Science: Round 2 Part 2: Calories vs Carbs
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.