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Alex Allan Nutrition
By Alex Allan on 28/06/23 | Blood Sugar Balance


Six Steps to Blood Sugar Balance

Blood sugar balance is something I work on with *every* client. It is the key to feeling more energised, avoiding that mid-afternoon slump and losing weight. You only feel better with it!

Following these main tips are first steps:

    • 3 meals a day, no snacks
    • Protein with every meal (and snack if you have one)
    • Watching the quality and quantity of your carbohydrates
    • Watching caffeine and alcohol
    • Meal timings - trying to eat your meals within a 10-hour window

However, there are some simple hacks that can help you feel more balanced and can keep you on your health path:

    • This means that you are lining your gut with gorgeous fibre and stopping the glucose from being absorbed too rapidly.
    • Think: asparagus, kale, courgette, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, as well as pulses and beans, and even, at a pinch, coleslaw. 
    • You can even do as the French do and have a light green salad before your meals. 
    • Research shows that vinegar before meals may help people on a weight-loss diet. 
    • Just drink a tablespoon of vinegar in a large glass of water just a few minutes before eating.  I’d start with just a teaspoon to begin with and build up.
    • But if you’re really not keen, why not add a vinaigrette dressing to your salad starter.
    • Have you ever noticed that when you eat sugary breakfast cereal, you’re nearly always hungry again within the next couple of hours? 
    • What you eat first thing massively affects your blood sugar levels for the rest of the day.
    • So starting with a savoury option can be really helpful. Think: eggs, full fat Greek yoghurt, nut butter, nuts& seeds, protein powder, tofu, meat, and fish.
    • That post-Sunday-roast walk is a brilliant idea. 
    • 10 to 20 minutes is enough to reduce blood sugar spikes.
    • Rather than going for your faves, the ‘proper order’ is: fibre, protein, fat, then carbs and sugars.
    • If we eat veggies first at meals, the fibre in the vegetables helps to slow down the rapid absorption of sugars into our bloodstream.
    • If you pair carbs with protein and/or fat it can be an effective tool for helping us to feel satiated and balance blood sugar levels, especially if we are insulin resistant.
    • This is because when it is combined with protein and/or fat, the glucose from a carb food is absorbed more slowly and evenly into the bloodstream. 
    • Protein and fat also help to delay digestion, which means you’re fuller for longer. 

If you’d like to know more about blood sugar balance and how it can help your health, why not get in touch? You can book a free 30-minute call with me here.

By Alex Allan on 22/06/23 | Blood Sugar Balance

Blood Sugar Monitoring: What is it and how does it work?

You’ve probably seen folk online talking about continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). Perhaps you’ve seen the adverts for the Zoe programme. Or else you might well have spotted people wearing a little white disk on their upper arm and wondered, what’s that all about?  Then there are those devices you can blow into to measure your metabolic health, and let’s not forget the time-honoured finger-prick blood tests to check out your blood glucose or ketone levels. Want to know how all of this relates to you and, of course, whether you should invest in one? Read on. 

What do these devices do?

Whether you’re talking CGM, Lumen or a blood glucose monitor, the reason people are using these devices is that they want to know what their blood sugar levels are. For some, this is a medical necessity. They have been told they have diabetes, for example, and want to get back in control of their glucose levels or, for type 1 diabetes, they need real-time information to work out how much insulin they need to dose. Since very high sugars are dangerous to the body and very low sugar levels (hypos) can be life-threatening, these monitors can mean the difference between life and death. 

Over the last couple of years, more and more people who are simply interested in their health are investing in them. These might be people who have been told they have prediabetes and who want to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or those who are looking for answers to why their energy is lacking, or they’re struggling to lose weight, or maybe even those people who love getting data on what their body is doing. 

Blood glucose monitors

These pocket devices have been around for years, and you can buy them from pretty much every pharmacy and online. They usually come in a kit with a lancing device that spikes your finger, releasing a little drop of blood and a pack of testing strips. You insert a glucose testing strip into the machine and drop the blood onto it and, within seconds, you have your reading. 

Diabetic patients would test their glucose levels at different points in the day, perhaps first thing in the morning (this a good general indicator of blood sugar management), right before a meal and then 2 hours after a meal (when levels should fall back to the baseline level). If you don’t have diabetes, but you have prediabetes or you just want to know what your body is telling you, it’s most likely you’ll measure first thing in the morning, just after you’ve got out of bed and before having a morning cuppa or anything to eat. This is your fasting glucose reading. 

Your doctor may routinely have taken a fasted reading like this if you’ve ever had blood taken. It’s considered a reasonably poor measure of your blood sugar levels but the essential thing to note is that it is just one moment in time – literally the time you pricked your finger – and it might have been different yesterday and it might be different tomorrow. This is why having your own kit can be helpful, and it is also why doctors who are genuinely interested in what your blood sugar levels have been doing over time would test your HbA1c. 

HbA1c stands for haemoglobin A1c, which is a blood test used to measure the average blood sugar levels over the past three months. Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen to different parts of the body, and glucose can attach to it, forming a "glycated" haemoglobin molecule.

The HbA1c test measures the percentage of glycated haemoglobin in the blood, reflecting the average blood sugar levels over few months. This is why it’s more interesting for medical professionals to know what this number looks like for their patients rather than a single measurement taken on the one day they were in the blood test centre. You can get your HbA1c done privately and relatively inexpensively. It’s a test I often recommend to my clients. 

You can also buy similar monitors to measure your ketone levels if you’re a fan of the ketogenic diet. Some machines can measure both and you would need different strips to measure ketones to the ones you use for glucose. Otherwise, the machine works in the same way. The drop of blood, in this case, indicates whether you are in ketosis or not. 


Morning fasting glucose levels should be between 4mmnol/L and 5.4mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL) for non-diabetics. 5.5 to 6.9 mmol/l (100 to 125 mg/dl) may be indicative of prediabetes. 7.0 mmol/l or more (126 mg/dl or more) may suggest diabetes. I

f you are measuring your fasted sugar levels and get a reading you don’t like, don’t jump to conclusions. If you have a few consecutive readings, make an appointment to see your doctor. There are a few things outside of food and drinks that have an impact on blood glucose readings, not least stress.


Nutritional ketosis begins at 1.0 and an optimal therapeutic zone is between 3.0 and 5.0. 

Continuous glucose monitors (wearable blood glucose monitors)

When you see someone wearing a little disc attached to their upper arm, chances are, it’s a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or, more specifically, a related device called a flash glucose monitor (FGM). The two terms are used interchangeably although there are some very subtle differences in the way they fetch their readings.

Both devices are designed to monitor blood glucose levels. A CGM continuously tracks glucose levels in real-time and provides continuous updates to the user throughout the day and night. It can also talk to insulin pumps. 

In contrast, a flash glucose monitor (like those used with the Zoe programme or the popular brand FreeStyle Libre), takes some automatic readings but it also requires the user to scan a small sensor worn on the skin with a reader or a smartphone app to get the glucose readings. The readings are stored on the sensor and can be reviewed later to get a general idea of glucose trends over time. It can only store eight hours of data, so users typically have to ensure they scan before bed and shortly after they get up just to make sure readings have been taken and there are no gaps in data. 

If you are diabetic, you might be entitled to a device on prescription. If you are simply interested in your metabolic health, you will not. You can take part in the Zoe programme, which also includes a stool test, but there is often a wait of a few months before you can participate and you pay for the programme upfront, making it quite pricey. You can also buy the FreeStyle Libre device from selected pharmacies and also directly from the manufacturer Abbott. Monitors last 14 days and cost between £55-75 each. 

Or alternatively, you can come and work with me. I often use CGMs with clients with blood sugar imbalance or insulin resistance, for example, women in menopause or with PCOS, or for those who are looking to lose weight. I’ve found the information that a CGM can provide about an individual’s reaction to certain foods can really help to personalise their programme. Plus, we can also see the effect that exercise, stress, sleep and relaxation might be having on their blood sugar levels, and subsequently their metabolic health. 

If you’d like to know more about blood sugar balance and the tech you can use to help with it, why not get in touch? You can book a free 30 minute call with me here.

By Alex on 08/09/21 | Blood Sugar Balance

In the newsletter this month, we were chatting about insulin resistance and its role as a driver in PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), as well as being a factor for many people as they get older, particularly women going through perimenopause and menopause.

Symptoms such as fatigue, constant hunger, inability to lose weight, sugar cravings, fatigue after meals, central weight gain and tiredness after eating. Do any of these sound familiar to you? But what can we do to battle it? Here are my top tips:

  1. Cut down on refined carbohydrates

These foods are the main trigger for insulin production, as your body needs the hormone insulin to move the glucose from these foods out of your bloodstream. Reducing your intake of these kinds of foods can improve your insulin sensitivity as you won’t need to produce as much insulin. Firstly, ditch all those sugary snacks entirely – you really don’t need them. I’m talking cakes, biscuits, ice cream, sugary drinks, desserts. And then think about the quality and the quantity of complex carbohydrates that you’re having. Maybe replace your big bowls of spaghetti with some courgetti, or think about eating sweet potatoes instead of jacket potatoes.

  1. Reduce stress

Stress is a major contributing factor to your blood sugar balance. When we are stressed, our body switches into ‘fight or flight’ mode so that we can battle or evade danger. One of the things that happens is the stress hormones we produce encourage our body to break down its energy stores into glucose, so that it will enter our bloodstream and be ready for fuel for our muscles. However, if this stress is constant rather than acute (I’m thinking work or family stress as opposed to facing a tiger), then we can end up with persistently high blood sugar levels ergo high insulin and, bam, possible insulin resistance. Whilst we can’t always change or remove the stressors in our lives, we can learn to build resilience to those stressors. Yoga, tai chi and meditation have been shown in research to help build stress resilience. Something to think about adding to our daily routines.

  1. Get better sleep

We all know that sleep is great for our health! But studies have linked poor sleep to reduced insulin sensitivity. Our body does a lot of repair and resetting work while we sleep, so if we are not having enough sleep, this work won’t be getting donw. Research shows that how much a person sleeps impacts both their insulin and their cortisol (stress hormone) levels, thereby affecting their insulin sensitivity. Aim for 7-9 hours per night, but with a regular sleep and wake-up time.

  1. Get more exercise

Regular exercise is an excellent way to improve our insulin sensitivity. It helps us move sugar into the muscles for storage and it immediately improves our insulin sensitivity for up to 48 hours dependent on the type and duration of exercise undertaken.  While both weight training and aerobic exercise have been seen to be beneficial, research shows that it’s a combination of both that is most effective in increasing insulin sensitivity.

  1. Eat more veggies

Replacing refined carbohydrates with more veggies makes sense when we want to be healthy, doesn’t it? But eating more veg can make us more insulin sensitive too. Firstly, many vegetables are excellent sources of fibre, particularly soluble fibre. Soluble fibre feeds the friendly bacteria in our guts and having a balance microbiome has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Brussel sprouts, avocados, broccoli, black beans and sweet potatoes are all good sources.

So, these are my tips to getting you back on track! Try them out and see if they can help relieve your symptoms, particularly if you are suffering with PCOS, perimenopause symptoms, or you just can’t move the weight around your midriff. Or why don’t you book in a free 30 minute health review with me – just click here.

By Alex on 24/11/20 | Blood Sugar Balance


There’s a lot of chat about blood sugar balance, but what does it actually mean?  Well, if your blood sugar is out of whack you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

You can’t go for more than three hours without eating something

If you’re hungry, you get irritable, moody or anxious

You find it hard to concentrate

You feel weak or dizzy

You experience trembling or shakiness

You often crave caffeine and need your coffee fix

You have a mid-afternoon slump where you find yourself reaching for the biscuits

You sometimes wake up unexpectedly in the middle of the night

These might be signs that you are suffering with blood sugar imbalance. In today’s busy world, our diets often comprise an array of refined carbohydrates, such as bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, cakes and biscuits, but we may not have enough protein or good fats with each meal.  How does this affect us? 

Well, this style of Western diet tends to be high in sugar and low in fibre, meaning foods are rapidly digested, converted into sugar and absorbed, and can therefore cause blood sugar spikes. A blood sugar spike can result in a large compensatory release of insulin, as insulin is a hormone which is produced in response to blood sugar levels, allowing it to be taken into cells for energy production. However, a large amount of insulin may temporarily lower blood sugar levels too far, resulting in blood sugar levels falling below normal.

This may cause you to want to eat more food, in turn possibly causing you to overeat leading to possible weight gain.  Equally, the brain needs a constant supply of energy for optimal performance, therefore a drop in blood sugar levels may affect brain function leading to symptoms such as lack of concentration, fatigue, racing thoughts, and a need to grab those crisps right away.

If this happens on a regular basis, your body starts to think something has gone awry and see these episodes as a form of stress.  So in steps the stress hormone cortisol, as one of its roles is to maintain blood sugar balance to allow enough fuel for the body to fight or flee. Remember getting away from that tiger?  By coming to the rescue, cortisol causes the body to generate more energy supplies, as a fuel to escape the stressor (that sabre-toothed tiger again), which may in turn continue the blood sugar imbalance causing a vicious cycle. Regular episodes like this may result in a blood sugar rollercoaster.  It is this rollercoaster that leads to many of the symptoms mentioned above.

So how can you step off this unwanted fairground ride, and balance your blood sugar? Check out my free eBook - 5 Steps to Blood Sugar Balance for more information. This is a free gift when you sign up to the newsletter.

Reference: Szablewski L (2020) Blood Glucose Levels Intechopen


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