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Easy ways to keep Insulin in check and control appetite!!

Last week I wrote a blog about how the hormone insulin can be responsible for stubborn fat stores and also insatiable appetites!

I promised you some information on how to keep blood glucose levels and insulin secretion on an even keel so you can reduce stress, abdominal fat stores and your risk of type 2 diabetes.

There are certain things you need to avoid such as highly refined sugars and carbohydrates. The reason many people become fat on a high carbohydrate and low fat diet is due to overconsumption of simple sugars, simple starches, sweets, processed foods (all typically consumed on a high carbohydrate diet). The liver converts excess sugar into triglycerides and these can build up in and around the internal organs (dangerous visceral fat), hips, thighs, and abdominal area. Extra sugar in the diet will get stored as fat! Jelly Babies are fat-Free, but so is a bag of sugar. Until they are ingested and absorbed by the body. When your liver and muscles are full of glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate) then your liver converts excess glucose (sugar) to triglycerides for storage in adipose tissue, so your fat cells get bigger. This is the major reason why many low fat, high carbohydrate diets fail, because when they remove the tasty fat they replace it with tastier sugar!! Be wary and avoid ‘Low Fat’ gimmick food!

You’ll also need to stay away from MSG:
MSG (monosodiumglutate) a widely used flavour enhancer, has been shown to directly stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas.  This means that MSG in food not only makes that food super tasty it also makes you much hungrier, much quicker than if you had consumed a food without MSG. Persistent over release of insulin can result in impaired glucose tolerance  – the precursor  of type two diabetes. So what foods contain msg? Most of the tasty stuff!! Think about Pringles- the very reason ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ is due to the action of msg on the brain. It’s also added to Chinese takeaways and to a lesser degree Indian food. If the food is savory, tasty and processed, there’s a fair chance it’s also laden with MSG! Cook your own food and flavour with spices such as Turmeric and paprika which have been shown to possess health benefits.

Avoid excess caffeine:
I am terrible for this one and I always joke that caffeine is the foundation of my food pyramid, it gives me energy and is a proven performance and cognitive enhancer, but seriously you an have too much of a good thing!  Don’t drink too much coffee as this can play havoc with insulin levels and consequently blood glucose levels as stimulants such as these promote the release of adrenaline and therefore cause blood sugar to rise!

AVOID Processed food:
Don’t eat it! I’ve spoken about this at length in other blogs so I won’t get into detail here but high amounts of processed food in the diet has a detrimental effect ion overall health. Couple this with the scandalous levels of sugar in them and you need to steer clear!

Stay away from artificial sweeteners:
These really mess with our sweet sensors and leave us craving more sweet foods in the long run! The sweet taste has also been shown to stimulate secretion of insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas but more research is needed in this area.

Eat Low GI foods:
These foods release glucose slowly into the bloodstream as they take longer to digest. Think whole grains (actually whole grain products and not the dyed brown ones!), legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds.

If you need to snack between meals, and this might be the case if you try and stick to a three meal a day plan, make sure it has some protein and healthy fats. Dark rye Ryvita with a 1/4 avocado and some almonds is a great option. Slow, but sustained energy release without a spike in blood glucose levels!

Try and eat protein with each meal:
This is especially important to do when you eat carbohydrates, in order to slow down the release of energy. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning it releases energy slowly, which helps signal to the brain that you are full!
It will also help keep you in a positive net protein balance which will help maintain those all important muscle stores.

Eat Breakfast!

The first meal of the day will either set you up on a rollercoster of insulin peaks and troughs (making you feel awful, hungry, tired and irritable) or start a day full of balance and control.

Breakfast sets the pace of your day!
Make sure it includes a protein and a healthy fat. These satiating macronutrients are sure to keep your blood sugars stable.

Think eggs on rye bread not Frosties!

Make sure you get plenty of exercise, especially resistance exercise. The more muscle mass you have the more dumping ground you have for excess glucose. Muscle acts like a sponge for excess carbohydrates. It will also help you regulate hormones and improve insulin sensitivity. AND exercise will help you lose abdominal fat stores, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, thus reducing your risk!! It’s a win win situation as exercise will also help you become more mindful about what you put into your body.

And finally use something natural like a little bit of raw honey if you really NEED to sweeten something!

If in doubt go raw, choose whole grain, unprocessed, and/or single ingredient products!

Keep a food and mood diary for a week and track how you feel and compare this to what you’re eating and when- it’s a great way to visualize the effect food has on our moods and points out and red flags!

Good luck!

Naomi McArdle MSc
PTI Tutor