Rapid rises in blood glucose levels after eating high amounts of sugar or highly refined carbohydrates raises blood-sugar levels which can trigger a biochemical cascade that leads to elevated insulin secretion and impairs fatty acid oxidation (fat burning). These changes promote unhealthy weight gain as well as stimulate hunger levels, (1) and are the exact opposite of what is desired for healthy weight management. On the other hand, when glucose and insulin levels are low, your body switches into fat burning mode. (2)
Since unhealthy metabolic states can increase hunger levels, this can increase risk of these unhealthy post-meal physiological states being repeated multiple times each day. Thus, unhealthy post-meal metabolic states can ultimately create a viscous cycle that promotes weight and fat gain, as well as increased hunger levels.
For these reasons, the American Diabetic Association has stated that “Elevated post-prandial (post-meal) glucose concentrations may contribute to suboptimal glycemic control. Post-prandial (post-meal) hyperglycemia is also one of the earliest abnormalities of glucose homeostasis associated with Type 2 diabetes and is markedly exaggerated in diabetic patients with fasting hyperglycemia.” (3)
Since most people spend 18-20 hours per day in the post-meal state, it makes sense that optimizing this state would one key to healthy weight management and overall wellness! The good news is that by making relatively moderate lifestyle changes, the body can be trained to work for you rather than against you throughout the day. Below are a few strategies that can be implemented to promote a state of post-meal wellness.
- Minimize consumption of sugar, grains, and any other high glycemic carbohydrates (e.g., white breads). Best would be to eliminate these foods.
- Add some fiber, protein, and healthy fats to each meal. All of these nutrients slow the rate at which sugar enters the blood stream.
- After each meal, take a 5-10 min (or longer) walk . This will help promote healthy glucose levels and prevent post-meal glucose and insulin spikes.
- Do some form of exercise in the morning before breakfast if possible. This should help improve metabolism and blood glucose levels throughout the day.
- Take exogenous ketones after meals. Exogenous ketones can help lower blood glucose levels, improve immune function, reduce inflammation, prevent muscle break-down, and perhaps most importantly, shift the body’s fuel source from glucose to ketones and help maintain healthy metabolic function.
Berg, C., et al., Eating patterns and portion size associated with obesity in a Swedish population. Appetite, 2009. 52(1): p. 21-6.
Anton, S.D., et al., Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2018. 26(2): p. 254-268.
American Diabetes Association. (2001) Post-Prandial Blood Glucose. Diabetes Care 24:775–778,