Stable Blood Sugar: How To Reap and Keep the Benefits

Curious about the importance of blood sugar stability? Read on to find out the benefits of stable glucose levels and how to keep them stable.

man eating salad with a fork and knife

Key Takeaways

  • If your blood sugar is on a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows, it can leave you exhausted, moody, and hungry throughout the day.
  • The good news: You can stabilize your blood glucose with a few simple lifestyle changes.

Have you ever experienced a sugar crash?

Maybe you eat a big dessert or drink a soda with lunch. Your blood glucose spikes, and for about half an hour, you feel great—lots of energy, positive mood, and so on.

But before long, that sugar high runs out. Brain fog makes it hard to focus. Your energy takes a dip. You’re irritable and moody. Maybe you’re hit with food cravings even though you just ate.

If you’ve ever crashed after eating sugar or refined carbs, you know what it’s like to have unstable blood sugar levels.

Your blood glucose affects your:

  • Brain function
  • Mental focus
  • Energy level
  • Mood
  • Hunger and food cravings
  • Longevity
  • Risk of disease

When you’re in good shape, your body can deal with the occasional spike in blood glucose. But if your blood sugar is on a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows—due to your diet, age, genetics, and other factors—it can leave you exhausted, moody, and hungry throughout the day. 

The good news: You can stabilize your blood glucose with a few simple lifestyle changes. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of stable blood glucose, as well as simple ways to keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. 

4 Benefits of Stable Glucose

You usually hear about blood glucose in the context of diabetes.

But even if you aren’t diabetic, stabilizing your blood sugar is a powerful way to live longer, improve your mood and energy levels, and lose weight faster.

Here are four major benefits that come from keeping your blood sugar stable.

Stable Energy

Refined carbohydrates break down very easily in your body. They’re already so close to glucose that you barely need to digest them.

Refined carbs rush through the digestive process and go straight to your bloodstream. Sugar-rich blood circulates throughout your body and your cells can grab onto as much of it as they need.

However, high blood sugar can be a problem if it lasts too long. Your body knows that, so when it detects lots of glucose in your bloodstream, it releases insulin, a hormone that directs sugar out of your blood and into your cells, and brings your blood glucose back down within a normal range.

This process works great for smaller blood sugar spikes. You eat some slow-digesting carbs, your blood sugar rises, you release a bit of insulin, and your blood sugar falls back to normal.

But if you feel lethargic after a carb-rich meal, your insulin response may be off. Many people don’t tolerate carbs well and have trouble releasing the right amount of insulin at the right time; instead, you put out more insulin than you need<sup>1</sup>, and you release it late.

The result is low blood sugar, which can leave you tired and struggling to stay focused<sup>2</sup>.

This yo-yo effect demonstrates how blood sugar swings mess with your energy levels. You go from an energy-rich high to an energy-poor low, instead of staying in the middle and enjoying stable, continuous energy throughout the day.

You see this energy crash in research on blood sugar and diet:

<ul role="list"><li>In a 2017 study, researchers put people on high-glycemic and low-glycemic diets for 28 days. People on high-glycemic diets—diets that cause swings in blood sugar—had significantly more depressive symptoms, mood swings, and fatigue<sup>3</sup>.</li><li>A 2019 research review found similar results: people experienced fatigue and decreased alertness<sup>4</sup>within an hour of eating refined carbs.</li></ul>

If you get sleepy and have trouble focusing after meals, consider cutting back on sugar and other high-glycemic foods. Doing so will stabilize your blood glucose and improve your energy.

Sustainable Weight Loss

Your brain contains special cells that sense your blood sugar levels and change your appetite accordingly<sup>5</sup>. If your blood glucose is low, your brain sends signals to make you eat more—but if your blood sugar stays stable, your brain tells your body that you’re full, reducing your hunger levels<sup>6</sup>.

In other words, swings in blood sugar can make you hungry, making you more likely to overeat<sup>7</sup>.

On top of that, high-glycemic foods, which disrupt your blood sugar levels most, are especially rewarding and can elicit strong food cravings. 

In a 2013 study, men ate either a low-glycemic or high-glycemic meal. The men who ate the high-glycemic meal had low blood sugar afterward, and they reported significantly more food cravings<sup>8</sup>.

There was another interesting finding: brain scans found that when the men ate high-glycemic food, the reward centers of their brains lit up about an hour after the meal, right when the participants’ cravings kicked in. 

Foods that spike your blood glucose are often highly rewarding. They activate the pleasure centers of your brain, which is great during the meal, but once that part of your brain goes dark, you’re left wanting more. That’s why more and more research suggests that high-glycemic foods play a role in food addiction<sup>9</sup> and obesity<sup>10</sup>.

On the other hand, diets that keep blood sugar stable, like low-glycemic<sup>11</sup> or low-carb diets, actually decrease food cravings<sup>12</sup>. Not surprisingly, they also work better<sup>13</sup> for long-term weight loss<sup>14</sup>.

If you’re trying to lose weight but food cravings keep sabotaging you, prioritize stabilizing blood sugar to reach your fitness goals.

Mental Clarity

Blood sugar affects your brain, too. Unstable blood sugar decreases alertness<sup>4</sup> and increases mood swings<sup>3</sup>and depressive symptoms.

Spikes in blood sugar are also linked to subtle brain injuries<sup>15</sup>; a 2015 study found that poor blood sugar control links to decreased attention, lapses in memory, and loss of gray matter<sup>16</sup> (a major component of your brain), even in young adults without diabetes.

More long-term, constantly yo-yoing blood sugar may contribute to dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. In fact, some researchers call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes” because of the link between unstable blood sugar and brain degeneration<sup>17</sup>.

For reference, about 35% of Americans have poor blood sugar control without diabetes<sup>18</sup>, and about 84% of people with poor blood sugar control<sup>19</sup> don’t realize that they have it.

By stabilizing your blood sugar, you can keep your brain strong, both short-term and long-term. 

Longevity

Stable blood sugar may stave off dementia and keep your brain healthy well into old age. But that’s not the only way that blood sugar affects longevity.

If you routinely spike your blood glucose over time, you can begin to develop insulin resistance. Basically your body, confused by the constant up-and-down in your blood sugar, begins misjudging how much insulin you need to keep your blood sugar stable.

Sometimes it releases too much insulin, other times it releases too little, and as time goes on, you lose your ability to stabilize your blood sugar.

Insulin resistance is a strong risk factor for many common age-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes<sup>20</sup>, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart attack<sup>21</sup> and stroke, and obesity<sup>22</sup>.

Stable blood sugar keeps your body sensitive to insulin<sup>23</sup> and reduces your risk of disease, especially as you get older.

How Do You Keep Glucose Stable?

Regular exercise, eating a low-glycemic diet, and building metabolic flexibility can all help you keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. 

That said, stable blood glucose depends on a variety of factors including diet, activity level, genetics, age, and more. One of the best ways to find what works for you is to use a continuous glucose monitor. A glucose monitor lets you track your blood glucose after different types of meals, workouts, a good night’s sleep, and more.

Over time, you can use that data to create a lifestyle that fits your unique biology and keeps you performing your best.


Read more: Achieve Stable Blood Sugar With Everyday Foods


Stable Glucose: FAQs

What is a stable blood glucose level (for non-diabetics)?

If you’re non-diabetic, a healthy blood sugar level is between 70-100 mg/dL when you’re fasted, and below 140 mg/dL after a meal.

How do you keep glucose stable overnight?

Your blood sugar changes naturally while you sleep. It increases between 3 am and 8 am as part of the process that helps your body wake up. However, if you’re having trouble regulating your blood sugar, your levels may rise too much or too quickly, waking you up in the middle of the night.

If you feel hungry before bed, try a low-glycemic snack:

  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Hardboiled egg
  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter (no added sugar)
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • Plain Greek yogurt

What’s the role of protein in blood sugar regulation?

Protein has minimal effect<sup>24</sup> on your blood sugar. Eating a high-protein diet that’s low in refined carbs is a great way to improve your blood sugar control. It’s also a good way to lose weight: high-protein diets<sup>25</sup>are very effective for long-term, sustainable fat loss.

What’s the role of fat in blood sugar regulation?

Research shows that, in the context of a healthy diet, eating fat has minimal effect on blood sugar<sup>26</sup>.

However, diets that are high in both fat and refined carbs often lead to weight gain, and excess weight is bad<sup>27</sup> for your blood sugar control.

If you’re eating too many calories and getting your fat from foods like pizza, pasta, baked goods, ice cream, and other foods that are high in refined carbs, you’re likely to have issues with blood sugar control. 

But eating fat in the context of a healthy, low-glycemic diet—for example, a steak with roasted vegetables, sweet potato, and olive oil—you’re much less likely to have issues controlling your blood sugar. 

Final Thoughts

Stabilizing your blood glucose is a great way to improve your mental and physical performance, lose weight, and age better. 

You can stabilize your blood sugar through simple lifestyle changes like consistent exercise or a low-glycemic diet

For personalized insight into how you can control your glucose, consider trying a continuous glucose monitor. It will give you real-time feedback on how your lifestyle affects your blood sugar levels. With that data, you can create a lifestyle that helps you become a stronger, better, healthier you. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7192270/
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20070630072636/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5154680/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30951762/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17699877/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17699877/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10444538/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743729/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5912158/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22564018/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743729/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15148063/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24787494/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246646/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464744/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32365816/
  18. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/prevalence-of-prediabetes.html
  19. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29939616/
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31336505/
  22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30541568/
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5166514/
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9416027/
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926512/
  26. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6386412/
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7721435/
Share this article:
Latest articles about

Get Started

See all articles
Latest articles from

All Categories

See all articles