How To Steady Your Blood Sugar Levels On A Vegan Diet — From A Biochemist
While "vegan" is often considered synonymous with "healthy"...that's not exactly the case. There are a number of not-so-good-for-you foods that fall under the vegan umbrella, including a significant minefield of foods that may cause a blood sugar spike and crash. So, if you're following a meat-free eating style, staying aware of these foods can help support your overall well-being.
What to be wary of.
Inchauspé first notes to keep an eye out for processed foods, and especially those that are classified as vegan (ahem, chocolatey sandwich cookies)—just because they don't contain animal products does not mean they're necessarily good for you. "They can contain mountains of sugar. Sugar is vegan after all," she explains.
In the accompanying infographic, Inchauspé shows the sharp increase in blood sugar that comes right after eating a vegan sweet and the decline of energy that follows within the two hours after eating. Instead, it's more useful to opt for foods that don't cause such a harsh spike and rather provide gradual energy throughout the day.
What to eat.
When building a vegan meal that is cognizant of glucose levels, Inchauspé recommends keeping your dishes packed with both fat and protein. "Vegan meals that are just carbs (for example, just rice and veggies) can spike us way out of range." With this in mind, adding beans, avocado, or really any other vegan fat and protein source can help regulate glucose spikes and keep you feeling energized and fueled in the hours after you eat.
Foods to include.
As for protein, fat, and fiber sources on a vegan diet, Inchauspé offers a comprehensive list:
- Hemp seeds
- Soy milk
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
Tailoring your eating habits to keep blood sugar stable will do a world of good for your body—and that goes for anyone following a vegan diet or otherwise.
On the whole, it's a good idea to pair carbohydrates with a plant-based fat and protein source so you can achieve a gradual increase in blood sugar without a crash. And remember: Just because something is vegan doesn't necessarily mean it's good for you!
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.