My Own China Study

      126 Comments on My Own China Study

Chareva’s birthday was Sunday, so her parents came down for the weekend to celebrate with us and get their first look at the farm.  Her dad is one of those “Tim the Toolman” types who can build pretty much anything he puts his mind to, so he had some good suggestions on ways to fix up the house without spending a fortune.  (He even built a riding train around his property near Chicago — the girls love it.  You can read about his train here. )

Sunday evening we all went to P.F. Chang’s for the big birthday dinner.  I tend to let my hair down (so to speak) when we go to ethnic restaurants, so I had two egg rolls, one fried crab wonton, and about half of the little cup of white rice the waitress brought with my sesame chicken.  It didn’t appear to be a major carb load, but an hour after dinner, I felt that buzz that I’ve come to recognize as the result of high blood sugar.

So I got out my meter and tested … 219 mg/dl.  Yikes.  I waited an hour and then tested again to get a two-hour postprandial reading … still pretty high at 169.

I know some people would see those results and immediately declare that my blood sugar went high and stayed high because my low-carb diet has made me intolerant to carbs, but I’m not so sure.  When I tested my one-hour reaction, both girls decided they wanted to know what their blood sugars were as well.  So after they successfully talked themselves out of the fear of having their fingers pricked, I tested their blood-sugar levels.  Sara’s was 189 mg/dl.  Alana’s was 176.

We don’t feed them sugar or flour at home, but their diets are nowhere near as low-carb as mine.  They like berries and full-fat yogurt for breakfast.  They usually take an apple or a banana in their lunches.  Chareva often serves sweet potatoes or squash with dinner, which they eat even when I don’t.  I don’t think it’s likely we’ve induced an intolerance to carbohydrates in them.  I think it’s more likely some people just don’t handle refined carbohydrates very well, period.

I also suspect intolerance to carbohydrates is largely genetic. When I first started testing my blood sugar a couple of years ago, Chareva’s sister Susan happened to be visiting.  When I grumbled about a small serving of pasta pushing my glucose up to 174 mg/dl an hour after eating it, Susan wanted to see what her glucose level was.  She’d eaten a bigger serving of pasta than I had plus a potato, but her one-hour glucose reading was only 112 mg/dl.  No wonder she (like Chareva) is naturally lean.  Those foods don’t spike her blood sugar.

But they definitely spike mine … and that’s why I rarely eat them anymore.


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126 thoughts on “My Own China Study

  1. Ben

    Maybe your past low-fat diet punched you into your pancreas. Personally, wheat and rice spike my blood sugar too (though not as high as they do for you), but potatoes are no problem, interestingly.
    Also, I thought blood sugar=!getting fat. I thought there were two possibilities: You eat wheat with rice and sugar, and either it all gets dumped into your fat cells, or not enough insulin gets released and the sugar stays around in your bloodstream. And gives you glaucoma. But you stay lean.
    On the same diet (75% wheat), my parents and brother got fat (but their blood sugar was always low/normal) and I was underweight but had much higher blood sugar.

    I think the tendency to be lean or fat is more a matter of how easily we release the fatty acids from our adipose tissue.

  2. C

    I wonder how food affects my blood sugar. I’ve never tested before. Based on my tendency to gain and lose weight, I’d probably be somewhere in-between my naturally thin-as-a-rail friend and my gain-and-lose-10-pounds-in-one-week sister.

    Glucose meters are pretty cheap if you want to test at home.

  3. Ron K.

    There was more than just a carb problem with that meal. Almost all restaurants use GMO soy or GMO canola for their cooking oil. So you probably were also eating round up herbicide from those “round up ready” crops. Not the best for a person’s digestive tract.

    Ron K.

    Certainly not a meal I’d want to eat more than once in a blue moon.

  4. Jennifer Snow

    Makes me wish I had a blood glucose meter, because I wonder about that sort of thing. I’ve had my blood glucose tested shortly (~1 hour) after a big, starchy meal (with soda no less), and I was told my blood glucose was “normal”.

    I’m beginning to suspect that my body’s response to blood glucose fluctuations is to dump insulin and then adrenaline like there’s no tomorrow. I have a *lot* of the standard symptoms of a messed up adrenal system, and when I eat sugar/starch I get hungry again VERY quickly (on the order of an hour no matter how much I eat, which is distressing) and will actually get extremely weak and shaky or start running a fever.

    I don’t seem to get the *high* glucose spikes (thank goodness!), but I figure it’s only a matter of time before my pancreas gives up if I keep pushing it to make more and more and more insulin. And if I keep instigating hypoglycemic incidents as a result of my overactive insulin production, my adrenal system is going to completely give out as well.

    So, for me, doing the low-carb thing isn’t so much about keeping my blood sugar down as it is about getting my insulin levels down.

    Glucose meters are pretty cheap. Mine cost around $15, although the strips run close to $1 apiece after you use up the 20 or so that come with the meter.

  5. Zachary

    Very interesting that we can get such wildly different readings from different foods across different people. I binged on 5 resees cups in a row once and tested my blood sugar after an hour and it was at 116. A few days later I had a couple homemade chocolate chip cookies. When I tested then my blood sugar after an hour it was all the way up at 196. No excuse to eat either, but it gives me an idea of what I should careful about when I decide to cheat a little.

    That’s why it’s important to test your own reactions.

  6. Bex

    I did a fasted glucose tolerance test once – I ate two teacakes (no butter), which is about 60g carbs. An hour later, my blood sugar was 8.8 mmol/l (159mg/dl). An hour later, it had barely gone down, in fact it took about 3 hours to get it down to a more reasonable 6 mmol/l (108)

    I did panic a bit until I read that eating low carb for a while then eating a load of white flour product would give near-diabetic readings, in fact some people recommend carb loading for 3 days beforehand to give a ‘normal’ result. Personally, I’d rather just not eat the carbs in the first place, if they’re going to do that.

    I don’t see any reason to eat a lot of carbs to increase my tolerance for them. To me, that’s like drinking heavily to increase my tolerance for alcohol. I already went through that phase in my life.

  7. AllisonK

    What is your fasting glucose like?
    I believe, based on the “buzz” as you call it, that I have blood sugar spikes after a high carb meal. Low carb doesn’t give me those buzzes with blood pounding in my head and the insane urge to sleep.
    I’ve talked to my doctor and all my tests come back “normal” whatever that means. It’s possibly just a smidgen under diabetic levels? I’ve tried to get numbers but it’s not easy. I can’t get a blood glucose meter without a prescription without paying mega bucks so I haven’t been able to test things myself.
    Have you ever had an insulin levels test? What were results on that? I am trying to get one but can’t because the doctor doesn’t want to give me one. I can’t even find anywhere to just go pay for one on my own.
    Welcome to Canada! Self-directed health care is NOT an option.

    I’ve never had an insulin test. My fasting glucose is usually in the 85-90 range.

    You can pick up a glucose meter at a drug store for around $15.

  8. Anne Robertson

    This makes perfect sense. I’m a natural low-carber. As a child, I didn’t like sweet things very much, with the exception of chocolate! I was slim and fit. But having gone blind following an accident, I had to go to boardingschool where I had no choice about food. During every term, I put on weight, and during the holidays, I lost it again. In adulthood, I believed the nonsense about whole grains and piled on the weight. I knew I couldn’t live without meat, because eating meat just once a week when we were poor students made both my husband and me feel dreadful. Now, on a low-carb, high-fat diet, we’re both in great shape for people in their late fifties. I’ve never experienced one of these “sugar highs” that people talk about, I just put on weight when I eat too many carbs, and I don’t enjoy most carby food anyway.

    That’s the good news: I don’t crave carbs anymore, so I don’t feel I’m missing much.

  9. gallier2

    No, you don’t understand, it’s only the reward of the food. It’s only because the food has no taste, or tastes too strong or whatever. It has nothing to do with the compostition of the food, that’s only a figment of your imagination. No, I have a new theory, it’s the colour of the food, no the odour, next week maybe it will be the texture, but in no way can it be a metabolic result coming from the composition… 😉

    Let’s not forget the enticing decor of the restaurant. It was probably designed to make me over-eat.

  10. Ben

    Maybe your past low-fat diet punched you into your pancreas. Personally, wheat and rice spike my blood sugar too (though not as high as they do for you), but potatoes are no problem, interestingly.
    Also, I thought blood sugar=!getting fat. I thought there were two possibilities: You eat wheat with rice and sugar, and either it all gets dumped into your fat cells, or not enough insulin gets released and the sugar stays around in your bloodstream. And gives you glaucoma. But you stay lean.
    On the same diet (75% wheat), my parents and brother got fat (but their blood sugar was always low/normal) and I was underweight but had much higher blood sugar.

    I think the tendency to be lean or fat is more a matter of how easily we release the fatty acids from our adipose tissue.

  11. C

    I wonder how food affects my blood sugar. I’ve never tested before. Based on my tendency to gain and lose weight, I’d probably be somewhere in-between my naturally thin-as-a-rail friend and my gain-and-lose-10-pounds-in-one-week sister.

    Glucose meters are pretty cheap if you want to test at home.

  12. Ron K.

    There was more than just a carb problem with that meal. Almost all restaurants use GMO soy or GMO canola for their cooking oil. So you probably were also eating round up herbicide from those “round up ready” crops. Not the best for a person’s digestive tract.

    Ron K.

    Certainly not a meal I’d want to eat more than once in a blue moon.

  13. Jennifer Snow

    Makes me wish I had a blood glucose meter, because I wonder about that sort of thing. I’ve had my blood glucose tested shortly (~1 hour) after a big, starchy meal (with soda no less), and I was told my blood glucose was “normal”.

    I’m beginning to suspect that my body’s response to blood glucose fluctuations is to dump insulin and then adrenaline like there’s no tomorrow. I have a *lot* of the standard symptoms of a messed up adrenal system, and when I eat sugar/starch I get hungry again VERY quickly (on the order of an hour no matter how much I eat, which is distressing) and will actually get extremely weak and shaky or start running a fever.

    I don’t seem to get the *high* glucose spikes (thank goodness!), but I figure it’s only a matter of time before my pancreas gives up if I keep pushing it to make more and more and more insulin. And if I keep instigating hypoglycemic incidents as a result of my overactive insulin production, my adrenal system is going to completely give out as well.

    So, for me, doing the low-carb thing isn’t so much about keeping my blood sugar down as it is about getting my insulin levels down.

    Glucose meters are pretty cheap. Mine cost around $15, although the strips run close to $1 apiece after you use up the 20 or so that come with the meter.

  14. Zachary

    Very interesting that we can get such wildly different readings from different foods across different people. I binged on 5 resees cups in a row once and tested my blood sugar after an hour and it was at 116. A few days later I had a couple homemade chocolate chip cookies. When I tested then my blood sugar after an hour it was all the way up at 196. No excuse to eat either, but it gives me an idea of what I should careful about when I decide to cheat a little.

    That’s why it’s important to test your own reactions.

  15. Bex

    I did a fasted glucose tolerance test once – I ate two teacakes (no butter), which is about 60g carbs. An hour later, my blood sugar was 8.8 mmol/l (159mg/dl). An hour later, it had barely gone down, in fact it took about 3 hours to get it down to a more reasonable 6 mmol/l (108)

    I did panic a bit until I read that eating low carb for a while then eating a load of white flour product would give near-diabetic readings, in fact some people recommend carb loading for 3 days beforehand to give a ‘normal’ result. Personally, I’d rather just not eat the carbs in the first place, if they’re going to do that.

    I don’t see any reason to eat a lot of carbs to increase my tolerance for them. To me, that’s like drinking heavily to increase my tolerance for alcohol. I already went through that phase in my life.

  16. AllisonK

    What is your fasting glucose like?
    I believe, based on the “buzz” as you call it, that I have blood sugar spikes after a high carb meal. Low carb doesn’t give me those buzzes with blood pounding in my head and the insane urge to sleep.
    I’ve talked to my doctor and all my tests come back “normal” whatever that means. It’s possibly just a smidgen under diabetic levels? I’ve tried to get numbers but it’s not easy. I can’t get a blood glucose meter without a prescription without paying mega bucks so I haven’t been able to test things myself.
    Have you ever had an insulin levels test? What were results on that? I am trying to get one but can’t because the doctor doesn’t want to give me one. I can’t even find anywhere to just go pay for one on my own.
    Welcome to Canada! Self-directed health care is NOT an option.

    I’ve never had an insulin test. My fasting glucose is usually in the 85-90 range.

    You can pick up a glucose meter at a drug store for around $15.

  17. Anne Robertson

    This makes perfect sense. I’m a natural low-carber. As a child, I didn’t like sweet things very much, with the exception of chocolate! I was slim and fit. But having gone blind following an accident, I had to go to boardingschool where I had no choice about food. During every term, I put on weight, and during the holidays, I lost it again. In adulthood, I believed the nonsense about whole grains and piled on the weight. I knew I couldn’t live without meat, because eating meat just once a week when we were poor students made both my husband and me feel dreadful. Now, on a low-carb, high-fat diet, we’re both in great shape for people in their late fifties. I’ve never experienced one of these “sugar highs” that people talk about, I just put on weight when I eat too many carbs, and I don’t enjoy most carby food anyway.

    That’s the good news: I don’t crave carbs anymore, so I don’t feel I’m missing much.

  18. gallier2

    No, you don’t understand, it’s only the reward of the food. It’s only because the food has no taste, or tastes too strong or whatever. It has nothing to do with the compostition of the food, that’s only a figment of your imagination. No, I have a new theory, it’s the colour of the food, no the odour, next week maybe it will be the texture, but in no way can it be a metabolic result coming from the composition… 😉

    Let’s not forget the enticing decor of the restaurant. It was probably designed to make me over-eat.

  19. Dan

    When I eat chinese, I skip the rice and only eat the insides of egg rolls & fried wonton. The sauce could also have had sugar or corn starch in it. I once noted that a couple pieces of sushi jacked up my blood sugar, so now I just eat the fish off the top.

    Don’t you just hate those with good carb tolerance and who can eat anything they want & stay thin? It’s not fair! 🙂

    It’s not fair, but in a way I’m grateful I don’t get away with eating and sugar and starch. Makes it easier to stick to a good diet, knowing what happens when I don’t.

  20. CeeBee

    I had a similar experience at a Greek restaurant some time back. I actually thought that my “carb” load during that meal was pretty light – especially compared to how I would have eaten in years past. I had a cup of tomato/basil soup and a Greek salad with grilled giro meat, feta cheese, kalamata olives, etc. However, I did indulge in several pieces of pita bread dipped in hummus. I had no dessert. When I checked my blood sugar after the meal it was in the 170s. I think there was probably some hidden sugar in the soup or the salad dressing. Oh, and this took place shortly after Christmas, and I hadn’t been limiting my carbs during the holiday season, so my carb tolerance should not have been impaired by a strict low-carb diet.

    My husband, who is 25 years older than I am but can still wear clothes that he wore in high school, ate a plate of hummus/pita bread, some sort of stew with pita bread on the side, plus he had baklava for dessert. I thought I’d show him how all that would affect his blood sugar – but when we checked his blood sugar it barely broke 140. Not exactly what I was expecting. I mean, he had BAKLAVA, for goodness sake! It took my blood sugar several hours to drop below 140 after my meal.

    Life is not fair.

    Some people handle the carbs more easily than others.

  21. Drew

    Seems to be a restaurant may have a lot of variables in it. Is something else going on regarding fats? I still think fat plays a roll in how the body handles the sugar intake. Also did you all drink the same things? Was butter involved? Even how a person chews their food may impact how quickly the body is able to process the sugars.

    We all drank water. I haven’t changed my chewing style recently, but I suspect there was some kind of starch in the sauce on my sesame chicken.

  22. Howard

    Georgene’s birthday was yesterday. We went to a Chinese buffet (first time back to that restaurant in about a year). Even though I did mostly meat and fish, I did venture into some stuff with somewhat sweet sauce, and some sushi with rice. And I’m pretty sure the hot & sour soup was thickened with corn starch.

    I didn’t think to check my blood sugar, though. But I did notice my weight was up by two pounds this morning. So today is another (partial) fasting day. I’m not doing quite what you suggested in the podcast (8-hour ‘window’). My partial fast is to eat only a small very-low-carb supper for the day. It’s usually not a problem, but I have noticed that I’m a little hungry today.

    Sigh.

  23. Dee Miles

    That settles it for me, I am definately getting a glucose meter so that I can find out for myself what spikes my levels. I totally agree that each person is unique, and what happens to one may not another, just like fingerprints, no two are the same. Same goes for an overal eating plan. There’s no one prescription for all. Thanks for sharing your own “China Study”.

  24. Jason

    Your blood sugar problem was almost certainly the sesame chicken. That stuff is full of sugar, it’s terribad.

    PF Chang’s does have a nutritional info thing online:

    http://www.pfchangs.com/menu/NutritionalInfo.aspx

    Sesame chicken with white rice comes in at 76g of carbs. A cup of white rice is about half of that, so about 38g of sugar/fried white flour (not sure which is worse, really) is left over…1 teaspoon of sugar has 4g of carbs in it, right? so…over 9 teaspoons of sugar in that chicken.

    Might as well have had a coca-cola, ya know?

    Yup, I figured it must be higher in carbs than it looked on the plate.

  25. chuck

    I think most of PF Changs sauces are spiked with sugar. Everything seems so sweet. It is chinese food for the American palate. It’s what sells. I am fortunate to have many authentic asain restaurants around me. It is a totally different experience although I haven’t done a blood sugar test afterwards.

    The sauce did taste a bit sweet, and it may have had more sugar than the taste would suggest, since it was also spicy.

  26. Lisa

    I don’t know the exact recipe for PF Changs but sesame chicken is deep fried after coating with flour and the sauce not only contains sugar but also cornstarch for thickening. Not surprised one with carb intolerance would have a high glucose readings. I try to rarely eat out just because it’s hard to ferret out all the ways grain products/sugar can be added to food. However, there are times you might want to let go and enjoy the social aspect of a restaurant meal.

    My sesame chicken wasn’t battered with anything. Just chicken breast meat. But the sauce probably had some kind of starchy thickener in it.

  27. Justin D.

    You’re seriously inspiring me to start testing my blood sugar after every meal. I might invest in one of those glucose meters you speak of.

    Cheers on another good article,

    -Justin D.

  28. Lori

    “So after they successfully talked themselves out of the fear of having their fingers pricked, I tested their blood-sugar levels. Sara’s was 189 mg/dl. Alana’s was 176.”

    This is what a lot of people don’t understand: you don’t have to be diabetic or “metabolically damaged” to suffer from roller-coaster blood sugars. You don’t have to be fat, either: glucose that’s in your blood isn’t in your fat cells. Active people can, to varying degrees, burn their sugar.

    Reactions to high blood sugars vary as well. Like AllisonK, my mom goes into a stupor when her blood sugar is high; she also gets nervous and shaky. Her sister can have a BG of 500 (literally) without feeling it, but she’s had dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia, which I don’t think my mom has ever had.

    Once you know these patterns, you start seeing them in others. Two hours after going out to lunch, my coworkers are tired, hungry or both. A few months ago, I watched a friend of mine eat bread and get tired two hours later, again and again.

    An aside: a few months ago, I had a meal at a Chinese restaurant I’ve loved for years, but the food didn’t taste good to me anymore (except for the hot wings). Same management; it was my taste that changed. That’s something that the anti-LC crowd doesn’t understand: there’s a wide world of food beyond bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and sweets, and once you’ve expanded your horizons, for many of us, bland foods taste bland, and junk tastes like junk.

    I see a LOT of my bread-eating co-workers hitting the snacks rack in the cafeteria about two hours after lunch.

  29. Ed

    Timely post… I’m asian-american and grew up addicted to carbs… rice and noodles (especially noodles). I didnt ever make the connection that this was why I was always fat, even though I was active.

    Carb restriction has had such a profound impact on my body (and understanding of the world) in the last 4 months. Part of my health journey includes use of a glucometer for the last month or so. I wish I had one before I started this process, but who knew I would be here today?

    But it is clear that now, after 4 months of low carb (avg 75g/day), I can barely handle any bit of refined carbs, if I dont want a glucose spike. I recently went to my mother-in-laws for some “home cooking”. I was very good about avoiding her amazing cooking, but did sample all the dishes. I freaked out because my sugar levels spiked (and I barely had what you would consider a starchy meal)… but I guess 145 isnt a level should worry me, considering your own personal experiment. Still, it was the highest level I had reached in the month or so that I have been testing myself. Interestingly, my downward return to the mid 90s level was the slowest… also a worrying finding.

    One thing for sure, if low-carb is working for you and you need any incentive to stay on the bandwagon, buy a glucose meter. One blogger linked me to “WalMart… $16 might save your life”. All those foods that I craved so much, noodles, rice cakes, dessert… dont seem nearly that appealing when you can visibly see your blood sugar spike.

    Perhaps I’m paranoid about it, but every time I see that glucose levels rise, I visualize my LDL starting to glycate and malfunction. I’m convinced well functioning LDL is great for you, but sugar wreaks havoc on your cholesterol transport system, as well as everything else. Dammit, why does it have to taste so good?

    That’s why glucose meters are a good tool. Seeing your glucose skyrocket is pretty convincing.

  30. Greg

    Just FYI, you can get meters/strips cheaper. I use a Bayer Contour for occasional checks and I can get 50 strips on Amazon.com or eBay for about $18-25 (50 cents each or less), and often see new meters of that type on eBay for almost nothing. Just make sure that the seller (in th case of eBay) lists the expiration date and that it’s not yesterday!

  31. Ellen

    I’m with Zachary – if I eat several ounces of chocolate, my blood sugar doesn’t get above 115, but if I eat anything with wheat, it goes way high, and I get that buzz and wooziness, and have to go take a nap. At this point, I just don’t eat any kind of grain based food, and very rarely eat chocolate.

    If the chocolate is sweetened with sugar, the sugar is roughly half glucose and half fructose. Fructose is processed in the liver, so you won’t see much of a rise in your blood sugar from that half. Starch, by contrast, is all glucose.

  32. LCNana

    Yes, thanks for your ‘study’ Tom!

    I don’t need to test re blood sugar – I can feel the sugar spike physically within an hour of eating starches/wheat – a cookie or piece of cake would take about 20 minutes to hit!

    Or should I say I can feel the ‘fall’ from the spike? That is what strikes me the most when I fool around with trying different things. When I stay on plan and eat what I darned well know I should, all is well. Any deviation into cookie-land, or toast-and-honey land – well ‘the fall’ says it all.

    I can remember when I’d walk into the nursing home to visit my mother who had dementia, the first thing she would say is “I’m hungry” The care givers always told me she did not know what she was saying because sometimes she would have just eaten a meal. Now, God help me, I know better – she WAS hungry eating all the starch she was fed. And for snacks they always had cookies!!!! I should have supplemented her diet with as much fat as I could get her to eat – but you know how it goes – one can only do so much – and bucking the nursing home system is not easy….they used to look at me like I was nuts when I suggested they give her more fat!!!

    Anyway on a happier note, good for you that you are working so hard for your family and still have time for us!!

    My dad’s in a nursing home as well, and according to my mom the meals are nearly all starch. Maybe they just want the old people falling asleep in their chairs.

  33. Suzie

    I have had good results with the Relion meter from Walmart. Mine cost $9. The strips are 36 cents each if you buy a hundred. My lab glucose readings and my meter readings (taken immediately after blood draw at the lab) have always come fairly close to each other, so I find it pretty accurate. If you get a unreasonable result, redo your test as sometimes a reading can be way off. I’ve had three different kinds of meters, and they were all that way. At 36 cents a strip, it’s not so expensive to do more tests if you feel your reading is off. Be sure to wash your hands before testing.

  34. Dan

    When I eat chinese, I skip the rice and only eat the insides of egg rolls & fried wonton. The sauce could also have had sugar or corn starch in it. I once noted that a couple pieces of sushi jacked up my blood sugar, so now I just eat the fish off the top.

    Don’t you just hate those with good carb tolerance and who can eat anything they want & stay thin? It’s not fair! 🙂

    It’s not fair, but in a way I’m grateful I don’t get away with eating and sugar and starch. Makes it easier to stick to a good diet, knowing what happens when I don’t.

  35. Keoni Galt

    Tom, I think you’d benefit from re-doing your “China Study” at home.

    More specifically, cook one of your typical hi-protein/fat meal (like steak and buttered vegetables) and try and eat that half cup of white rice, and then test your glucose levels.

    For one, the egg roll wrappers and sesame chicken sauce undoubtedly had flour in it, and most likely HFCS too (not to mention MSG – any chinese restaurant that does not specifically state they don’t use MSG in their food, definitely do).

    Was it really the rice? Or the combination of sugars and wheat flour present in your meal?

    I only suggest this because after being very low carb for over 4 years, based on the blogging of of Dr. Kurt Harris, I experimented with adding white jasmine rice and potatoes back into my diet (always eaten with larger portions of fat & protein) and I my blood glucose readings barely changed — still under 100.

    YMMV, but I think you might benefit from figuring out whether it really was the rice or not.

    That would be a worthwhile experiment.

  36. CeeBee

    I had a similar experience at a Greek restaurant some time back. I actually thought that my “carb” load during that meal was pretty light – especially compared to how I would have eaten in years past. I had a cup of tomato/basil soup and a Greek salad with grilled giro meat, feta cheese, kalamata olives, etc. However, I did indulge in several pieces of pita bread dipped in hummus. I had no dessert. When I checked my blood sugar after the meal it was in the 170s. I think there was probably some hidden sugar in the soup or the salad dressing. Oh, and this took place shortly after Christmas, and I hadn’t been limiting my carbs during the holiday season, so my carb tolerance should not have been impaired by a strict low-carb diet.

    My husband, who is 25 years older than I am but can still wear clothes that he wore in high school, ate a plate of hummus/pita bread, some sort of stew with pita bread on the side, plus he had baklava for dessert. I thought I’d show him how all that would affect his blood sugar – but when we checked his blood sugar it barely broke 140. Not exactly what I was expecting. I mean, he had BAKLAVA, for goodness sake! It took my blood sugar several hours to drop below 140 after my meal.

    Life is not fair.

    Some people handle the carbs more easily than others.

  37. Peggy Cihocki

    I know I should get a glucose test meter–both for myself and for my husband. We do eat LCHF now, but he still insists on a potato or sweet potato now and then and the only thing that might convince him that that is a bad idea (if it is) is a high BG reading afterwards. I just haven’t gotten a round tuit yet.

    I love most ethnic food, but don’t indulge often any more. I do “have” to eat Indian every once in a while, though. I grew up on it and miss it a lot, even on LCHF. It would be interesting to check out my BG afterward, but I usually do not feel hungry again for hours and hours after a good Indian meal, possibly because my favorite part is the coconut chutney and I eat a lot of it. I do worry about Indian restaurants having switched to vegetable oil and such, but oh well. I only go about once every couple of months now. If I cook Indian at home, I use only “safe” ingredients and use cauliflower “rice” now, but I don’t do it often as my husband never developed a taste for it.

    Your husband may be fine with a potato or sweet potato now and then. Some of us get big ol’ glucose spikes from those foods, but others don’t. In my own experiment, I found that a sweet potato doesn’t give me nearly the glucose spike that a white potato does.

  38. Drew

    Seems to be a restaurant may have a lot of variables in it. Is something else going on regarding fats? I still think fat plays a roll in how the body handles the sugar intake. Also did you all drink the same things? Was butter involved? Even how a person chews their food may impact how quickly the body is able to process the sugars.

    We all drank water. I haven’t changed my chewing style recently, but I suspect there was some kind of starch in the sauce on my sesame chicken.

  39. Howard

    Georgene’s birthday was yesterday. We went to a Chinese buffet (first time back to that restaurant in about a year). Even though I did mostly meat and fish, I did venture into some stuff with somewhat sweet sauce, and some sushi with rice. And I’m pretty sure the hot & sour soup was thickened with corn starch.

    I didn’t think to check my blood sugar, though. But I did notice my weight was up by two pounds this morning. So today is another (partial) fasting day. I’m not doing quite what you suggested in the podcast (8-hour ‘window’). My partial fast is to eat only a small very-low-carb supper for the day. It’s usually not a problem, but I have noticed that I’m a little hungry today.

    Sigh.

  40. Dee Miles

    That settles it for me, I am definately getting a glucose meter so that I can find out for myself what spikes my levels. I totally agree that each person is unique, and what happens to one may not another, just like fingerprints, no two are the same. Same goes for an overal eating plan. There’s no one prescription for all. Thanks for sharing your own “China Study”.

  41. Jason

    Your blood sugar problem was almost certainly the sesame chicken. That stuff is full of sugar, it’s terribad.

    PF Chang’s does have a nutritional info thing online:

    http://www.pfchangs.com/menu/NutritionalInfo.aspx

    Sesame chicken with white rice comes in at 76g of carbs. A cup of white rice is about half of that, so about 38g of sugar/fried white flour (not sure which is worse, really) is left over…1 teaspoon of sugar has 4g of carbs in it, right? so…over 9 teaspoons of sugar in that chicken.

    Might as well have had a coca-cola, ya know?

    Yup, I figured it must be higher in carbs than it looked on the plate.

  42. chuck

    I think most of PF Changs sauces are spiked with sugar. Everything seems so sweet. It is chinese food for the American palate. It’s what sells. I am fortunate to have many authentic asain restaurants around me. It is a totally different experience although I haven’t done a blood sugar test afterwards.

    The sauce did taste a bit sweet, and it may have had more sugar than the taste would suggest, since it was also spicy.

  43. Lynda NZ

    Do you think that you can alter your long term insulin response by eating low carb? After a period of time do you think you can become more carb intolerant? I hope not!!

    I am currently reading a book I found in the local library called “$29 Billion reasons to lie about Cholesterol” by Justin Smith 2009. Basically it backs up all that you have said in your movie – he also has a section on grains. I’m only two chapters in and am astounded that the world is still falling for this cholesterol/low fat/high carb argument. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a more easy to understand version of this complex subject.

    I haven’t read the book, but I’ve heard him interviewed.

  44. Lisa

    I don’t know the exact recipe for PF Changs but sesame chicken is deep fried after coating with flour and the sauce not only contains sugar but also cornstarch for thickening. Not surprised one with carb intolerance would have a high glucose readings. I try to rarely eat out just because it’s hard to ferret out all the ways grain products/sugar can be added to food. However, there are times you might want to let go and enjoy the social aspect of a restaurant meal.

    My sesame chicken wasn’t battered with anything. Just chicken breast meat. But the sauce probably had some kind of starchy thickener in it.

  45. Justin D.

    You’re seriously inspiring me to start testing my blood sugar after every meal. I might invest in one of those glucose meters you speak of.

    Cheers on another good article,

    -Justin D.

  46. Lori

    “So after they successfully talked themselves out of the fear of having their fingers pricked, I tested their blood-sugar levels. Sara’s was 189 mg/dl. Alana’s was 176.”

    This is what a lot of people don’t understand: you don’t have to be diabetic or “metabolically damaged” to suffer from roller-coaster blood sugars. You don’t have to be fat, either: glucose that’s in your blood isn’t in your fat cells. Active people can, to varying degrees, burn their sugar.

    Reactions to high blood sugars vary as well. Like AllisonK, my mom goes into a stupor when her blood sugar is high; she also gets nervous and shaky. Her sister can have a BG of 500 (literally) without feeling it, but she’s had dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia, which I don’t think my mom has ever had.

    Once you know these patterns, you start seeing them in others. Two hours after going out to lunch, my coworkers are tired, hungry or both. A few months ago, I watched a friend of mine eat bread and get tired two hours later, again and again.

    An aside: a few months ago, I had a meal at a Chinese restaurant I’ve loved for years, but the food didn’t taste good to me anymore (except for the hot wings). Same management; it was my taste that changed. That’s something that the anti-LC crowd doesn’t understand: there’s a wide world of food beyond bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and sweets, and once you’ve expanded your horizons, for many of us, bland foods taste bland, and junk tastes like junk.

    I see a LOT of my bread-eating co-workers hitting the snacks rack in the cafeteria about two hours after lunch.

  47. Ed

    Timely post… I’m asian-american and grew up addicted to carbs… rice and noodles (especially noodles). I didnt ever make the connection that this was why I was always fat, even though I was active.

    Carb restriction has had such a profound impact on my body (and understanding of the world) in the last 4 months. Part of my health journey includes use of a glucometer for the last month or so. I wish I had one before I started this process, but who knew I would be here today?

    But it is clear that now, after 4 months of low carb (avg 75g/day), I can barely handle any bit of refined carbs, if I dont want a glucose spike. I recently went to my mother-in-laws for some “home cooking”. I was very good about avoiding her amazing cooking, but did sample all the dishes. I freaked out because my sugar levels spiked (and I barely had what you would consider a starchy meal)… but I guess 145 isnt a level should worry me, considering your own personal experiment. Still, it was the highest level I had reached in the month or so that I have been testing myself. Interestingly, my downward return to the mid 90s level was the slowest… also a worrying finding.

    One thing for sure, if low-carb is working for you and you need any incentive to stay on the bandwagon, buy a glucose meter. One blogger linked me to “WalMart… $16 might save your life”. All those foods that I craved so much, noodles, rice cakes, dessert… dont seem nearly that appealing when you can visibly see your blood sugar spike.

    Perhaps I’m paranoid about it, but every time I see that glucose levels rise, I visualize my LDL starting to glycate and malfunction. I’m convinced well functioning LDL is great for you, but sugar wreaks havoc on your cholesterol transport system, as well as everything else. Dammit, why does it have to taste so good?

    That’s why glucose meters are a good tool. Seeing your glucose skyrocket is pretty convincing.

  48. Bawdy

    I wonder if MSG would affect blood sugar. Do you know if they use MSG at PF Chang?

    It’s funny what people think. I was admonished on a LC forum once for being too “carnivore” and not eating many carbs at all (I’m typically below 30 ECC per day, and often less than 10). I was told, “You don’t want your body to become intolerant of carbs, you know.”

    Uh, yeah. I do. And in fact, it naturally IS intolerant of carbs.

    Better grab a drink … you don’t want to become intolerant of alcohol.

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