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Science: Round 1 Part 2, Calories or Carbs

December 5, 2015

We decided to give our pancreases a few days off to recharge.  Apparently the entire weeks food activities can effect any given days, so a few days off is the least we can do after the Sausage Egg McMuffin fest.

Before we get down to the part of round 1, I would like to propose that 2 Sausage Egg McMuffins and a large coffee become our standard test.  This will be our baseline.  We are looking to add a few new test subjects to the pool, so we can all get a baseline using the Sausage Egg McMuffins.  As well, I am going to invite everyone reading this blog to join in on the experiment.  I will link the call out here.  I think in the future, when asked, what is your SEMcM score, people will just say 5.0, 7.0, 6.5… or 4 hours to get back to baseline…  I think it might be a better measure of the likelihood of developing diabetes in the next 5 years than any other.  Mind you, if you answer, I can’t get my SEMcM because I never eat junk food, odds are diabetes isn’t in your immediate future.

The other thing I want to talk about is science.  What we are doing isn’t quite science…. well, it is science, but it is not good science.  So often we hear reports in the media that a study proves that x is bad for you, or y is good for you.  The truth is, science is a body of information (technically it is the way in which we get that knowledge, but don’t worry about that for now).  No one study will ever prove anything.  Ever.  Even a well designed study is only one part in a growing body of knowledge.  It is only valid within its context and is limited in how you can extrapolate it to the general public.  The smaller your sample size, the less applicable your findings are to the public as a whole.  Our sample size is ridiculously small.  As well, the less controls you put on all of the variables, the less you can attribute your results to the variable you are varying.  Our experiment is very loosely controlled.

So, with that said, there is still tremendous value in the results we are getting and the experiment we are running.  Still, for any individual, the best thing you can do is get your own blood sugar meter and find out the foods you shouldn’t be eating by getting to know what causes spikes and what to eliminate from your diet.

Back to part 2.

So, as with Part 1, a number of things went wrong.  At 7:30 I was driving through the drive-thru while Dan was texting me a picture of the donut cabinet at 7-11.

Plenty of glazed donuts, no problem there.

Unfortunately McDonalds didn’t work out as well, as they would not make me french fries for breakfast.  I thought I read somewhere that they were going to have dinner items available at breakfast and vice versa, but that was probably just a dream… a cruel cruel dream.

So, my plan for french fries will have to wait, but I think this is good as it keeps Dan and I eating the same things, which is probably best for the experiment.  I got us some large coffees to keep as much consistency in variables and headed off to get my half of the donuts.

The equipment for Part 2:


I didn’t really think that 3 and 1/2 donuts was a lot.  I mean I knew it was a lot of bad, but I didn’t think it was a lot of food.  It is.  It is a ton of food.  You have no idea.  After choking back the last of these donuts, I think I am completely cured of my love of donuts and I am reminded of reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle as a kid.  Who knew that those techniques really worked.

We got down to eating these and Dan just plowed through.  I still had one and half to go when he finished up.

I don’t think I have ever seen Dan so giddy.  As soon as he was done he was running around getting the gym ready.

It was such a chore to eat these donuts.  I don’t want to belabor this point, but really, 3 and 1/2 glazed donuts is a disgusting meal. You can see the joy on my face… BTW, I had to take a selfie as Dan had already run off to do something.  On a side note, this is 7:45 in the morning.  We aren’t looking our best but are willing to put ourselves out there for science.  Don’t judge.

To recap, we each ate: 3 and 1/2  7-11 glazed donuts.  They are 250 calories each.  The meal had 38.5 grams of fat, 119 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of protein.   22% fat, 71% carb and 7% protein.  40 grams of the carbohydrates were sugar.


This time I was more prepared and we got our fasting blood sugars.  I hadn’t consumed anything at this point, not even a sip of coffee.  Dan was the same.  We should both pull 5.0’s or thereabouts.

I did my blood test first and came up with a 6.7!!  Seriously, a 6.7! Dan was laughing and making fun of my reading until he realized that he might be jinxing himself.  Spoiler alert, he was.  Dan pulled an astounding 7.8!  Before eating a bite.  We couldn’t figure out what went wrong.  How could we have contaminated the equipment?  These were unprecedented numbers for both of us.  Totally out of the range.  My reading wasn’t entirely surprising to me as I had been at my favorite Christmas party buffet dinner the 2 nights before and had eaten so much food I had gotten the meat sweats.  I had a fair bit to drink too, but there was no good reason for Dan’s results.


That was just my first plate too.

Then of course it dawned on us.  We had been handling these sugar glazed donuts.  Our fingers were covered with sugar.  That sugar was mixed in with the blood.  We were laughing at how stupid we were and quickly went off to wash our hands and try again.  What a relief to figure out how badly we had messed with the experiment.  A few minutes later, we tested again and my measurement had gone up to 7.0!! Dan’s stayed at 7.8…  I can’t explain this… Could our livers be dumping huge amounts of sugar into our blood in anticipation of the donuts?  We both were very excited at the start to eat these.  Dan was more than a little excited.  He was like a kid on Christmas morning…  This is something for a future experiment.  How does anticipation effect blood sugar readings?  Dan pointed out that the liver pushing sugar into the blood is the opposite reaction you would expect if your body was getting ready for the donuts.  Wouldn’t it pre-flood your blood with insulin.  We both laughed as we imagined Dan passing out at the donut cabinet, unable to ever eat his donuts as his blood sugar dropped.  In any case, more sciencing to be done.

fasting: (7:45 on December 4, 2015)

Mark’s blood sugar was 7.0 mmol/l       Dan’s blood sugar was 7.8

1 hour:  (9:05 on December 4, 2015)

Mark’s blood sugar was 9.8 mmol/l        Dan’s blood sugar was 6.9 mmol/l

My blood sugar did exactly what I expected.  I probably peaked somewhere between 10 and 11 at 45 minutes.  Dan’s blood sugar has no possible explanation except that his pancreas stores a lot of insulin, because his blood sugar went down from his baseline!  I will look into this.

2 hours: (10:15 on December 4, 2015)

Mark’s blood sugar was 7.7 mmol/l      Dan’s blood sugar was 7.3 mmol/l

My blood sugar was exactly on track, but Dan’s is back up a bit.

4 hours: (11:51 on December 4, 2015)

Mark’s blood sugar was 4.3 mmol/l     Dan’s blood sugar was 4.8 mmol/l

So, I finally beat Dan to a lower blood sugar.  I am happy to be under 5.  The time between the last 2 measures was closer to an hour and a half than 2 hours btw.


So, what do we know.  First the 2 meals head to head.

The blood spike difference for me was significant.  I spiked up to 9.8 on the carb meal (donuts) after one hour as opposed to 7.0 on the balanced meal.

Again, at 2 hours, the carb meal was still higher, 7.0 as opposed to 6.5.

The time to clear the sugar was quite different though.  I had a blood sugar under 5 within 4 hours on the carb meal, but it was still 5.8 on the balanced meal.

I did get some  activity in between the blood measurements on the carb meal, so that could have caused the better sugar control.  This is definitely one of the next experiments.  Dan and I will eat the control meal (2 Sausage Egg McMuffins and a large coffee) and then do periods of exercise in between.  I recommend we do 15 minutes of cardio each hour.  A future experiment can be 15 minute High Intensity WODs instead and see the effect of high intensity exercise compared to cardio.

Dan had a  different outcome, but that can probably be attributed to his insanely high fasting blood sugar.

Dan’s 1 hour peak was higher with the balanced meal, 7.3 versus 6.9.  Still his highest peak was less than his fasting blood sugar on carb day.  As well, Dan cleared his sugar much faster on balanced meal day, within 2 hours he was down to 5, but this took 4 hours on the carb meal.  Dan peaked at 7.3 at 3 hours on carb day.

So, it is hard to get a sense of the data with our size of subject pool and variability of circumstances.  Until we measure the effect of exercise on blood sugar, the data is inconclusive.  I am very interested in how long it took to clear the sugar out of my blood on the balanced meal day.  It will be interesting to see if that was a case of lack of exercise or if there is something in that meal that keeps impacting my sugar load in my blood.  Still, the higher magnitude of blood sugar measurements on carb day are impossible to ignore, especially when seen on a chart.

When the balanced meal is graphed you can see that Dan’s blood sugar, although getting out of a healthy range, looks like what blood sugar should.  Mine, not so much.  The reduction from peak is an almost linear path.


The carb day went exactly as I had expected for myself, but I was surprised that my blood sugar was as low as it was at the end of 4 hours.  As well, the balanced day went exactly as I expected for Dan and pretty much matched the results from the day he did the 7-11 egg muffins.  The initial high readings on the carb day have me confused and intrigued, especially Dan’s.

When graphed, my blood sugar looks exactly like it should, although insanely out of the healthy zone.  Clearly 3 and 1/2 glazed donuts are out for me… forever.  Dan’s blood is bizarre though.  Apparently there are 2 major doses of insulin that the pancreas secretes after eating.  A huge one that brings down the big spike and then about an hour later a smaller but significant dose that brings blood sugar back to normal.  Both curves would support that.  Certainly mine does.  If Dan’s first dose of insulin occurred when he was fasting in response to extraordinarily high blood sugar, then he may have peaked at around 8:15 dropping quickly down to 7 at 9:05.  Still with so much sugar he may have rebounded at 10:15 and the next dose of insulin brought him down.  Just a theory.


So, the next phase of this experiment should be to test both of those meals again at exactly half of the calories.  I anticipate that we will see similar but less pronounced results.  This should give us all of the data we need to determine carbs versus calories and move on to see what the immediate effects of exercise are on blood sugar.  It will also help me to determine how large of an unhealthy meal I can eat and not risk future diabetes.





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