How to Balance Your Blood Sugars
This post is sponsored by BOOST® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
As a Registered Dietitian, I get asked about blood sugars often. Today I’m sharing some tips to help you to balance your blood sugars throughout the day.
Have you ever gotten so busy doing something – like work, a home-improvement project, or something else that you forgot to stop for something to eat? Or maybe you’ve returned home from a tough workout class and put off your post-workout snack a little too long. You may have noticed that you felt a little irritable, shaky, or even a little nauseous. This is what happens when your blood sugar falls!
Let me tell you a little story. A couple weeks ago I went to an outdoor workout class. The class was at 6:30pm, but it was still really hot out. With the humidity it was probably 35 degrees Celsius. The workout class was high-intensity, about 30 minutes long, with little to no breaks in-between exercises.
After the class, I was sure to drink water from my bottle immediately and had planned to go right home for dinner. I got in my car to head home, but my car wouldn’t start. Luckily a couple friends that attended the workout with me hadn’t left yet, so they tried to help me boost the car. We tried several times to boost the car with no luck. We then called my partner Patrick and then my dad for their advice on getting the car to start, again with no luck.
Eventually, we agreed to leave my car and my friend drove me home so I could have some dinner because all of us were starting to feel our blood sugars crashing after not refuelling quickly enough after that tough workout. The irritability and shakiness I mentioned? I was really feeling that. This is why it’s important to try our best to keep our blood sugars balanced. Of course, we’ll have moments when we don’t, that’s life! But I do have some tips for you to avoid large spikes and crashes in blood sugar so that you can feel your best.
What is blood sugar?
Before we get to the tips to balance your blood sugars, we have to understand what blood sugar is. Blood sugar is really as it sounds – the level of sugar (glucose) circulating in your blood. In the body, you can find glucose stored in the muscles and in the liver, but you will also find it circulating in the blood. Glucose is carried in the bloodstream and delivered to cells all over the body, providing energy for our daily functions.
How does blood sugar work?
When you eat a meal or snack (or drink a beverage!) containing carbohydrates, these carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and absorbed by our gastrointestinal tracts into the bloodstream. This is when we would see a rise in blood sugar levels. This rise produces a signal to the body to produce insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is what tells our cells to accept the glucose from our bloodstream and either use it for energy or store it for later.
What does it mean to balance your blood sugar?
Ideally, we want to keep blood sugar levels within a certain range – not too high or too low – and aim to avoid spiking our blood sugar up then down quickly. Balancing your blood sugar also promotes even energy levels, balances your mood and can help you feel fuller longer.
Why is blood sugar important to our health?
Not only does maintaining balanced blood sugar levels contribute to how energized and well we feel throughout the day, it also plays a role in our long-term health and wellness.
You’ve probably heard of diabetes – of which there are various types. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin (mentioned above) is impaired, resulting in abnormal use of carbohydrates and elevated levels of blood sugar and glucose in the urine. You may know someone with diabetes, perhaps a friend or family member. For them, balancing their blood sugars is of utmost importance.
Tips for Balancing Your Blood Sugar:
If you or a family member have diabetes, I recommend consulting your interdisciplinary healthcare team for individualized recommendations surrounding blood sugar management.
For those who are looking for some general ways to balance your blood sugars, here are my biggest tips:
Eat Regular Meals and/or Snacks
Going long stretches (5 or more hours) throughout the day without eating anything, your blood sugar levels may be on a constant roller coaster up and down. If you find yourself feeling low energy, irritable or sometimes ravenous, you may want to re-evaluate how often you’re eating. Try incorporating a snack in-between some meals so that you’re eating every 3-4 hours. Notice a difference? You’re likely balancing your blood sugars better!
Eat Balanced Meals and Snacks
Another key to keeping your blood sugar in a desirable range is making sure you’re having balanced meals and snacks. They should contain at least two of the following: Protein, carbohydrates, fibre and fat. Here are some snack options I’d recommend:
1 apple, sliced with 1-2 tbsp nut butter for dipping
1 serving of whole grain crackers with string cheese
1 237 mL bottle of BOOST® Diabetic – a convenient and complete nutritional drink that contains a balance of protein, fibre and carbohydrates. A healthy snack option for those with and without diabetes.
½ cup Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries
1 cup carrot sticks with ¼ cup hummus
Choose Sugary Drinks Less Often
Personally, I try to choose beverages with little to no sugar over ones like pop (soda for my American friends) and juice with added sugars. This is something I’d recommend for my readers and clients, too.
If you’re looking for something to drink for a little pick-me-up, BOOST® Diabetic has a great nutrition profile with a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates and fats. 1 serving contains 16 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fibre and 17 grams of carbs (1 carbohydrate choice for those with diabetes). It’s a great option if you’re looking for a quick nutritious supplement to help fill you up, with no added sugars.
If I had a product like BOOST® Diabetic (no, they’re not necessarily just for those with diabetes!) with me that day when my car broke down after my bootcamp workout, I would have been able to refuel my body quickly after exercise with a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats and 24 vitamins and minerals.
To learn more about BOOST® Diabetic for yourself, a friend or family member, click here. BOOST® Diabetic can be found at your local Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Metro, Jean Coutu, Sobeys or on Amazon.
I’d love to hear from you! Did you learn something new in this post? What habits will you adopt to balance your blood sugars from here on out? Let me know in the comments below!
Other Nutrition Posts to Check Out:
Seeds: Little Nutrition Powerhouses
Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks 101
Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with BOOST®, however all opinions are genuine and my own.