Entries in Diabetes (6)


Breakfast is a key to better Weight and Blood Sugar Management

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why don't we make the time to eat it? I know that prior to starting to live a more healthy lifestyle, I almost never ate breakfast. I didn't want to allocate the time. I preferred to sleep as long as I could (given that I stayed up until after midnight most nights). And when I did eat breakfast, it was usually from McDonalds, Burger King, or donuts (plural) from Dunkin.

Now, I try to have breakfast every morning. If you are like me, you don't have a lot of time in the morning to devote to cooking a breakfast. I do most of my running in the early mornings, and if I am going to eat before a run, I prefer to have at least 30 minutes between eating and starting any exercise.

As a pre-exercise meal, I prefer eating light. So on run mornings, I usually have a banana and a cup of milk. Sometimes I add a piece of toast with almond butter. When I wake up, the first thing I do is eat, starting with a tall glass of water. Then, the time it takes me to wash up, get dressed, and outfitted for my run is usually enough for digestion to get moving so I don't have that 'full' feeling in my stomach. (And, this usually helps get the bowels moving so I can take care of that business before heading out.)

A morning meal is important for runners for so many reasons:
- weight management (eating in the morning helps avoid mid-morning snacking due to low energy)
- blood glucose control (start the day with good blood sugar levels and maintain a steady level all day)
- fuel for later activity (fueling the body in the morning builds glycogen throughout the day for use later that day)
- a mental boost (the brain will feel less sluggish when fed. It is the second highest user of glucose in the body)
- better concentration (when the brain is functioning well, you think better!)

On the mornings I don't exercise, I can take more time for breakfast so I change things up. I always start with that tall glass of water. These are some things I eat for breakfast (one bullet point is a meal):

- a smoothie with milk, Greek yogurt, and fruit. Often with some Whey protein added.
- a slice of toast with almond butter, Greek yogurt, and OJ
- Egg Beaters omelette with veggies and bacon, 1 cup of milk, a banana
- a small bowl ( 1/2-1 cup) of Honey Nut Cheerios mixed in Strawberry Greek yogurt
- three Morningstar soy sausage links, milk, and a bagel with Light Cream Cheese

If traditional breakfast foods don’t excite you, try a lunch or dinner like approach. Dinner from the night before like cold pizza or leftover stir-fry is a great choice. If you don’t like hot cereal, you can substitute rice pilaf with dried fruit and nuts for a similar nutritional benefit. I love nuts like almonds, cashews, and honey-roasted peanuts (almonds are the healthiest of the three).

The key to a good breakfast is a balanced breakfast. Build your own appealing combo using protein (milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, meat, beans), fat (nuts, nut butter, avocado, hummus, oil), carbs (cereal, bread, English muffin, rice, pasta, waffles), fiber (fruit, vegetables, beans, high fiber cereals/breads) and drink (water, juice, milk, coffee, tea).

Breakfast gives you a chance to pre-fuel for a later run, or refuel from an earlier one, so don't deprive your body. Make this meal a must on your "to do" list every day.


Obesity and its connection to Insulin and Leptin

I am watching an interesting video series regrding obesity being produced by the University of California and available via their YouTube channel called UCTV Prime. The series is called "The Skinny on Obesity" and they have a web site for the series at It is quite informative and offers another view on why and how we have become such an obese society over the last 40 years. And it presents an argument that goes against some of the more conventional wisdom regarding the topic.

And today, I read another article on The Daily Beast that discussed this very same theory, calling into question the general wisdom that we get fat because we consume too many calories and expend too few. If we could just control our impulses -- or at least control our environment, thereby removing temptation -- and push ourselves to exercise, we’d be fine. This logic is everywhere you look in the official guidelines, commentary, and advice. "The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time = weight stays the same," the NIH website counsels Americans, while the CDC site tells us, "Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance."

The alternative theory in this article and the video series -- one that has also been around for decades but that the establishment has largely ignored -- implicates specific foods—refined sugars and grains—because of their effect on the hormone insulin, which regulates fat accumulation. If this hormonal-defect hypothesis is true, not all calories are created equal, as the conventional wisdom holds. And if it is true, the problem is not only controlling our impulses, but also changing the entire American food economy and rewriting our beliefs about what constitutes a healthy diet.

The description of the video series speaks this clearly enough: "Is sugar a toxin that's fueling the global obesity epidemic? That's the argument UCSF's Dr. Robert Lustig made in "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," a 2009 UCTV video that's since gone viral and sparked a national dialogue. In "The Skinny on Obesity," a 7-part series from UCTV Prime, Dr. Lustig and two of his UCSF colleagues tease out the science behind this alarming claim and the dire threat it poses to global public health."

I am not doctor or scientist, but I have been doing some reading about all of this since starting my own journey to lose weight, become more fit, and no longer be characterized as "obese". I find the information presented in this article and video series to be very solid and credible.

I do not believe this absolves people from the personal responsibility to monitoring their food intake, portion sizes, and food choices. I believe that having this kind of information will help me make even better choices. If we understand the reasons why the body responds to the things we consume, and we are presented with alternatives that cause a different response, then we can be more successful in our journey towards a healthier person.

Take a read and watch the videos. There are four already available with another three to be pubished in upcoming weeks. I am going to be following this theory unfold and see if I can use this information to help me reach my goals.

Make up your own minds. Let me know what you think about the connection between insulin, leptin, and sugar in our diets. Does this make sense to you? Or do you think it is all 'bunk'?