If you need any information about the methods or materials used in this experiment, you can click here to find a detailed list.
This leg of the crossover experiment, part 3 is Salad first then sub. Dan exercises, Mark does not. Pretty simple… okay, this experiment has been anything but simple! The whole crossover design was a disaster. It just worked out due to timing that I was exercising right after the meal and Dan wasn’t and… well… it all got complicated from there.
So, Dan doesn’t do a lunch workout, he does an evening workout so his times are different. Could that be a factor in the results… maybe. All I can do is report it and we will see what comes out of it.
Coming on the heels of the bizarre results of part 2 for Dan, an experiment we ran twice because his blood sugar was too high to start with, it is strange to see such normal and expected results for phase 3.
I ate a lot of calories, that included a fair amount of refined carbs in the form of bread and some sugar in the dressings. I ended up just tipping out of the orange zone into the red zone, which is higher than I expected but along the lines of a reasonable outcome.
Dan had a small curve and it appears that exercise took the edge off of the carbs for him. It would follow that his blood sugar would be lower than mine and it also appears to be quite a similar curve.
When compared to his salad first no exercise it looks quite clear that exercising while digesting the meal reduced the blood sugar compared to not exercising.
This is certainly the case with my results as well. If you remember, I had the insanely good results with the salad plus exercise and the quite bad results with salad no exercise.
I think this will be the end of logical correlations. I just don’t see how my sub first no exercise can top out above 8 and Dan is all over the place. I am still a little confused by his ‘sub first’ drop in blood sugar. It makes no sense to me, but I guess that is the true lesson in testing your own blood sugar. You learn a lot about what you can and can’t eat as an individual. I don’t think Dan has had his pizza lunch since that blood sugar surprise/nightmare! So for Dan, getting a Subway sub and a salad might be an excellent lunch choice especially if he eats the sub first. For me, I can only eat this combo if I am exercising right after and eating the salad first. Even then, I might want to try a salad with a half a sub. That might be in my sweet spot. In any case, one more cross over until we have a conclusion. So we can wait for that before surmising the outcome.
I wonder, given the clear benefits of exercising right after eating, if it would be worth it to go back and eat some of the most heinous meals and exercise right after to see the outcome.
If you need any information about the methods or materials used in this experiment, you can click here to find a detailed list.
Today we are eating the sub before the salad. Mark is exercising right after and Dan is sitting on his ass. He finds this harder than Mark does… In any case, everything else has been held a constant, including the time of the meal. One thing to note though, is we haven’t done any controls on our breakfast and as these results certainly hint to, we need to. We need to eat exactly the same breakfast for both of the experiments. You will see why shortly.
One last thing to note, before we get to the results. Eating the sub first sucked so bad! For both of us, but it looks like it sucked a little worse for me (Mark). The sub was so good, but I was mostly full after, and eating the whole salad was unpleasant. Very unpleasant. It was literally the exact opposite experience than 2 days before. On that day, I could not stop effusing about how unbelievable the salad was. Here I was forcing it back. I am not sure if I just didn’t feel like eating or not. I also don’t know if it was good that reversing the order made me feel grossly full. Less calories is generally a good thing. In any case, off to the results.
Again… Dan is messing with everything, only this time it isn’t as informative. This time it is just a mess. I think we will need to re-run this leg for Dan as his blood sugar started way too high. He says he didn’t eat anything before the experiment, but I have seen these kinds of results not uncommonly with myself. When you eat something, anything an hour or two before a test meal, you usually have pretty odd results. Dan’s blood sugar dropped through the whole experiment, certainly lower than his first measurement.
Both of my blood sugar measurements started out in the right spot and the outcome was exactly what I was hoping for… which is something to watch for in any experiment. We will see if this pattern holds for the next round without exercise. I am surprised with intensity of the peak for the sub blood sugar with the exercise. I thought the exercise would have driven this peak down a ways. Maybe it did. Maybe the peak without exercise is much, much bigger. We will see.
The combination of Dan’s 2 curves shows even more how off the second test was. It just starts high, vacillates a little and then drops off, as Dan’s curves regularly do. We will retest this leg for Dan after we finish Part 3 and Part 4.
Tuesday and Thursday this week are the dates for parts 3 and 4. I will talk to Dan about eating beforehand. Hopefully we get clear results, but if not, that is valuable as well.
NOTE: On January 28th, Dan redid this part of the experiment. We agreed that any trial that begins with blood sugar out of range has to be abandoned. Given that this has only happened once… we did not have a plan. In any case, we re-ran the sub first no exercise leg of the study and came up with a decidedly equally as crazy output… It doesn’t start as high or end as low, but it definitely follows the same path. I can’t quite describe why eating a sub before a salad is better for Dan, but it is. Maybe he is highly sensitive to the meat and fats in the sandwich or the small amount of fibre in the wheat bread. I will try to think of a way to figure this out, but after 2 tests it seems clear. This might be the best meal for blood sugar for anyone…EVER!!
The purpose of the first experiment was to determine how calories affected blood sugar independent of grams of refined carbohydrates, as well as to compare Dan and my relative ability to clear sugar out of the blood.
The purpose of this experiment, the second experiment is to determine the impact of the order of eating foods. Dan and I are going to consume the same meal, a salad and a 6″ inch sub from Subway. One day we are going to eat the salad first and the next we are going to eat the sub first. We will record our blood sugar, me every hour, Dan every 15 minutes. There is a wrinkle in this experiment as well. As with the last one, we will be combining 2 hypothesis in one in this experiment. After eating the sub today, I did a crossfit session. So we will combine this experiment with one to determine what impact exercising right after eating has on blood sugar.
So, to get down to the sciencing…
Hypothesis #1 – Eating a salad before a meal will reduce the peak blood sugar from a meal.
Hypothesis #2 – Exercising after eating will reduce the blood sugar from a meal.
2 chopped veggie salads from subway. No meat, no cheese. Both salads have lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and Italian dressing. Dan’s salad has spinach and olives. Mark’s has cucumber and onions. The nutrition for the salad is listed below.
The sandwich is a footlong Italian BMT with lettuce, tomato, green pepper and onions topped with Ranch dressing. I asked the sandwich artist to remove some of the bread.(see nutritional information below).
The sandwich was cut in two with each of Dan and Mark eating one half. The remaining equipment was the Crossfit gym.
Total calories was 705 (555 for a half a footlong, + 170 for the salad – about 20 calories from 5 grams of carbs of removed bread). This is a big meal, but not a huge meal. Again, I recommend eating 4 x 400-500 calorie meals a day.
To compare to our past meals, our 3 slice Fresh Slice pizza meal was over 1300 hundred calories. As well, the 2 Sausage Egg McMuffins also had more calories coming in at 840 calories. That said, the 1 SEMcM had about 2/3 of the calories of this meal.
Comparing with the donuts, this is approximately the same number of calories in 3 and 1/2 donuts and double the calories in our 1 and 3/4 donut meal.
Part 1: Take blood sugar before the meal. Check the time, eat the salad, check the time, eat the sandwich and take blood sugar on regular intervals. The key here is to eat the salad at a regular speed and eat the sandwich right on its heals as naturally as possible. A future experiment may include waiting for an interval between eating a salad and then eating a meal, but right now we are just testing the order of eating. After eating the sandwich Mark will do a 30 minute workout (WOD).
Part 2: Take blood sugar before the meal. Check the time, eat the sandwich, check the time, eat the salad and take blood sugar on regular intervals. After eating the salad Mark will do a 30 minute workout (WOD).
Part 3: Take blood sugar before the meal. Check the time, eat the salad, check the time, eat the sandwich and take blood sugar on regular intervals. The key here is to eat the salad at a regular speed and eat the sandwich right on its heals as naturally as possible. A future experiment may include waiting for an interval between eating a salad and then eating a meal, but right now we are just testing the order of eating. After eating the sandwich Dan will do a 30 minute workout (WOD).
Part 4: Take blood sugar before the meal. Check the time, eat the sandwich, check the time, eat the salad and take blood sugar on regular intervals. After eating the salad Dan will do a 30 minute workout (WOD).
At 11:35 am on January 20th, 2016 Dan and I took our blood sugar. Dan’s read 4.6 mmol/l, Mark’s read 5.1 mol/l.
At 11:39 both Mark and Dan began eating their salads. They were done at at 11:48 and immediately ate the sandwiches. These were completed at 11:52.
Dan measured his blood sugar at 12:08 and it was 4.7.
Again at 12:23, it was 6.0.
At 12:38 it was 6.5.
At 12:53 it was 6.7.
Mark tested his blood at 1:00 and it was 5.4.
Dan tested again at 1:23 and it was 7.4.
Dan did his final test at 1:53 and his blood sugar was down to 5.3.
Mark did his final test at 2:05 and his blood sugar was 5.1
The results are odd as usual, or more correctly, I will point out that Dan’s results are odd as usual. Instead of his characteristic double curve, we get one odd shaped curve that maxed out at about an hour and a half after his meal. Had we just done the measurements on the hours like we did on mine we would have gotten a curve that we would have estimated a top measurement of about the same, 7.4 but we would have thought it would have happened a half hour earlier. My curve could have been delayed as well, and might look more like Dan’s just much lower (much, much, much lower). The salad could delay the peak of the curve, and I bet it probably does, so the estimate of it peaking an hour after the meal might now be wrong and it may peak 1.5 hours after eating. I will add a 1.5 hour test to all future protocols to further research this. The idea that we have one single curve that maxes out at 45 minutes after eating is probably highly dependent on what we eat. I am guessing that the curve pushes back further like Dan’s when you eat something like a salad first, splits into two peaks when you consume too many refined carbohydrates with limited fat and fibre to slow them down and follow a more traditional curve when your meal is balanced with limited fibre and vegetables.
In any case, there are some significant things to note here. Dan did not feel full after eating this meal. He said he wasn’t quite hungry but he surely wasn’t full. I will follow up with him to find out when and what he ate after lunch so we get a better idea of satiety. For me, I was full. Quite full. I didn’t eat all day after this and I had many opportunities. I ate at about 7:30 in the evening and I had no problem ordering a chicken caesar salad while the people around me ordered chicken wings and chicken strips.
The other thing to note is that my blood sugar is incredible in this test. Really, I want to frame it. I have never had a blood sugar curve look so good. It is identical to the curve with the 1 SEMcM, but just .5 mmol/l lower across the board. Dan’s is terrible. |It is comparable to the 2 SEMcMs for him or the 1.75 donuts. My results may be due to the exercising, Dan’s might be the lack of exercising. We will know more as the experiment moves along.
Recently I have been seeing a lot of headlines suggesting that ‘a glass of red wine equals an hour in the gym’, or ‘Science says you can skip the gym and drink wine instead‘. This is probably the worst case of mass media misreporting scientific findings that I have ever seen. These outcomes don’t even come close to sharing the actual findings of the study and quite possibly, report the exact opposite!
All of these reports back to a 2012 study done at the University of Alberta, but the recent reports all seem to reference an article by the Huffington Post.
The most recent report is by HuffPost UK, and it came out in March of 2015. In fact, most of the reports link directly to the HuffPost UK article above. There are literally thousands of these reports and they are mostly from Radio Stations. Apparently there is some sort of network of radio stations and the reports that they share.
How could a 3 year old study be making such a resurgence? I don’t know. Did we miss the meaning of the original study? This is probably the most egregious example of people misinterpreting science that I have ever seen. This is so bad as to make me despise media even more than I ever thought possible.
First Rule of Scientific Reporting:
First and foremost, I want to say to EVERYONE who has reported this story in mainstream media, NEVER report on a scientific study without first reading the study yourself. This is the first rule of scientific reporting and it can never be forgotten or missed! There is no exception. If the report has been published in a scientific journal you can get a hold of it. It may cost $20, but your publisher will pick up that cost. If I, a lowly blogger will often bother to buy the study then you, a paid journalist should be more than willing to do the same. If it isn’t available in a peer reviewed journal then it isn’t worth reporting on. If you can get a copy of the original study, then feel free to analyze it and share it. If you can’t, do not lend it any credence by reporting on it at all!
You cannot know much about the outcome of a study if you haven’t read the methods involved. That is fundamental to science. Please take this to heart. If you don’t understand science, please don’t report on it, or take the time to learn about it. This constant misinterpretation of scientific findings in the mass media has made everyone skeptical of science, which is unfortunate, because it should have made everyone skeptical of mass media.
The Truth Behind The Study
The main reason you need to read a scientific study is analyze the methods used in a study. How sound were they? Did they have a control group? How did they manipulate the dependent variable? How did they control the independent variables? These are always difficult questions and in almost all research on humans, they are handled with difficult compromises, none of which are perfect. In the case of this study, the subjects were rats. It is pretty easy to manipulate variables in a rat.
In any case, why I bring this up, is that the idea of the data of a study, any study, is how applicable is the research to the general public as a whole. From your standpoint, how applicable is the outcome to you? A middle aged white female, an older black male, a young asian woman… whatever you are, how likely are you to get the results of the study if you follow their protocol? There are mathematical ways to try to determine how a study relates to the population as a whole depending on the control groups. When these control groups are animals, we have to accept that this research is early and may or may not relate to humans. There are areas that humans relate to animals well, and there are areas that we relate poorly to them. As well, different types of animals are better surrogates for humans. Rats aren’t the best.
Still, when doing early research rats are a good starting point. As a blogger, I would never take a study with animals to say anything specific about humans though. I would say something like, ‘Early research in animals looks promising for continuing research into the benefits of reseravatrol’, or something to that effect.
So, I went back and found the study. It is here. I read it. It is an excellent study. Not only did they do a great job of randomizing and creating control groups, they used protocols that had been developed over years of previous testing, allowing this research to build on the knowledge developed with exercise physiology and rats. It is a great study to read, but the most important thing you will find are the charts. They even allow you to download them.
This is the simplest and most important chart by the way. It quite simply shows the outcome of the study based based on 7 different measurements. There are 4 groups of rats. 2 groups of 2 rats. 1 group exercised and the other group didn’t. Within each of those groups, there were rats that ate resveratrol with their feed and rats that didn’t. The charts are broken down into sedentary and Exercise Training groups (ET). In each chart you can see the white column, which is standard feed and the black column, which is resveratrol with the feed. So, when you look at the charts, A is the body weight of the rats. You can see both of the sedentary rats ended up weighing significantly more than the exercising rats over time. Chart B is probably the most significant as it shows the maximum time that the rats could run before giving up (when they say giving up by the way, the rats had to get off the treadmill and get electric shocks without getting back on… now that is giving up). Again, you can clearly see the difference in grouping. The sedentary rats, regardless of whether they had resveratrol or not, did not do as well as the exercising rats. Not even close! What is interesting to see though, is that the rats did better on resveratrol then they did without it. When resveratrol was combined with exercise though, you did see very significant increases in output. This is what the scientists were most excited about, but still, even a small increase without exercise is pretty cool. Table C says pretty much the same thing as it is the distance the rats ran before quitting. The remaining tests measured muscle growth and reactions and you can see an even stronger grouping of exercise producing remarkable results and resveratrol producing even less results. The thing that excited the scientists the most, or the future issues they thought of pursing was this:
Taken together, our data show that RESV optimizes fatty acid metabolism, which may contribute to the increased contractile force response of skeletal muscles and improved parameters of cardiac structure and function. As such, these RESV-induced adaptations are likely to contribute to the improved endurance capacity of ET rats and we conclude from these findings that dietary supplementation of RESV during exercise improves exercise performance beyond exercise alone. This strategy may have clinical utility in many situations where improved physical performance needs to be augmented due to the patient’s inability to perform intense exercise.
They think that patients who cannot exercise to their full capacity could benefit from resveratrol supplementation because it appears to increase the benefit of exercise in rats. That is all this study showed and that is the future takeaway for future studies.
How do you get from there to here?
How do you get from that finding to drinking wine is equivalent to an hour in the gym? I have no idea. There are other problems too. How much resveratrol were the rats getting? It was probably 1000 times what you find in a glass of wine. Wine is a terrible source of resveratrol. Resveratrol supplements are actually made from Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species most of the world over. It looks like the amount of resveratrol used for the rats would be equivalent to about 11 and a half grams in a 175 pound person. Given that you get between 2 and 7 milligrams of resveratrol in a liter of wine, you can see that this study has nothing to do with red wine (white wine has 1/4 the resveratrol of red), which it never claimed it did. To get these levels you would have to take supplements.
How most of the articles in the press get written and get written wrong is from the press release announcing the findings. In this case, here is the press release from June 19, 2012. The press release doesn’t ever suggest that drinking red wine would ever equal an hour in the gym, but here is the most damning part of it:
“We were excited when we saw that resveratrol showed results similar to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training,” says Dyck, who works in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry as a researcher in the department of Pediatrics and the department of Pharmacology. “We immediately saw the potential for this and thought that we identified ‘improved exercise performance in a pill.’ ”
From there someone got the science all wrong and then thousands of people went on to re-report this. I believe it is trending on facebook as well.
In fact, as of January of this year the university sent out a notice to tell people how wrong they got the report:
In light of recent social media coverage of a three-year-old study performed by Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher Jason Dyck, several misinterpretations have been highlighted that need to be corrected:
Red wine is no excuse not to hit the gym, period. The study, which was published in the Journal of Physiology and later appeared in Science Daily in 2012, demonstrated that a natural compound, resveratrol, which is found in some fruits, nuts (and yes, in red wine), enhances exercise training and performance. The study does not advocate avoiding exercise; instead, Dyck says, “I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but who are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.”
“If you’re drinking red wine to get resveratrol, you would have to drink anywhere from 100 to 1,000 bottles per day,” he adds.
The most disturbing thing I found in this entire process is that many of the actual reports stating that an hour of exercise = 1 glass of red wine actually linked to the report of how wrong people are, rather than the study itself. That is how I found the notice in the first place.
I actually think that Dyck’s claim, “I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but who are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.”, might be overselling the effects of resveratrol. In his defense, the results do support this, but in my defense, this is still a rat study.
I am a huge fan of Fresh Slice Pizza. Huge doesn’t quite come close to my addiction. Obviously, they know me by name in the store. Some weeks I will eat there 3 or 4 times. It isn’t the pizza so much as the hot sauce on the pizza. I love that stuff. I think they use Frank’s Red Hot, but I don’t know for sure. Regardless, a slice of cheese pizza slathered in the hot sauce is heaven for me.
Here is the problem. Behind the counter they have this picture.
It is a calorie comparison of a few food items with Fresh Slice clearly being the better choice. A slice of Fresh Slice Pizza is clearly a better choice than any of these other food choices!! Even better than Subway!
Fresh Slice Is Healthier than the Alternatives
Wait a minute… better than Subway. Let’s start there. First and foremost, they chose the 6″ Meatball Marinara… This clearly isn’t the best sub choice at Subway. As well, it weighs almost 300 grams and according to the Fresh Slice website, a slice of Pepperoni pizza only weighs 110 grams. Clearly we aren’t comparing the same thing here. As well, the Subway site claims it is only 480 calories, not the 580 this chart shows, and only 18 grams of fat, not the 23.
I can’t read the small print in the sign, but they may have added cheese and sauce to the sub to bring up the calories, but that is remarkably disingenuous if you ask me.
In any case, the point is, you can’t compare a 110 gram food item with a 300 gram food item. If you compare them both at 300 grams of food, you end up with 300 grams of fresh slice pizza being 925 calories!! The calorie density of this pizza is amazing! I talk about calorie density and its importance in my book, You Are Not A Fit Person. The best way to think about it is in terms of what will fill you up. 1 slice of pizza is not likely to be a fulfilling meal, but a 6″ meatball sub is very likely to be fulfilling.
Another issue is why pick the meatball sub. That is just meatballs on bread. Not a great food choice. If I was going to be comparing a sub from subway I would probably pick a 6″ Turkey Sub on Wheat with Cheese and Ranch dressing, plus a bunch of veggies. That is 450 calories with 20 grams from fat. That is a pretty good meal too. If you wanted it to actually be healthy you could ask them to scoop out some of the bread. They do that by the way and it actually makes Subway an excellent choice to eat healthy.
The Big Mac is off as well. They used the US numbers for the Big Mac not the Canadian numbers. I don’t know why they are different, but the Canadian Big Mac has 520 calories not 540. Fresh Slice is a Canadian company, so they shouldn’t use US numbers. Even a Big Mac is the weight equivalent of almost 2 slices of Fresh Slice. That means that a Big Mac is a better food choice than the equivalent amount of Fresh Slice!!
I knew that pizza wasn’t good for me, but I never imagined that it was as bad as it is. This is across the board by the way. Not in any way limited to Fresh Slice. Pizza is terrible. If you eat it, limit it to 1 slice and big salad.
The 6″Supreme Lovers Pizza weighs in at 260 grams of food. More than double Fresh Slice. If you ate 260 grams of Deluxe Fresh Slice pizza, it would come in at 720 calories which is 50 more calories than the Pizza Hut pizza.
Calorie density is one of the most important aspects of food when we are seeking healthy alternatives. It is best exemplified by those 100 calorie snack packages with 4 pretzels in them. There is no way that is going to fill someone up. No normal person will just eat one. In general, the less fit of us, love food and like to feel full. When we don’t feel full things go wrong. If I fail to eat a meal when I should and I have the option for poor food choices, I go crazy. I am not in my right mind. That is why I always say, ‘Friends don’t let friends eat hungry’. Being hungry almost guarantees that I am going to mess up my eating.
This idea of offering smaller portion sizes or comparing foods that are of different sizes is an old scam and it is a serious problem. That is why I developed the concept of food density. From You Are Not A Fit Person:
Probably the most important concept in nutrition is the concept
of calorie density. This subject is very common sense and that is
probably why it doesn’t typically get the mention that it deserves.
Some foods have more calories per gram (or per weight or mass
or density) than others. Some foods are nutrient rich, others are
not. To calculate a food’s calorie density just take the number
of calories in a food and divide it by its weight in grams.
The reason we do this is so we can compare apples to apples. What is healthier, a Big Mac or a McDonalds Chicken Caesar? A Chicken Caesar has more fat and it has more calories than a Big Mac. I have heard numerous people say you would be better off eating a Big Mac. Is this true? No.
A Big Mac weighs 209 grams and has 520 calories. A Caesar salad with grilled chicken and Asiago Caesar dressing weighs 283 grams and has 579 calories. Still, looking at these numbers it wouldn’t be clear which is better, but if I divide the calories by the grams I get 2.01 for the salad and 2.49 for the Big Mac. There is a chart in the book (shown below):
According to my recommendations, you shouldn’t be eating foods with a calorie density over 2.10. That is the black zone. The grey zone is eat with moderation and the white zone is a good choice to eat. It would be in the black and the salad would be in the grey, which is probably not a bad place to land for a meal from McDonalds. In fact, a salad would fill you up, but a Big Mac probably wouldn’t. Mind you, this is just based on calorie density. In the book we go into the refined carbohydrates for the foods as well, and that is very important. On that basis in addition, the Big Mac would lose.
So, subtle differences can be calculated when you use the food density calculations. When you use this to calculate the calorie density of a slice of Fresh Slice pepperoni pizza (which according to the website, weighs in at 111 grams) you end up with a staggering 3.05 cal/g. The average cheese pizza comes in at 2.90! The highest density food I know is cooking oil and it comes in at 8.8 cal/g. 3.05 puts the pizza up there with french fries!
The pizza does terribly on the refined carb scale as well.
In fact, as I said, all pizza is bad. The following is a list of calorie densities of a handful of pepperoni pizzas from different stores:
- Pizza Hut 3.07
- Fresh Slice 3.05
- Dominos 2.63
- Papa Murphy’s 2.56
- Pizza Pizza 2.24
Other than the fact that there is no independent verification for the calories and size of these pizzas (with the partial exception of Fresh Slice), you can see that Fresh Slice isn’t even a relatively healthy pizza to choose!! I have my doubts about Pizza Pizza slipping to 2.24 with their pepperoni pizza by the way, and I am calling bullshit on that. On the other hand, you need a degree in mathematics to calculate the calories in a slice of pizza at Dominos. Their nutrition page is a joke. They are trying to hide the calories in a slice of pizza like that was the lost ark of covenant!
Why I know that Fresh Slice is Bad for you
All of this is sort of beside the point. Yes it is a scam to be calling your food healthy when it isn’t. They even sell this pizza to school kids as part of a fresh lunch program. This in and of itself doesn’t bother me, but it does when they try to package it up as healthy. They say it is healthy right there on the website. They even point to it exceeding BC’s nutrition standards. I went through the nutrition standards and they are embarrassing by the way. For shame BC!
In any case, What triggered me to the problems with Fresh Slice was when both Dan and I tested our blood sugar after eating 3 slices of pizza each. It came back ridiculously high! Why 3 slices? Because 2 don’t quite fill me up and they certainly don’t fill Dan up.
For me, that is as bad or worse than the 3 and a half glazed donuts! For Dan it was much worse! That is by far and away the highest reading we have gotten from Dan. In terms of overall food, it was the equivalent of eating a meatball sub at Subway, yet it caused our blood sugar to hit dangerously high levels! The thing is, now that we have calibrated our blood sugar to different foods, we know a lot about what we are eating by the response of our blood sugar.
It took me 3 hours to get back into a normal blood sugar zone. I immediately knew this couldn’t be a healthy choice, so I decided to check out the nutritional information on the website.
Dan and I were looking this over and immediately started to see the problems. Why would a cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, and Hawaiian all have the same number of fat grams. This is highly unlikely. Odd even. It becomes impossible when you notice that they all have different amounts of calories from fat. A gram of fat is 9 calories, so the numbers are off for the pepperoni and Hawaiian pizzas. As well, why would the Veggie pizza have more fat than a pepperoni?! This chart is crazy. It also reports totally different numbers of calories per slice than the one behind the counter, the one performed by the lab. It mostly under-reports the calories except in the case of the clearly hated veggie pizza. They are off by 42 calories per slice for the pepperoni pizza.
This is just the beginning though. If you take the number of grams of carbohydrates (57), fats (10) and proteins (38) for the Hawaiian Pizza (the one that Dan ate) and multiply them by 4, 9 and 4, respectively you get a total of 470 calories per slice! That is insane! Each slice would be more calories than a meal should be and one slice just isn’t enough food!
Dan also wanted me to point out that there was no way that the few pieces of ham and pineapple on his pizza weighed 34 grams (weight of Hawaiian pizza – cheese pizza). I wasn’t too worried about this, but he kept stressing that he did not get 34 grams of toppings.
As soon as you doubt the nutrition table for Fresh Slice, you see the problems throughout. Their measuring unit is g/100g ?!?! What does this even mean? They have 2 measurements for energy, one about 6 times larger than the other. Why? At first I thought it was per pizza, but they slice their pizza into 8ths… Do they mean 0.173 grams of Vitamin A and not 173 grams? What is the column ‘Detection Units’ and why are only 2 numbers in it? This looks like it was done by a 6th grader who got bored halfway through the project.
The disturbing part is that they claim that they exceed the BC Standards and are currently sold in BC Schools even though it would be impossible to know what the nutritional value of their food is! I don’t want to take away the kids Pizza day or anything, I am not a monster, but this seems obscene. Even given the ridiculous standards that the BC Government uses to determine if a food is healthy, and given that somehow pizza can exceed these standards, it is still bizarre to see that no one has noticed the inconsistencies with the nutritional chart! It really is no wonder we are losing this battle on obesity.
By the way, I tried measuring my blood sugar after just 2 slices of Fresh Slice pizza. It isn’t a filling meal, but it is a reasonable amount of pizza. I came in with a 10.2 at just over an hour!
We have done it… We have finished the Calories versus Carbs experiment!! You have no idea how hard this was to complete.
I broke Dan.
We have been asked repeatedly, “When are you testing the healthy foods”. I responded, later. What I didn’t know is that later was coming sooner than I guessed. 3 days ago, Dan and I discussed whether he could eat 12 Sugar Glazed Donuts in one sitting. He believed he could and was willing to be blood tested during it. I was salivating at this data. Before that could happen though, Dan went and ate a Sausage Egg McMuffin and 3 slices of Fresh Slice Pizza back to back. It broke him. He went home… sick to his stomach… climbed into bed… woke up… shaved and cleaned himself up and is now a new person. A new person who doesn’t eat junk food any more. I begged him to finish the experiment and being a man of honour, he agreed. Yesterday he ate his last donut and a half… maybe his last ever. I got the data, so all is good in my world.
Above: A Cleaned Up Dan.
Today I ate my donuts. Yes, we didn’t even do the last experiment together.
Same as in previous rounds.
1 and 3/4 Sugar Glazed Donuts (SGD) for each Dan and I. 2 Coffees, 1 each; Dan’s black, mine with milk.
11:30 am December 10 For Dan and 9:00 December 11th for Mark.
Fasting blood sugar.
Mark’s blood sugar was 6.1 mmol/l Dan’s blood sugar was 4.7 mmol/l
Mark felt full after eating the donuts. No word from Dan, I don’t think he is talking to me any more.
Dan fasted all morning and his blood sugar was much lower, I think as a result. He ate the meal later in the day and this may have some small effect on the outcome.
Dan’s blood sugar was 6.8 mmol/l
As you will note, we are trying to understand how quickly Dan’s blood sugar peaks with fast food like meals. We know it is quickly, and this test (plus the one for Fresh Slice which will be posted later) shows that that is quite likely the case. At 20 minutes we get his peak reading.
Dan’s blood sugar was 5.9 mmol/l
Mark’s blood sugar was 8.0 mmol/l
For the 4th straight time in 4 tests, Subject Mark’s blood sugar peak is much greater than Dan’s.
Dan’s blood sugar was 5.9 mmol/l
1 Hour 15 Minutes:
Mark’s blood sugar was 6.3 mmol/l
1 Hour 30 Minutes:
Dan’s blood sugar was 6.4 mmol/l
It is strange to see, but this double peak pattern continues for Dan. It makes sense though. His first insulin reaction is immediate. He is probably still digesting his donut while the first reaction is going on. I wonder though if it is sugar in the first peak and refined carbs in the second. Would be interesting to test for. Maybe if I convince Dan it is for science I can get him to eat some more donuts…
1 Hour 50 Minutes:
Dan’s blood sugar was 5.9 mmol/l
Mark’s blood sugar was 5.0 mmol/l
Back down to a healthy blood sugar. Dan took longer than usual to get there, but he made it. I am no longer full. I am thinking about lunch.
Beyond the obvious, I never should have given Dan the blood sugar meter to measure himself. He went slap happy with it and got innumerable measurements, none at a regular time. Still, the increased measurements helped a lot in understanding his blood response. I wonder how many people have this dual peak response to fast food. I also wonder if this is more common for fit people or unfit people.
So, from the numbers it is pretty clear that even eating 1 and 3/4 donuts is a terrible idea. I began to feel hungry about 2 hours after eating the donuts and then 4 hours after eating the donuts ate a large lunch. I went up in the red zone on these donuts. These donuts were only 340 calories. This is a proper amount of calories for a meal, but the blood sugar response is terrible. Even Dan ends up in the yellow zone for both of his two peaks (I still think he might be a freak).
Despite the fact that this is obvious, I am still surprised again by the magnitude of bad in a donut. Don’t eat them.
There are a lot of more interesting results from the science though.
From the two charts above you can see all 4 meals eaten by each subject graphed against each other.
Here is where things get interesting. For subject Mark, with poor blood sugar responses, the carbs were by far and away the largest factor. Where even half of the calories eaten mostly as carbs had A MUCH higher peak than when the calories were balanced. This was what I would have predicted.
But note the difference in Dan’s response. Where carbs were primary to the highest peaks, secondary was the calories. When Dan ate the balanced meal at twice the calories of the 1 and 3/4 donuts he had a much higher blood sugar. As well, his blood sugar does not appear to be multi-modal when he eats balanced meals, but it clearly is when he eats donuts.
I find the evidence from this experiment quite conclusive despite the small number of test subjects and I believe this warrants further research into the differences in blood sugar levels between fit and unfit people.
This clearly supports Dr. Sears theory that some people are more sensitive to refined carbohydrates as well.
From these results, I would recommend that people who are less fit would need to avoid refined carbs much more than fit people. That eating meals below 400 calories is beneficial to all people, but calorie restriction may also have a more pronounced impact on unfit people.
My hypothesis was that the carb load of a meal would be the determining factor of my blood sugar. Fortunately we can compare this as both the 1 and 3/4 sugar glazed donuts and the 2 sausage and egg McMuffins both contained approximately 60 grams of carbohydrates (after accounting for fibre).
As this chart clearly shows, that is not the case, carb load alone does not determine the blood sugar after eating. In fact, it would also follow that Glycemic load as well, would be a poor correlation with blood sugar. The composition of the meal, percentage of protein, fats and carbs are all key to the blood sugar response.
So a good rule for me will be to eat meals with a balanced (30%fat, 30%protein, 40%carb) nutrient breakdown, portion sizes of no more than 400 calories and a total carbs of less than 30 grams.
Dan’s data is harder to understand given the odd shape of his curve, but I think that for Dan, carb load is the determining factor in what he should be eating. In both meals he ate 60 grams of carbs and had different results but of a similar and disturbing intensity. For Dan, keeping calories lower and eating more meals would be a much better strategy, or alternately, eating larger meals with very few refined carbs may work as well. This we will discover in future as we are eating much healthier after seeing the effects of what we did to our bodies with this testing.
Seriously, I am not sure how I didn’t go blind temporarily when I ate the 3 and a half donuts.
Finally, the hypothesis that Dan’s blood sugar results would be better than mine was true. With the only exception being the 2 Sausage Egg McMuffins, in which my blood sugar topped out at just over 7 and Dan’s at just over 7 and a half. This is ironic as well, as the whole experiment began when Dan was eating 2 Sausage Egg Muffin’s from 7-11 and I suggested my blood sugar would be a disaster on that meal… Go figure.
Okay, now the headings for this experiment have officially begun to confuse me… why Round 2… Could this be Round 1 part 3….
I have no idea…
In any case, we are getting somewhere. Today was single Sausage Egg McMuffin Day, also known to Dan as the worst day of his life… Seriously, getting him to eat 3 and a half donuts was the easiest thing ever, but only one Sausage and Egg McMuffin… you would think I was killing his cat.
Remember, we have eaten a large calorie mostly balanced meal and a large calorie mostly carb meal . We varied the amount of carbs as both an absolute and a percentage. Now we are going to eat a regular sized fairly balanced meal, and a regular sized mostly carb meal. We will see how our blood sugar reacts to all 4.
Unfortunately there was no ceremony with this day, no pomp, no laying the food out on the bench and posing with it before eating it, no photos, nothing. Just simple take blood, eat food… It was kind of sad.
I will track down some stock photos to fill up the page so it isn’t all graphs and words.
As well, there is the concept of satiety-of fullness-that needs to be addressed. It was sort of unnecessary to acknowledge that the previous 2 meals kept us full for at least 4 hours. They did. I even checked with Dan and he agreed. 2 SEMcMs or 3.5 SGD (Sugar Glazed Donuts) fill you for a surprising amount of time. That really is to be expected with an 870 calorie meal. The challenge as we continue down this blood testing road is to find meals that stay in the healthy zone and still keep us full for 4 hours. Obviously we are going to be testing the limits because I am fully aware that a Kale salad and a petite filet with asparagus is going to stay under the blood sugar level and will keep me full. The interesting stuff to experiment with is the easy to grab food that we eat out of convenience when we are out or at work.
So, we are doing a self reported full scale with the blood sugar. I will go back and edit that into the results and will keep track of it moving forward.
Now onto the science.
Same as in Round 1 Part 1 and Part 2.
1 Sausage Egg McMuffin each and a large coffee. Dan’s black, mine with milk.
8:47 am December 8th, 2015
Fasting blood sugar.
Mark’s blood sugar was 5.4 mmol/l Dan’s blood sugar was 6.1 mmol/l
Mark reported feeling full. Dan argued for the first little while that he may have been hungrier after eating the SEMcM than before. Note, we did get an hour late start on the experiment today and Dan was famished when we started.
Dan continues to have elevated blood sugars in the morning. He isn’t getting enough sleep so this may be the cause. There is a little documentation of elevated blood sugars in normal people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Will find a citation.
1 hour: (9:56)
Mark’s blood sugar was 5.9 mmol/l Dan’s blood sugar was 5.4 mmol/l
Mark, still full. Dan admits that he may not be hungrier than before he ate the muffin, but he sure isn’t any less hungry. He is famished.
A couple of things. Certainly I absolutely absorbed the SEMcM with no harm at all. Dan’s blood sugar actually went down!! I will discuss this in the discussion section, but seriously, why did I have to recruit a freak for this experiment.
2 hours: (10:56)
Mark’s blood sugar was 5.6 mmol/l Dan’s blood sugar was 5.0 mmol/l
Mark, still full. Will be for another hour or 2. Dan, still hungry and is now planning lunch, which he will eat within the half hour. 3 slices of fresh slice.
Blood sugars are looking good people. Dan is way below his fasting blood sugar and I may as well be back there. This is good looking blood results from both sides.
As you can see in the chart above, the blood sugars are entirely within the healthy zone at the first post meal measurement. Again, Dan’s post meal blood sugar is considerably lower than Mark’s.
The main thing to note is the odd drop in blood sugar for Dan post meal. We have been using an estimate of peak blood sugar at 45 minutes for an average healthy individual. This is just an estimate and I believe with Dan it is wrong. I believe he is hitting his peak blood sugar on these processed food meals way sooner, quite possibly as soon as 15 minutes. This is another test for another day, but when you place a peak at 15 minutes to 30 minutes (as shown in the light blue dotted line) his blood sugar numbers look much more realistic.
In any case, as predicted, blood sugars are much better than the 2 SEMcM’s as can be seen in the chart below.
Of course even the 2 SEMcM’s were much better than the 3.5 SGD (sugar glazed donuts).
Satiety was considerably different though. I normally don’t feel full with one SEMcM, but during this test it was different. I haven’t been feeling very hungry the last week or so, so that may have been the reason. I did have a huge lunch after the SEMcM and I have noticed a pattern of this, so it is possible that the SEMcM is increasing my cravings.
Dan felt no satiety at all. He actually had his lunch 2 and a half hours after this experiment and he went for 3 slices of Fresh Slice Pizza which allows us to compare our 3FSP numbers. That will be posted shortly.
Overall I was surprised that our blood sugar was as balanced as it was after the fast food breakfast sandwich. This indicates a number of things. First, that if you can be full on 1 SEMcM, then this is not a bad meal for your blood sugar. 2, that it is highly likely that the breakdown of macroingredients in the SEMcM is about what McDonalds is saying in their nutritional information.
That is an intriguing thing about the blood sugar measurements. Once you know how your body should be responding to certain foods, it can be quite disturbing to find out that it isn’t. If the measurements are correct, you have to take a second look at the nutritional information. Unfortunately, the nutritional information on some foods can actually be wildly off. That is what happened at Fresh Slice and this next report reveals some VERY disturbing things happening at the fast food pizza chain.