Friday, November 23, 2007

Hypoglycemia Attack

The Day Post-Thanksgiving (or Black Friday as some call it) has brought an important topic back to my forefront: HYPOGLYCEMIA and other blood sugar control disorders.

I've blogged about this topic in depth previously and even helped a few women (through the internet) determine a new method of eating so that this was not an issue for them. Today, a woman named April just emailed me and told me some of her experiences.

She wrote: " [Cassandra,] I happened upon your site and read your opening and some of your blogging. I am also Hypoglycemic, I have been for years but truly had no idea until about this same time last year, about 3 days after Thanksgiving 06'. I was so sick of feeling dizzy and not ever really having the energy to even get out of bed for two hours after I had woke up. I also never had much energy throughout the day and stayed dizzy, anxious and spacey (like someone had drugged me) all the time.I also had mega mood swings. I kind of though tfrom my lack of energy and near constant dizziness that I might be dying from some underlying illness or something, because the doctors always told me I was healthy; they did continuously test me for Diabetes and couldn't find any sign of it although I had many symptoms. About this time last year, I peeled myself out of bed but felt even worse than usual ( I now know that felt even worse that usual because I had eatena lmost an entire cheery pie before bed that nightbefore). I had already figured out that I needed to try to find a source of protein in the morning,because my fiance's doctor told him to do the same because at times he had similar symptoms to mine....."

For myself, I've learned to overcome these feeling of dizziness, shakiness and general lethargy, by doing just what April was told to do by her doctor: eat protein with every meal, keep my carbohydrate intake low and include fats as often as possible.

You see, for those with blood sugar disorders, even including the disease diabetes, the body does not process carbohydrates and use them at a constant rate for energy. In these people, the body cranks out too much insulin in response to carbohydrate foods, possibly because they have enhanced absorption of carbohydrate from the gut into the blood stream, or because their blood glucose (sugar) levels are maintained at a lower level that other people. This surge of glucose and insulin in the body leads to a plethora of symptoms including shakiness, lack of concentration, moodiness, headaches, and general lethargy. The body is designed to use the carbohydrates faster than is really needed, so in turn, a person is left yearning for more food very soon after eating a higher-carb meal with a lack of protein or fat.

Last night, even though I know better, and came armed with my own crustless sugar-free pumpkin pie, I indulged in my aunt's high-sugar, white flour crust pumpkin pie, and felt the effects of the sugar-rush right away. I felt disorientated, unhappy and very tired (and that wasn't from the turkey). Then, in about 45 minutes, I crashed hard and started shaking so bad that I had to eat again. This time I chose just turkey and greens, and immediately felt better, without feeling overcome by a large dose of sugar.

There's just something about sweets that irresistable to some people, and maybe for those people, sweets and other high-carb foods should just be avoided as if they produced some terrible disease (which, they actually can do).

For people with symptoms of hypoglycemia, the answer is not to stop eating or eat more carbs, it's to eat minimal carbs, increased about of protetin and plenty of fat. With regards to the latter two foods, stay away from processed foods and anything hydrogenated for the most optimal choices.

The body is a smart piece of machinery. If your car's CHECK ENGINE light kept coming on after you put cheap gas in the tank, wouldn't you start to question the gas you chose to put in your vehicle? The same goes for food: If, when you eat a food, you feel like you've been drugged (unless you purposely ate something that would make you feel that way...), you'd think you'd really start to question the food you put in your body! However, some people don't. They think they're sick, or their doctor tells them that they are, and they end up feeling the same way for years and years.

People: we're all engineered to eat a specific way. Don't let any doctor or nutritionist tell you that you should eat just as the FOOD GUIDE PYRAMID tells you to (with a basis of grains) if that way make you feel worse. Listen to your body and try new things until you get your food consumption just right for you.

For hypoglycemia, if you feel terrible after eating foods with a high sugar content, then STOP. Don't fear that protein is going to give you kidney failure or that dietary fat is going to cause your heart to have an attack because none of those items are based on any conclusive science. Eat for you, not for anyone else. Include these latter foods in your diet and stay away from carbohydrates... your body will thank you in more ways than one.


From here on out, I will blog at least twice a week. It's been a busy time for me with my dissertation project. I cook all week and then catch up on work on the weekends. It's hard, but I'm sure my final data will be great.

Also, if you haven't yet seen it, please check out my new books on amazon:
1) The New Rules of Lifting for Women, by Lou Schuler, Alwyn Cosgrove and myself.
2) The Women's Health Perfect Body Diet.

Happy Post Thanksgiving.


Alice said...

Thank you for this info Cassandra. I am adding your blog to my list of blogs I need to check regularly.

Candice said...

I really want to get a PHd in exercise science & nutrition, but am not sure i want to go to Connecticut. It seems most programs focus in one area or the other, not both. Any suggestions for me?

Charlotte Orr said...

Hi Cassandra,

I have read some of your posts on T-nation/MWA, and also just found this post of yours about hypoglycemia. Just wondering if you have a moment to help me understand what is happening to me when I eat high carbohydrate foods after exercise?

After a weight training session I usually have a serve of Surge. About an hour after that I have a solid food meal (often cereal with milk/yoghurt and protein powder). I've learnt to eat the cereal before I get hungry for it, so I don't get the shakes. Today I did that no problem, then when I was about to eat my next meal about 2.5hours later, I got shaky and sweaty. I ate my chicken, salad (with cheese and olive oil) and fruit and eventually felt better. I don't feel like there are any warning signs this is going to happen, I just know that I need to eat straight after I go to the toilet, before I get hungry again, otherwise it's likely to happen.

I'm on a reasonably low-carb diet at the moment (Surge immediately after exercising, followed by a protein and carb meal), but most of my other meals are protein and fats. I'm fairly small (about 118lb at about 18% bodyfat) and am trying to build muscle and maintain or decrease my bodyfat. I'm eating around 2000-2300 cals a day. My father is a type 1 diabetic, so don't know if that might have anything to do with how I'm feeling? Should I be including some fats with my postworkout solid meal?

Any comment would be much appreciated. Thanks, C