When it comes to spiking our blood sugar – the conversation must almost always include FIBER.
Don’t Fall Into The No-Fiber Foods Trap
Many of the foods that cause us to be hungry right after we’ve eaten them are overly processed, refined, and stripped of the benefits of high-fiber foods.
And why is fiber so important?
Because fiber is what slows the absorption of the foods we eat from the stomach into the blood stream. When foods are low in or fiber-less, they travel quickly thru the stomach and into our blood causing that crazy blood insulin spike. Insulin is released in order to start the digestive process and remove the sugars from the blood (where if they remain becomes dangerous). So eating foods that speed up the insulin response are the ones that end up making us hungrier in the long-term.
Which foods are the main culprits?
- Bread (specifically white): In general bread gets a bad rap for spiking blood insulin levels. That said, it’s specifically white bread that is the culprit here. What makes the bread white in the first place is that it has been processed and refined to remove the outer shell of the wheat bran. This not only strips out all the beneficial nutrients (that many bread companies put back into bread and then call “enriched”) but also removes a good chunk of the fiber, which is what make bread filling in the first place!
The solution: To get your bread fix, choose breads whose 1st ingredient is whole grain or whole wheat to balance the carbs with plenty of fiber.
- Juices: While juicing your fruits/veggies is a quick way to down a healthy dose of nutrient quickly – juicing divorces the fiber of the fruits/veggies from the juice. What this means is that especially with fruits – we get a straight shot of juice and no fiber to slow the absorption into our bloodstream.
The solution: Blend your fruits/veggies instead of juicing them. If you can’t get past all the pulp – try adding in some protein powder or a nut butter. The added protein and fat act in a similar way to fiber in slowing down the absorption of the foods into your bloodstream.
- Drive-thru fast foods: These highly processed foods are FILLED with things like preservatives, trans-fats, HFCS, and salt. The reason you should care about this is because preservatives and trans fats interrupt our stomachs ability to communicate with our brain. Satiety related hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain aren’t produced, and therefore the brain loses its ability to recognize that we are full, so we just keep eating more. HFCS gets its bad name because it causes a extremely quick insulin spike. Lastly, all that added salt in fast food causes our bodies to retain water – making us feel dehydrated and bloated. Often when we think we are hungry, it is really just our bodies reminding us to rehydrate!
The solution: Unchain yourself from the drive thru and cook at home more. If you aren’t the best cook (yet) – consider trying a meal kit service like HelloFresh that create convenience in getting healthy recipes and ingredients delivered straight to your door, leaving you to finish the cooking process.
- Alcohol: Our bodies have no capacity to store alcohol (unlike our unlimited capacity to store fat). The process of removing alcohol from our body causes us to quickly run through our storage of glycogen (which comes mostly from carbs). So when we drink in excess (more than 2 drinks for women and more than 3 drinks for men), we crave carbs to replace the stores of glycogen lost to alcohol. Sadly, with the impaired judgement alcohol also causes – those cravings are often for the wrong type of carbs; simple, processed, and fried.
The solution: Drink in moderation – when at a social gathering, spend more time with the people there than on slinging back the drinks! And if you have one too many, have healthy complex carbs (like nuts and seeds) available for that late night snack attack.