Keeping your blood sugar levels steady can not only help you prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, it can also help you have more even energy levels and feel more satiated between meals. A diet that allows you to maintain stable blood sugar levels will also help you feel less hungry and reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods. You can also improve your metabolism with the foods you choose to eat, which is key to making weight loss and maintenance easier.
Your total carbohydrate intake at a meal is the main factor influencing your blood sugar levels, independently of the foods you combine your carbs with. If you want to stabilize your blood sugar levels, avoid choosing foods that are high in carbohydrates, or limit your serving size of high-carb foods. Be careful with foods that contain flour or sugar, such as breads, rice, pasta, soft drinks and desserts because of their high carbohydrate content. Both the starches and sugars found in these foods are converted into glucose, the main sugar circulating in your blood, during the digestion process.
The carbohydrates that you include at each of your meals and snacks should be low-glycemic carbohydrates. Carbohydrate foods that have a low glycemic index take more time to metabolize, which helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady for hours after your meal. Choose non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, cauliflower and red bell peppers; fruits; nuts; sweet potato; quinoa; steel-cut oats; and sourdough bread to combine with protein and fat at each meal. Avoid high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as white potatoes, white and whole-wheat breads, corn flakes and puffed rice breakfast cereals, granola bars and baked goods, all of which can make your blood sugar levels increase rapidly and crash within a few hours.
Always combine low-glycemic carbohydrates with protein at each of your meals and snacks. Protein is the best nutrient to make you feel more satiated and less hungry until your next meal, and it also contributes to raising your metabolism, according to a 2004 review article published in “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” The most concentrated sources of protein is found in animal foods, such as chicken, beef, fish, shrimp and eggs. Dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, as well as tofu, beans and lentils also provide some protein. Combine a few eggs with spinach and a handful of berries for breakfast, and have at least 3 to 4 ounces of chicken stir-fried with onions, mushrooms and broccoli for lunch. Combining low-glycemic carbohydrates and protein will keep your blood sugar levels stable and rev up your metabolism.
Fat slows down the digestion process by delaying gastric emptying, which can help prevent a quick and drastic rise in your blood sugar levels after eating. Diabetics adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil to mashed potatoes, a high-glycemic carbohydrate food, were able to keep their blood sugar levels more steady, according to a study published in the June 2006 issue of “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.” Combine your low-glycemic carbohydrates and protein with a healthy dose of fats for better blood sugar control. Cook your food in coconut oil, drizzle your vegetables and salad with extra-virgin olive oil, add some nuts or nut butter to your snacks or enjoy a few slices of avocado to get enough fat in your diet.