We think of blood sugar problems are reserved for those with Diabetes or its cousin, Metabolic Syndrome X, but the truth is we are all managing blood sugar swings every minute.
This is system is controlled by 2 main hormones: cortisol and insulin (glucagon and epinephrine also play a role) that are in sort of a tug of war to keep you balanced out. Cortisol’s main job is to get blood sugar up by pulling from your fuel reserves and insulin’s main job is to lower it back down after cortisol has kicked in or of course, after you eat.
Common blood tests from your doctor give insight as to how well this system is working, but on an hour to hour basis your symptoms will tell you quite a lot.
Why does this matter? Tightly controlled blood sugar keeps your brain and blood vessels healthy, your energy levels and mood even, and doesn’t cause undue stress on either the cortisol or insulin system – which when taxed over time will lead to bigger health problems.
Here are very simple clues to how much your blood sugar is swinging:
If your blood sugar is rising too much after meals you’ll notice:
Fatigue after eating.
Craving for sugar or carbs after eating.
Eating sweets or carbs doesn’t relieve the craving.
Difficulty losing weight.
Increased thirst and excessive urination.
If your blood sugar is dipping too low between meals you’ll notice:
Fatigue between meals and feeling energized after eating.
Difficulty waking in the morning.
Frequent waking in the night, often feeling very alert or even hungry upon waking.
Dizziness when standing up quickly.
Afternoon headaches or low energy.
What Does This Mean For Fat Loss?
Whether you’ve skipped a meal , gone several hours without eating or got really stressed out – your blood sugar will rise thanks to your stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones pull from stored sugar (called glycogen) and also from fat stores – and if you’re really stressed out they will pull from protein stores, aka your lean muscle mass. So if you’re prone to skipping breakfast, missing snacks or are other wise under a lot of stress (this includes heavy training) then you are prone to losing muscle mass and having a hard time shedding fat.