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Are high or low morning glucose levels normal?

When you think of sleep, you may think of complete rest and that the systems in your body shut down. However, sleep is a complex process that involves various stages and functions including glucose and energy metabolism, all controlled by the circadian rhythm. (1) Observing higher or lower glucose levels in the morning can be related to circadian rhythm or lifestyle habits and food choices surrounding sleep. The connection between sleep and glucose levels Glucose and sleep have a significant impact on each other. (2) High spikes and low crashes from the day can disrupt sleep, just as a poor night’s sleep worsens your ability to process glucose the following day. High blood sugar in the morning, even if you don’t have diabetes, may reflect what you ate at your evening meal, if you had any alcohol, are stressed, or the quality and duration of your sleep. What causes higher glucose levels in the morning? A large, late meal within 2-3 hours or less of trying to fall asleep Alcohol, especially sugary mixed drinks, within 2-3 hours of bed Stress Short sleep duration Poor sleep quality In the above scenarios, normal physiological processes that occur at night are disturbed as the body is working hard to metabolise a late meal, large amount of carbs or alcohol, or unable to fully rest due to stress. In approximately 50% of people with diabetes, the “dawn phenomenon” is a high blood sugar level in the early morning, generally between the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (3) This rise is caused by insulin’s inability to properly act on the release of stored and new glucose from the liver into the blood. While commonly observed in individuals with diabetes, the use of CGMs have revealed that the dawn phenomenon can be experienced by individuals without diabetes, too. What causes lower glucose levels in the morning? Alternatively, if you eat a lower-carb diet or don't eat many carbs in your evening meal, you may notice lower glucose levels in the morning. Alcohol late at night can also cause delayed overnight lows, which might show up after you fall asleep. Why does sleep spike or lower my glucose levels? It’s not sleep per se, but usually meals or activities that take place before you go to sleep that are still being processed overnight. When you use a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo, you may notice your glucose starts to rise in the morning before you even wake up. This is normal and can be attributed to the metabolic processes governed by circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock in the body. When it’s time to wake up, your body temperature begins to rise, along with cortisol and glucose levels. These are all standard functions that tell your body it’s time to wake up. What should my glucose levels be in the morning? After an overnight fast, typical glucose levels in healthy individuals are less than 99 mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre) or 5.5 mmol/L (millimoles per litre), with more optimal levels landing in a tighter range, between 70-90 mg/dL (3.9-5.0 mmol/L). If your morning glucose level is above 99 mg/dL (5.5 mmol/L), it could be a totally normal, temporary response that is related to your meal and drink choices the night before, your total sleep time or sleep quality, or other lifestyle factors like stress. Using a product like Lingo enables you to have insight into how different behaviours impact your glucose. If your morning glucose is consistently elevated higher than the healthy range or changes significantly from what’s typical for you, talk to your doctor about what that may mean for you. What can I do to manage my morning glucose levels? Lifestyle habits you can implement that may improve sleep quality and manage morning glucose levels include: Close the kitchen and finish eating 2-3 hours prior to bedtime. Avoid alcohol, especially soon before going to sleep. Walk for 20 minutes after eating dinner. While some studies show high glycaemic foods may help you fall asleep, (4) avoid large, high-carb meals that your body may still be trying to process overnight. Adopt a wind-down nightly routine to minimise stress levels for quality sleep. Exercise regularly: aim to meet your step goal most days of the week, achieve 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, and strength train at least 2 days per week A final note from Lingo Sleep and glucose are closely impacted by each other, and the relationship between the two is complex. Lifestyle habits, food, and sleep can all affect your morning glucose levels. By using a continuous glucose monitor like the Lingo biosensor, you can better understand how these factors play into your glucose levels and take charge to retrain your metabolism.

 
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Glucose and skin health

Optimising your glucose may positively impact your skin health. Low glycaemic foods are foods that have less impact on your glucose. (1) Foods high in protein, fat, and fibre tend to have low glycaemic index value. Foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar are high glycaemic foods, which can increase your glucose. What does this mean for you and your skin health? Making some simple swaps throughout the day can help decrease your glycaemic load and positively benefit your skin. (2) For example, swap white rice for brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Have wholemeal or rye bread instead of white bread. Get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet with nuts and seeds (like flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds) and fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, and sardines) twice per week. When you want a snack, instead of reaching for sweet treats, build a snack platter with vegetables, grilled protein, nuts, cheese, olives, and hummus. After you make changes like these, monitor how your skin changes.

 
Image for Glycaemic load vs. glycaemic index: Which is better for glucose control?

Glycaemic load vs. glycaemic index: Which is better for glucose control?

The glycaemic load (GL) and glycaemic index (GI) are two different tools that give you insight into how carb-rich foods affect your glucose levels, also known as your blood sugar levels. GI and GL can help you make informed food choices towards steady, healthier glucose levels. And healthier blood glucose levels translates to more energy, improved mood, and less hunger, among other benefits. (1) Glycaemic load vs. glycaemic index: How they’re measured The glycaemic index ranks carb-containing foods by their ability to raise glucose on a scale of 1-100, with 100 indicating that the food spikes your blood sugar the most. Glycaemic index values are broken down into three ranges based on their numeric scores High GI: 70 to 100 Medium GI: 56 to 69 Low GI: 55 and below The GI is calculated by measuring how quickly certain carb-containing foods spike glucose levels in people without diabetes. Each food is given a numeric score based on the time it takes for blood sugar to rise after eating a portion of the food that contains 50 grams of carbs. The lower the GI of a food, the more steadily the food releases glucose into your bloodstream, providing sustained energy. The numeric GI ranking of each food is compared to glucose (pure sugar), the most quick-digesting carb that scores 100 on the GI scale. (2) Low GI foods produce less fluctuation in blood glucose and insulin levels than high GI foods because their digestion and absorption is slowed by their fibre content, or because the sugars present (e.g. fructose, lactose) are inherently less glycaemic. In addition to your glucose staying steady, research shows health benefits when low GI foods replace high GI foods in a balanced diet. (3) The glycaemic load, on the other hand, can give you a more practical measure of how a certain food impacts your glucose levels. The GL goes beyond the standardised measure of a 50-gram carb serving of a single food. It takes into account both how fast blood glucose is raised as well as how much glucose (aka carbohydrates) the food actually contains. (4) For example, watermelon has a high GI of 72, however a 1-cup serving of watermelon only has ~11 grams of carbohydrates, giving it a lower GL. To calculate the glycaemic load, you’ll take the GI of a food (the numeric score), multiply it by the amount of carbs (in grams) in a portion of food, and then divide that number by 100. (5) Here’s an example of how that works out: If whole-wheat bread has a GI of 45 and one slice has 20 grams of carbs, you’ll multiply 45 by 20 and then divide that number by 100. The result is 9. That means whole-wheat bread has a low glycaemic load. Low glycaemic load: 0 to 10 Medium glycaemic load: 11 to 19 High glycaemic load: 20 and above Glycaemic load vs. glycaemic index: Which is better? The GL improves on the glycaemic index since it considers both the quality (GI) of the carbohydrate as well as that quantity of the carbohydrates in a serving of the food. This can give you more insight into how much your glucose may increase, whereas the GI just tells you how fast a food raises your glucose without taking into account how much of that food you will actually consume. And the amount of glucose you eat coupled with how fast it creates a glucose spike (aka the GL) is a more accurate picture of how a food affects your overall glucose levels than merely how quickly a food’s sugars are absorbed (aka the GI). Let’s look at the whole-wheat bread example again. While whole-wheat bread has both a low GI and low GL, not all foods follow the same trajectory. Take boiled white spaghetti: It is low-glycaemic, scoring a 46 on the GI scale. However, one serving of cooked spaghetti contains 43 grams of carbohydrates, giving it a glycaemic load of 20, which is considered high. And the longer you boil it, the higher its glycaemic index rises because cooking it for longer reduces the amount of digesting your body must do, which means your glucose will rise faster after eating it. (6) Refined-grain products like white pasta will often have a high GL, but you can easily swap them for higher-fibre counterparts to lower the GL and help lessen that glucose spike. For reference, whole-wheat spaghetti, which is made of whole-grain flour rather than refined white flour, has a low GI (40) and low GL (10) while regular spaghetti has a low GI (55) but medium GL (13); so whole-wheat spaghetti would be a smart swap. Pairing your whole-grain pasta with a source of protein and fat (such as chicken cooked in a bit of olive oil) can further help lower how fast and how high your glucose rises. (6) What are the downsides? The glycaemic index is skewed because it doesn't take into account the realistic serving size of a food and exactly how many carbohydrates it contains. This can be a bit misleading because while a certain food can raise your blood sugar quickly, if a typical serving of that food does not contain a high amount of carbohydrates, then it may not spike your glucose into an unhealthy range. (4) While the glycaemic load is a more useful measure of how carb foods affect your glucose, this tool isn’t perfect, either. The GL still takes into account how one specific food affects your glucose, so if you’re not eating that food on its own, it’ll be more difficult to figure out your meal or snack’s glycaemic load. For example, pairing a piece of bread with cheese will produce a lower GL than eating a plain piece of bread. And combining pasta with chicken and Parmesan will also put less of a burden on your blood sugar than eating pasta alone. That’s because foods with protein and fats (like chicken and cheese) can help slow down the digestion of the carbs you’re eating along with them, which means more steady glucose levels and more sustained energy. (6) The best way to measure how foods and meals affect your glucose levels is by using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), like Lingo. A CGM can monitor your glucose throughout the day and give you insights into how what you eat and drink influences your glucose. Using this info, you can tailor your diet plan for steadier glucose levels and improve your overall well-being. A final note from Lingo Both the glycaemic load and glycaemic index paint a picture of how food affects your blood glucose levels, but the glycaemic load is a more practical measure. Unlike the GI, the GL takes into account how many carbohydrates a serving size of a specific food contains. The GI only tells you how fast a carb-containing food raises your glucose levels, without factoring in what a typical serving size of that food is. What both measures don’t tell you is how much these foods, when paired with sources of fat or protein (which don’t spike glucose), affect your glucose levels. And that’s where a CGM like Lingo can help. To create meals with a lower glycaemic load, replace high-GI foods with lower-GI foods and pair your carbs with a source of protein and/or fat. If you're eating a high-GI food (which is OK in moderation), watch portion sizes and eat it after a mixed-macro meal that has protein, veggies, and healthy fat for healthier glucose levels.

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Boosting your metabolism: 5 ways from experts

You are probably familiar with the term metabolism but might not understand 100% what it means. At its most basic definition, your metabolism encompasses all processes involved in how energy is used in the body. This includes the use and storage of glucose, which we’ll expand on later. Most people associate metabolism with how quickly the body burns calories, and it’s why many are interested in having a “fast metabolism.” However, this process actually refers to metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body uses daily and is influenced by genetics, age, muscle mass, and activity level. Increasing metabolic rate, commonly referred to as “boosting metabolism,” means increasing the number of calories your body uses at rest. People can also experience a temporary rise in metabolic rate, such as when you continue to burn calories after harder effort workouts. Glucose plays a central role in metabolism; it’s a fuel source for immediate energy and is also able to be stored in muscles and liver for later use. How well the body can process, use, and store glucose is one marker of metabolic health. When your body uses glucose efficiently, this results in steadier glucose levels, which has been shown to positively impact your mood, energy levels, mental focus, sleep, and more. (1) You can improve this glucose efficiency by increasing your metabolic rate. For the purposes of this article, we’ll encompass metabolic rate when we explain how to speed up your metabolism. Put simply: a fast metabolism means you burn more calories, while a slow metabolism means your body requires fewer calories daily. And while exercise is an obvious way to burn calories, you can also boost your metabolism with a number of science-backed approaches. It’s important to note that while the below methods have been proven to increase metabolism, your individual metabolic rate still varies on personal factors unique to you. None of these are a quick fix for improving your metabolic health, which requires implementing several lifestyle habits. How to speed up metabolism 1. Eat enough protein Your diet plays an important role in your metabolism. Including 25-35 grams of high-quality protein at meals helps steady your glucose after a meal (2) and supports muscle tissue, which uses 80% of the glucose consumed from a meal. (3) Plus, protein is satiating, so you’ll feel fuller for longer after you eat an adequate amount. Some examples of high-quality protein include chicken, turkey, beef, fish, Greek yoghurt, and cottage cheese. For plant-based protein options, try tofu, edamame, tempeh, beans and lentils, or quinoa. Did you know that protein also has the highest metabolic effect of all the macronutrients? (4) That means protein burns more calories to digest and process than carbohydrates or fats. This is known as the thermic effect of food, and when it comes to protein, 25-30% of calories from protein are used for digestion and metabolism compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fat. (5) Caffeine can also have a positive impact on metabolism by increasing fat oxidation and further increasing the thermic effect of a meal. (6) However, caffeine can raise your glucose, and in some individuals can cause negative side effects like increased heart rate, anxiety, or GI distress. 2. Strength train As mentioned, muscle is the top regulator of glucose. So building and maintaining lean body mass is one of the most effective ways to boost your metabolism. Muscle tissue is very metabolically active; more muscle equals more calories burned at rest and better glucose regulation. (7) The NHS recommends adults do muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) on at least 2 days a week. (8) Strength training improves metabolism by directly using glucose as fuel during the exercise as well as increasing glucose use from the blood for up to 2 days after. More specifically, a programme that utilises progressive overload — which gradually increases intensity or difficulty so the body adapts and gets stronger (e.g. upping the weights lifted or number of reps performed)— supports building and maintaining muscle mass, which increases metabolic rate. (9) Try functional movements that target multiple muscle groups, such as squat variations, lunges, and deadlifts. It’s best to use your own body weight, free weights, or exercise bands to achieve these compound movements, versus exercise machines that often only target one muscle group at a time. You can also add a weighted backpack when you go out for a brisk walk, a highly effective exercise known as rucking. (10,11) Additionally, try to break up long periods of sitting with “exercise snacks” – brief periods of increased movement such as bodyweight squats or calf raises. Turn on movement alerts on your wearable device or set reminders on your phone or computer. Hit your daily step goal; studies have shown 8,000 steps or more daily is associated with better health outcomes. (12) Staying active during your day can help keep your metabolism elevated. 3. Get quality sleep Adequate sleep is associated with better metabolic health. (13) Even a single night of getting less than 6 hours of sleep will worsen glucose control the next day and can lead you to eat more and reach for more high-calorie comfort foods. (14,15) Getting quality sleep is easier said than done, but here’s a simple way to increase Zzzs: crawl into bed a little earlier. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, allowing yourself extended time in bed can increase total sleep time. It can also increase time spent in REM sleep, which is when metabolic rate is higher. (16) Read our full article on how to sleep better. 4. Reduce stress Excessive stress can affect metabolism in several ways, primarily through the release of hormones and changes in behaviour and eating habits. Stress activates the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can break down muscle tissue for energy and lead to a slower metabolism over time. Stress can also cause changes in the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin, making it difficult to choose glucose-friendly foods. This can also disrupt your energy balance and metabolism. It’s essential to manage stress effectively to minimise its negative impact on metabolism and your overall health. Some accessible ways to manage stress include exercise, yoga, meditation, talking to friends and family, keeping a gratitude journal, spending time outdoors in nature, and turning off notifications on your phone. 5. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol Maintaining proper hydration helps support a healthy metabolism, and one of the best ways to stay hydrated is to drink enough water. Adults should consume 2.7 litres of water for women and 3.7 litres of water for men daily as a general guideline, (17) although factors such as body size, activity level, and environmental temperature change the required amount unique to you. While alcohol is a liquid, it does not support hydration. In fact, it does the opposite. Plus, alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, not including carbohydrates that can naturally occur in beers, wines, and sugars added to mixers that can negatively impact your glucose. Since your body can’t effectively store alcohol, it prioritises metabolising alcohol at the cost of slowing the metabolism of carbs and fat. Benefits of increasing your metabolism Improving your metabolic health can make it easier to manage your weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. (18) Improved metabolic health has also been associated with an increase in energy, better mental focus, appetite regulation, and quality sleep. (1) Using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo can help you regulate your glucose and improve your overall metabolic well-being. A final note from Lingo While your metabolism is influenced by a number of factors such as your genetics, age, muscle mass, and activity level, you can take steps to benefit your overall metabolic health, including improving your metabolic rate. Start by implementing the suggestions outlined in this article to create healthier habits and boost your metabolism. You might also consider using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo to learn more about your metabolism and how you uniquely respond to different foods. Although diet plays a big role in your metabolic health, it’s just one component. It’s important to consider other factors including exercise and stress.

 

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