A few years back, I started looking for ways to up my energy level throughout the day. Judging by the popularity of energy drinks and products like that Five Hour Energy, America is looking for the same. I’ve always been a coffee drinker, drinking about 24 oz. in the morning with 8 oz. of milk and 4 Tbsp. of sugar. I also drank Diet Cokes throughout the day and evenings too; usually as pick-me-ups. Like any drug though, they lost their effect. I could chug a diet coke before going to bed. I would even brag about my tolerance…I feel a little stupid about that now. I quit Diet Coke eventually, and turned to my old friend coffee for a super-powered pick-me-up.
Although caffeine and sugar are great stimulants, they always led to crashes. Those crashes made the peaks just seem worthless. I was looking for something more steady. The secret to my success in the workplace has always been sustained focus. I rarely face a problem that I can fully resolve in an hour or two. If I was crashing every 2 hours and getting up for a Diet Coke or coffee, then that just opened me up to a chain of interruptions that ruined the rest of the day.
I quit caffeine cold-turkey. I just fought through the withdrawal headaches for a week, and I was as good as new. However, I was no more or less efficient. I still crashed like crazy in the afternoon. Disappointed, I started back on caffeine a little with sweet tea in the afternoons.
Then last year, I started to talk to a friend in the office about diet topics. We talked about concepts like Caloric Restriction, portion control, and simple vs. complex sugars and carbohydrates. I started switching out my carbs, cutting out as much refined sugar as I could, and reducing my portions. Much to my surprise, my daily energy level stabilized and increased. It was amazing. I would get home from a long day at work, and look for things to do around the house. I was a robot!
A few wikipedia articles and other things found on the Internet, don’t qualify me to form any medical opinions at all, but that’s never stopped me from trying. I conjecture that my crashes had little to do with me coming down from a caffeine rush, and much more to do with my bodies attempt to regulate my sugar intake. I had so much refined sugar with my morning coffee and my typically sweet breakfasts, that my body would overreact with a strong insulin response. Right about lunch I would crash as my body worked too well and dropped my blood sugar level. Luckily lunch would save me, and I’d feast with a lot of simple carbs, fats, and heavy starches. That led to the same spike and insulin response, forcing me to pick myself back up with coffee and snacks. The last crash would lead me straight into dinner.
Not only was I eating garbage to snap myself out of these crashes, but I was eating way too much of it due to the increased appetite. When I started changing my diet, I cut back on my refined sugar, simple carbocydrates, and sweet drinks. This dramatically reduced my sweet tooth, but more importantly, it turned me on to more naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables. The sugars in fruits are not refined and are more slowly processed by the body. This is the same of the complex carbohyrdates found in things like whole grain bread. This effectively makes them a slow-release source of energy that prevents the body from responding too strongly with insulin.
This is nothing new for a Type II Diabetic. Their bodies still produce very limited and irregular amounts of insulin. However, they often need to take additional insulin or medications once they learn how to control their blood sugar levels with their diet. I’m finding that this diet has great benefits for non-diabetics too, and I bet it will go a long way to preventing Type II Diabetes.