First, The Highs of Blood Sugar:
At the start of the month, I went to Ruth Chris Steakhouse and decided on my usual steakhouse strategy: meat & greens, with minimal carbs. It’s my go-to strategy when I eat red meat, to help me find full without being stuffed.
The very salty & fatty, but also high protein meal dipped my blood sugar to my lowest numbers to date at that point. I didn’t overeat, I felt satisfied, and was not tired at all, despite relatively low numbers.
My low readings stayed low for hours, and I could sense I was wearing a sort of sugar invisibility cloak. When dessert came, 2 bites of very rich chocolate cake didn’t move my numbers even one point.
🤔So is high fat and high protein the way to go for me? For everyone?
🤔Well, the media HAS been telling us forever to eat more protein. Besides just muscle building, I can see why having more protein in the diet can help to regulate blood sugar levels & feelings of satiety- good for those looking to avoid high glucose spikes and control overeating. My rigidly low blood sugar numbers showed me how Atkins, Paleo, Keto and Carnivore (or any other fat and protein) diet can fit into a strategy for blood sugar regulation, even weight loss.
🤔My numbers also made me wonder if all those who say they’re “addicted to sugar” are just incorrectly using carb & sugar strategies to regulate blood fluctuations, and would be better served looking to increase protein and fat in their diet.
🤔But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that eating all types of fat (including saturated fat) without regard to cholesterol or artery health is not an adequate long term health strategy, at least for me. I think a free pass to a high fat, high protein diet might be too much of a course correction. Butter, cream sauces and fatty meats might lower blood sugar but they INCREASE blood lipid levels, reducing one risk factor but increasing another. I’m just not ready to take that risk.
🤔There is probably a way out the conundrum, by incorporating healthy fats like olive oil, nuts & avocado, and lean proteins like fish and chicken prominently in one's diet. Featuring healthy fats and lean proteins might lower blood sugar AND blood lipid levels at the same time. Unfortunately 2 meat choices doesn't scream diet variety, but perhaps fruits and vegetables can add the variety I seek.
Let’s see if I can find more recipes to keep things interesting & how veggies can be included.
New dilemmas: Understanding Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar seems like a good place to rest your diet efforts, especially if you struggle with weight loss or if you have diabetic concerns. However, long term low blood sugar can starve your muscles and brain of essential nutrients, causing health symptoms and long term complications, much like high blood can.
After figuring out how to stay on the lower end of normal blood sugar, I was met with another dilemma: being able to raise blood sugar levels when necessary.
Sometime this month, I went out for a fasted 3mile run. Once I got home, I rushed into a Zoom meeting without being able to eat. I wasn’t exactly hungry, more like slightly nauseous, so not eating for another hour didn’t seem like a big deal.
I got my first low blood sugar alert during the zoom. After finishing up my session and eating a full meal of protein & healthy fats, my blood sugar level rose a bit but stayed low. I tried drinking electrolytes & water all day, took magnesium & a multivitamin and ate at regular intervals without limiting carbs.
I ended up getting low blood sugar readings all day & the next. Those who saw it wondered if my sensor was malfunctioning, but my symptoms matched up with the readings: I felt lethargic and foggy & couldn’t shake it. Luckily after a good night sleep, my blood sugar went back to normal. Eating regularly, hydration with electrolytes and sleep seemed to have done the trick, just more slowly than I would have liked.
I tried fasted cardio a second time this month, but with fasted outdoor cycling instead of running. Much like running, my blood sugar rose with the activity, then dipped to lower than normal levels and established a much lower baseline for the whole day. But unlike running, I did not get alerts for extreme dips at any point.
In the past, I never saw the purpose of fasted cardio, mostly because I care more about performance than weight loss. But I now see how it can be a powerful long term blood sugar reducer, for health or weight loss reasons. Fasted cycling seems more stabilizing than fasted running for me & both do not require long duration to be effective. It’s an easy addition and a useful tool that I’ll probably add in to my program.
I’m looking forward to seeing what next month will teach me!