The short answer is no, and here’s why. We are often told we should have six meals per day, not leaving more than three or four hours between meals so we can avoid our blood sugar levels dropping too low. Simply put, the most likely reason your blood sugar will drop substantially within in 2-4 hours after a meal is if your meal was very high in refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in protein and fat.
For example if you eat cereal, low fat milk and juice, a pasta dish, a salad sandwich/roll and an iced tea, a muffin/banana bread etc, they are most likely to be very high in carbohydrates/sugar and very low in protein and possibly fat. These meals due to their high carbohydrate and sugar content will push your blood sugar levels up quite high, requiring your body to produce lots of insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back down as soon as possible. Now your blood sugar levels are low again, you will be hungry and possibly irritable, nauseous etc and craving sugar/carbs. The modern day term for that is hangry (a combination of hungry and angry); in fact these are actually signs of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).
The short term answer to being hangry is a carbohydrate meal but the long term answer is not eating so much sugar and carbohydrate in your meals that you have the blood sugar spike/followed by the blood sugar drop. Ensure you always have fat, fibre and protein with your meals as they also help keep your blood sugar levels stable for longer. An example would be a chicken and avocado salad with olive oil, an omelette with spinach and onion, fish with salad/vegies. Avoid sugar; your body has no biological need for it. Eat loads of green and colourful vegies and some fruit. Reduce how much high starch carbohydrates you eat, such as bread, pasta, rice and potato.
When you eat a well-balanced meal with a palm sized serving of protein, plenty of fibrous greens along with some oil/fat (eg avocado, olive oil, butter, nuts or seeds), you will stay satisfied for many hours, not having a sudden blood sugar drop within a couple of hours, you will be likely to natural and comfortably have 2-3 meals per day without snacks and won’t be craving sugar.
In the last few years there has been a lot of evidence supporting the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting, the most popular version of this is the 5:2 diet where you eat normally five days but two non-consecutive days per week you limit your calories to 500 calories (women), 600 calories (men). Intermittent Fasting can have great measurable blood test results, it is known for normalising blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing inflammation and weight loss.
Eating many meals throughout the day is believed to increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation drives weight gain and chronic disease. A high carbohydrate diet due to the higher levels of insulin requirements decreases an enzyme called P450 which is made in the liver. The P450 enzyme is a cancer fighting enzyme that allows us to detoxify our body properly. Without P450, more toxins are held in our fat cells, the liver doesn’t work as efficiently. If you lose weight without increasing P450, you will also increase cellulite and decrease your muscle building capacity.
Dr Mark Houston, Cardiologist explains that “atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) is a post meal event. This is when your carbohydrates, triglycerides, inflammatory foods, and bacteria from leaky gut, can cause huge amounts of inflammation”.
There is not one right diet; you need to explore what works for you depending on your health, level of exercise and goals. Most people would benefit from cutting back on snacks. Everyone can benefit from reducing sugar.
Note: You may think it is different for people with diabetes, however in my experience people with type 1 and type II diabetes do better on a low carbohydrate healthy fat (LCHF) diet. If you are diabetic and wish to try this style of diet, book in with a qualified nutritionist who can support you to go LCHF under supervision by your doctor. Make the changes slowly continuing to monitor your blood sugar levels. This is especially important if you are insulin dependent.
Fiona Kane, Nutritionist, Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre