Your blood sugar, fatigue and weight gain

Blood glucose holds the key to your weight and wellbeing

Your glucose levels

Glucose is required by all your cells in your body to make energy so they can function. When you have too much glucose in your bloodstream, your cells convert this to glycogen (short-term store of glucose in the liver or muscles) or fat (long-term energy store in the fat cells).

Your blood sugar level balance is the key to maintaining steady energy levels, weight, and will also affect your appetite. Uneven blood glucose levels which peak and trough can cause many symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain. Eating sugary or starchy foods lacking in fibre will cause this. 

Why choose to reduce your sugar intake

Sugar is addictive, and all forms of concentrated sugar provide empty calories and cause a rapid increase in your blood glucose levels. When this glucose is not needed by your body, it is stored in the cells and is converted into fat. Excess sugar causes the pancreas and liver to overwork to maintain the right balance in your blood stream. 

Cutting out sugar from your diet can be difficult, as it provides a feel-good factor as well as quick energy release (‘sugar rush’) when your feeling you are running out of steam. However, this is followed by a sudden drop of energy while the body balances out the glucose levels. Reducing your sugar intake results in better health, energy levels and a more stable weight in the longer term. 

Why choose to reduce your sugar intake

Dips in your blood sugar

Eating foods high in sugar will cause your blood glucose levels to become erratic. They will swing between high and low quite quickly. When your body detects that it has too much sugar in your blood stream, it then secretes hormones to cause this glucose to be mopped up. Excess glucose stimulates insulin release, which turns glucose into fat. 

This will result in a drop in your blood glucose level.

Low blood sugar can leave you feeling many symptoms. These will include tiredness, lack of concentration, irritability, anxiety, low moods, headaches and feeling sweaty. If your sugar levels become low, then there are two ways your body can increase it:

  1. Eat foods containing glucose (it causes a sugar craving)
  2. Raise the level of your stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol (your body will react this way automatically if you do not eat to increase the levels). 
Dips in your blood sugar

Your stress hormone levels are raised by either reacting in a stressful way (such as in anger, with irritability, feeling anxious or upset) or by using a stimulant for example caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate) or nicotine. 

Your blood glucose levels will temporarily become higher until it drops again usually suddenly unless you have consumed food containing slow-releasing sugars. The cycle of high and low blood glucose then begins again.

This irregular pattern will take its toll on you throughout the day resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, headaches and food cravings.

Making the right food choices

Managing to regulate your blood glucose levels by adapting what you eat and when you eat it, will help to prevent dips in your blood sugars and reduce the associated symptoms. 

Moderation is important when making food choices as even fruits will vary in how quickly they raise your blood glucose. Choose to cut out refined grains, processed foods (as they tend to be high in hidden sugars) and sugary foods (excluding fruit and vegetables) and beverages. 

Instead, opt for healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates that are rich in fibre (which results in the sugar being released slowly). This will include many varieties of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses. 

Once the body adapts to this newer way of eating, you will notice the benefits to your overall health. You will feel more energised, improved focus, and lower levels of mood swing. Your weight should also fluctuate less. 

So something so simple as sugar can have widespread effects on your daily life.

Making the right food choices
Article written by Dr Aleesha Dhillon
Dr Aleesha Dhillon
Disclaimer: This article is solely for information purposes. It is not to replace a consultation with a qualified health professional. It should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. The article is based on the opinions of the author who retains copyright. You are advised to make your own health decisions based on your research and alongside a qualified health professional. Please consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.

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