Use a glucometer to accelerate weight loss
Are you following a low carb diet but disappointed with your results? Is that weight loss plateau frustrating you beyond measure? A glucometer can help you to identify foods and even lifestyle factors that cause your blood sugar to spike and, as a result, hinder weight loss. When blood sugar spikes so does insulin and too much insulin inhibits fat loss. A glucometer is not just for diabetics but is also a very useful tool for people who struggle with stubborn weight. Learning how to keep your blood sugar stable and in the low range is vitally important in shedding those unwanted kilograms. The use of a glucometer, combined with some clever detective work, can reveal valuable information that can help you to get the results you want.
What can raise glucose levels?
The obvious answer to this question is the intake of sugar and starchy foods. Most people can bring their glucose readings into a healthy range by reducing their consumption of carbohydrates. There may, however, still be some foods in your diet that cause your blood sugar to spike due to an intolerance you aren’t aware of, or the fact that they still contain too many carbs for your particular metabolism. Good examples are eggs, dairy, caffeine, starchy veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect your blood sugar level.
Too much protein at one meal can be problematic because of the conversion of excess protein to glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis. Eating too frequently (or too much) can also keep blood sugar and insulin in a range that prevents fat loss. Even certain types of exercise such as prolonged cardio or endurance sports can raise a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol has the knock-on effect of raising blood glucose. You might even discover, although counter intuitive, that the long distance running you are doing is not doing your weight loss efforts any favours. Poor quality and/or insufficient sleep will also impact your blood glucose and ability to effectively lose weight.
Medications such as birth control pills, antidepressants, decongestants, blood pressure meds, statins and steroids, to name a few, can all raise blood glucose. Women can experience higher glucose levels around the time of their period. When coming down with a cold, flu, or other illness, blood glucose levels can also become elevated. Remember, the goal for any healthy weight loss programme is to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low throughout the day, so that fat can be released from your fat cells to be burned as fuel. This process of ‘fat release’ cannot happen if blood sugar and insulin levels are too high. You won’t know what factors or foods are causing your blood sugar to be elevated unless you test, test and test some more. This process is not for everyone, but if you are like me and enjoy experimenting and tracking and journalling so as to learn more about your body, then it might be for you.
What is a glucometer?
A glucometer is a home-use device, which measures your blood sugar levels in “real time.” It is simple to use and requires a finger prick with a sterile lancet to draw a drop of blood. The finger prick is pretty painless and with practice becomes effortless. You then apply the drop of blood to a test strip that has been inserted into the glucometer, and it measures your blood sugar within a few seconds. The device and test strips are relatively inexpensive and glucometers retail at most pharmacies and health-orientated outlets. The one I use is the Freestyle Optium brand and it is a dual glucometer in that it measures both glucose and blood ketones. You just buy different strips for the ketone testing. This is a great device for those trying to achieve a ketogenic state. If you aren’t worried abut being in ketosis, then you can just purchase a standard glucometer.
When to test and ideal ranges?
When first embarking on your investigative pursuits you will want to test a few times during the day. Keep a journal of glucometer results, foods eaten, as well as notes on exercise, sleep and stress levels. This will help you to identify trends and areas for potential improvement with regards to diet and lifestyle.
|When to test||* Ideal range (mmol)|
|First thing in the morning in a fasted state and before exercising||<4.8|
|Just before a meal (after not eating for at least 3 hours)||4.4 (Baseline)|
|1 hour after the meal||<7.8|
|2 hours after the meal||<6.7|
|3 hours after the meal||Back to baseline|
* Ideal ranges according to Chris Kresser, doctor of functional and integrative medicine.
When testing 1, 2 and 3 hours after a meal, it is important to not eat anything during that time. Another important caveat according to Dr Chris Kresser, is that very low-carb diets will produce elevated fasting blood glucose levels. This is due to the fact that restricting carbohydrates produces a natural drop in insulin levels, which enables fat tissue to be broken down and taken up by the muscles as fuel. Since the muscles’ need for fuel has been met, it decreases sensitivity to insulin and causes a state of physiological insulin resistance. This is not a bad thing and mustn’t be confused with the insulin resistance associated with a pre-diabetic state. Therefore, if you’re following a low-carb diet, fasting blood sugars between 5 and 6 mmol may not be a problem, provided your * HbA1c is less than 5.3 % and post-meal blood sugars are within the ideal ranges stated above.
* HbA1c is a blood test, available at a pathology lab that measures your average blood glucose level over 3 months.
Benefits of using a glucometer?
- The device and test strips are relatively inexpensive and easily available.
- Testing can be done in the convenience of your own home (or anywhere for that matter).
- Test results will help you personalise your LCHF eating plan in terms of foods to avoid and include.
- Assists with determining the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat to eat in order to maximise weight loss and health for your own metabolism.
- High blood sugar levels, despite a low carb diet, can assist you with identifying lifestyle and health factors that need some further attention such as exercise routines, sleep quality, stress management and hormone balance.
Tips for using a glucometer:
- Make sure your fingers are clean and free of hand creams, soap residue, etc.
- Lower your hand toward the floor for 30 seconds as this will encourage blood flow to your hand.
- Prick the soft pad at the top of your finger.
- Don’t “milk” your finger to get an adequate drop of blood. If the blood that results from your finger prick is too small, repeat using a deeper setting or firmer pressure on your lancet.
- Rotate finger-prick sites to avoid making one site sore.
After about a week or two of diligent glucometer testing and journaling, one can reduce testing frequency as required. The key is to keep meticulous notes so that trends and patterns can be identified and the appropriate action taken. Learn what foods cause blood sugar spikes and which foods give you ideal numbers. Remember, if a food raises your blood sugar over the recommended targets, that food should not be part of your diet. Your glucometer is a useful tool that will inform how best to fuel your body. Use it and regain your health and lose that stubborn weight.
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Posted on June 12, 2017, in Primal 101 and tagged Freestyle Optium, glucose spikes, glucose testing, how to use a glucometer, ideal fasted numbers, insulin spikes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.