better after eating breakfast but that did not last. By 10am I was starving again. I needed a quick snack to help my energy levels. I should add that I never left house without food. I always had an apple or granola bar with me just in case I got hungry. I would get horrible headaches if I went longer than 2 hours without food. I thought this was a sign of my metabolism working great. I needed “all the carbs” to support my hard training.
I used my lunch hour to workout. I would run about 6 miles in the park by the office. I would come back to my desk ravenous, ready to refuel. A big salad with lean protein like chicken breast (no skin) or tuna in water with low fat dressing were my staple. I would add quinoa or rice to the salad to increase my carbs and had a piece of fruit like mango. I am sure that you have noticed by now, that I never had enough fat with my meals to slow down the absorption of food. This meant big spikes in insulin release. At least I considered avocado and salmon as a super food and included them in my meals.
I needed an afternoon snack, like cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, or nuts with fruit before the end of my work-day. By dinner time, I was famished. I needed to snack while I was cooking, usually on precut veggies with hummus. I did not consume red meat back then. I told myself that I didn’t like it, but to be honest, I thought it had too much fat. My usual dinner was a white fish or salmon with lots of veggies (steamed, naked) and sweet potato. I would have chocolate or low-fat ice cream (sorbet) for dessert.
By the end of the day I was exhausted, fatigued and ready to crash out on my bed. I was on a blood sugar roller-coaster. My body was running poorly on glucose and did not know how to tap into my fat storage. I felt very sleepy and fatigued after all of my meals. I was also a classic example of Hangry. Both high and low blood sugar caused tremendous stress on my body. One of cortisol’s functions is to help with blood sugar regulation. Training for marathons did not help either. I was constantly “running away from a bear” and eventually got myself into “adrenal fatigue”. My periods were very irregular. Now, I understand that I did not consume enough healthy fats to help hormone production. Lastly, I want to mention that my sleep was interrupted. I needed to pee multiple times a night.
In conclusion, I was eating well compared to the standard American diet that it is high in simple sugars and processed foods. I was eating whole foods, though way too many carbohydrates for my body, and not enough fat. This caused major problems with my blood sugar regulation. I am so happy I discovered Weston A. Price Foundation and turned my lifestyle around. I eat quite opposite now and mostly lift weights. I love a heavy barbell WODS. I also no longer run away from a bear for longer than 15 minutes at-a-time unless I am participating in an OCR race. 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!
Click here to see how I eat now.
Do you need to optimize and find balance in your nutrition? Do you need help getting off that roller coaster? Or maybe you are interested in eating for performance? Give me a call. Let’s chat<3.