Are you sleeping too little to burn the carbs that you eat? Nutritionist Gayle Reichler weighs in on the sleep/sugar cycle that might be keeping that spare tire around your middle.
Have you ever noticed how you can crave sugary foods when you are tired or stressed? This is partly because your body is craving energy. There is some thought that it is to help your adrenals that have gotten weak from stress. However, another way to think about it is that it is your body’s way to get quick fuel.
But what happens when we sleep? People are designed to burn fat through the night because it burns long and slow – in contrast to sugar or carbs which are metabolized more quickly. But, as the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, so your body is more apt to burn sugar or carbs at night instead of fats. Higher blood sugar means less long-lasting fat metabolism in the night and even less sleep. See the cycle?
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that people who slept fewer than six hours a night had blood sugar problems compared to those who got eight. This illustrates the cycle of sleep deprivation raising blood sugar, and unstable blood sugar in turn compromising quality sleep. In the short term, studies link disturbed sleep with increased cortisol production (a stress hormone) and weight gain.
The Sleep Sugar Cycle
As a result of less than ample sleep, people wake up tired and reach for a sweet coffee drink, sending the blood sugar right back up. Without realizing it, cravings for quick energy drinks, bars, breads, pastas and sweets become the norm, particularly in the US. This constant surge of sugar and simple carbs puts significant strain on the pancreas. The result is a condition called Prediabetes, which affects 1/3 of the American population and, according to the Center for Disease Control, 90% of those courting the condition are not aware of it.
What can you do? 8 tips to balance your blood sugar.
1.Eat three meals a day with only vegetables as snacks
2.Eat whole foods – avoid processed foods.
3.Only eat whole grains, no sugar added. Avoid baked goods, simple carbs and starchy veggies.
4.Eat fruits whole and no juice.
5.Increase intake of non-starchy veggies – eat lots at each meal.
6.Get 1 gram of protein per day for each pound of body weight, just until sleep normalizes. An ounce of protein is equal to 7 grams. Spread the protein out at each meal.
7.Drink 1/2 of your ideal body weight in ounces of water per day.
8.Avoid added sweeteners; even those that are sugar-free.