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The Impact of Glucose on Your Energy and Focus

Dec 8, 2023 by Vreny Blanco · 6 min read · Focus, Wellness

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Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

Glucose, a simple sugar, plays a critical role in our bodies. It’s the primary energy source for our cells and is particularly important for brain function. However, maintaining the right balance of glucose is essential. Too much or too little can lead to health problems ranging from fatigue and difficulty concentrating to serious conditions such as diabetes.

In this article, we look at the importance of glucose, the impact of glucose spikes, and how to effectively manage glucose levels for optimal health. We’ll also share insights from Jessie Inchauspé’s book, Glucose Revolution.

What is glucose?

Glucose is a molecule made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms (C₆H₁₂O₆) and serves as your body’s preferred source of energy. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy. Humans primarily obtain glucose by consuming foods, especially those rich in starch, such as pasta, bread, and potatoes, as well as sweet foods.

When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and other sugars, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps cells absorb glucose and use it for energy.

Imbalances in glucose levels can lead to health problems. Elevated blood glucose levels may result in diabetes, while insufficient levels can cause hypoglycemia. Both conditions require medical attention.

Glucose Spikes

Consuming too much glucose too quickly during a meal can lead to what is known as a glucose spike. This occurs when there is a rapid increase and subsequent drop in glucose levels in the bloodstream, which can be visualized as a sharp rise and fall on a glucose curve. These spikes can be detrimental because they overwhelm the body’s cells with a sudden influx of glucose.

You might think, “If glucose is my body’s preferred energy source, shouldn’t I consume a lot of starchy and sweet foods to get more energy?” However, eating sugary foods mainly triggers a dopamine release in the brain, which is often mistaken for an energy boost but is actually just a temporary pleasure response.

Glucose spikes can negatively impact your body’s ability to generate energy over time. To maintain steady energy levels, it’s crucial to avoid these spikes.

Common symptoms of glucose spikes include fluctuating energy levels and cravings. Other short-term symptoms can vary but often include chronic fatigue, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating, stress, exhaustion, poor sleep, mood swings, anxiety, and brain fog.

Over the long term, repeated glucose spikes can initiate processes that may lead to chronic health issues such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Significant glucose spikes can also impair memory and cognitive function, especially in the morning after an overnight fast.

During a glucose spike, the pancreas releases insulin to help remove excess glucose from the bloodstream and store it in the liver and muscles. Any glucose that exceeds the storage capacity is converted into fat. Frequent glucose spikes lead to more insulin release, and over time, high insulin levels can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other health problems.

Flattening glucose curves not only helps stabilize blood sugar levels but also reduces insulin spikes, which is beneficial for long-term metabolic health.

How to Avoid Glucose Spikes

Here are four hacks to avoid glucose spikes:

Have a Savory Breakfast

Starting the day with a breakfast that includes protein, fiber, and healthy fats is important for keeping blood sugar levels stable and reaping additional benefits. These include reduced hunger, fewer cravings, more energy, and improved mental clarity that can last up to 12 hours. Options for a savory breakfast include eggs, fish, nuts, protein powder, or even leftovers from dinner.

The glycemic response of your first meal sets the energetic and mental mood for the rest of the day. Choosing a savory breakfast rather than a high-sugar one will help you avoid the mid-morning energy crash and maintain optimal cognitive function throughout the day.

English breakfast
Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

Eat Foods in the Right Order

The order in which you eat the different components of your meal can have a significant impact on your subsequent blood sugar levels. By eating fiber-rich foods such as vegetables first, followed by proteins and fats, and carbohydrates and sugars last, you can reduce glucose spikes by up to 75%.

The effectiveness of this method is based on the properties of the fiber. When you eat fiber-rich vegetables first, the fiber forms a viscous mesh along the walls of the upper intestine. This mesh slows the absorption of glucose from subsequent foods and helps prevent rapid postprandial glucose spikes. Eating in this order also helps prevent later cravings.

Grilled chicken breast and fresh vegetable salad
Image by timolina on Freepik

Move After Eating

A short burst of physical activity after eating, such as a ten-minute walk, can significantly improve the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. This simple action allows muscles to absorb glucose directly from the bloodstream, reducing the need for insulin. The result is lower glucose spikes and a reduced need for insulin, which has a positive impact on your metabolic health.

The mitochondria in your muscles convert glucose into energy, which is used for muscle contraction. When you’re active, whether you’re walking, exercising, or even doing housework, you can use the glucose that goes into your muscles for energy. This process helps lower glucose levels after a meal without changing the content of the meal.

Postprandial exercise not only helps flatten the glucose curve, it also helps keep insulin levels under control. Active muscles can absorb glucose without the need for insulin. The more your muscles contract and consume glucose without insulin, the smaller the glucose spike and the less insulin your pancreas needs to release.

If possible, be physically active for at least 10 minutes within 90 minutes after finishing a meal to maximize this regulating effect.

Woman putting sneakers
Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

If You Want a Snack, Go Savory

The common belief that sweet snacks provide an energy boost is a myth. In fact, sweets provide no more energy than salty alternatives and can actually make you tired more quickly. Diets high in sugar that lead to frequent blood sugar spikes and troughs are often associated with mood swings and increased depressive symptoms over the long term.

To maintain a steady energy level and improve your mood, choose savory snacks. Some healthy options include a slice of ham, an apple with peanut butter, cheese, carrots with hummus, or boiled eggs. These snacks can help you keep your blood sugar levels stable and avoid the energy crashes often caused by sweet snacks.

View of boiled egg
Image by stockking on Freepik


Understanding glucose and its effects on our bodies can help us make informed decisions about our diet and lifestyle, leading to improved energy levels, better focus, and overall well-being.

By adopting practical strategies—such as consuming foods in a specific order, opting for savory breakfasts, engaging in post-meal movement, and choosing savory snacks over sweet ones—we can effectively regulate our glucose levels.

For additional insights, consider reading Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar by Jessie Inchauspé or watching the interview of Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and Jessie Inchauspé.

Disclaimer: If you have an existing health condition or are taking medication, always consult your healthcare practitioner before making changes to your diet.

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