High blood sugar levels aren’t just an indicator of diabetes or pre-diabetes, they can also cause weight gain. When carbohydrates are consumed, the pancreas releases insulin to allow the body to use the carbohydrates as energy. Unfortunately, insulin also makes the body hold onto excess energy, storing it as fat for later use. In those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, the body can’t use the insulin effectively, causing the excess glucose to remain in the blood. When blood sugar levels rise, more and more insulin is released to compensate for the excess glucose, which causes weight gain to occur.
Many doctors prescribe medication as a means to suppress blood sugar. However, there are several natural and healthy ways to keep blood sugar levels down, helping people to control or prevent diabetes and lose weight.
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce blood sugar levels. Exercise can help lower blood sugar levels in two ways: by increasing insulin sensitivity and giving the body immediate energy for use.
People who are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes are often referred to as “insulin resistant” because their body no longer reacts to the insulin correctly. Exercise increases the body’s reaction to insulin, allowing the insulin to turn glucose into energy. This increase in sensitivity can last up to 24 hours after exercising. Strength training has shown to be especially effective in increasing this sensitivity. Studies have shown that in overweight individuals, adding strength training can decrease blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity even without changing dietary habits.
Exercise also allows blood sugar to be used immediately. When the muscles in the body contract, a separate mechanism for using energy is stimulated. This mechanism allows the body to immediately use the glucose as energy for the muscles and cardiovascular system, regardless of insulin availability or sensitivity.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The human body processes different foods at different rates. Carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, are digested quickly. This makes blood sugar levels rise fast. Protein, fiber and fat are digested more slowly by the body. When consumed together as part of a balanced diet, the fiber, fat and protein make the body digest food at a slower rate, keeping blood sugar levels from spiking. For example, eating an apple with a serving of nuts for a snack has enough fat, protein and fiber to balance out the natural sugar in the apple, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Chronic sleep loss can help contribute to type 2 diabetes and can raise blood sugar levels. A 2015 study by the University of Chicago found that study participants who didn’t get seven hours of sleep at night for several days in a row had higher levels of fatty acid in their bloodstream. High fatty acid levels reduce insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Chronic sleep loss can result in blood sugar levels being high and can cause weight gain because of the excess insulin that is released to compensate for the high blood sugar levels.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet and getting at least seven hours of sleep each night will not only help to decrease blood sugar levels without drugs but will also aid in weight loss. Starting small with just one change at a time can make these changes lifestyle habits that will keep blood sugar levels stable over time.