Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fun with Blood Sugar

I've been strictly back on plan for three days since my free day last Friday.  I feel good - plus I can tell the water I retained from all the sodium consumed Friday is gone.

I bought a blood sugar monitor.  No, I am not diabetic. I just thought it would be interesting and fun to monitor my reaction to different foods.  Hailey says I "need help."  LOL!!

The gold standard for diagnosing diabetes is an elevated blood sugar level after an overnight fast (not eating anything after midnight). A value above 140 mg/dl on at least two occasions typically means a person has diabetes. Normal people have fasting sugar levels that generally run between 70-110 mg/dL.

I did my fasting blood sugar yesterday and then again this morning.  It was 68 yesterday and 70 today.

I also tried it Saturday afternoon, after 2.5 hours of not eating, and it measured 42.  I think it was an error... I looked it up online and it said "call an ambulance and immediately start drinking syrup." haha!

I find it fascinating how different foods cause spikes in blood sugar levels because of increased insulin production. I also think Mike is a freak of nature because for some reason he can eat "bad stuff" but his body is extremely efficient at mopping up the excess glucose.

Sunday night, I had a burger with sugar free ketchup (no bun) then tested my blood sugar 1.5 hrs later. It measured 71. Mike ate 2 burgers and a brat, along with 3 white, doughy buns - and his blood sugar  an hour and a half later was only 98. Fascinating,, right??? It is my guess the same meal for me would've jacked mine up to 150+, but I am not feeling brave enough to experiment with what "bad food" does to my system. I will save that for the next "fun" day.

Your body likes to maintain glucose levels within a very narrow window, ideally 70-110 mg/dL.  It will rise after eating a meal of simple sugars or carbohydrates. When this happens, your pancreas secretes insulin to "mop up" the extra sugars in your blood.  However, your system becomes inefficient if you routinely eat simple sugars and processed carbohydrates which will spike your blood sugar... i.e. white bread, pasta, potatoes, enriched flour, candy, processed food, basically just about anything prepackaged. You eat the sugar or starch, your pancreas secretes insulin to soak up the excess in your blood, you experience a "sugar crash," you want more and eat more, you produce more insulin but it doesn't do it's job efficiently and you're left with all this excess floating around in your blood. This creates a vicious cycle where you eat carbs, have a high, crash, crave more, eat more and the insulin spikes go round and round.

Eating protein and slow-burning carbs does not spike your blood sugar or lead to sugar crash. I try to avoid any food that will elevate mine.  Excess insulin in your blood stream = weight gain.  It's that simple.

Excess protein does not cause weight gain.  Protein isn't used for energy, it's used for muscle repair, cell maintenance and body systems maintenance, things like hair and nail growth...etc.  It is virtually impossible to "store" protein. I try to get one gram of protein daily for each pound of lean muscle mass I have. I believe that is a good standard. Some people who are body building get more, some less. 

According to the Mayo Clinic:
Ideal insulin levels:
Blood sugar level before meals: 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Blood sugar level two hours after meals: less than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L)

From eMedtv:

There are a few different reasons why insulin causes weight gain. Probably, the most significant reason is that insulin reduces the removal of glucose (sugar) through the urine. With uncontrolled diabetes, the body cannot use (or store) glucose properly, and glucose is lost through the urine. This means that you can consume more calories than you need, and your body cannot use it or store it as fat as well as normal. As soon as you correct the situation with insulin, all of a sudden, your body can access the glucose in the blood. Any excess glucose is not lost through the urine; it is stored as fat. In this sense, insulin is not really causing the weight gain; it is simply correcting the problem (high diabetes) that once allowed you to eat more than you needed.

Secondly, insulin can cause episodes of low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemic episodes are very frightening. People who have experienced hypoglycemic episodes due to insulin may be more likely to overeat in order to avoid future episodes. This overeating can lead to weight gain.

Thirdly, some people feel that as long as they take insulin, they can eat whatever they want. While it is true that if you know how to appropriately adjust your dosage, insulin can be used to control blood sugar no matter what (or how much) you eat, insulin does not prevent weight gain from eating too much.

Lastly, it is thought that insulin itself may cause weight gain. It is not clear as to how or why this might occur.

I had a protein drink with a tablespoon of peanut butter about an hour ago, and just now checked my blood sugar.  It was only 95.  That's the highest I've gotten it up so far! LOL

I think it's empowering to know how different foods affect glucose levels. Maybe if I checked mine after eating some decadent treat like a Peanut Buster Parfait, it would be an eye-opener and I would not be as compelled to repeat the experiment.

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