This is the 1st blog post analysing my results from a week of monitoring my blood sugar levels whilst consuming different gluten free carbs.
The week consisted of the following:
Eating 90g of carbs each day, split across 3 meals- the 1st on its own on an empty stomach, then with 20g of protein and finally with 20g of fat.
The carbs: White rice, oats, quinoa, sweet potato, amaranth and normal potato
Whilst monitoring my blood sugar levels, I also monitored mood, sleep, energy levels and digestion.
I was very excited to do this experiment because I knew i’d learn a lot and was keen to better understand my body, so that I could get closer to optimal health. I also want to demonstrate how individual nutrition is and how eating carbs isn’t bad for you (you just need to know what form works best for you) and that low GI doesn’t suit everyone.
As per my last post, my energy levels have been lower than my norm of late and my sleep hasn’t been great, largely due to stress. I have to say, the mornings were the worst in a number of ways; waking up to a bowl of boiled rice or sweet potato is not ideal and left me reminiscing about the amazing brunches I used to have in Sydney! No avo or halloumi in sight sadly! It’s also evident from the data that I do not respond well to carbs, on their own, first thing, on an empty stomach. Whatever the carb, I spiked a lot.
I am delighted to say my energy this week, has been much improved and i’ve really noticed an improvement in my concentration too. Another notable positive was my sleep, from having significantly more carbs than I normally do, I feel like i’ve slept better and I can see from the data that my body wasn’t under any unnecessary stress from my glucose levels dipping significantly at night, which is often the case. On a less positive note, my digestion hasn’t been great, I’ve not responded well to the increase in fibre but week 1’s test is not a realistic representation of how I would use this data; it’s much too extreme.
A general take away for me is that I respond better to carbs a fat and/or a protein source. This is not surprising, given both slow down the breakdown of the carb and therefore give a sustained release of energy. What is surprising is that certain carbs behaved very differently when with protein or fat, for example sweet potato with protein had a spike of 3.5 Vs 0.3 with fat- so clearly I should try to only eat sweet potato with some source of good fat for it not to have a significant impact on my blood sugar levels. Conversely, white rice with protein had no impact, whereas white rice fat spiked 1.3 so for me, white rice protein for a post workout meal would be a great option.
Stress also deserves a mention (begrudgingly), it was quite scary to see how much my levels changed under stress. The reading from when I first woke up, to just getting into my car to go to work, spiked significantly, despite not having consumed anything. I’ve always probably known i’m sensitive to stress and with modern society’s demands, it’s hard to know what we can really do to combat it, but its impact definitely hit home when I could see the data right in front of me! Stress causes inflammation and so much in our day-to-day lives causes stress: sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pollution, chemicals, work etc. etc. It really made me think that if my body is already under perceived stress, I really don’t want to be adding to its load by having food that doesn’t work well for me. Ironically, despite this observation, I then had to wake up and keep having carbs that I knew my body doesn’t work well with….creating more stress! It’s safe to say, having the monitor made me hyper-aware of what I was doing to my body and made the last few days of this phase of the experiment not enjoyable.
A few other key takeaways for me were:
Coffee on an empty stomach is my nemesis, I didn’t think it was possible for me to spike above 11, but then I had my Sunday morning coffee. Clearly for me, this is not a good choice to make and I dare say, for most people. There are many of us out there who wake up startled by an alarm clock, rush to leave the house to get to work, grab a coffee on the way and then start an intense day in the office….far from ideal. A lot of those elements I personally, sadly can’t change- I still have to get up, I still have to get to the office and then work BUT I guess I do have a choice in whether or not I add to my load with consuming coffee in that way. I hereby promise I will only have coffee once i’ve eaten.
Alcohol- I’ve only tested vodka at this stage as I wasn’t technically meant to be testing alcohol this week, but vodka is my poison of choice and I fancied a drink on Saturday. It dropped my levels mildly, but Roan dipped significantly, very quickly. This is why people often eat more when they drink. I will test other alcohols and their effects, more next week.
I put on weight in general, but the 3 sites I put on most weight are the sites that indicate a sensitivity to sugar and fast release carbs. Based on these results, it’s fair to correlate that the carbs that kept spiking me- sweet potato and quinoa, being the worst, are contributing factors in that. Interestingly, my sub-scap stayed the same (at a very low level) which would imply I wasn’t getting enough of the right kind of carbs for my body.
I have another 7 days of testing and the plan now is to put what i’ve learnt, in terms of what works for me (causes the least spike), into practice in a realistic way. I’m going to be starting my day with fat protein, as carbs don’t generate good results for me 1st thing. I will introduce carbs post workout and dinner, possibly in smaller volumes, in order to sustain the benefits of the experiment from an energy and sleep perspective and aim to drive down the fat in my mid axillary, supra iliac (hip) and umbilical by omitting things I now know don’t work for me. I also want to throw a few controlled tests in, such as different sugars and alcohol more extensively. Watch this space!