Is your blood sugar blocking your efforts to shed pounds??
The diabetes-weight connection is trickier than you think. You probably know that weight gain ups your risk of diseases like diabetes. But you might not realize how complicated that link really is. The cycle starts when you gain weight. Uh-oh.
The kicker is that once you have blood sugar problems, it is much harder to do the one thing that can really help: slim down. That may be why the majority of people with type 2 diabetes (about 80%) are overweight or obese.The good news: dropping pounds is not impossible if you understand the complex dance between blood sugar, belly fat, and insulin- and how to interrupt it.
The Vicious Cycle
Let's break it down.
Every time you eat, your pancreas produces insulin. This hormone helps your body harness the energy provided by food by "unlocking" your cells, helping to move sugar (aka glucose) inside each one, where it is used for fuel. The problem starts with insulin resistance, in which your cells no longer respond to the hormone. Weight gain can bring it on, especially if you add visceral fat (the kind around your abdominal organs) because it churns out inflammatory chemicals that harm cells' response to insulin.
Think of your body as a car. If you fill the trunk with 500 pounds of gravel, then it is gonna be harder to run. It needs more gas, and it wears out the engine to get the same level of performance. That is obesity.
Now think of insulin as the gas line between the fuel tank and the engine. Insulin resistance squeezes it, so when you need more fuel, it is harder to get.
Since it is tough for insulin-resistant cells to take glucose from your blood, sugar levels build up. Over time, this may lead to diabetes, which can damage your blood vessels and yield more weight gain. That is because extra blood glucose signals to your pancreas: "Make more insulin!" But the more your churn out, the easier weight piles on because insulin also encourages your body to store the extra sugar as fat. Shedding pounds can slow down the disease.
You gain more efficiency with every pound of gravel you take out of the trunk of your car.
Eat Less, But Eat Often
If you have diabetes--especially if you take insulin- it is important to avoid blood sugar dips.
But even if you don't have diabetes, it is really important for you to avoid the dips as well.
So cutting out snacks as a way to shrink your calories isn't an option. But just because you have to eat more often doesn't mean you have to eat more. You don't need an extraordinarily large number of calories to function, even with diabetes. Eating small portions throughout the day is a good way to cut calories while keeping your blood sugar steady. If your on the go, plan snacks in advance!
**Try packing 1 ounce of turkey jerky with whole-wheat crackers or a piece of fruit with some almond butter.
Think Balance, Not Calories
When dieting, you need to be like the "Three Bears" and get the "just right for you" mix of carbs, protein, and fiber to keep blood sugar balanced. Focusing solely on calories can actually hinder weight loss. You need protein to support muscle and metabolism, fat for the absorption of vitamins, and carbs to sustain energy. Per meal, aim for 30 to 45 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein and 7 to 10 grams of fiber. If you are one of those people that "likes the structure of counting calories" create a structure out of tracking what you eat, and the combination of what you eat. Track how it makes you feel. Make that the structure you follow.
For example: eat a breakfast of scrambled eggs, diced sweet potato, black beans and salsa.
Or, on rushed mornings, try Greek yogurt topped with sliced fruit and a handful of almonds.
Track the food, the amount, the combination, and how it made you feel. The number of calories in each meal can be a component of what you are tracking, but don't let it be the main focus.
Exercise helps muscles take in glucose without the need for insulin and improves insulin sensitivity over time. People with diabetes should start slow: aim to get at least 175 minutes of exercise a week, but in short bouts--10 minutes here and there-- all day long!
That is the key!
If you sit on your ass all day long at a desk job, one hour of cardio or strength training per day is just not going to be enough. Take a walk at lunch, get up and walk to the bathroom or get a drink every hour, park in the furthest parking spot at work, take the stairs, take a walk after work, do some yoga or stretching after dinner or before bed. Just move more.
*If you are not already active, talk to your doctor first*
And don't skip strength training! Muscle mass declines with age, but diabetes can accelerate the rate of that loss. Lifting weights can help curb muscle loss. Plus, more muscle means more calories burned-- even at rest!
It can't get better than that.
Stress kicks off your fight-or-flight response, which prompts the body to produce less insulin and release more glucose, ensuring that you have plenty of fuel in case you need to fight off -- or flee from a threat. This is great if you have to outrun a hungry tiger, but you don't need the extra fuel when you are dealing with modern stressors like your commute or an upcoming bill. That's why it is important to reduce your stress load and learn to cope without using food or alcohol (I say this as I drink a glass of wine.) Make sure you get plenty of sleep each night, walk as much as possible during the day and try supplementing your regular workouts with stress relieving activities like yoga, meditation, a mindful walk, or ta chi.
Eat These Foods To Battle Belly Fat
The benefits of fiber rich foods like oatmeal, lentils and bean are twofold. First, because your body digests fibers slowly it helps slow down the digestion of sugars, which can even out blood glucose spikes. Second, fiber is a known belly fighter. A study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem N.C. found that for every extra 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten per day, per participants lost 3.7 percent of their visceral fat over five year!
Avocados, nuts, olive oil--all are great sources of monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs. And a 2007 study published in the journal Diabetes Care noted that a diet high in MUFAs can prevent fat from being distributed around the belly.
To keep your blood sugar under control, it is best to choose complex carbohydrate over simple, refined grains. And there is another bonus: whole grains blast your belly. In 2008, a 12-week study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who ate a diet rich in whole grains lost significantly more belly fat than those who consumed refined carbs instead.
So what does this boil down to??