Most women can relate to feeling ‘hangry’, especially around that time of the month!
Protein, and protein powder is one of the best ways to prevent blood sugar levels dropping out, and causing dips in our mood.
Let’s look at how food affects our mood, and how enough protein, or an easy addition of protein powder can help…
Stable Blood Sugar Levels:
Our body needs to keep stable blood sugar levels. This blood sugar is called glucose, so it can also be called blood glucose levels (BGL).
Yes, our BGL fluctuates, but it gets too high or too low, our body sends out important messenger molecules to ensure we make getting more glucose, or storing excess glucose, a number one priority.
When we have high carbohydrate based meals, or refined/processed meals, we are often consuming too much glucose – as glucose forms ‘sugar’ or sucrose and long carbohydrate chains. So, when these foods are broken down quickly, our blood sugar levels rise quickly, and our body has to send out Insulin to store the excess glucose as glycogen and fat! This is our body’s ‘feast and famine’ approach. It keeps our fat stores growing in case of a famine…which in this society would be near impossible.
The problem for mood in relation to this ‘sugar cycle’, is that, when insulin stores the glucose, excess insulin in our blood can cause our blood sugar levels to then drop too low too quickly, and can prevent our body releasing glucagon, which enables us to use fat for fuel!
So, when our blood sugar levels drop, we can get angry, irritable, headaches, lose focus and energy, have bad sugar cravings, reach for coffee, chocolate, sugar or alcohol… or just more processed carbohydrate rich foods!
This is where understanding the importance of protein comes in!
If, instead of having a meal based on carbohydrates – like, white sandwiches or rolls, rice, pasta, or a giant donut – you had a more balanced meal – like, quinoa, tuna and a big salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing, you would have much more stable blood sugar levels! The same goes for a yummy, healthy protein shake, which can be so useful when you’re busy!
You could use coconut milk or water, good quality protein powder, banana, berries, big handful of greens, or a superfood greens powder, and ice! Perfect!
When you incorporate more protein (and good fats and whole, fibre foods) to a balanced diet, your digestion is naturally slowed, and your meal will have a stabilising effect on your blood sugar levels.
This helps you, in turn, to have more regulated energy, mental focus, and mood, preventing those ‘hangry’ dips in mood due to low blood sugar levels.
Healthy Amino Acid Pool:
When we eat protein, our body breaks down these protein chains in to the single amino acid units, which service the body from an accumulated amino acid ‘pool’.
This is so crucial for mood, and is related to blood sugar levels, because brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are important for mood and behaviour are also influenced by your BGL.
When BGL are low, glutamate and norepinephrine can become elevated, which can increase anger, irritability, hyperactivity, lack of focus and impatience. This would relate to a primal drive to find food at any cost, and your brain’s ability to create a state where you will behave in a way that protects you the most, rather than feelings of love, patient, or empathy for others as much.
At the same time, neurotransmitters that cause mood elevation and a happier, more relaxed state, such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine are reliant upon higher blood sugar levels. This is also why we experience a ‘sugar high’, and can get addicted to that feeling.
When we, therefore, consume a higher amount of protein, rather than high, refined carbohydrates, we are providing fuel for the body to be stable, with regulated BGL and amino acid levels for a more well-rounded mood.
Eating high carbohydrate meals can cause peaks in blood sugar levels, which can cause a temporary ‘high’, but then allow for a ‘crash’, where we can feel tired and irritable, and cause us to reach for more sugar or caffeine.
When we swap out excessive carbohydrate and sugars for good sources of protein, or a protein shake as a meal or snack instead of a coffee or junk food, we will be giving our body vital nutrients to support good, focused, relaxed mood, stable BGL and energy levels, while also adding to the crucial amino acid pool that builds and supports out body overall every day!
If you want to add protein powder into your diet, feel free to look through our range of protein powder supplements and see what works best for you!