Overeating overworks the liver – and causes hypoglycemia

Most experts will tell you that hypoglycemia is caused by the pancreas producing too much insulin after a person eats sugar or other refined carbohydrates. This excess insulin causes the blood sugar to fall too far, too quickly, which causes a range of hypoglycemic symptoms.

Now, there is some truth in this, of course. But my research has led me to believe that the fundamental cause of hypoglycemia is based in the liver.

It’s very important to understand this because it affects the way you should eat if you want to get well permanently.

I want to stress, I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I’m not going to baffle you with complex medical and physiological terms. Thankfully, you don’t need to know all that (unless you really want to).

In simple terms, the job of your pancreas is to stop your blood sugar from getting too high. The job of your liver is to stop it getting too low. So both the liver and the pancreas are involved in keeping your blood sugar stable. (In fact, there are other organs as well that play a minor role but I’m going to keep this simple.)

Most dietary advice for hypoglycemia focuses on the pancreas. It involves eating frequent small meals and avoiding sugary foods. This is designed to prevent the pancreas from releasing too much insulin and thus keeping your blood sugar stable.

However, it’s not quite that simple. How do I know? Well, I’ve tried that approach… I’ve followed it religiously in the past… and it simply didn’t work for me. I ate frequent small meals. I avoided sugar and everything that contained sugar. And I still felt terrible. In fact, the more I tried to follow the diet, the worse I felt!

How could that possibly be?

Well, thankfully I didn’t give up and I kept searching for the real answer. I tried all kinds of diets, some including small amounts of sugar and others avoiding it completely. I found, through trial and error, that I felt best when I ate three balanced meals a day of food that I actually felt like eating (i.e. foods that I liked and enjoyed, rather than foods that a diet expert told me I should eat)… and not eating when I didn’t actually feel hungry.

In other words, I found snacking at 2 or 3 hour intervals on high protein foods to be absolutely counter-productive for me. On the other hand, eating just three meals a day (sometimes with small snack in the late afternoon if I felt hungry) seemed to work best for me. And conversely, over-eating in general – even over-eating of “healthy” organic foods – made me feel bad.

This is when it dawned on me about the role of the liver in hypoglycemia. Thankfully there are one or two experts who do understand the part the liver plays… and as I read their theories, I felt a light bulb go off in my head. This was the missing link I’d been looking for.

The good news is, fixing your liver is far easier than fixing your pancreas!

This is how your body was designed:

1. You eat a meal.

2. You digest it and absorb sugar and fat into your bloodstream.

3. Calories are burned.

4. Excess calories are stored in your liver.

5. Once your liver is full, any remaining calories are stored as fat on your hips, rear, stomach, thighs…

6. When your gut has finished absorbing your last meal your liver should start burning fat and releasing its stored sugar.

The problem is most people just cycle between points one through five and only manage point six when they are sleeping. And many don’t even do that because they snack right before bed or eat late.

That’s why I recommend you eat less often – not more often. You ideally need to allow your liver to get to point 6 after each meal, before you eat again.

Your liver needs to be able to do its job of raising your blood sugar… before it gets overloaded again by processing more food!

If you continually eat as soon as you feel a small dip in your blood sugar, you are just keeping your liver out of the equation. That’s bad news for your long term health.

So don’t set back your progress by over-eating. Listen to your body and stop when you feel comfortably full. And only eat when you are actually hungry!

4 thoughts on “Overeating overworks the liver – and causes hypoglycemia”

  1. I have recently been diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I now monitor my blood sugar often. I also have gastroperisis, so my diet is already very limited. (i only have 17% of my stomach working) Can you tell me what is the best healthy and fastest way to raise my blood sugar when it drops low. It has been as low as 32. Seems to drop low often and family members have to help get me food because I am not too functional at the point. Thanks!

  2. very interesting. i’ve been researching liver’s role in diabetes. I have hypoglycemia, not through diagnosis, but from the mere fact that I fall asleep instantly, into a comatose state, if I eat too many carbs, about 20 minutes into the meal, rice being the most dangerous. I can be in a face to face meeting, or driving, the brain just shuts off, and all i do is gain weight, despite exercise. when i tried 5 meals a day, i felt SATURATED, even if the meals were small. I couldn’t really eat dinner, after having small snacks throughout the day. I also don’t understand the concept of developing type II diabetes when in fact i am overproducing insulin, OVERWORK doesn’t make sense to me. It is becoming clear that the liver is a bigger culprit in diabetes and in hypoglycemia. Thank you so much for sharing this personal experience, as I have been on a research path for a long time, and so many workout trainer stress 5 smalls meals a day.

  3. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for your article on Hypoglycemia. I have come to the same conclusion – the problem is in the liver and have been doing colon and liver cleanses… which are important and are helpful (I feel great after each 3-day cleanse)… but I have also been looking at the nutritional causes that may make the liver sluggish (e.g. Vit. B deficiencies). Also, if you think of it, some other organs may be involved, like the adrenals, pituitary, etc.

    Now, we know that HG depends a lot on what foods we eat. The foods that are broken down faster (high glycemic index) cause a glucose surge in the blood which is dampened by the rapid release of insulin which ends up overshooting the necessary amount so the blood sugar drops back fast and the liver has to respond by releasing stored glucose to counteract it.

    You are saying that the liver is overloaded and does not respond fast enough to raise blood sugar. It could be overloaded with toxins, then a liver cleanse may help. But since HG depends so much on the foods we eat then the cause may be in that the liver and other major endocrine organs (e.g. adrenals) do not respond in the proper fashion due to nutritional deficiencies, inherited hormone and enzyme deficiencies or some other mechanism.

    To sum up, what I am trying to say that while figuring out which foods you should and should not eat is a big part of the solution here, understanding the underlying mechanism is nonetheless important because it will steer us in the right direction of addressing the root causes and proper measures to address them. The most common piece of advice circulating on the Web regarding this problem is to embark on a series of liver flushes. But this may not help eliminate this issue if, say, it is rooted in hormone or enzyme deficiencies.

    What do you think?


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