Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blood Sugar

Control blood sugar levels, control your body.Many, if not all of us, know someone with Diabetes (whether it be type 1 or 2) who has to carefully monitor and regulate their blood sugar levels. In many Type 2 (Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus - NIDDM) cases, this can be accomplished by manipulating dietary carbohydrates, and incorporating exercise into a daily routine. Essentially, by eating the right carbs and working out, one can stabilize their blood sugar levels, and in some cases, even increase Insulin sensitivity in the long term.You might be thinking at this point "that's great, but I don't have Diabetes, so where is this going?"What we as health and fitness-conscious individuals can take away from the advice doctors of Diabetes patients have been doling out for years is an important lesson in hormone manipulation that can have a positive effect on both body composition and daily energy levels. The biggest reason we need to control blood sugar is Insulin. The hormone Insulin is released by the Pancreas as the body's response to elevated blood sugar. Insulin sends a signal to the body that the excess sugar in the blood stream should be taken up by the liver, and stored in fat cells and skeletal muscle tissue as Glycogen (the body's way of storing energy from carbohydrates). This is great for an athlete or bodybuilder after a tough workout or game, when their Glycogen stores are depleted severely. However, the negative side for the other 99% of us is that Insulin also tells the body to stop using fat as a fuel source, as it needs to use up the extra blood glucose before it causes organ damage. So, to sum that all up: If blood sugar is spiked by eating the wrong foods, Insulin is released to counteract the high levels. The Insulin in response, tells the body to only burn simple sugars for fuel, and to store the excess in muscle tissue and fat cells. It also tells your body not to use fat for energy - meaning that until that Insulin response has subsided, your body will not be able to burn off body fat!Another important aspect of controlling blood sugar is to regulate your energy levels throughout the day. Have you ever had a can of soda or a pixie stick and felt like you could run laps around the planet for about 15 minutes, only to then crash and need a nap immediately after? That little burst of energy is your body trying to get rid of extra blood sugar, and the crash is what happens when the sugar is out of the blood stream and your body still doesn't want to use fat as an energy source - leaving you with no immediate energy.To counteract this roller coaster energy trend, as well as avoid fat storage from Insulin release, we can simply control blood sugar by eating right and exercising. Studies have shown that over the long term, the body becomes more efficient at processing carbohydrates and responding to Insulin. In addition to exercise, eating the right kinds of carbs at even intervals can keep blood sugar levels at an even keel, rather than spiking at different intervals throughout the day. By spacing out good carbs (as opposed to eating all of your carbs in one giant bagel for breakfast), blood sugar will stay steady. These 'good' carbs are all complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly by the body and thus will not cause blood sugar to rise significantly, while 'bad' carbs digest very quickly into glucose and spike blood sugar.Good Carbs include:OatmealWhole Grain breadsBrown RiceVegetables such as Broccoli, Beans, Spinach, and Sweet PotatoesBad Carbs include:Sugary Drinks like Soda, 'Fruit juice' (often minimal real juice, with tons of added corn syrup), and GatoradeWhite Bread (including most bagels)White RiceMost processed snack bars that come in a box.Pretzels made with White flour (starting to see a trend in the White products?)Candy, Cakes, and similar dessert items.In conclusion, by spacing out our healthy carbs (most of which, by the way, are nutrient-dense foods that we can take necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber from) and working out consistently, we can control blood sugar levels and minimize the body's release of Insulin - thus allowing us to keep burning fat for fuel, and have a steady supply of energy throughout the day.

Steve Decker ChrisFit Personal Training http://www.chrisfit.net/

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