You’re at work. It’s 3pm. You’d give an arm and a leg for some chocolate right now.
You get up and walk to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. And you just happen to wander past a box of those charity chocolates.
Only $1? What value! And for charity? I must! I’ll take 3, thanks!
You go back to your desk and devour the Caramello Koalas between sips of tea. And you feel a boost of energy for a hot minute ‘til you feel a wee bit ill from all the sugar.
The Caramello Koalas (that’s Cadbury chocolate for the non-Australian crowd) might just see you through until dinner time, where you have a big ol’ bowl of pasta. And then you treat yourself to a square or 7 of dark chocolate.
You fall into bed, feeling a bit bloated and uncomfortable, and drift off to sleep.
Only to wake up wide-eyed at 3am.
So, what’s going on here? It’s a little phenomenon I like to call the Ol' Blood Sugar Rollercoaster.
I see this so often with clients in my Functional Nutrition practice. When we eat sugar, refined carbs and caffeine, we feel energised for a short time. The body sees this as an emergency (after all, it ain’t natural), so it produces cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) for a quick boost of energy.
Then the sugar high wears off, blood sugar plummets, and we’re left feeling exhausted and craving caffeine and more sugar and carbohydrates. So we eat more refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, and the vicious cycle continues.
This. Is. Not. Good.
After subjecting our bodies to constant stress, our organs take a hit. The pancreas can wear out, producing insufficient qualities or quantities of insulin. The adrenals may become exhausted. The liver can have trouble converting food to fuel.
But what about real food sources of carbohydrates and sugar?
As you may have gathered, I’m all about unrefined food here. And it’s absolutely ok to have real food sources of carbohydrates and sugar in your diet.
After all, even kale is a carbohydrate.
But seriously, it’s great to include moderate amounts of starchy carbohydrates like sweet potato and pumpkin. It’s also perfectly fine to eat a couple of pieces of fruit a day. But even consuming these whole foods in excess without adequate fats and protein can lead to the Ol' Blood Sugar Rollercoaster.
So, how do we avoid the rollercoaster?
We need to make sure we’re having plenty of healthy fats and proteins with each meal as these are slower burning fuel sources for the body.
It takes a little bit of experimentation to find the right macronutrient ratio (that is, the ratio of protein, fats, and carbohydrates). We’re all different, so you’ll need to find what works for you. Start with around 30% protein, 30% fats and 40% carbohydrates at each meal.
Healthy protein sources include organic grass-fed beef, pastured organic eggs, wild-caught fish and organic chicken.
Healthy fats include cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter and ghee, organic animal fats, avo, nuts and seeds.
Healthy complex carbohydrates include all veggies, from sweet potato to spinach and everything in between. There’s a place here for some properly prepared grains, although you may find it best to avoid them as you are transitioning towards balancing your blood sugar.
If you’re well and truly in the rollercoaster, your body may have lost its intuition around food, and be craving more and more carbohydrates. You may need to cut out all starchy carbohydrates and sugars (even natural ones), for a couple of weeks while you rebalance your blood sugar regulation.
To overcome the Blood Sugar Rollercoaster, it’s important to eat regularly throughout the day. Start by eating 5-6 small meals, each containing healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates (mostly leafy greens and other non-starchy carbs for now).
As you start to feel your energy is more consistent during the day, you can move towards eating less frequently.
Thanks for stopping by, amigo! Are you stuck on the Ol' Blood Sugar Rollercoaster? If you’d like personalised support to ditch the 3pm slump and supercharge your energy, click the button below to schedule your free Discovery Call. Sessions are via phone or Skype – so you can be anywhere in the world!
Image via bewell.com