Blood glucose, ketone and insulin changes after six weeks using Nutrient Optimiser
The diabesity epidemic is a imminent challenge, not just to our metabolic health and waistlines, but our global economy, threatening to bankrupt countries with the growing health care costs.
To help manage this, the Nutrient Optimiser has been designed to empower users to actively manage their blood glucose with their food choices.
The Nutrient Optimiser Smart Macros algorithm helps manage elevated blood glucose by titrating down their target carbohydrate intake each week until blood glucose starts to normalise. Conversely, if blood glucose is optimal, users are allowed to titrate their carbohydrate intake up to accommodate more nutrient-dense foods.
The recent Nutrient Optimiser Challenge provided an opportunity to see how people in the real world responded in terms of blood glucose, ketones and insulin demand.
The results of this initial six-week trial of the Nutrient Optimiser algorithm are very promising:
- Blood glucose decreased significantly in step with body fat levels.
- Insulin levels dropped significantly, particularly at the commencement of weight loss.
- Blood ketone levels briefly increased as users started to lose weight, but returned to baseline levels.
- Focusing on satiety and nutrient density are effective in producing long term fat loss and blood sugar control.
Blood glucose results
Seventy-six of the Nutrient Optimiser challenge participants recorded waking blood glucose levels. The chart below shows their average blood glucose values divided into three groups:
- blue = high or diabetic
- orange = high or pre-diabetes
- grey = normal
Highest blood glucose levels
Participants with the highest starting glucose saw their blood glucose trend down, dropping by more than 20 mg/dL during the six-week challenge.
Generally, fasting blood glucose levels trended with body fat levels as predicted by the Personal Fat Threshold theory of diabetes, though individual experience varied depending on context.
- Some people found their blood sugars decreased quickly as they transitioned to a high satiety diet.
- A number of the participants with elevated blood glucose found that they started to lose weight rapidly after a long term stall on a higher fat ”keto diet”.
Some users struggled to reconcile slightly higher blood glucose variation compared to what they might have experienced on a very high-fat, low carb and low protein diet. Unfortunately, excessive focus on minimising blood glucose variation can lead to a very low satiety dietary outcome that negatively impacts fat loss and fasting blood sugar levels.
As demonstrated by the blood sugar chart (above) and the weight loss chart (below) users tended to see a reduction in both weight and blood sugars as they followed the program. However discussion in the Nutrient Optimiser Facebook Group demonstrated that many users found it difficult to make sense of the day to day fluctuations in weight and blood sugars. To help manage this users were encouraged to consistently record their weight and blood sugars on a daily basis, but only look at the longer term trends in weight and blood sugars.
Slightly elevated blood glucose could potentially be a positive sign in the context of a low carbohydrate diet as very low blood glucose would lead to lethargy and an increase in hunger. Slightly elevated blood glucose can indicate that insulin is reducing and allowing the body’s energy stores to be successfully used up.
Prediabetes and normal blood glucose levels
Users with moderately elevated blood glucose (orange line) saw their blood glucose trend down towards optimal levels, while users who already had low blood glucose levels at the start of the challenge (grey line) maintained healthy blood glucose throughout the challenge.
Blood sugar control vs weight loss
Blood glucose can be more volatile during weight loss as the liver increases gluconeogenesis to utilise stored energy. The challenge highlight that people hoping to reverse their diabetes need to find a balance between:
- Controlling blood glucose with a high fat (but low satiety) diet, and
- Weight loss with a nutrient-dense high satiety diet which should lead to lower body fat and better blood glucose control in the longer term.
The chart below shows how Paul’s weight and blood glucose fell together, a clear demonstration of how blood glucose levels and body fat levels are related.
Even though Paul had high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes and had elevated blood glucose levels, he had not yet been formally diagnosed with diabetes. However, his blood glucose quickly stabilised once he started to lose weight.
Brishti has also been very active in the Nutrient Optimiser Facebook Group sharing some fantastic looking food photos! We look forward to following Brishti’s continued progress over the coming months.
A number of participants logged their blood ketones in the platform during the challenge. As shown in the chart below, the daily average blood ketone levels increased to around 0.8 mmol/L over the first three weeks of the challenge but then dropped to around 0.4 mmol/L as participants continued to lose fat.
As shown in the above chart, blood ketones took a little longer to rise for people who identified as insulin resistant and stayed higher for longer compared to people who identified as insulin sensitive.
While chasing elevated ketones may be relevant for people targeting therapeutic ketosis (i.e. for the management of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Dementia), it seems that focusing on satiety and nutrient density tended to promote ketosis from body fat (endogenous ketones).
As shown in the chart below, weight loss continued throughout the challenge, regardless of whether ketone levels and regardless of whether users identified as insulin resistant or insulin sensitive. This data indicates that fat loss is not correlated with:
- blood ketones levels,
- insulin sensitivity, or
- insulin resistance.
The ketone data over six weeks aligns with the observations over the longer term from the two year data from the Virta study.
While blood ketones can rise in the short term as someone starts to mobilise body fat, blood ketones are a poor marker of dietary compliance or fat loss in the longer term.
The chart below shows the total insulin dose for Monica Kendall (who manages her Type 1 diabetes on an insulin pump) during the challenge (the red line is a 14 day moving average through the individual daily insulin doses).
Monica’s insulin demand dropped by up to 50% once she started on the high satiety meal plans on 26 December 2018.
Towards the right-hand side of the chart, we see that her insulin demand began to drift back up as her energy intake stabilised at a lower level, even though she was continuing to lose weight.
The chart below shows Monica’s weight (blue line) and daily insulin requirement (orange line) plotted together. Weight loss tends to occur the day after a reduced daily insulin demand.
Many things influence insulin demand, however, it seems that insulin decreases in response to an abrupt change in energy intake, but may return to baseline levels once energy intake stabilises.
To provide some context, the chart below shows Monica’s daily insulin dose over the last ten years. Switching from a standard western diet to a low carbohydrate diet around eight years ago enabled her to decrease her daily insulin from 50 to 30 units per day. However, during the challenge, her insulin requirements decreased to the lowest levels ever.
Monica’s primary focus during the challenge was on prioritising nutrient dense, high satiety foods. The key difference from her previous approach during the challenge was a significant reduction in her intake of nuts, cheese and cream.
While high-fat foods cause a slower insulin demand, they still affect insulin requirements. While low carb foods like nuts, cheese and cream can be a good way for people managing diabetes to obtain adequate energy, they do seem to trigger a long term insulin response and focusing on higher satiety foods tends to reduce overall demand.
Overall, Monica was able to lose 7.5 kg or 10.7% of her body weight during the challenge as shown in the before and after photos below.
The results of the six-week challenge demonstrate that:
- The Nutrient Optimiser is effective in significantly improving blood glucose levels,
- Users tend to see an increase in blood ketones in the short term; however, over the long term, blood ketones tend to reduce as users continue to lose weight.
- Blood ketones do not seem to be correlated with long term weight loss.
- Insulin demand tends to correlate with energy balance.
- A hundred people used Nutrient Optimiser for six weeks. Can you guess what happened to their weight?
- Real life responses to the Nutrient Optimiser
- How to reverse type 2 diabetes
- Optimal ketone and blood sugar levels for ketosis
- the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis vs the adipose-centric model of diabetes and obesity
- does insulin resistance REALLY cause weight gain?
You can also join the Nutrient Optimiser Facebook Group to ask questions and see some amazing meals.
Registrations are now open for the Free Four Week Nutrient Density Challenge. We’d love you to sign up and see what happens when you level up your nutrient density.