We hear it frequently – “I eat plenty of fruits and whole grains for healthy eating but I can’t seem to lose any weight”. Here are some insights as to why this may be the case.
You see, fruits and whole grain foods have plenty of fiber, anti-oxidants, flavenoids and phytonutrients just to name a few. But…they also have significantly higher amounts of carbohydrate…which are all eventually broken down into sugar. This isn’t a problem unless you are sensitive to carbohydrates (and almost everyone is to some extent). If that is the case, then eating plenty of fruits and whole grains will NOT help you lose weight. “Healthy Eating” and “Eating for Weight Loss” are NOT the same thing.
That does not mean that you can’t eat healthy while you are eating to lose weight. It just means that there are certain foods which are considered “good for you” that you will need to keep to a very minimum while you are eating to lose weight.
Let’s explore this as we discuss what “carbohydrate sensitivity” is and what you can do to control it. More importantly, what you can do to prevent a common progression for many people from carbohydrate sensitivity to insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 Diabetes. You should know that if you are obese (Body Mass Index > 30), your risk of developing diabetes is considered 80% higher than someone at a normal weight. Once properly diagnosed, controlling your carbohydrate sensitivity can radically change how you feel (for the better) and positively impact your ability to lose weight.
Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the primary source of energy or fuel for all of our body’s cells. Your body makes glucose by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins to be utilized as fuel. You may not be aware, but fats do not break down into glucose. Rather, fats break down into ketones which can also be utilized as fuel.
The most desirable fasting blood sugar levels range from 70 to 100 with the optimal being in the low 80’s. Fasting blood sugar, of course, is measured after not eating for about 8 to 12 hours. After you consume your meal, however, the food is digested and broken down. Proteins are broken down resulting in very slow rises – and sometimes decreases – in blood sugar. Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars (glucose) and cause a more rapid rise of blood sugar.
As your blood sugar rises, a signal is sent to your pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin. Insulin allows sugar to be taken into your cells and utilized as energy. Insulin is a necessary ‘escort’, so to speak. Normally your blood sugar can rise immediately after eating to approximately 120 but is regulated by insulin to bring your blood sugar levels down to that optimal 80’s range.
Your body normally does a great job keeping things fairly regulated. But there is a condition called carbohydrate sensitivity or reactive hypoglycemia. This usually occurs after the consumption of a high carbohydrate meal (usually after life long, continuous high carbohydrate eating). There is a delay in the normal insulin release resulting in a blood sugar spike. This is followed by an over production of insulin, which then over supplies the blood stream and can drop your blood sugars to an unhealthy low level. These blood sugar swings may produce the symptoms of:
- Inability to concentrate
But these swings also initiate hunger and cravings, usually for more carbohydrates, which then starts the cycle over again. These low blood sugar levels are usually preceded by significant high blood sugars.
These swings can be evaluated by looking at some of your lab values, particularly your hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C). In a simplified explanation, comparing, your HgA1C with your fasting blood sugar can determine how high a blood sugar swing you have had over the previous 3 months.
Adjusting you’re eating habits is the best way to minimize your carbohydrate sensitivity and significantly improve or eliminate the adverse symptoms identified above. Lowering your carbohydrate intake, particularly the simple sugars, will keep you from over-secreting the insulin and keep your blood sugar swings under control. Exercising also helps improve carbohydrate sensitivity.
If you are ready to get started on your medical or surgical weight loss journey, our team here at MIIS Weight Loss Institute is here to help! In fact, you can contact us online with a question or schedule an appointment.