Have you ever felt ill, tired or lethargic after a large meal?
Perhaps the meal caused you to be weirdly hungrier after you just ate?
If you answered yes, you may benefit from finding your own Unique Carbohydrate Tolerance (UCT).
What exactly is a UCT?
Put simply, its the threshold, or the highest amount of carbohydrates you can consume without experiencing negative side-effects.
What your UCT is, will probably be very different to the next person.
See, it’s all about how well your body can digest and process the carbohydrates consumed in a meal. When we consume carbohydrates it is broken down into a more simple form, glucose. From there it can be stored as glycogen for later usage. To help move the glucose away from the blood steam, we need a hormone called Insulin to help.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas. It’s main job is to help take blood glucose away from the blood-steam, to help reduce and normalise blood glucose levels. If our body struggles with this, you might be told you are ‘insulin resistant’. People who may experience insulin resistance include those who are pre-diabetic, diabetic or those with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
For people who are insulin resistance, it’s really important to understand how your body responds to certain foods. That way, you can maintain a healthy blood glucose level, without it fluctuating and making you feel unwell.
Let’s look at how exactly you can determine your UCT, to help minimise those negative symptoms after a meal.
Approach this like a science experience.
Firstly, you need to journal exactly what you ate and when. Be very detailed with the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Once you have eaten your meal, journal exactly how you feel. Tired, sick, ready for a nap?
The next day, repeat the same meal, but reduce the carbohydrate intake slightly. Replace some of the carbohydrates with an additional serving of protein or fats. Journal what you ate and when, and exactly how you felt afterwards. Perhaps after this meal you felt great!
You can reflect on this experiment and know that the second meal had the right amount of carbohydrates specific to you. That’s your UCT.
From there, continue to do this experiment with your other usual carbohydrate foods. Maybe that’s rice, pasta, cereal, fruit.
Give each food a go and see what your UCT is! Depending on the type of food, your UCT will differ.
The reason we replace part of the carbohydrate source with protein or fats is that it doesn’t interact with insulin in the same way, so you are unlikely to get that blood glucose spike and drop, minimising potential symptoms.
It’s important that we don’t take away carbohydrates from our diet completely. This is an essential macro-nutrient! We just need to learn what works best for our body.
If you feel sluggish after a meal, give this experiment a go and let us know how you went!