Understanding Blood Sugar: What You Need to Know

This video discusses the best ways to lower blood sugar levels. The traditional view suggests that normal fasting blood sugar levels should be between 70 and 100. However, the speaker believes this range should be tightened. Impaired glucose regulation, when someone is insulin resistant and pre-diabetic, is said to have fasting glucose levels between 101 and 125. For type 2 diabetics, fasting glucose levels are 126 and higher. The video emphasizes the impact of different foods on blood sugar levels, with processed carbohydrates and sugar being particularly detrimental. It also mentions the importance of insulin resistance and suggests strategies such as reducing overall carbohydrate intake, eating non-starchy vegetables, and practicing gentle exercise to lower blood sugar levels.

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Key Insights:

  • The traditional view of normal blood sugar levels is between 70-100 mg/dL when fasting.
  • Impaired glucose regulation is when you’re insulin resistant, and fasting glucose is between 101-125 mg/dL.
  • Type 2 diabetics have a fasting glucose level of 126 mg/dL and above.
  • Glucose should not exceed 170-200 mg/dL 30 minutes after eating.
  • Processed carbohydrates and junk food can lead to higher glucose levels.
  • Insulin resistance leads to higher blood sugar levels.
  • Carbohydrates, especially sugar and high fructose corn syrup, raise blood sugar levels the most.
  • Complex carbohydrates, like starch, turn into glucose quickly.
  • The fructose in sugar can clog up the liver and cause fatty liver disease.
  • Protein has a smaller impact on blood sugar compared to carbohydrates.
  • High-fat, low-carb diets have minimal impact on blood sugar levels.
  • Insulin resistance occurs gradually over time due to a combination of factors, including lifestyle and genetics.
  • Measuring insulin levels is crucial to understanding insulin resistance and blood sugar control.
  • Eating fewer meals and practicing gentle exercise can help lower insulin levels and stabilize blood sugar.


Hello Health Champions today we’re going to talk about the best way to lower blood sugar and the first thing we have to understand is of course what is normal blood sugar, what are we trying to accomplish here. In the traditional view, the recommendations are that a normal blood sugar when you’re fasting, meaning when you haven’t eaten any food for about 12 hours, should be between 70 and 100. I can basically agree with those numbers, I think we need to tighten it up a little bit and I’ll talk about that, but I can basically agree with that.

Then they talk about impaired glucose regulation, and that’s when you’re a little insulin resistant and you may be pre-diabetic, and now your fasting glucose would be 101 to 125. If you are a type 2 diabetic, then it’s gone a little bit further and your fasting glucose is 126 and up.

But we also want to understand a little bit more about the dynamics, how quickly does glucose go up after we eat and how long does it take for it to come down and how long should it take. So basically what they’re saying is that 30 minutes or so whenever you have your peak, which could be 30, maybe a little bit longer depending on what you eat, you should not get over 170 to 200. And I think that’s an absolutely crazy range, I’m going to talk about that, but I believe that most of those people who get their glucose that high, they’re eating garbage, they’re eating processed carbohydrates, and they are already insulin resistant. They should not get that high.

They’re saying that if you are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic, then it could get 190 to 230, and if you’re a type 2 diabetic, it would get to 220 to 300. So those would be the highest numbers. And then we want to look at after it’s starting to come down two to three hours later when the body has had some time to process this. Then they want the normal people, if you’re healthy, have good glucose regulation, they say it should be 120 to 140. So basically, anything that comes down under 140 would be normal if you are impaired, insulin resistant, then it would be 140 to 190, and if you’re type 2 diabetic, then it wouldn’t get under 200 within that time frame because when you’re insulin resistant, the insulin is very poor in getting that glucose out of the bloodstream.

But I believe that a lot of the people included in the normal category here are not all that healthy, so it’s not really normal, it’s just common. And we have to keep in mind that 88% of the population have some degree of insulin resistance. So when we’re talking about optimal numbers, then those ranges are going to get much tighter.

I believe a fasting number should be about 80 to 90, and I think if you’re doing a long-term fast or if you’re on keto, then it’s okay to be a good bit lower than the 80. Also, I think if you’re doing a three-day fast, I think you can get into the 50’s and that’s still perfectly normal because when you’re making more ketones, you don’t need that much blood glucose.

But the next one is where the numbers are really different from the standard numbers because I believe that even after a meal, you should stay between 90 to 110. And if you probably have noticed this if you’re eating low carb, if you’re doing keto, then your numbers probably don’t change much at all. And for some people who have noticed the dawn phenomenon, they might wake up with a little bit higher blood sugar that stays high until they eat, and then it actually comes down. And if you’re eating whole food and you’re not eating a bunch of processed carbs, then you’re probably going to notice that there’s very, very little change. And then two to three hours later, you’re probably going to find that you’re back on a baseline. So these huge shifts, I do not think are normal or healthy.

And I want to look at it one more way here that if we look at it graphically, then what they call normal is with blood sugar almost doubling. And again, I think that’s because people are eating a lot of junk, they’re eating a lot of sugar, and they have been told that most of their food, most of their caloric intake should be from carbohydrates, and they’re told that complex carbohydrates are good for them, but they actually are nothing but sugar in a different form, which we’ll talk about in a second. If you’re a bit insulin resistant, then the graph would shift up a little bit. If you’re a diabetic, it would shift even higher. But again, the huge difference is where I believe the optimal numbers should be almost a flat line. If you eat real food, there really should not be much difference at all.

The next question we want to ask is what causes high blood sugar, and of course, that has a lot to do with if we eat something, food intake, but what we eat plays a huge role. Carbohydrates tend to raise blood sugar much, much more, many, many times more, especially processed carbohydrates. And the worst form of carbohydrates are called sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They’re very similar, but high fructose corn syrup is even worse because it has more fructose, which clogs up the liver, which we’ll talk about, and it is also even faster in getting into the bloodstream and affecting blood sugar.

But the next one we want to understand properly, and that’s called starch because we hear so much about carbohydrates being necessary and sugar is bad, but complex carbohydrates are supposed to be good. So that is a huge myth. Not everyone needs to avoid carbohydrates so strictly, but if you are insulin resistant, then you need to eat less carbohydrates. And there is no difference in how these carbohydrates affect blood sugar, and the starches will turn into glucose almost instantaneously.

So here’s what we need to understand about carbohydrates and glucose. Glucose is a ring; it has six carbons in it, and that is the molecule that swims around in the bloodstream that we call blood sugar. Most of the carbohydrates that we eat are simply glucose linked together, and if we link hundreds of these together, then it’s called starch.

So once we get that into the body, as soon as you put it into the mouth, there is an enzyme called amylase, salivary amylase, that starts breaking up these bonds. So it’s going to chop off these two by two, and then a little bit later, we chop them up one by one, and now they are free to get into the bloodstream. And this is why starches like potato and rice and bread will raise blood sugar very, very quickly, even faster than white sugar itself.

Now the reason that sugar is worse is that sugar has the glucose ring just like starch does, but then the second ring is a little bit different. It is called fructose. It still has six carbons, but it’s shaped a little differently, configured a little bit differently. So the only place that fructose can be processed is in the liver. So once we have this glucose, they get chopped up, they become blood glucose, and they can be used by every cell in the body. But with the sugar, there’s 50% glucose and 50% fructose. So if you eat a hundred grams of sugar, you’re gonna have 50 grams of glucose that can be used by every cell in the body. If you eat a hundred grams of starch, there’s a hundred grams of glucose that can be used by every cell in the body. But this fructose, if you eat 100 grams of sugar, there’s 50 grams of fructose that can only be processed by the liver. And the liver is a lot smaller than the rest of your body, so these 50 grams have to be processed by three pounds of liver tissue. They have to try to metabolize that and repackage it. So what happens is whatever the liver can’t use, when it gets overloaded, gets turned into fat. And that is the number one cause of fatty liver. So when you hear people talk about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, that is caused by fructose. It used to be only alcoholics could get fatty liver. Almost all the cases of fatty liver were called afld, alcoholic fatty liver disease. But today, the vast majority of fatty liver is caused by fructose. So it’s non-alcoholic.

So this is why starches are bad. If you’re carbohydrate intolerant, if you have an impaired ability to deal with carbohydrates, then starches are bad. But sugar is worse because the glucose portion will raise blood sugar, but then the fructose portion will clog up the liver. And once that liver is clogged up, that liver is insulin resistant. And that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the body.

So carbohydrates have, by far, the greatest impact on blood sugar. But protein also has some impact on blood sugar, and the reason is that protein can be converted into glucose down the line. Now, protein’s purpose is to build tissue. As we have cells and tissue that wear out, there is a turnover, and the old ones get broken down, and we have to have new protein to build up the new ones. So most of the protein is intended to become tissue. But if we eat more protein than what we need, then the rest of it, the excess, gets turned into glucose because we can’t store protein. Protein becomes tissue. There is no storage system for protein other than what naturally occurs in the bone and the muscles and the skin. And whatever we don’t use for tissue is left over, and that gets turned into glucose. Now, that is the better version of carbohydrate. So glucose is better than fructose. So protein gets turned into glucose; it cannot become fructose and clog up the liver. So the impact is slight compared to carbohydrates.

And then we have fat. Fat will also affect glucose a little bit indirectly. So the fat itself, the fatty acids, can never become glucose or fructose. It cannot turn into a carbohydrate. However, the way that animals like humans and the animals that we eat for food store fat is as triglycerides. And that means that there are three fatty acids connected to a glycerol backbone. And this glycerol backbone is about five percent of the calories in the fat that’s stored. And that glycerol can be turned into glucose, but again, it happens down the road. It happens to a smaller degree, and it happens very, very slowly.

So that is why when we eat a high-fat, low-carb diet, the impact on blood sugar is almost zero. And if we look at it visually in terms of carbohydrates affecting blood glucose, that would look like this: carbohydrates affecting blood glucose would be a big arrow, protein affecting blood glucose would look like a much smaller arrow, and the fat arrow we can barely see. So if we want to put some numbers, then this would be about 70 to 100, the protein would be in the teens, so 10 to 15, maybe 20, and fat would be single digits, low, low single digits when we eat those by themselves.

So in the short term, the greatest impact on blood sugar is the type of foods that we eat. But in the long term, the greatest impact is on how the different types of foods affect insulin. So the second factor that affects blood sugar is insulin resistance. And here’s how that works: When you eat food, like we said, especially carbohydrates, then your blood glucose will increase because this food that you just ate has to be absorbed into the bloodstream and pass through the bloodstream into the cells. And the thing that helps, that makes this blood glucose get from the bloodstream into the cell, is called insulin. And if we have the higher the blood glucose, we have the higher the insulin response. If we have mostly fat in the diet, then blood glucose barely goes up at all, and we barely have to have an insulin response. But if we drink high fructose corn syrup in a soda, then our blood glucose is going to go through the roof very quickly, and then the insulin has to be very high in response to that.

So in a sense, this insulin is pushing or even forcing the blood glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cell, and this is a good thing because that’s what needs to happen. However, if we do that every day, like if we did it once a month, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But once we start doing it on a regular basis, now the cells start to resist having that sugar forced into the cell. They’re saying, „We’ve got a good amount, we keep getting more and more, but there’s a limit, we’ve had it, please back off, stop pushing sugar in.“ So the cells become insulin resistant over time. And we’ll talk a little bit more about this, that doesn’t happen overnight, but now that the cells are insulin resistant, they’re resisting the action of insulin, which is to get the blood sugar out of the bloodstream. When the cells are insulin resistant, now the insulin isn’t working anymore, so we get higher blood sugar. So now we’re stuck in a loop where higher blood sugar leads to more insulin, which leads to more insulin resistance, which leads to higher blood sugar, and so on and so on. And anything that raises blood sugar will contribute to this loop. But like we said, there are a couple of things that are even worse. So sugar is 50% fructose, so the sugar will increase blood glucose, will increase insulin, but the fructose, like we said, it will tend to clog up, it will tend to overwhelm the liver and cause insulin resistance by a different mechanism.

So carbs cause blood sugar, cause insulin, but fructose is kind of the last nail in the coffin, if you will. And again, we need to understand that the insulin response is proportional to the increase in blood glucose. And just like carbohydrates cause the greatest increase in blood glucose, they also cause the greatest insulin response. Protein is much less, and fat is almost zero. And then there’s some good news and some bad news. So it takes a long time to break it, what does that mean, what are we breaking? Well, think of your body as a machine that has a certain capacity to process things, and one of those things is carbohydrates. And depending on our lifestyle and what we eat, we will tend to wear out that machine, and a lot of that is going to be genetically determined. So some people might have this much capacity before the machine wears out, and some people might have this much. But it’s still the lifestyle that wears it out. And then once that machine is broken, then you have what’s called a carbohydrate intolerance. Your body just doesn’t know what to do with carbohydrates. It doesn’t have the machinery in place to process it.

And this way of thinking is very poorly understood because a lot of people will say, „But I didn’t change anything, I had my, I ate the same stuff, my blood sugar was good for 20 years, and then all of a sudden it went crazy, and I was diagnosed with diabetes.“ So what we need to understand is that the flaw in the traditional way of diagnosing and looking at blood sugar is that we’re only measuring blood sugar, we’re not measuring the thing controlling blood sugar. And blood sugar is a very tightly controlled variable because it’s super important for the brain to function, to keep the blood sugar in that narrow range. If it gets too high, the brain suffers. It gets inflamed, and we can even get into a coma. If it gets too low, we can also get into a coma. So the glucose, it’s super important to keep it tight. And therefore, it is very tightly controlled.

And if we have stable blood sugar and we eat whole food, then it doesn’t take much effort, it doesn’t take much insulin to keep the blood sugar in that range. So let’s say that we start off in year one, and we have a certain amount of glucose, and at the same time, it takes an equal or a comparable proportional amount of insulin to control that. So we have a certain amount of insulin, and we have a certain amount of glucose, and we’re healthy, we’re in balance, we’re insulin-sensitive. But then time goes on, time marches on, and a few years later, we go in, we get the measurements, and glucose is still good, but insulin has doubled. So now the body has to work twice as hard at controlling, at regulating, and keeping that glucose in that tight range. And if we only measure glucose, then we’ll never find out. But if we measure insulin, then we see, „Hey, you know, something’s changing. The cells are becoming more insulin resistant.“ So the body has to work harder. So then time goes on, and a few years later, now it takes four times as much, it’s doubled again, and still the glucose level is about the same. And then finally, the machine breaks, and this might be 20 years down the road. You can break it faster with lots and lots of soda. There are even kids that get this. But for the most part, we’re talking decades for this to develop. And now we might have insulin levels that are way, way up. So if you notice, the glucose is a controlled variable, so it only changes when the machine has broken or is about to break when the system is very, very resistant. But if we measure insulin, then we see that it’s a more linear function. So we can pick that up much, much sooner.

So that’s the good and the bad news. The good news is that it takes a long, long time to break it. The bad news is that if we don’t measure the right things, then we discover it 20 years too late. And another piece of good news is that even if it takes this long to break it, it’s a whole lot faster to heal it. If it takes 20 years to break it, you can probably reverse most of that in just a few months. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s completely reversed, it means it’s under control and it’s moving in the right direction. But when you have this much momentum, the body has certain set points and certain memories, and it might take a good while to reverse that momentum and get truly back to baseline.

So now that we understand the mechanisms, we understand what sugar is, we understand what starch is, we understand how insulin works, and the different mechanisms, now we can stop listening to the standard guidelines of eating low-fat and high carb because that’s going to make the problem worse. It may work for a person who is athletic and young and insulin-sensitive, but if you are insulin-resistant and you follow the guidelines for how to eat, you will get worse. It will move you from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

So the number one thing we want to do when we’re going to lower blood sugar is to understand that it’s primarily about insulin. Because insulin resistance will drive up the blood sugar. Once you are insulin-resistant, you don’t have the capacity to regulate blood sugar and carbohydrate. So you have to cut them way back. But it is primarily about lowering the insulin so the body can get back to balance.

And the most important thing if you want to lower your insulin is to stop eating sugar because sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose. The glucose will raise blood sugar and drive insulin, and the fructose will cause insulin resistance by clogging up the liver and causing a fatty liver.

The next thing we want to do is to reduce overall carbohydrates because all carbohydrates turn into sugar when we break down the carbohydrates, the plant food, the starches, they turn into sugar. They drive up blood sugar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat any plant food or any carbohydrates. I believe that you should eat a lot of plant food. You just have to know which ones to eat, and what you want to eat a lot of are leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. Because if you eat things like broccoli and cauliflower and leafy greens, now they’re mostly water. They’ll have two to three to four percent carbohydrates, which is mostly sugar. But because there’s so much water and there’s some fiber, that sugar, which is a very small amount, also gets absorbed very slowly. So you can be on a ketogenic diet and eat many, many cups of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. The carbohydrates that cause the problems are the high-starch ones, so we’re talking about grains, potatoes, corn, etc. Those are the ones you want to avoid. But you can have a lot of non-starchy vegetables.

Step number four would be to eat fewer meals. That’s going to help tremendously, because what you’re trying to do is to lower insulin. So one thing you can do is to eat foods that stimulate less insulin. But when you’re fasting, when you eat no food, then there is no additional insulin. There’s just a trickle of insulin for your baseline blood sugar, but you’re not putting any new food in, so there’s no need for a mass effort to produce insulin.

Another thing you can do to help out is gentle exercise, and you do want it to be gentle. A lot of people are confused here because they think it’s all about calories, and they think if you burn off the blood sugar with intense exercise, then you’ll bring it down faster. But that’s not true because when you do intense exercise, then you also produce cortisol, which raises blood sugar. Because with intense exercise, your body is kind of in a state of urgency, and it’s going to try to bring up the blood sugar with breaking down glycogen, with making new glucose through gluconeogenesis. But when you do gentle exercise, now what’s going to happen is you’re going to burn mostly fat because with gentle exercise, with a low baseline, you can provide enough oxygen, and when you can provide enough oxygen, you burn primarily fat. You’re still going to burn through some of the glucose, and it will help bring down the glucose, but you still want to stay in fat burning.

And what happens then is that the muscles basically act like sponges. They’re going to suck up the glucose from the bloodstream because when a muscle is exercising, it doesn’t need insulin. A muscle at rest requires insulin to get the glucose into the muscle. But when it’s working, those floodgates, those portals open up anyway. And what happens with intense exercise is that you’re not using more fat, but you’re switching to more glucose. You always burn a combination of both, but with gentle exercise, it’s more fat. With intense exercise, it’s more glucose. And what happens then is that you create a need for the body. As you’re burning through more glucose, the body will make more glucose. And because you put it in that sense of urgency, it will make some more insulin, so some people will have to reduce their insulin or their diabetes medication during and after exercise.

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