Blood Glucose, Insulin & my n=1 Experiment

Here you go, the moment you have all been waiting for with bated breath….. What even is ‘bated breath’? Someone explain that to me please.

Let me preface this post by saying I am not diabetic, pre-diabetic or even concerned with any significant fat loss. I am focused on overall health & wellness. I jabbed myself with the lancet & tested my blood sugar levels because I wanted to & because I am interested (and by the looks of the number of views on my posts around this topic, you are too). So, I like doing experiments, on myself, not on rats or our dog. It’s all well & good to read information about what a particular food does in your body but, as we know, we are all different, we all tolerate things differently and so this is my n=1 experiment to see how my body tolerates certain foods, carbohydrates in particular. Let me be clear, this is what happened for me, it doesn’t mean that is what will happen for you so don’t go running off in a tiz thinking that we are the same, we’re not.

Here’s a bit of background on me & why my body may have responded the way it did and why yours would likely be different. I eat a paleo diet 99% of the time and have done for about 2 years. It’s what makes me feel good so I go with it for now. I quit sugar about 2 years ago & I avoid sugar, natural or otherwise, the majority of the time. Once a month maybe I will eat some rice, quinoa or non-paleo food, it’s the exception rather than the rule. I eat pretty high fat, moderate protein, low carb day to day. I eat loads of non-starchy veggies every day, starchy veggies 1-2 times a week, fruit about once a week, lots of good quality fats (coconut products, nuts, ghee, olive oil, fat on my free range meat) & good quality animal protein. I do weight training or high intensity interval training 4-5 times per week. I generally eat 3 meals a day & don’t feel hungry, fatigued, tired or foggy in between those meals. Based on this I would suggest that my body is pretty INSULIN SENSITIVE and that I am fairly FAT ADAPTED.

So for anyone who doesn’t have a great understanding of blood sugar regulation & what insulin does here is a high level quick run-down. Consuming carbohydrates, & to a smaller extent, protein cause our body to release insulin. Let’s think about carbs as backpackers out on the town, insulin is the taxi’s & our cells are the hostels. So we eat carbohydrates & all of a sudden its like the nightclubs have all closed & our blood stream has all these rowdy backpackers (carbs) cruising around the streets. The body immediately sends out taxi’s (insulin) to pick them up & take them back to their hostels (muscle & liver cells). The taxi’s knock on the door to the hostel, if they have free beds, in go the backpackers & the taxi returns to the depot. Sometimes there is too many backpackers & not enough beds. In this case when the taxi knocks on the door to the hostel, no-one answers & the taxi drives off leaving the backpackers in the street full of booze & bad manners. The body then freaks out because the backpackers are still cruising the streets causing a ruckus (too much glucose in our blood stream is toxic) so it sends out more taxis which will have the same issue as the previous ones with the full hostels. These taxis end up then dropping the backpackers to the police station (your fat tissue) to stay there until someone bails them out, or not.

Ultimately insulin is the hormone responsible for fat deposition. If we pump out too much insulin, generally in response to excess carbohydrate consumption, our body will store more fat. Keeping blood glucose levels stable is a good indication of your insulin sensitivity or you ability to tolerate & process carbohydrates without them ending up on your ar$e. Ideally we want to maintain a blood glucose level of 4-6. You can read more HERE if you want to totally geek out.

I did I few different food experiments for your reading pleasure, but nothing too mental like eating a kilo of lollies because I didn’t want to feel totally $hithouse and I know the inflammatory reaction I get from that much sugar & I am not interested in experiencing it again. I just wanted to test the things that normally occur in my life (with a few random extras).

According to David Getoff fructose is the sugar most responsible for causing insulin resistance & type 2 diabetes.

So a few of the things I tested:
– sweet potato
– carrots & parsnip
– alcoholic apple cider
– kombucha
– goodie balls
– fasted BG
– post exercise BG
– my normal meals of fat, protein & non-starchy veggies
– fruit

These were not done on consecutive days and were done at random times throughout the day based on my interest level of testing what I was eating. What did I learn?
* Starchy carbs (sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, parsnip etc) give me a decent blood glucose rise but get back to normal stable levels within an hour-2 hrs.
* My normal meals of fat, protein & non-starchy veggies gives me very little blood glucose response at all.
* Dried fruit gave me a pretty big rise & stayed elevated for longer.
* Low sugar content fruit like berries still gave me a bigger BG spike to what I was expecting
* Training when fasted increased my BG levels post training
* Sushi caused the biggest BG peak of all the experiments & remained elevated for over 3hrs post meal. I also had the highest fasted BG reading the following morning after this. I felt pretty tired, lethargic & sluggish after this meal.

Day 1
8pm – 2 hrs post dinner of pork belly, broccoli, asparagus, paleo fried rice- 4.9

Day 2
Fasted- 4.3
8am Post breakfast- fish coconut curry with spinach, bone broth – 4.2
11.45am pre-lunch- 4.2
12pm- lunch green smoothie, salmon & lettuce cups -5.2
2.30pm -3.9 was feeling bit hungry- didn’t eat as much for lunch as usual.

Day 3
Fasted 4.4
Breakfast 7.30am- chicken thighs & veggies, bone broth
10.30am 4.7 then had coconut milk coffee
11.30 1hr post coffee 4.4

Day 4
8.30pm -2hrs post dinner of roast pork & salad- 5.6

Day 5
5.30pm after one apple cider 5.4
8pm one more cider & red curry lamb 5.1

Day 6
7.45am fasted 4.7
Kombucha on empty stomach- half hour later 5.7
Dinner- pre dinner 5.8
Whole sweet potato with ghee & cinnamon plus lamb- 30mins post meal – 7.1
2 hrs post meal – 4.8

Day 7
4.30pm 5.9 then ate goodie balls
Post goodie balls (dried dates, dried figs, nuts & seeds) 5pm – 5.2
6pm 7.1
7pm 7
8pm 5.4

Day 8
2.45pm post workout, no lunch 5.8

Day 9
7.30 am post breakfast I had a coffee frappe (coffee, dates, coconut milk, ice)
8am 5.9
8.30am 5.2

Day 10
Pre-dinner- 5
Whole sweet potato plain roasted with chicken
1/2 hr post dinner – 7.1
2hrs post dinner – 4.4

Day 11
Pre-dinner 5.9
Dinner of lamb with roasted carrot & parsnip salad
1/2 hr post dinner 7.1
1 1/2hrs post – 5.8

Day 12
6.30am fasted 5.1
7am 1/2 hr after breakfast (eggs, kraut, broth, green smoothie)- 6.2
2.30pm -5.4 then had 1 cup mixed berries
1/2 hr later @ 3pm 6.4
4pm 6.9

Day 13
6am fasted 3.9
Went for a 30min walk – 5.4 after

Day 14
6.30am breakfast – 3 eggs & mug bone broth
7.30am 4.9
8.30 pre-presenting at a workshop (feeling bit stressed & anxious) 5.5
12pm post workshop, pre lunch 5.3
5.30pm pre-dinner 4.8
6.30pm (15mins post sushi) 5.9
7pm 7.2
7.30pm 7.2
8pm 7.4
8.30 pm 7.3
9pm 7.2
Went to bed. Fasted BG the following morning was 5.3

Day 15
15 mins post dinner – chicken thighs, pesto, coconut milk, broccoli, zucchini 5.3
45 mins post dinner- 5.4
Had some CoYo ice cream (Date & Tamarind) 30 mins later- 6.1

3 thoughts on “Blood Glucose, Insulin & my n=1 Experiment

  1. Sarah says:

    Great article. I did a similar test on myself to see how my carb tolerance was, I got the protocol from Chris Kresser’s site. It goes something like this – eat your normal low carb protocol for 2 days and test the following times – fasted am, before lunch, 1hr after lunch, 2 hr after lunch & 3 hr after lunch. On the third day do the same but add in a cup of starchy carbs (I added rice). Your BG should have returned to the healthy zone (4-6) by the third hour. If not, you can see how well you tolerate specific carbs. Let me know if you give it a go

  2. Oooh I love Chris Kresser & I love that idea! Thank you Sarah. I am totally giving that a go!

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