01 January 2012

New Year's resolution and your diet

Being sweet-blooded might make life easier for you.

Sugar in different forms.
New year's resolutions anybody? - Well, make sure that you eat well to maintain adequate levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). This is particularly important if sticking to your resolutions requires a lot of willpower. A certain blood glucose level to supply your brain with energy seems to be key to self-control.

A recent study(1) found that successfully practising acts of self-control requires a certain level of blood glucose. Every such act used a relatively large amount of glucose. Low levels of blood glucose after an initial act of self-control lead to poor performance on a subsequent self-control task. Subjects that consumed a sugary drink between tasks performed a lot better on follow-up tasks.

Don't get the wrong ideas, though. Note what the author's of the study say:
Moreover, despite our manipulations, we do not intend to advocate consuming large quantities of sugar as an ideal strategy for improving self-control. Eating several candy bars, for instance, may give one a boost of energy and better self-control, but these benefits are likely to disappear when glucose levels eventually drop. Protein or complex carbohydrates may be more effective for sustained self-control. We used sugar in our studies because it is fast-acting and convenient.

What could that mean for you? - Well, if you are trying to stick to a new year's resolution or need to make that difficult decision between going out to train or be lazy. It might just be easier when your blood glucose levels are high.

Don't skip meals, perhaps snack between meals to maintain blood glucose levels. Particularity breakfast is important in this respect. As always, well balanced is the way to go. To prevent your insulin levels from spiking and subsequently your blood glucose levels from crashing, a meal / snack resulting in a low GL (glycemic load) is the best choice in most situations. This also creates a constant flow of nutrients within your body, which greatly benefits your recovery and training efforts.

By the way, eating regular meals and snacking between meals most likely benefits your weight-management efforts as well.

As the title of the study suggests, willpower is more than a metaphor.  Make sure you've got it all in you: eat yourself to success!

Happy New Willpower!

(1) Matthew T. Gailliot, Roy F. Baumeister, Brandon J. Schmeichel C. Nathan DeWall, Jon K. Maner, E. Ashby Plant, Dianne M. Tice, Lauren E. Brewer (2007) Self-Control Relies on Glucose as a Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than a Metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (RSS)

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