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Weight loss: How can understanding glucose spikes help with weight loss?

If you’re looking to lose weight, there’s always something new to try, isn’t there?

Plenty of diets, regimes, lifestyles. But nothing is an actual answer. Over time, we got pretty fed up with that uncertain feeling of will it work? And we’d put money on you probably feeling the same way... We wanted to know what was really happening inside our body, how the food we ate was being used. And we realised that understanding glucose levels was the key to that, and something that could really help achieve sustainable weight loss.

The different foods we eat, times of day, and variable combinations – they all create unique hormonal responses in the body. (1–3) To add to the amazingness of the human body, everyone’s glucose response to the same foods is completely unique too, whatever the calorie content. (1,3) So calories aren’t the be all and the end all, after all. Glucose is where it’s at.

An important little thing called insulin

When glucose is detected in our bodies, the hormone insulin is released. It tells the body to use that sugar in the blood, or if there’s too much, to store it as fat. When your glucose level drops, a signal is sent to use that stored fat for energy. With chronically elevated insulin, you’ll perpetually be in a weight-gaining mode. Unless insulin levels are steady, the body’s signal to use stored fat will always be impaired.

The hidden stuff inside. Sense a theme here?

Yes, glucose is one of the factors central to maintaining a healthy weight. Many of the food items we buy at the grocery store and at restaurants are highly processed, with high sugar content, and abundant in processed carbohydrates. (4) These foods have a relatively low amount of fiber and complex carbohydrates, which are the key nutritional components that help to keep glucose levels steady in our body. Sugar is hidden under many different names, including healthy sounding names like agave nectar and organic honey. (4,5) Therefore, it is very hard for us to know how healthy or unhealthy the food we are eating really is.

Numbers do matter. But maybe not the ones you think.

There’s no doubt that losing weight can be beneficial for people who are overweight. (6) Weight loss can lower the risk of multiple chronic diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. (6,7) If we want to gain a greater understanding of how to maintain a healthy weight, then we need to go beyond what the numbers on the scale say and start to look deeper at our metabolic health. 

References:

1. Ben-Yacov O, Godneva A, Rein M, et al. Personalized Postprandial Glucose Response–Targeting Diet Versus Mediterranean Diet for Glycemic Control in Prediabetes. Diabetes Care. Published online July 23, 2021. doi:10.2337/dc21-0162

2. Speakman JR, Hall KD. Carbohydrates, insulin, and obesity. Science. 2021;372(6542):577-578. doi:10.1126/science.aav0448

3. Zeevi D, Korem T, Zmora N, et al. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell. 2015;163(5):1079-1094. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001

4. Fuhrman J. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018;12(5):375-381. doi:10.1177/1559827618766483

5. Aller EEJG, Abete I, Astrup A, Martinez JA, Baak MA van. Starches, Sugars and Obesity. Nutrients. 2011;3(3):341-369. doi:10.3390/nu3030341

6. CDC. Obesity is a Common, Serious, and Costly Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 29, 2020. Accessed August 26, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

7. Blüher M. Obesity: global epidemiology and pathogenesis. Nat Rev Endocrinol. Published online February 27, 2019. doi:10.1038/s41574-019-0176-8

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