By Dr. Mike Roussell
One of the biggest health problems that we are facing at a population level is insulin resistance, the precursor to diabetes. The CDC estimated that 98 million adults in America suffer from insulin resistance (with 8 in 10 adults not knowing that they have it!).
Insulin is a hormone that your body releases when sugar levels in your bloodstream rise. Insulin’s job is to get the excess sugar out of your bloodstream. When your blood sugar levels are consistently elevated and insulin is being consistently pumped out, your body becomes numb or resistant to insulin’s efforts.
One of the great things about rucking is that you can take any of the health benefits of walking and amplify them by adding some weight and turning it into a ruck.
You should already be using rucking as a means of boosting daily activity to get in your 7,000 or 10,000 steps per day. The next level is to optimize the timing of some of your daily bouts of activity or rucks for maximum health benefit.
What am I talking about? Rucking after you eat. I don’t mean trying to set a 1 mile PR with a 100lbs on your back - just getting out and rucking for 20 minutes or more with your standard weight.
Here’s the reason why this can be so important. After you eat, the levels of sugar in your blood rise. This is normal and your body has processes to get the sugar levels in your blood back down to everyday all day levels. Unfortunately, the more we sit around (an unfortunate common occurrence in everyday life - your desk, couch, etc) the harder we make it for our body to do its job regarding blood sugar management. This can progress and compound overtime leading to insulin resistance.
This is where rucking comes in to save the day. Walking by itself activates your muscles priming them to actively pull sugar out of your bloodstream and into your muscles. The added weight, and if you choose increased pace, of rucking will further enhance this phenomenon. The great thing about being active after eating is that once your muscles take up sugars from your bloodstream, it can’t give them back. They are stuck inside your muscles and need to be burned off as fuel.
Getting into the rhythm of post-meal rucking is also easier from a behavioral perspective because you can anchor the new habit (rucking) to a habit that you already do (eating lunch/dinner). After you eat lunch, build in an extra 20 minutes to ruck. This will also provide you some mental rejuvenation time to make your afternoon more productive. If the post-lunch ruck doesn’t work with your schedule, embrace post-dinner rucking with friends or family as a way of getting active, controlling blood sugar, but also reconnecting with people about the day's activities.
Dr. Mike is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure optimal performance and long-lasting health. He holds a degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. In addition, having published over 500 articles on health and nutrition, Dr. Mike has authored and/or served as the consulting nutritionist for 10 books about health, nutrition, and performance. He’s been a member of our GORUCK community since 2014 when he participated in several GORUCK Challenges and a part of GORUCK Tribe since its inception.