Ever felt a crash in energy levels after having a sugary snack or drink? Ever get that craving for something sweet after a meal? Or do you find that no matter how good your quality of sleep, you end up getting weary-eyed at 4pm? That’s a surge of insulin causing your blood sugar (and energy) levels to drop off suddenly.
If you are often feeling fatigued, and you struggle with hunger, weight gain and mood swings, it is possible you may have an insulin sensitivity.
But insulin is not the bad guy here! It's just doing its job - insulin regulates how the body uses and stores glucose and fat.
Insulin sensitivity, and other hormone imbalances (which I will touch on in the following weeks), can be extremely frustrating for women trying to lose weight. You can be doing everything right from nutrition to fitness, and still not see a change.
Many people think that if you just eat right and exercise, you will lose weight, but for many women, that is not the case. Here are six simple ways you can reduce insulin sensitivity and get back on track with your goals:
1. Prioritise Sleep: I know you’ve heard it a thousand times but getting into a healthy sleeping routine has so many benefits *including lowering insulin levels*! This means ensuring you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night because know how much easier it is to graze after a night of little sleep.
2. Add More Vegetables and Fibrous Carbs: Be mindful to add more vegetables and fibrous carbs to your meals. For example, you could swap white bread for brown. You do not need to cut out carbs altogether but adding more fibrous foods like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, quinoa, oats, popcorn, almonds (the list goes on...) helps to improve blood sugar levels. With every lunch and dinner my aim is to have at least 5 veggies - why don't you try it too?
3. Find a Way to Relieve Stress: A lot of my clients use meditation to relieve stress but do whatever works for you to get into a more relaxed mindset. It could be reading, walking, journaling or anything, just find a way to do that 1 thing for yourself and it will improve your whole day, even if it is only for 5 minutes! I often enjoy an afternoon walk in this weather or even a swim (post- lockdown) as i find it impossible to stay still. These are still great ways to switch off.
4. Increase Your Magnesium Intake: If you have an insulin sensitivity, you are likely to lose magnesium at a faster rate so it’s important to replace your lost magnesium by eating high-magnesium foods like legumes, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables or taking supplements.
6. Get More Vitamin D: Vitamin D can help improve insulin sensitivity so try to get 15-20 minutes of sunlight (I know that can be difficult in the UK!), eat more foods like oily fish, eggs and nuts or you can also take supplements. Your sleep cycle starts in the morning so try to get your vitamin D as early as possible - maybe you could add a morning walk to your routine?
7. Listen to your body: My final top tip and probably the most important for those struggling with blood sugars, is to be aware of how you feel after eating certain foods. For example, how do you feel after you eat white bread compared with eating some protein and vegetables? Do you feel that crash in energy? Do you feel crave something sweet or caffeinated? The most important thing is to always do what you feel your body needs.