We have blamed the flourishing muffin top for reasons such as stress, sleep, genetics, diet (the classic “abs are made in the kitchen”). But understanding the underlying source of what makes your hips suddenly not quite fit in those summer jeans, waist thicken, and possibly push you over the edge into a diabetic statistic has a better understood explanation. Now I wouldn’t dare put a limit on those well earned curves, as the love you have for your body should extend over every inch! This is about understanding the biochemistry of your body so you can bring your waistline, energy, and pancreas (which governs insulin) back into balance.
The problem with sugar, more specifically managing your blood sugar levels, far exceeds the waistline vanities. As the threat of Type 2 diabetes takes over almost 30 million individuals in the United States alone, the National Institute of Health states that Alzheimers Disease has now taken the name of Type 3 diabetes, as its causation is influenced by elevated blood glucose levels throughout your life.
Whether you are approaching this from a fat loss standpoint or simply accepting that your sweet tooth is ruling your food consumption, here are four easy tips on how to manage your insulin levels, keep your brain sharp, and waist only making guest appearances when prompted by you!
Tip 1: Don’t drink the Kool-aid
Somewhere along the line we began drinking a juice or smoothie first thing in the morning as a saving grace to wellness, but all the antioxidants in the world can’t help the fact that a juiced apple alone has about 22g of sugar and 30g of carbs, that’s equivalent carbs to a cup of oatmeal (but at least oatmeal has fiber which helps slow the spike of sugar).
Not all juices are created equally. If you’re like me and drinking your micronutrients is the best way for you to get your veggies, when choosing a juice look for something without fruit. When it comes to green juices, I find that as long as it contains lemon/lime its palatable, I am Tumeric from Juice Press is one of my favorites! When it comes to smoothies, switch out the banana for coconut and you add healthy fat to slow the spike of blood sugar.
There really is no “healthy” way to add sweetener to your coffee, as even stevia has contraindications. So instead of trying to mask your coffee’s natural bitter output with sweetener, try adding a bit of fat to it to change the palate. I like this option because it not only slows the spike of caffeine and staves off hunger, but it removes the acidic reaction in my gut as well.
Tip 2: Start your day with protein
The first meal of the day is the most important in regulating your blood sugar throughout the day. If you begin your day with a delicious 500-calorie almond croissant (although the fat content is also high, which is positive), the 50g of carbs and 14g of sugar are enough to spike your blood sugar and keep it on a rollercoaster for the rest of your day.
Aside from starting every day with your “Lime and salt solution”, Dr. Jaime Schehr, Naturopathic Physician and Registered Dietitian, recommends you always have protein for breakfast. A breakfast with protein can help set the metabolism throughout the day, help you crave less carbohydrates and provide lasting energy to the body. Additionally, protein in the morning is essential for adrenal support, a governing organ in your endocrine system.
Tip 3: Balance every meal
A focus on consuming fat, protein and fiber in every meal is the key to managing insulin, according to Registered Dietician Albert Matheny, nutritional advisor to Promix Nutrition and co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab. The fat you eat helps build a protective layer for your cells improving its elasticity and sensitivity to insulin, likewise they fiber you consume will reduce your glycemic response. So if you are set on having a salad for lunch, stick with dark leafy greens, and make sure you are getting enough protein through meat, legumes, nuts or seeds, and enough fat by adding avocado or olive oil.
Adding a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to your daily diet helps attenuate the glucose and insulin response from a carb meal. Some die hards like Hillary Duff will do this straight, but you can mix it in to a morning detox tonic or simply add to your salad dressing.
Just as fat and protein should make up the bulk of your food intake, from a sweet potato to a smoothie, adding cinnamon will slow the uptake of sugar as it aids in lowering insulin resistance. Pickled foods are another glycemic lowering solution, as well as some herbs and spices like rosemary, oregano, curry leaves, garlic, turmeric and ginger.
Tip 4: Get enough sleep
When you get enough sleep you lower your bodies need for glucose and increase your ability to metabolize glucose. According to Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin, “Following just one night of not enough sleep, insulin sensitivity is reduced because the stress hormone cortisol is elevated. This causes us to crave higher carb meals, but when you eat them, you often feel worse afterwards because glucose tolerance is reduced.”.