A spike in blood sugar refers to the sharp increase in blood glucose that occurs after a meal or snack. Spikes in blood sugar can give you a temporary boost in energy that quickly wears away and leaves you feeling irritable and lethargic. Maintaining more consistent levels of blood sugar can prevent spikes and provide you with the steady amount of stamina-supporting energy you need throughout the day. Here are 14 tips for avoiding the roller coaster ride of rises and drops in blood sugar.
14. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Start your day off with the nutrition your body needs to face the tasks ahead. Skip the sugary pastries and treat your body to a breakfast containing protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Begin your day with the fiber of whole grains combined with lean protein and healthy fats. A slice of whole wheat toast topped with avocado provides fiber to fill your tummy and keep you feeling full. Oatmeal topped with a sprinkling of walnuts and antioxidant-rich berries contains beta glucans that may help lower blood sugar levels.
13. Space Your Meals Properly
Avoid the temptation to go too long between meals. While you may think you are preventing yourself from consuming extra calories, this practice can contribute to steep rises and deep falls in blood sugar levels. Instead, plan to consume your meals around 3-5 hours apart each day. Additionally, eating around the same time each day helps set your internal clock and may improve metabolism and insulin production. If you get hungry between meals, avoid sugar-laden snacks and reach for healthy alternatives, such as a handful of almonds or veggie sticks dipped in hummus.
12. Plan Your Meals
Waiting until hunger strikes to plan your meal can lead to making choices that negatively affect your blood sugar levels. You don’t have to make an elaborate weekly meal plan, but knowing in advance what you will eat each day may help you stick to healthy options. Planning ahead can be as complicated as setting aside a few hours on the weekend to cook up and pre-package or freeze foods for the week ahead, or it can be as simple as taking a few minutes in the morning to decide what will be on the menu for that day.
11. Limit Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are notorious for causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, studies indicate that low-carbohydrate eating plans such as vegetarian, high-protein, or Mediterranean diets decrease the risk of quick rises in blood sugar. This translates to better blood glucose control for diabetic patients. It also contributes to a reduced risk of obesity and the health risks associated with being overweight. The Mediterranean diet accentuates the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. In addition, this diet encourages replacing butter with the healthier fats found in olive oil and using herbs and spices instead of salt.
10. Avoid Refined Carbohydrates Altogether
Not all carbohydrates are bad. Whole carbohydrates are components of whole fruits, whole grains, beans, and potatoes. However, the refined carbohydrates of refined sugar, white flour, white pasta, and white rice trigger sudden rises in blood sugar that can soon lead to crashes. If you adore pasta and bread, steer away from highly processed products and stick to their whole wheat or whole grain counterparts. Replace a white bagel with a whole wheat bagel thin and pair it with nut butter or a scrambled egg white for a dose of protein.
9. Limit Sugar
Obviously, one way to prevent steep spikes in blood sugar levels is to decrease your consumption of sugar. Sugary beverages are big contributors to dietary sugars. Sodas are obvious culprits when it comes to sugar. However, fruit juices also are high in sugar, containing many times the amount of sugar found in whole fruit. Sugar-laden cookies, cakes, and candies are other obvious sources of high doses of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, retrain yourself to turn to the natural sweetness of whole fruits and berries, or limit yourself to a square of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
8. Maintain Proper Body Weight
The link between blood sugar and weight gain means that focusing on maintaining a healthy body weight can prevent sugar dips and spikes. Obesity affects your body’s ability to produce and properly use insulin, which affects blood sugar levels. Studies show that weight gain increases the risk of insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. Tricks to preventing weight gain include avoiding eating out of boredom, while watching television, or when thirst mimics hunger pangs. Instead, keep tasty veggies, lean proteins, and fresh fruits close at hand and make sure to savor their flavors.
7. Get Plenty of Exercise
Moving your body increases your sensitivity to the effects of insulin and allows the proper metabolism of sugar in your blood. Furthermore, exercise moves glucose into your muscles, where it can be utilized as fuel. Of course, getting exercise also helps burn fat, build muscle, and strengthen your bones. It also helps prevent obesity and the spikes of blood glucose associated with this condition. Include both cardio fitness and muscle strengthening exercises in your daily routine to strengthen your heart and your muscles.
6. Include Fiber in Your Diet
Fiber helps to prevent blood sugar spikes by keeping you feeling full and preventing overeating. Furthermore, the soluble fiber found in whole grains, nuts, veggies, and beans slows down your absorption of carbohydrates. This keeps your blood sugar at more consistent levels, preventing steep rises and sudden drops.
5. Drink Water
Providing your body with adequate water will also help prevent the swift ups and downs of glucose levels. Some studies indicate that dehydration causes your liver to dump more sugar into your bloodstream. Allow your thirst to dictate your water intake. Keep a bottle of water close at hand and drink when thirsty, stopping when you are satisfied. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try adding a spritz of lemon juice or a slice of fruit to your water bottle. Consume fruits and vegetables with high water content, including lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
4. Consume Pickled Foods
Adding pickled or fermented foods to your diet may improve insulin sensitivity. One study suggests that sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, or kefir products may help regulate blood glucose levels due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. You can also include vinegar in your diet by enjoying salad dressings made with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
3. Treat Symptoms of Stress
Stress can affect your blood sugar levels by triggering the flight-or-fight response that releases glucose from your tissues. Your body makes glucose available for the energy you may need to fight off perceived danger. Furthermore, mental stress may make you more likely to overeat or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Allow yourself time to recover and unwind from a stressful day. Engage in healthy coping mechanisms for stress such as exercise, spending time with friends, or journaling. Behavioral techniques, such as breathing exercises or progressive relaxation, can also help decrease the effects of stress-related hormones in your blood.
2. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Many mixed drinks are high in sugar, therefore contributing to weight gain and spikes in blood sugar. Also, over time, extensive drinking can cause decreased insulin sensitivity. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol consumption to less than one drink per day for women and less than two drinks for men.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Allowing your body enough time for the restorative rest it needs will help keep your organs, hormones, and tissues at peak performance. Sleep provides your body with the tools it needs to maintain proper blood glucose control. Furthermore, the Sleep Doctor asserts that improper amounts of sleep can result in obesity, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Set the stage for a good night’s sleep by avoiding alcohol and heavy meals within two hours of bedtime. Prepare for a restful night by dimming your lights and engaging in quiet activities before heading to bed.