“I just don’t have any energy,” he told me.
I knew what he meant. Since he was a friend seeking advice, I could speak to him frankly. “Your problem,” I said, “is that you have way too much energy, and it’s stored in your midsection. You are suffering from chronic fatigue. It is most likely caused by your fast paced, stress filled, lifestyle.”
Nervous Energy Is Stored Fat
“Energy,” as it pertains to how our body operates, means “fuel.” Just as gas in your automobile’s fuel tank is the energy that makes the engine operate. Blood sugar (glucose) is the fuel in your bloodstream that keeps you going.
When you get too much glucose in your bloodstream, your body scrambles to get rid of it. Your body has two alternatives. The cells of your body can take in the blood sugar to be used (burned) or it is stored as fat. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is called a sugar high. My friend was stuck in the sugar high/sugar low cycle. This is a common cause of chronic fatigue.
Sugar highs often only last an hour or two; then, as the level of glucose lowers, it often leaves you feeling drained of energy and lethargic.
Your Body Is Preset To Keep Your Blood Sugar Level Within Safe Limits
To better understand this concept, take as an example your normal body temperature range. Ask most adults what is the normal body temperature suppose to be; they will know – 98.6°F. It is your body’s job to keep your temperature within a narrow, safe range of 98.6F°. This happens without your thinking about it.
When the body temperature drops below a narrow range of 98.6°F, your blood vessels contract so the blood flow to your skin is reduced to conserve body heat. You may start shivering, which is an involuntary, rapid contraction of the muscles. This extra muscle activity helps generate more heat. The body takes action to prevent hypothermia – a life-threatening result of low body temperatures.
When you are too hot, you begin to sweat, and as the sweat evaporates it helps cool your body. Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its own temperature and the body temperature continues to rise.
The point being, hormones (chemical messengers) are released automatically to keep the body temperature within a tightly controlled range. This same thermostat concept happens with regard to blood sugar levels. Your body regulates the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream without a conscious effort on your part.
Acceptable Glucose Range
We are all aware of the acceptable body temperature range; but what is the acceptable range of glucose (blood sugar) in the body’s bloodstream? If you ask 100 people, I would be surprised if any of them could answer that question.
Some people, very few, might know the acceptable range for the glycemic index (G. I.) of a food. The glycemic index is a scale that measures how much a certain food or drink raises your blood sugar level. High G. I. foods are rated 70 and above. Medium, or “normal” G. I. foods are rated 56 to 69. Low G. I. foods are rated 55 and under. You want to avoid foods that causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for glucose (blood sugar) to enter each cell. Insulin is vital to good health and becomes a problem only when insulin resistance develops. One of the causes of insulin resistance is chronic stress – ongoing worry, frustration, anxiety, and depression.
Insulin resistance can be thought of as having your “blood sugar thermostat” stuck in a “make me fatter” mode.
Stress causes us to crave fat, salty, sugary, highly processed foods. The expression “we eat our feelings” comes from the fact that we give in to these cravings and eat foods that cause a spike in our blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance blocks your cells from taking the glucose from the bloodstream and burning it. If blood sugar cannot be burnt, then your body will cause it to be stored in fat cells. Remember, the body has two choices of what to do with glucose – burn it or store it.
How to Stop Insulin Resistance
Fortunately, you can unstick an insulin resistant “glucose thermostat” by increasing physical activity – moderate exercise every day. The American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association recommend that adults engage in 20 to 30 minutes of mild physical activity each day – activity the equivalent to that of a vigorous walk.
Chronic stress causes hormones to be released in your body that result in your being overweight or obese. This cycle can be reversed by increasing daily physical activity.