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Is this diet for me?

Low carb wasn’t for me, said Peggy. “I couldn’t sleep on my very first night low-carbing, so I knew it wasn’t meant to be.”

Keto makes me feel like a melting turd, said Dave. “I have NO energy and get brain fog. The last two days have been hell!”

Would you value these ‘reviews’ if you wanted anecdotal evidence/experience on low carbohydrate and keto style eating? Me neither. But we get people rendering these diets to the trash can based on such minuscule exposure. What happened to the adaptation phase? Did you not do your research?

Feeling ‘bad’ initially is in no way a concrete indicator as to whether something will work or not. Would you say squats aren’t your thing because they hurt when you first did them?

A better way to assess you diet’s affects on your body – 

All you need is a simple blood glucose testing kit – a home one is more than sufficient.

( – the magic weapon

These aren’t all that expensive and are very user friendly. They can be done anywhere and at any time. And for me, they’re one of the best ways – or markers if you will – of what my diet is doing to my overall health and body composition.

Your blood glucose levels are a marker for how efficiently your body manages and handles the foods you feed it. The more sugar you consume, the higher your mean readings are likely to be on a day-to-day basis. The kicker is: We all have wildly different tolerances to sugar/carbohydrate consumption. Much of this depends on your own individual insulin sensitivity.

Insulin sensitivity is one of the best markers for overall health and disease risk.  

Insulin sensitivity, in layman’s terms, is your body’s efficiency at regulating, using and disposing of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin sensitivity is HIGHLY correlated with testosterone levels, which are in turn correlated with youth and well-being. Down regulating your insulin sensitivity is a sure way to suppress your natural testosterone levels. A scenario to avoid.

Sedentary lifestyle coupled with impressive amounts of simple sugar consumption is the fastest path to losing your insulin sensitivity. I’ve covered the natural relationship between body fat levels and carbohydrate tolerance a while back on this blog, and the take home message is………..

A very lean athlete is likely to see a much lower blood glucose reading after swallowing ten spoons of sugar than a 54 year old obese individual that no longer sleeps upstairs because the stairs are “too much for him.”

The cells in the athlete’s body are far more receptive to glucose. That’s why.

Don’t be fooled though…………

This doesn’t mean we all need to set light to the carbohydrates in our homes, carbohydrates certainly aren’t the devil they’re made out to be. But, different carbs have different effects on the body. This is something the ‘IIFYM’ crowd have trouble grasping or even accepting. Our aforementioned table sugar just isn’t on par with a Yam in terms of how the body processes foods. Sorry.

To think otherwise is viewing the world through a straw. In case you didn’t know, we don’t live in a one dimensional world.

( – whole food carbs are KO’ing these all day…….EVERY day

(A note of importance: You could get two individuals with IDENTICAL levels of leanness and find a major discrepancy between their insulin sensitivity and subsequent carbohydrate tolerance.) 

This is where we see the marvellous world of genetics at play. Short of getting a full genetic analysis, how do we attempt to figure out we we are on the spectrum?

Regular blood glucose monitoring as we modify our diet. 

Before you start getting all excited about following the latest fad diet, simply commit to a regular schedule of testing your blood glucose levels with your current style of eating. Whatever the case, you’ll likely see a pattern or degree of consistency in terms of results – no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ your ‘diet’ is.

Once you get a solid insight to your general numbers, keep up with your testing schedule for at least a week (preferably two) and assess the altercations (if any).

Before we finalise everything, let’s lay out some ranges: 

  • 70-100 mg/dl or 3.9 mmol/l to 5.5 mmol/l = The desired/optimal range for fasted readings. Ideally you’re looking to fall on the lower side of this range.
  • 100-125 mg/dl or 5.6 mmol/l to 6.9mmol/l = A pre-diabetic state. A fasted reading in this range would indicate someone whose rather insulin resistant as opposed to sensitive.
  • 125 mg/dl or 7.0mmol/l and above = A reading such as this would suggest diabetes.

Note: These are for fasted readings. Not post-meal readings. 

Hypothetically, we may see someone increase the carbohydrates in their diet and find their levels sky rocket across the board. Conversely, we might find someone adopts an ultra low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet and finds their levels to be extremely low. Both scenarios may suggest these individuals have exceeded their current threshold for carbohydrate tolerance one way or the other.

And I’m not suggesting you fret and obsess over single readings. Been there and done that. Not fun. But these readings give you power. You may THINK you’re a true ‘IIFYMer’, but what if your blood sugar is sky high all day long? Membership denied. Maybe you are one of these genetic anomalies, maybe you can eat French toast, pancakes with syrup and frosties with 17 spoons of sugar for breakfast and see no fluctuations in your blood glucose. You sir, are one in a billion.

One size doesn’t fit all with eating. If you’re healthy, active and relatively lean, carbohydrates are your friend, not enemy. It’s just the quantity and quality that matters. 

Am I the only one seriously fascinated by individual variances with eating tolerances? 

Do you have any experience with glucose monitoring? What have you learned as a result? Where is your threshold for carbohydrates? I’d love to hear your experiences down below!

(Related: Three part series on carbohydrate basics……..PART 1 PART 2 PART 3)

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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