Eating strategically to keep blood sugar steady throughout the day can help to keep fatigue at bay. Every cell in the human body relies on sugar (glucose) for energy. When blood sugar rises, the body produces insulin to attach to glucose that is out in the blood stream and gets it into cells. When blood sugar drops, the body secretes different hormones to raise it. In this way, our blood-sugar and hormone levels are in constant flux, ensuring our cells’ access to glucose. But drastic swings in blood sugar levels zap us of energy, leading to lethargy and fatigue.
To help stabilize blood sugar and not get sugar highs and lows it is about the quality of the nutrients we ingest, not just the amount that matters. Eating this way will also prevent or help diabetes. While imperfect, the Glycemic Index can be useful for characterizing the nutritional quality of a given carbohydrate.
The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks carbohydrate-containing foods (and beverages) on a scale from 0 to 100 according to their potential to boost blood sugar. High GI foods cause sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a low GI are generally digested and absorbed more slowly, and therefore cause a gentler rise in blood sugar and insulin. See how different carbohydrates stack up on this Glycemic Index Reference Chart.
High GI foods include starchy vegetables and highly processed carbohydrates (think: fruit juices, chips, white bread) – in short, the ones we already know aren’t beneficial for our health. By contrast, low GI foods tend to be fiber-rich fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes and minimally or un-processed whole grains.
We help people make deliberate adjustments to their diet to stabilize their blood sugar levels and get their energy back.
1. Incorporate low glycemic index foods into your dietAfter being muscle tested and figuring out what foods your body does well with the next step is to reduce your intake of high GI foods in favor of whole fruits, vegetables, legumes and minimally processed grains. Try substituting steel-cut oatmeal for instant and beans for potatoes. Or, if you’re having a high GI food – say, cornflakes or instant oatmeal – throw in a handful of berries to reduce its glycemic load. The top 10 foods to help with blood sugar are:
- raw chocolate
- green tea
- apple cider vinegar
- lemons and limes
- olives and olive oil
- grass-fed butter
3. Be preparedHealthy snacks help stabilize blood sugar between meals. Plan ahead to ensure you have access to healthy snacks when you need them. An apple, a handful of nuts or a cup of plain coconut yogurt are all easy to have on hand, and portable for when you’re on the go.
A diet that’s rich in whole grains, lean protein, and fibrous fruits and vegetables is useful for fighting fatigue and may also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, all of which help you live well. How have you found different foods affect your energy levels? Consider when logging your diet making notes about how you feel after eating and between meals. Let your experiences help guide us to help you to make healthy modifications to your diet.