Even a seemingly healthy breakfast can leave you feeling sluggish.
Q: I have a healthy breakfast every morning — granola, almond milk yogurt and fruit — by 10:30 I am feeling exhausted. It's like my blood sugar is low. I have to eat something sweet to perk back up. (I don't have diabetes.) What's going on?
Answer: You're describing reactive hypoglycemia, or a carb/sugar crash. The carbohydrates and sugars in fruit, the carbs in the grains in granola—along with added sugar it often contains, and the carbs and sugar in even unsweetened almond yogurt — can all add up to a pretty big dose of sugar (carbs are converted into sugar in your body) and a rapid rise in your blood glucose level. If that rise stimulates an insulin spike (that can happen in prediabetes and diabetes, with a rare enzyme deficiency or for no known reason) you end up over-clearing the glucose from your blood. Your blood sugar level tanks, along with your energy. Symptoms can include shakiness, sweating, anxiety and fatigue.
When that happens, a quick dose of half a banana + 1/2 cup of apple sauce or 1/2 cup of apple, orange or pineapple juice can make you feel better. But a better approach...
Eat so you don't crash at all.
Try the following techniques, but if they don't work see your doctor to be tested for pre- or full-blown diabetes or other issues.
- Include 15-20g of protein in every meal. You can get 7.2g in two egg whites (omelet); 16g in two ounces of tuna in water; almost 7g in two ounces of nondairy cheese; 6g in 1/2 cup of granola with nuts.
- Eat smaller meals, more frequently. Have a high-protein snack mid-day (try some tuna, walnuts, almonds, or peanut butter celery sticks).
- Eliminate all foods with added sugars from your diet.
- Stick with complex carbs, 100 percent whole grains (not most cereals!), fresh and frozen veggies and fruits. No fast or highly processed foods.