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Glucose , Insulin & Hunger
Glucose, Insulin & Hunger
: Hunger is a big culprit in the battle against the bulge. It is incredibly hard to resist unhealthy foods in moments that feel like starvation arrived. An critical piece of healthy, successful weight loss is removing these moments of “starvation.” To understand the basics of hunger, it is important to understand two items that float around in your blood: glucose and insulin.
Glucose, also called blood sugar, is the main fuel your brain, heart & muscles use for energy. Without adequate amounts of glucose your brain does not think clearly and in extreme cases people can fall into a coma. Glucose at elevated levels is also not good. In medicine elevated glucose levels is called diabetes, and creates problems when uncontrolled to the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of the body.
Insulin decreases glucose levels and therefore protects against the damage glucose can create. Unfortunately having an excess of insulin on an ongoing basis in the bloodstream creates chronic inflammation and increased fat storage.
When glucose and insulin work together they create a rollercoaster effect insulin always chasing glucose to try and control it (see chart 1). As glucose goes below 70-80 hunger becomes strong. And most commonly we reach for some type of simple carbohydrate (candy, chocolate, pastry) to quench that hunger.
The best example of this is a person who wakes up in the morning after not eating since dinner-ish time and decides to do one of the four options below:
Your liver replies, “I have food. I will rescue you, allow you to think clearly and continue to function well. WOOHOO!! I will be the hero.” The liver then puts glycogen into the blood and it easily converts to glucose to save the day.
The problem is the liver doesn’t just give you a little bit of sugar, which is what you need. All the glycogen the liver has is dumped into the blood and begins the glucose/insulin rollercoaster from the moment you wake up in the morning. Glucose becomes elevated and the brain signals for insulin. Insulin then puts most of the glucose away as fat on your tummy. Blood sugar goes down and the “starving” feeling returns usually within 1-2 hours. Then a simple carbohydrate is eaten again and the rollercoaster is started all over again. This rollercoaster continues all day and increases the total amount of food consumed per day, decreasing you chances for weight loss.
It becomes critical to stop the glucose/insulin rollercoaster before it starts. The simple solution is to eat breakfast which contains protein within 1 hour of waking up. Breakfast containing protein becomes a simple beginning to ending “starvation” and unhealthy food choices throughout your entire day.
Registered Dietitian & Certified Nutritionist
Contact Elizabeth for a nutrition consultation today
Envision Personalized Health
4760 Mission Gorge Place Suite E
San Diego California, 92120
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