Find yourself sprinting down Locust to make it to class with barely enough time to wolf down food? A hectic day on campus not only puts stress on you mentally, but also physically. In order to function correctly, the brain needs fuel, mainly comprised of sugar from food. Introducing sugar to your bloodstream is necessary to stimulate mental and physical activity.
The best thing you can do, especially on a busy day to keep your metabolism chuggin’ along and your energy level up is to provide the proper fuel for yourself. Here are some simple tips on how to maintain a constant blood sugar level:
1. Jumpstart your day with a balanced breakfast. A lot of students don’t find time to prepare a breakfast before running to class. A rumbling tummy is only the first sign that your body craves food, especially after not eating since the night before (11-12 hours ago!). Making a yogurt parfait is easy and a great way to load up on that brain fuel. The yogurt itself is a pro-biotic; not only is it is filling; it also increases the efficiency of your digestive system. This means that anything eaten later that day will digest faster and easier due to the enzymes in yogurt. Cutting up various fruits and putting them in your parfait gives you a nice treat and provides healthy carbs.
2. Bring snack to munch on every 2 hours. Normal blood sugar level ranges from 70-110 mg/dl. This level occurs right after eating. If the brain does not have enough sugar, it will warn us through various signs. The main indicator of low blood sugar is a headache, which increases in severity as time goes on. To avoid this, grab a banana to eat on the go. Bananas are a major source of “quick energy” because they are easily digestible and LOADED with Vitamin K, potassium, oils, and fats. But be sure to ad a fat to that snack (like almonds) or your blood sugar will yo-yo when the energy from the banana falls off. Other portable snacks include crackers, dried fruit (1/4 handful has twice the amount of recommended daily intake of sugar!), or fruit. You could even mix it to make a trail mix. Add some peanut butter for protein, or cheese for calcium, to your crackers, and you have also tossed in some essential nutrients. If you want some crunch, toss some cereal in a bag or bring a granola bar. They are a great source of carbohydrates to keep you going throughout the day.
3. Work in a source of protein. Once your body uses sources of fat, next in line are sources of protein. Have at least a fistful amount of chicken, turkey, tuna, or tofu, to offer yourself an additional source of fuel. You can add this to any sandwich, salad, or make it a main dish.
Even though you may not experience any indicators of hunger, the brain tends to crave a replenishment of sugar about every 2 hours as it is burned off in energy form. Within 3 hours of not eating, blood sugar could drop so low that you could experience feelings of irritability, distress, fatigue, and ultimately lightheadedness. The great thing about carrying a snack, is that these symptoms are avoidable and the effects eating are felt instantaneously in the body!
Of course every person’s individual need regarding sugar intake differ, depending on genetics and their individual metabolism. If you are physically fit, or even running around all day, your metabolism burns up sugar at very high levels. To have a constant source of energy you will need higher increments of sugar to sustain energy levels and keep you on your toes. Remember to keep snacking and eat a balanced diet. Don’t forget dessert!
By Nikki Pepperman