The glucose in your blood is generally referred to as your ‘blood sugar’ level. Diabetics have to pay close attention to it, but understanding how it works will help anyone to regulate their energy levels better.
So how do you get sugar into your blood?
Glucose is a form of sugar that your body can rapidly turn into energy when it needs to. Carbohydrates from your food are all broken down into glucose during digestion before being used immediately, or stored away for later.
Glucose is generally stored as a complex carbohydrate called ‘glycogen’ in either the liver, or the muscle. For instance, if you start running, the glycogen is converted into glucose in your leg muscles. This in turn converts into energy, powering your legs.
The body keeps an emergency level of glucose in the blood at all times, just in case it is needed in a hurry. Generally this is for your brain, which needs energy from glucose to work effectively (most people who start starving, make worse decisions due to the drop in blood sugar).
Managing your blood sugar to be healthy
Blood glucose goes up when we eat, and down again as it is stored or used. It is regulated by two hormones called insulin and glucagon.
Insulin helps to take glucose out of the blood, glucagon helps to put it back in again. It’s this regulation of blood-sugar that diabetics struggle with. They have a problem with their production or use of insulin and have inject it should their blood sugar rise too much.
Stored glycogen can only fuel your body for approx. 12 hours (or less if you’re very active). After it runs out, the body will start searching for other stored energies, i.e. fat. So if you’re looking to lose body fat, it’s important that you maintain enough blood sugar for your brain to work, but not so much that you don’t ever get to burn off your body fat.
Three good tactics to do this are:
- Don’t binge on sugary snacks, swap to fruit, spread your consumption out to flatten the energy curve.
- Pick slow release energy sources. Complex carbs like wholemeal bread have a lower Glycemic Index.
- Don’t starve yourself. You’ll find you make worse decisions, that leave your brain craving fast release energy.
Blood sugar can have a major impact on how you feel ‘in the moment’ as well as being a good way to manage your body fat for the whole of your life. Pay attention to the tips above and you won’t go far wrong.