The importance of blood sugar management and how to hack your levels
Blood sugar management is a primary lever to a high-performance life.
Written by
Dan Cable
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Last updated
March 25, 2024
3
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Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is one of the best levers for maintaining cardiometabolic health, androgen hormone levels, lean body composition, and overall performance and longevity.

Our bodies primarily maintain blood sugar levels through two peptide hormones, insulin and glucagon — it’s more complex than that but let’s keep it simple.

Insulin lowers blood sugar when it spikes and glucagon increases blood sugar levels when it drops. They are antagonistic (mutually exclusive), counterbalancing each other to maintain blood sugar levels in the Goldilocks zone — between 3.9 mmol/L and 7.8 mmol/L if you fasted or ate > two hours ago.

Although insulin, like cortisol, is life-critical it can be dangerously in excess due to our modern lifestyle.

Unfortunately, a lifestyle of high stress, poor sleep, and a modern (industrialised) diet results in a double whammy of increased cortisol, reduced insulin sensitivity and increased carb cravings [1].

This can cause larger, more frequent blood sugar spikes that can trigger a doom loop of dysregulation in our metabolic and endocrine systems — chronically elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) cause a drop in testosterone that compounds the risk of insulin resistance, increased fat gain and muscle loss [2][3].

There are many reasons why blood sugar management is a primary lever to a high-performance life but let's move on to practical tools and hacks.

Firstly, interventions should always focus on core foundations — eat healthily, manage stress, sleep well, exercise with ROI (resistance, HIIT), etc. — but our lifestyles are not perfect.

Be mindful of stress-induced carb cravings (poor sleep, low HRV, or high cognitive load are good leading indicators) and maintain discipline to avoid sugary foods while your insulin sensitivity is compromised.

How can we hack our blood sugar levels to minimise the harm?

Plan ahead with preventative measures

  • Consume a tablespoon of vinegar just before the meal to stimulate stomach acid, slow gastric emptying and dampen the blood sugar load by c.20% [4] while also improving glucose tolerance by activating AMPK [5]. Although, it's important to note that this isn't a silver bullet for those with a sweet tooth who like confectionary [6].
  • Consume fibre during nibbles/entrees (no, bread does not qualify) as this will dampen the blood sugar load even more [7][8].
  • Put it all together by having pickled vegetables before your meal or vinegar in your salad dressing.

Respond reactively with simple habits after the meal to dampen the blood sugar peak

  • Do some light movement like going for a walk within 30-60mins of finishing the meal [9].
  • Take the stairs or activate your calf muscles, which have a unique mechanism to help dampen blood sugar spikes [10].
  • Even just standing after eating is a helpful tool so try to avoid retiring to the couch straight away [11].

You’d be shocked at how pervasive sugar is as an ingredient in our modern diets and even more surprised by the types of common foods that will spike your blood sugar levels.

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) are also a great tool to form an intuition on blood sugar levels and to better respond with the reactive tools above; I’m a big fan (when used appropriately) and glad that these are more accessible now as I previously had to rely on finger prickers a decade ago when I started experimenting with blood sugar hacks.

This post contains general information about health and wellness practices. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health regimen. This information is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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