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The Not-So-Sweet Life

Have you ever felt shaky, weak, tired or even nauseous after eating a lot of carbs or sugar?


Sugar crashing is a real thing and it for me, especially since I don't eat these items very often, it will happen after I consume cake/pastries, cookies, sodas, and/or juices. Since my usual consistent diet is typically proteins, good fats and healthy (well-timed) carbs, I will have an intense sugar crash if I have a piece of cake.

This is because my blood sugar levels dip well below normal because I just consumed a lot of frosted sugary cake in one sitting. This can also happen if you eat lots of other carbs, too.


How To Avoid Sugar Crashes

As I mentioned, I eat a very usual, consistent diet. This helps me avoid crashing because I am breaking up my usual portions into smaller, frequent meals. It also helps that on average each day, I eat less that ten grams of sugar and much more protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.


Blood sugar crashes are medically referred to as reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia is when sugar levels in the blood (a.k.a. glucose levels) dip below normal two to four hours after eating.


Medical term: Glucose is a simple sugar that your body produces from breaking down carbohydrates for energy. It ends up in your blood as blood sugar. Consuming a lot of sugar or processed carbs in a short period of time will raise your blood sugar, and can later result in a sugar crash. People with diabetes are prone to these types of blood sugar crashes — especially if they're not getting the right medication dose.


However, anyone can experience the uncomfortable side effects of reactive hypoglycemia. It's unclear what causes sugar crashes after a carb-heavy meal, but there are proven ways to help avoid it.


However, the basic premise of eating the right foods and portions applies to everyone who is trying to avoid a sugar crash. Overall, it's best to change your eating habits in order to promote slower digestion throughout each day. When your stomach empties at a slower, steadier rate, your body converts the food into glucose more gradually, preventing a dramatic blood sugar spike.

Here are my six John-Michael approved ways to avoid a sugar crash:

(consult your physician, I'm not one.)


1. Eat small, frequent meals

To avoid blood sugar crashes, consider breaking up your typical large meals into smaller meals or snacks that you eat every few hours. Smaller meals deliver a smaller dose of carbs, which can help stabilize blood sugar and reduce the risk of sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. Tip: Prepare meals ahead of time for the entire week ahead.

John-Michael prepares meals for the new week each Sunday afternoon.

2. Increase your protein intake

It is vitally important to eat protein with your meals since it helps slow digestion, which may prevent blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. Tip: The daily recommended amount of protein per day is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. A simple way to calculate this is by multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36. A personal trainer friend of mine says that the easiest way to handle protein intake is to simply eat the amount of protein that equals the weight you want to be. For example, if I want to drop to 170lbs, eat 170lbs of protein every day until the scale says I'm there. Consider using www.myfitnesspal.com to help with the calculations of your own protein, fat and carbs.


The following are examples of healthy protein sources:

  • Lean meats

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Nuts

  • Beans

  • Legumes

3. Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates

I know someone that mainly enjoys foods like white rice, white bread, and pasta on a regular basis and if you're consuming carbs, like these, that don't have fiber or protein to assist with blood sugar control, you're doing yourself a disservice.


These are known as simple carbohydrates, and ironically, they can make life complicated. Avoid them.


Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates which are much better for stabilizing blood sugar since they contain protein and fiber that take longer to digest. They also typically have a low glycemic index, meaning they cause a more gradual rise and fall in blood sugar levels, Cary says.


The best examples of (low glycemic index) complex carbohydrate foods are:

  • Brown rice

  • Quinoa

  • Whole grain bread

  • Wheat or bean-based pastas

  • Beans (I eat waaay to many green beans for my own good!)

4. Incorporate healthy fats

Similar to protein, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial for blood sugar since they take longer to digest than simple carbs. You can find these healthy fats in foods such as:

  • Avocados

  • Nuts

  • Oils like olive, canola, safflower, and sunflower

5. Decrease or eliminate high sugar foods and drinks

High-sugar foods and drinks are typically made up of simple sugars that your body breaks down quickly causing a rapid increase and subsequent drop in blood sugar. High-sugar foods and drinks that are loaded with calories, carbs, and very little fiber and protein include:


Eliminate:

  • Candy

  • Soda

  • Pastries & Cakes

Decrease:

  • Juices

  • Wine

  • Sweet cocktails and mocktails

6. Pay attention to food labels

"Added sugar" refers to sugars added to foods that are not naturally occurring. For example, lactose is the naturally-occurring sugar in dairy products. A serving of strawberry yogurt may have 15 grams of sugar [from lactose], but also contain 18 grams of added sugar for flavoring. Ouch! Watch those labels.


The Big Takeaway

By following these tips, such as eating smaller, more frequent well-balanced meals, opting for complex carbohydrates, and decreasing overall simple sugar intake, you can successfully avoid blood sugar crashes.


If you follow these tips and you still experience sugar crashes, please consider getting checked out by your doctor to see if there may be any underlying cause such as pre-diabetes or a metabolic disorder.❤️ Stay well!

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