The subject of losing weight is always very topical but especially this time of year. With the number of different weight-loss diets on offer along with advice in magazines and newspapers it is understandable why people become confused with what they should be doing.
One of the key areas in weight loss and weight management is to control your blood sugar level. I meet many people who are very focused on their calorie intake but haven’t really considered their blood sugar control.
Having better blood sugar control will lead to better energy levels, reduce craving of sweet foods, better sleep, as well as improved ability to lose weight and keep it off.
Glucose (simple sugar) is our main energy-giving fuel for the body. But it depends how quickly this fuel source is released from digestion and then absorbed in to the blood stream. The quicker this happens then the worse your energy levels will be and the harder it can be too loose weight.
Surprisingly keeping your blood sugar level even can help prevent:
- Heart disease and strokes
- Diabetes and sugar cravings
- Weight gain, especially around the middle
- Polycystic ovaries and PMS
- Low mood, poor memory
- Gout, psoriasis and many more common ailments.
How do I achieve this?
A meal and/or food that achieves this more even blood sugar is by definition is called ‘Low GL’, with GL meaning ‘glycaemic load’. The GL of a food/meal is an accurate indicator of how it will impact your blood sugar balance. The higher the GL the greater the impact.
A meal with a low GL will be made up of a type of carbohydrate that contains slow release sugars and a larger portion of protein, as protein takes longer to digest and hence slows down the release of carbohydrates from the digestive tract into the blood. Eating such meals ‘little and often’ further can help to maintain an even blood sugar.
Eating regular meals and snacks can provide your body with a constant and even supply of fuel, meaning you will experience less cravings.
Cutting back on stimulants will also be a big help. This is particularly so if you are used to drinking coffee with a carbohydrate snack, such as croissant. Studies have found that a coffee/carbohydrate combination can lead to triple the increase in blood sugar levels, whilst almost halving insulin sensitivity. Other stimulants include alcohol, cigarettes, and refined sugar.
Blood sugar spikes (peaks) mean more insulin, which can lead to more excess sugar to be dumped in the liver, where it is easily converted to fat, and can be noticed often around the waist area. The more often this happens the more ‘resisitant’ you become to insulin and hence the body tries to make more.
Peaking blood sugar leads to big drops in energy, feeling tired, moody, sleepy, poor concentration, and hunger.
To maintain your weight most people need about the value of 65 GLs per day. You can find GL tables on the internet to help work out the value of foods/meals. To lose weight then the GL value should be no more than 45 GLs per day. These values include about 5 GLs for drinks.
To lose weight in practical terms this would mean 10GLs for breakfast, lunch and dinner with two 5 GL snacks.
Meals of around 10 GLs are perfect to help lose weight.
Beans and lentils have slow carbohydrate, protein and hence a very low GL. So using beans instead of potatoes with a meal has a big effect on lowering the GL of a meal.
The more refined a grain the higher its GL so white rice is much higher than brown. As oats have more protein and fibre they are lower GLs.
- Try not to eat more than 65 GLs per day in total.
- Make low GL foods such as oats, pulses, berries, cherries, as your staples.
- Eat fruit don’t drink it
- Aim for 3 meals per day and 2 snacks
- Combine protein and carbohydrate foods in a meal.
Helpful GL values
To get you started here are some staple GL food values:
|Boiled new potatoes||75g||125g|
|Pulses||½ x 400g can||¾ 400g can|
|Wholemeal bread||1 slice||Just over 1 slice|