7 Surprising Ways Low Blood Sugar Affects You Besides Just Being Hangry
If you're someone who never leaves home without a granola bar in your bag or keeps your desk stocked with a variety of treats to nibble on, you are winning the snack game and probably rarely have to worry about getting "hangry." Whenever your blood sugar levels drop though, you can have a lot more than just grumpiness to contend with. These surprising ways low blood sugar affects you range from getting suddenly sweaty to having trouble making decisions.
Eating enough nutrients on a regular basis is a great way to keep your blood sugar from fluctuating, Lorraine Chu, MS, RDN a registered dietitian, tells Bustle. "A rule of thumb is to make sure your meals are packed with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs to release energy slowly throughout the day," she says. Snacks are also helpful for keeping you balanced in between meals. Check out which foods are low on the glycemic index (GI) to help you plan meals with your blood sugar in mind. Tasty, carb-rich ingredients like pasta, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal are all winners, so enjoy.
If you experience these symptoms again and again, don't hesitate to check in with your primary care doctor to make sure you don't need to monitor your blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
1. Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night
"If you ever find yourself waking up at 2 a.m., low blood sugar could be to blame," Lisa Richards, a certified nutritionist, tells Bustle. "When your blood sugar goes too low, your body reacts by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline," she says. As a result, you might suddenly feel wide awake even when it's the middle of the night. To prevent this sleep interruption, limit your alcohol consumption and eat a diet rich in proteins and fats to stabilize your blood sugar, Richards says.
2. Starting To Sweat
Feeling extra sweaty even though you're sitting still indoors? Chu says that when you have low blood sugar, you'll almost always start sweating. Prevent this by eating breakfast shortly after waking up, she says, as your sugar levels can drop during the night. Eggs and toast or oatmeal with fruit are great (and delicious) options.
3. Feeling Confused
"One major sign of low blood sugar is difficulty concentrating and even confused thinking," Rachel Fine MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, tells Bustle. "The brain’s preferred fuel source is glucose, which is a direct derivative of carbohydrates from food," she says. When your blood sugar levels drop, your brain doesn't get enough to function the way it should. This can cause confusion and dizziness, says Fine. Keep an orange in your bag or on your desk at work for a quick and healthy pick-me-up.
4. Struggling Through Your Workout
Another surprising result of low blood sugar is poor fitness performance, Fine says. "Without the energy from glycogen stores (which are the storage form of sugar in the body)," she says, "you’re less able to kick into a quick and efficient source of energy to push through your cycling class!" If you're a snack aficionado, you're in luck because fueling up with a protein-rich snack is not only great for building muscle, but it's also a smart way to keep your blood sugar levels stable by slowing down your body's digestion of carbs.
5. A Racing Heart
Liz Wyosnick, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of the private practice Equilibriyum, tells Bustle that a racing heart can be one of the signs that your blood sugar is low. "One of the quickest ways to correct it is to have a piece of fruit," she says, "or even a small amount of fruit juice to quickly bring blood sugar up to a more normalized level." After your fruity snack, make sure to eat something more substantial with protein or healthy fat so that you don't crash again later.
6. Having Trouble Making Decisions
Wyosnick says that you can also experience poor decision making when your blood sugar level is lower than it should be. "Low blood sugar can lead to anxiousness and you may be swayed to make decision in haste," she says. "During work hours, this can be especially harmful." Make sure you're steadily nourished throughout the day with a hearty breakfast and plenty of balanced snacks.
7. Unexplained Mood Changes
Janet Zappe, a certified diabetes educator in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle that low blood sugar can cause more mood changes than just "hangriness." It can also make you feel sad or another negative emotion for no apparent reason. If this is something you notice happening regularly, start keeping a log of these mood shifts and how they might be related to what you're eating or how much physical activity you're doing. As you look back, you might start to notice trends that can inform your lifestyle moving forward.
Luckily, low blood sugar symptoms can probably be avoided by keeping fruit on hand and making sure not to skip meals. By fueling up regularly, you'll be able to keep your mind sharp and your body working.