Does your energy or mental focus drop off sometimes? If so, your blood sugar is likely at least part of the culprit.
Balancing your blood sugar is critical whether you’re trying to improve your energy, avoid diabetes, or heal diabetes.
Here are my three top easy tips to help out.
Tip #1: START YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN
Having adequate amounts of protein for breakfast makes all the difference in stabilizing your blood sugar for the rest of the day. I’ve measured 24-hour blood sugar levels many times, proving that a high-quality source of protein for breakfast keeps you from tanking in the afternoon or evening. You’ll stay steady and vibrant throughout the day.
How much protein do you need?
A good breakfast target is between 20-30 grams. When you look at the protein count on food labels, you’ll notice 20-30 grams is a lot. Unless you’re being strategic about it, you’re probably not getting that much. It might take one or two sources of protein to reach that level.
What are the best sources?
There are two easy ways you can go: a breakfast shake or leftovers from dinner.
Shakes are easy. The ones made from pea protein are great and provide a complete protein. Stay away from those that have allergenic bases: egg, dairy and soy. I also don’t recommend shakes with rice or hemp protein because they are not complete proteins.
The other option is dinner leftovers. Think about breakfast foods the way you do about your lunch or dinner. Actually, your leftovers from dinner the previous night make a great breakfast!
Tip #2: STAY AWAY FROM FRUCTOSE
Fructose is a small molecule that is a part of table sugar. In the past, our main source of fructose was just fruit, which was never a problem. Fruit contains fiber that is physically bonded with the fructose. You don’t get that unique combination otherwise.
Fruit didn’t cause our fructose problems. We have so much fructose in high fructose corn syrup and sugars. These sugars are obvious in candies, cakes and cookies, but pay attention to your sauces and glazes, as well. (It’s often the hidden, sneaky sugars that get people who are health-conscious!) If you have packaged foods, read the ingredients. It will tell you how many grams of sugar are in the food. If it’s more than just a couple, stay away from it.
A good habit is, if the ingredient list is long, just avoid the product altogether. Choose foods that have only a few ingredients or those that don’t have ingredient lists, like produce, fresh meats and the like.
A great target for total sugar is 5 grams or less per meal.
Even though naturally-occurring fruit didn’t create the fructose-sensitivity problems we have, we now need to watch our intake of it. Stick with low-sugar fruits, and limit dried fruit and fruit juices.
Tip #3: INCREASE YOUR FIBER INTAKE
As bad as fructose is, that’s how good fiber is! Think primarily about adding high-fiber foods to your diet because the more fiber you get, the better you’ll do in so many ways! Fiber helps with stabilizing blood sugar, increasing energy, burning fat, aiding digestion and strengthening your immune system. It also affects how well your body recovers from exercise, repairs connective tissues and heals your wounds.
How much fiber should you get?
The guidelines say at least 40 grams. If you’re not getting that already, it’s an easy target. Some of the best high-fiber foods are black beans, quinoa, brown rice, steel cut oats, navy beans and almonds.
Here’s a free mini book about the 16 types of fiber and how to get more of them.
Dr. Alan Christianson is a New York Times Bestselling Author and a Phoenix, Arizona-based Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) with two decades of clinical experience in natural endocrinology. His main focus is thyroid disease, especially Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. He is the author of The Adrenal Reset Diet, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease, and others.
Dr. Christianson frequently appears on national TV shows like Dr. Oz, CNN, The Doctors and The Today Show as well as print media like Women’s World, USA Today, Newsweek, and Shape Magazine. When he’s not in the clinic or writing, he’s probably in the backcountry balancing on a mountain unicycle or scaling up a vertical wall.