With more than half the population overweight and 35% classified as obese, excess weight is the biggest US health crisis of the 21st century. Obesity is a causative factor in stroke, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Weight comes with a heavy price, not only on health, but on the bank balance as well. In 2008, studies show that obesity increased health costs by an average of $1400 yearly. Losing weight in a long term, sustainable way, takes times. There are no quick fixes. Diet, exercise, and mental attitude are all important considerations. A critical component to analyzing and adjusting the diet is to understand how your blood sugar levels affect the feeling of hunger and fat storage in the body.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to metabolize and utilize nutrients, particularly glucose (sugar). When carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down by the body into glucose, and the body releases insulin to regulate those blood sugar levels. During exercise, insulin will facilitate glucose to be taken up by muscles for energy. However, with a sedentary life style, muscles have less need of the energy, so the excess sugar is stored in fat cells, turned into fatty acids and stored as triglycerides.
A sedentary lifestyle, coupled with a diet high in carbohydrates which increase blood sugar levels, increases fat storage. What’s worse, if the carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels too quickly, the level of insulin released will cause a subsequent ‘crash’ or period of low blood sugar, causing the body to crave energy, usually in the form of more sugar. Chocolate bar anyone?
Try these simple steps to help balance blood sugar levels, control hunger, and lose weight.
- Drink water 10 minutes before eating to reduce hunger
- Chew each bite 32 times – the digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth – saliva is critical to proper assimilation of nutrients from carbohydrates
- Only 1 portion of complex starchy carbohydrate per day – oatmeal, brown basmati rice, or quinoa are the best choices
- Think of the dinner plate as having sections – the portions should be ¼ protein, ¼ complex carbohydrate, and ½ vegetables.
- Eat the lower calorie foods first – vegetables and salads
- Wait 10 minutes before reaching for 2nds, it takes a few minutes for the ‘full’ signal to register with the brain
- Leave the kitchen and get busy – find something else to absorb your attention!
Two pounds weight loss per week is achievable with small changes in the diet, give it a try!
Sources for this article include:
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Pizzorno and Murray