I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about Jessie Inchauspe, “The Glucose Goddess”, lately.
Many people have asked me what I think of her approach to stabilising blood glucose.
So, I spent some time checking out her Instagram, website, Amazon preview and everything I could find on her new book, Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar.
This “review” details my thoughts on the pros and cons of Jessie’s approach to stabilising your blood glucose and the numbers you see on your continuous glucose monitor.
I hope my commentary and insights will help you get what you need from your blood glucose data and empower you to reach your goals more effectively, and avoid some pitfalls along the way!
Free Data Driven Fasting Guide – Improve blood sugar in 30 days
- The Good
- Clothing Your Carbs
- The Not So Good
- What Would I Know?
- More Data Is Not Always Better
- Why Are Glucose Spikes Dangerous?
- The Immediate Problem with Glucose Spikes
- The Dangers of Stable Blood Sugars
- Stable Blood Sugars Do Not Equal Fat Loss
- It’s Your Blood Sugars BEFORE Meals That Matter!
- Do Carbs Turn to Fat?
- Does Insulin Make You Fat, or Is your Insulin High Because You’re Fat?
- What Does Insulin Do?
- Is Adding Fat to Your Carbs Smart?
- Are ‘Naked Carbs’ Really the Problem?
- Fat+Carb = Hyperpalatable Junk Food!
- Fat and Carbs Raise Your Insulin Levels for a Long Time
- Are You a Unique Snowflake?
- What Causes Your Glucose Rise to More or Less?
- What Raises Your Glucose and Insulin Over the Short Term?
- What Keeps Your Glucose Elevated Over the Long Term?
- How Can You Use Your Glucose to Guide WHAT and WHEN you eat?
- The Bottom Line
Jessie Inchauspe is passionate, engaging and immensely likeable.
It’s no wonder she’s built such a massive following on Instagram!
It’s exciting that she’s inspiring so many people to use their blood glucose as an instantaneous window into their metabolic health.
Your blood sugars can be a powerful tool to help you make better choices about what and when to eat.
I love how Jessie and companies like NutriSense and Levels are educating people on how blood glucose data responds to:
- elevated blood sugars,
- sleep, and
- hormonal fluctuations.
Jessie highlights that eating protein and fibre earlier in the day or first at each meal positively affects your blood glucose, satiety, and how much you will eat across the day. These principles are central to our approach as well and have helped many people reach their goals in our Macros Masterclass and Data-Driven Fasting Challenges.
Clothing Your Carbs
One of Jessie’s key pieces of advice is to ‘clothe your carbs’ with either protein, fibre, or fat to blunt the glucose response.
As we’ll see later, clothing your carbs might not be such a great idea if your goal is weight loss or to improve your metabolic health. However, there are many benefits that come from adding protein or fibre to your carbs that we’ve detailed below.
Clothing Your Carbs with Protein
Our satiety analysis of 125,761 days of data from 34,519 Nutrient Optimiser users shows that swapping out some of your non-fibre carbohydrates for protein is the most powerful thing you can do to feel full with fewer calories.
Generally speaking, protein impacts blood sugars minimally. Many people even see their blood glucose drop after consuming a high-protein meal, especially if it’s consumed earlier in the day when their sugars are elevated from the Dawn Phenomenon. In our Macros Masterclass, we see that it only takes a week or so for elevated glucose levels to fall as people learn to prioritise protein. Meanwhile, people with excellent glucose levels continue to maintain great glucose levels as they shed unwanted pounds.
Because of the power of protein leverage, moving from a low protein diet to a very high protein diet corresponds to a massive 55% reduction in calories across the day!
Clothing your Carbs with Fibre
Our satiety analysis also shows that fibre affects satiety positively. However, it’s to a lesser extent than protein. Moving from a low-fibre diet to a higher-fibre diet reduces your overall calorie intake by 16%, or about one-sixth as much as protein.
Our analysis also indicates that moving from refined carbs to minimally processed carbs containing more fibre positively affects satiety, or how full you feel and how much you eat across the day.
As shown in the chart below, people consuming 40% of their carbs as fibre and maintaining a fibre:carb ratio of 0.4 tend to consume 22% fewer calories across the day.
Minimally processed carbohydrate sources like vegetables or whole grains that naturally contain more fibre are always better choices than refined grains and sugars. Because of their fibre content, they are more filling and your body takes longer to break them down and does not access the energy they provide so easily. As a result, you are more likely to feel fuller, eat less, and see your blood sugars fall while losing weight without as much conscious control or restriction.
The Not So Good
Jessee makes some good points. However, I am concerned that overanalysing blood sugar fluctuations and a hyper-focus on keeping blood sugars stable will lead people away from their goals of weight loss and improved metabolic health.
As you will see below, some of the common “hacks” that people use to stabilise blood sugars (e.g., clothing carbs with fat) simply allows us to consume more food. But before long, this leads to increased insulin and higher average blood sugars across the day.
More data can often lead to confusion and overwhelm. If misinterpreted, more data can just make us more confidently wrong!
In our Data-Driven Fasting Challenges, we often find it’s the people using CGMs that get confused and overwhelmed and give up before achieving significant results. They live in fear of every minor blip on their CGM and throw in the towel when their first 14-day sensor ends.
CGMs often create a state of unsustainable high alert and many questions like:
- why does my morning coffee raise my glucose, and is that bad?,
- will the increase in blood sugar after my workout raise my insulin and make me fat?, or
- why does my glucose go low in the middle of the night?
Note: Night-time lows usually occur when people roll over and sleep on their CGM sensor through the night (Freestyle Libre sensors are typically inserted into the shoulder). This limits the flow of interstitial fluid around the sensor and we can see inaccurate and low blood glucose readings, similar to the example shown from my son’s sensor last week. This is known as a ‘compression low’ or a ‘pressure low’, which causes annoying alarms to sound and disturbed sleep.
If you’re one of those people that’s constantly confused by the seemingly infinite array of things that can affect the short-term fluctuations on your CGM sensor, this article will hopefully help clarify what you should focus on to make the most of your blood glucose data.
What Would I Know?
As an engineer who’s married to someone with Type-1 Diabetes, I became fascinated with the myriad of things that affects blood sugars and insulin for the last 20 years as we’ve worked to gain better control of her condition.
In December 2021, my 17-year-old son was also diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. Now, I get to watch two CGM traces on my phone and computer pretty much every waking moment.
I have the fascinating privilege of seeing their insulin and blood glucose response to what they eat, their stress, and their exercise. I’ve even charted my wife’s monthly insulin variations to understand how we can tweak her basal insulin rates based on her monthly cycle.
For more detail, see What to Eat for Each Phase of Your Monthly Menstrual Cycle.
Over the past 18 months, we’ve also run fourteen rounds of the Data-Driven Fasting Challenge (DDF). We’ve guided thousands of people through using their blood sugar data to optimise their food choices for better blood sugar control and weight loss.
Our DDF data has also allowed me to field a never-ending array of questions and develop a comprehensive suite of answers to the FAQs.
More Data Is Not Always Better
While data analysis can offer some powerful insights, we’ve found that more data and analysis isn’t always better when it comes to retraining your habits and survival instincts around food. Most people see the best results and make better decisions with the minimum effective dose of actionable data.
Once you learn to recalibrate and train your hunger using your glucose meter as a fuel gauge and eat only when you feel hungry and have validated that you need to refuel, you’re well on your way to taming your hunger monster.
Instead of managing symptoms (blood sugar fluctuations), you’ve addressed the root cause of your metabolic dysfunction (energy toxicity).
My goal here is not to be a critical smart arse. Instead, I hope that this information will help you avoid misinformation that can cause weight gain and worsening metabolic health.
Why Are Glucose Spikes Dangerous?
Jessie does a great job of showing that extreme glucose spikes are a problem that many people experience without knowing. While not clinically diagnosed with diabetes, many people are already aboard the blood sugar rollercoaster.
In the science section of her website, Jessie says,
‘When we spike, our mitochondria become overwhelmed and produce free radicals. Free radicals harm our cells, mutate our DNA, and lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.’
Learning how to manage your blood sugars effectively can prevent mild insulin resistance from snowballing into prediabetes and full-blown Type-2 Diabetes. The table below shows commonly accepted ranges for healthy blood sugars. If you eat carbs and your blood sugars are in the “normal” range, there’s probably no need to be too concerned.
In our Data-Driven Fasting Challenges, we use slightly tighter ranges and encourage people to dial back refined carbohydrates if their blood glucose rises by more than 30 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) after they eat.
If your glucose spikes above this threshold, it simply means that you’ve overfilled your glucose fuel tank with more carbs than you needed.
Tracking blood sugars is a great way to understand which foods are overfilling your glucose fuel tank.
But, as we’ll discuss later, it’s not simply that carbs are bad and fat is good.
The reason your glucose fuel tank is overflowing is most likely because your fat stores are also full.
The Immediate Problem with Glucose Spikes
While there is a long list of complications linked to elevated blood sugar levels, the immediate problem with glucose spikes is the crash that often follows.
When you eat excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates, your pancreas will increase your insulin levels rise to stop the release of your stored energy into your bloodstream so it can use the glucose from the food you just ate.
But, as they say, what goes up must come down! When your blood sugar comes crashing down, hunger will kick in, and you will search for food to bring your levels up and give your brain the glucose it needs.
There’s no negotiating with your inner hunger monster when your blood sugars have dropped way below what is normal for you. The further your blood sugar falls, the more likely you will make poorer food choices and overeat hyper-palatable fat-and-carb combo foods.
Once you give in to your overwhelmingly intense hunger and inevitably gorge on less-than-optimal foods, your blood sugars skyrocket back up, and the process repeats.
This ‘blood glucose rollercoaster’ leaves many people feeling as if they are ‘addicted to food’.
Reducing your carbs to achieve healthy blood glucose variability is a critical first step towards managing your appetite and hunger to allow you to make better food choices.
Interestingly, most people in our challenges find that they don’t need to reduce their carb intake significantly. Instead, many people–especially those from a low-carb or keto background—see firsthand that whole-food carbs are nothing to fear as they leave their blood sugars in a healthy range, especially if they’re consuming a nutrient-dense diet with adequate protein.
As we will discuss later, many people who previously lived in fear of carbs learn to strategically use carbs to quickly quench their appetite when their blood sugar is below normal for them. This brings their blood sugars back up into the healthy range without resorting to energy-dense, nutrient-poor comfort foods that we typically reach for when we’re starving!
The Dangers of Stable Blood Sugars
One of the problems with chasing stable blood sugars as your primary goal is that people often swing to the other extreme.
Because high-fat foods tend to increase blood sugars the least over the short term, many people replace carbs, and even protein, with refined fat. This line of thinking was all-the-rage during the keto heydays.
I remember talking to a doctor who was wearing a continuous glucose monitor at a Low Carb Down Under conference when they were first available. He told me he was eating minimal protein and carbs and ‘fat to satiety’ to stabilise his blood sugars, his insulin would stay low, and he would lose weight. But looking at him, it sadly didn’t look like it was working well for him. He looked puffy and inflamed.
Like this doctor, I once chased higher ketones by upping my dietary fat intake when I got on the keto bandwagon. At the time, I believed I would lose body fat because my insulin levels would be low. I thought my metabolism would behave like a person with uncontrolled Type 1 Diabetes who couldn’t produce enough insulin.
My keto phase didn’t work too well for me either, and I gained more weight! The photo on the left is me during my ‘just keto harder’ phase. Eventually, I realised that fat is not a free food and I could not simply ‘eat fat to satiety’.
Note: Jessie even mentions gaining weight on high-fat keto when trying to flatline her blood glucose in her book and one of her videos.
Stable Blood Sugars Do Not Equal Fat Loss
While many people believe that stable blood sugars equate to fat loss, it’s not that simple.
While lean and metabolically healthy people tend to have stable blood sugars and tolerate carbs well without seeing a sharp rise in their blood sugar, simply managing the symptom by manipulating your diet to achieve stable blood sugars will not make you lean and metabolically healthy.
The chart below shows data taken from our analysis of people doing our Data-Driven Fasting Challenges. We see no correlation between stable blood glucose readings and waist-to-height ratio, body mass index, or waking glucose levels.
While lean and metabolically healthy people have stable blood sugars–like Jessie’s boyfriend, who can eat cookies without his glucose spiking–managing the symptom (glucose spikes) by adding fat to your carbs does not improve blood sugars.
As you will see, eating ‘fat to satiety’ and avoiding all carbs and even protein will likely make matters worse. But ‘clothing your carbs’ by adding fat to ‘blunt the blood sugar response’ is perhaps the worst thing you can do for your metabolic health, average blood sugars and HbA1c.
For more details, see:
- How to Use a Continuous Glucose Monitor for Weight Loss (and Why your CGM Could Be Making You Fat),
- Keto Lie #5: Fat is a ‘Free Food’ because it Doesn’t Elicit an Insulin Response
- Keto Lie #11: You Should ‘Eat Fat to Satiety’ to Lose Body Fat
It’s Your Blood Sugars BEFORE Meals That Matter!
If you want to lose weight and improve your metabolic health, you need to adjust WHAT and WHEN you eat so your blood sugars fall just a little below what is normal for you.
At this point, you will be using less glucose and more of your stored body fat for fuel. You will also experience true hunger, but without being so ravenous that you will eat anything and everything you can to survive!
While there are plenty of ‘hacks’ you can use to manipulate your blood glucose rise after a meal, there are no simple hacks to lower your premeal blood glucose that don’t also align with improved metabolic health and your actual need for more food.
Do Carbs Turn to Fat?
On her science page, Jessie says,
‘When we spike, insulin is released, and excess glucose is stored as fat.’
This is partially true, but it is also largely irrelevant.
We CAN convert glucose to fat via de novo lipogenesis, or the process where your body synthesises fat for storage from glucose. However, due to oxidative priority, your body will prioritise using the energy from the carbs you eat, and fat will go to the back of the line. Hence, glucose is ‘fat sparing’ most of the time.
The only situation where de novo lipogenesis from carbs would be significant is if you managed to consume a LOT of carbohydrates with very little fat. As we’ll see later, this is hard to do.
Does Insulin Make You Fat, or Is your Insulin High Because You’re Fat?
‘Weight loss is always preceded by insulin levels lowering. Therefore, lowering insulin is key to weight loss.’
This is perhaps the most significant misinformation still endemic in the keto movement. Unfortunately, I fear it will live on beyond the death of keto because so many people are now hyper-fixated on their CGMs in the hope of stabilising their blood sugars and insulin with the mistaken belief that it leads to fat loss.
While we often hear about the anabolic role of insulin–to make things bigger and help store energy in our body–it’s critical to understand that the primary role of insulin is anticatabolic: that is, to stop your body from breaking down and disintegrating.
More than 80% of the insulin my wife and son require each day as Type-1 Diabetic is unrelated to the food they eat; it’s required to prevent their stored energy (as fat, muscle and organ tissue) from flooding into their bloodstream.
This is no different for the 98.5% of us with a fully functioning pancreas. The more energy you have stored in your body, the more insulin you require to hold it in storage. Trying to manage your insulin levels by measuring the blips on your CGM is like measuring the volume of the ocean by measuring the height of the waves at the beach on a calm day. If you are focusing on the wrong metric, you just become more confidently wrong!
What Does Insulin Do?
If you were to inject too much exogenous insulin accidentally, your liver would slow the release of glucose and fat into your bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugars would drop, your hunger would engage, and you’d be driven to overeat.
But, if you are part of the fortunate 98.5% of the population who has a fully functioning pancreas and NOT injecting exogenous insulin, this “fun fact” is entirely irrelevant for you.
Your body is highly efficient. Thus, it won’t make more insulin than it requires to keep your stored energy locked away while you continue shovelling low-satiety, nutrient-poor, hyper-palatable ‘food’ into your mouth!
When you learn to eat in a way that increases satiety, you will consume less energy, so your pancreas will lower insulin to allow more of your stored energy into circulation to be used for fuel. Later, once you achieve a lower weight, your insulin levels across the day will be lower because you have less fat to hold in storage!
Yes, insulin and obesity are correlated. But unless you’re injecting insulin, high insulin levels are the result of obesity, not the other way around!
- It’s not weight loss -> decrease insulin levels, but rather
- weight gain -> increase your insulin levels.
Understanding the direction of causality is critical! The most effective way to reduce your insulin is to increase your satiety. This will allow you to lose weight with less hunger and hence your body will need to produce less insulin.
For more details, see:
- What Does Insulin Do in Your Body?,
- Personal Fat Threshold Model of Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Obesity, and
- How to Reverse your Insulin Resistance
Is Adding Fat to Your Carbs Smart?
Next, we come to Jessie’s most concerning recommendation of “clothing your carbs with fat”.
The snip below is from an interview with Jesse in the Daily Mail promoting her book, Glucose Revolution. In it, she recommends putting ‘clothes on your carbs’ and ‘always eat your bread with butter’.
To be fair, the focus on her recommendation to ‘add butter to your carbs’ maybe Jessie’s publicity team or the Daily Mail picking out what they think people want to hear will help them lose weight and improve their diabetes. Whether this is the case or not, I think it’s worth highlighting how counterproductive this could be!
‘Clothing your carbs’ with protein and fibre is a sound recommendation, but adding fat to your carbs to simply manage the annoying squiggly line you see on your CGM trace is bad advice! In fact, adding fat to your carbs is the most effective and efficient way to fatten up!
Carbs aren’t any more fattening than dietary fat, and vice versa. Your body does fine with one or the other. But it’s when we combine them in similar amounts in ways that we don’t find in nature that we get into trouble!
Foods like nuts and milk that combine fat and carbs are rare in nature. Generally, they’re only available at particular times of the year or for a specific purpose, like in autumn for animals to fatten up or so babies can grow. These foods stimulate our dopamine system times two, incentivising us to eat more. During more primitive times, when we evolved, this would help guarantee our survival.
Today, modern processed foods are formulated to combine processed industrial seed oils and refined grains to increase their palatability. Unfortunately, as more of our processed foods have implemented this tasty and fattening formula, the obesity epidemic has spiralled upwards!
Are ‘Naked Carbs’ Really the Problem?
The chart below shows our average satiety response to non-fibre carbohydrates.
To the left, we see we tend to eat the least when 10-20% of our calories come from carbohydrates.
However, to the right, we see that our calorie intake also decreases if we’re eating a very high-carb (i.e., more than 50% carbs) low-fat diet if we move to the right.
Our data suggests that very few people tend to stick to a low-fat, high-carb diet. However, it wouldn’t make you fat if you did.
It’s hard to get fat from eating too much plain rice or too many potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli. In fact, there are small communities of very lean people living on unprocessed, low-fat, plant-based foods.
But when we add fats like butter and oil to the seemingly harmless potato, we get crisps that are easy to overeat because they give us a massive hit of dopamine that tells us to EAT MORE NOW!
When we add butter to our spuds, we’re effectively giving them the same nutritional profile as a cheesecake, doughnut, or piece of pizza! This combo fills our glucose and fat fuel tanks simultaneously, and all of these foods are similarly high in carbs and fat and low in protein.
It’s interesting to note that our satiety response is similar when we reduce either fat or carbs. Reducing your net carbs from 45 to 15% or your fat from 80 to 40% are both effective ways to help you eat less by similar amounts of calories.
Have you ever wondered why we see the ongoing wars between the low carb vs the low-fat factions? It’s because both of them work!
Sadly, while the low-fat vs low carb war rages on, most people are left confused in the middle, chowing down on foods that are a similar blend of fat and carbs, confused as to why their weight and blood sugars and waistline are climbing.
For the uneducated consumer, these foods taste SO good, and we can overeat them easily. The chart below shows our satiety response to the hyper-palatable fat and non-fibre carbohydrate combo. As we continue to ‘clothe our carbs’ more by adding more fat to them, we eat more. As shown by the line on the far right-hand side, the majority of the population are consuming the perfectly fattening combination of fat and non-fibre carbs!
Conversely, you can gradually reduce your carbs or fat–or ideally, both–while still prioritising dietary protein and fibre so you can eat less without feeling hungry. This is the process that we guide people through in our Macros Masterclass.
The chart below shows the satiety response of all of the macronutrients combined in the same chart. The biggest impact comes from progressively reducing fat and (or) carbs which leads to a higher protein %.
For more details on how we walk people through managing their blood sugars in the Macros Masterclass, see FAQ #3.
Fat+Carb = Hyperpalatable Junk Food!
Many people would see the foods in the photo below as ‘bad carbs’.
The reality is, these foods are ’bad’ because they are a similar combination of fat and carbs together with minimal protein and fibre. While they will keep your blood glucose levels relatively stable, they will also keep your blood sugars from falling below your baseline for many hours and even days!
The best way to improve your blood sugars and reduce your waistline is to not to aim for stable blood sugars but rather to simply wait to eat until your glucose is a little lower than normal for you.
As you chase a lower premeal trigger and the glucose in your body is depleted, your body turns to your unwanted, stored body fat for fuel.
Fat and Carbs Raise Your Insulin Levels for a Long Time
I have the privilege of watching my wife Monica’s CGM and closed-loop insulin pump system every waking hour.
The screenshot below shows her blood glucose and the basal insulin that her closed-loop pump system is constantly adjusting to keep her blood sugars in a normal healthy range. The blue chart in the middle is her basal insulin rate on her pump, continually adjusting in response to the changes in her blood sugar levels.
While she tries to avoid it, her blood sugar doesn’t ‘spike’ like you’d expect when she eats foods like pasta carbonara at a restaurant when the pickings are slim. Instead, her glucose rises but stays elevated for up to 36 hours from a single meal! I also see the closed-loop insulin pump algorithm hammering away and pumping out more and more insulin to try and bring her glucose levels down.
For decades, people with diabetes have been advised to eat some fat with their carbs to reduce their postprandial spike. However, this is sadly the worst advice you could follow to lose weight, lower your insulin levels, and control or prevent a metabolic condition!
‘Clothing your carbs’ with protein and fibre is excellent advice. However, dressing your carbs with extra fat is the most effective way to eat more, increase your long-term insulin and the area under your blood glucose curve, and–before long–get fatter.
Are You a Unique Snowflake?
Another thing that frustrates me is the explosion of people using CGMs to find their ‘unique’ biochemical response to food. People watch their CGM endlessly like a fortune-teller gazing into their murky crystal ball, looking for the ‘secret’ to unlocking their own ‘unique’ metabolism.
But it’s not that complex!
While we’re all slightly different, you’re likely NOT a unique snowflake.
Your blood sugar rises more in response to different foods for straightforward reasons.
Hint: It’s not your microbiome, and you don’t have to send your ‘poo in the post’ in for analysis to understand why your glucose rises more than your friend’s.
The simple primary factors that influence your blood sugar and insulin after eating are:
- the macronutrient profile of what you ate, and
- how fat you are!
What Causes Your Glucose Rise to More or Less?
The biggest reason your glucose rises more or less than your friend’s after eating the same food is that you have more or less energy stored in your system as fat and glucose.
The glucose and fat fuel tanks in your body are separate but interconnected. Because you have limited room to store glucose, it must be used first.
If your body fat capacity is full or overflowing, all the fuels will back up in your system, and any dietary glucose will quickly show up on your CGM trace. Your glucose tanks are full, but your fat tanks are also full, leaving the stored fuel in your body to back up in your system.
As you dial back the energy in your food from both fat and non-fibre carbs and begin prioritising foods and meals with more nutrients, fibre, and protein, you will deplete your glucose and fat fuel tanks, including your overfull body fat (adipose tissue) fuel tank.
Now, when you eat carbs, your body can easily store and utilise that energy, and you won’t see such a large spike on your CGM!
For more details, see Oxidative Priority: The Key to Unlocking Your Body Fat Stores.
What Raises Your Glucose and Insulin Over the Short Term?
The Food Insulin Index data helps us predict how foods will affect our blood sugar and insulin levels in the three hours or so after we eat. In summary:
- Glucose raises blood sugars and insulin the most over the short term. However, they also return to baseline quickly if it’s eaten without added fat.
- The fructose in your food has a much smaller impact on your blood sugar and insulin than carbohydrates because it is converted to fat in the liver.
- Fibre has a negligible impact on insulin and glucose because we do not have the enzymes to break it into usable energy.
- Protein requires about half as much insulin as carbs in the first three hours after it is consumed. But beyond these three hours and over the longer term, protein increases satiety and thus decreases your insulin across the day.
- Fat impacts glucose and insulin levels minimally over the short term. But because it is so low on the totem pole of oxidative priority, it is stored easily. If you continue consuming more fat than you use over the long term, you will end up needing more basal insulin because of your increasing body fat levels.
For more info, see:
- Making Sense of the Food Insulin Index, and
- What Foods Raise Your Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels After Eating (Other Than Carbs)?
What Keeps Your Glucose Elevated Over the Long Term?
The problem with the Food Insulin Index data is that it only considers our response to food over the first three hours. If you only used this to guide your food choices, you would avoid carbs and even protein and just consume fat.
However, the reality is that dietary fat elicits an insulin response over the long term. Because there is plenty of room to store fat on your body, your pancreas doesn’t raise insulin levels as it does with carbs to ensure they are used before more stored energy can be released. Dietary fat is welcomed aboard to be used later as a result.
While dietary fat doesn’t raise your CGM trace abruptly, it prevents your blood sugar from falling for longer. So, the more fat you eat, the longer you will have to wait before your body needs to tap into the fat stored on your body again.
As depicted in the chart below, good blood sugar management is about reducing the area under the curve of your insulin and glucose responses after eating.
- Carbs will raise your blood sugar and insulin quickly.
- Dietary fat will keep your blood sugars and insulin elevated for longer.
To get your blood sugars down sooner, you need to reduce the energy from both fat and carbs in your diet while still prioritising nutrients and protein.
How Can You Use Your Glucose to Guide WHAT and WHEN you eat?
Before we wrap up this ‘review’, I want to show you how we use your blood glucose to guide WHEN and what you eat in the Data-Driven Fasting Challenges.
Many people in our challenges use a continuous glucose monitor. However, if they don’t already have one or can’t afford a CGM, an accurate glucometer is fine.
Chasing Your Premeal Glucose Trigger
This first chart shows how someone chases their premeal glucose trigger.
After three days of baselining, they get their premeal blood glucose trigger, which is simply the average of their glucose just before they eat over three days.
From there, they simply wait until they are hungry, and their glucose indicates that they need to refuel to eat.
As you continue to do this successfully, your premeal blood glucose trigger decreases in the Data-Driven Fasting app.
Reducing Glucose Spikes
The figure below shows the long-term (90 days) and short-term (14 days) hourly glucose charts in the DDF app from one of our participants, Christina.
In the first chart, you can see that there are a lot of data points above her upper limit (i.e., more than 30 mg/dL above her current glucose trigger). Over time, she has learned to reduce the number of times she overfills her glucose fuel tank by making more intelligent food choices that don’t spike her blood glucose levels.
As she has chased a lower trigger and prioritised nutrient-dense foods, she has also drained her body fat stores. This has allowed her to tolerate more carbs without seeing significant glucose spikes.
Using your Glucose to Guide WHAT to Eat
But where this gets even cooler is when we see we can use our glucose trends to guide what to eat across the day. It’s fascinating to see how everyone has a slightly different pattern in their blood sugars!
In the example pattern shown below, we see slightly higher blood sugars in the morning due to dawn phenomenon. Slightly higher glucose levels earlier in the day is a typical pattern that we see in lower-carb dieters, whereas people following a lower-fat diet tend to see the reverse.
If your blood sugar is higher and above your trigger in the morning, it’s a good time to prioritise protein, which usually comes with some fat. Protein earlier in the day keeps people full, and many people see their blood sugars fall rather than rise a few hours later. This means they’re good to eat again sooner if they are hungry. But if you know from your glucose meter that you already have plenty of fuel in your bloodstream, all you need is nutrients and protein, with less energy from fat or carbs.
Prioritising meals with more carbs and less fat later in the day or after exercise may be more appropriate to raise blood sugars without falling into the hyperpalatable fat and carb danger zone if your blood sugars are below your trigger.
Prioritising carbs with less fat will enable you to satisfy your hunger quickly without reaching for the energy-dense carb-and-fat combo comfort foods that we all tend to overeat when we’re hungry.
Meanwhile, other people find they have lower blood sugars in the morning and do better with more carbs with their protein at their first meal and fewer carbs later when their body doesn’t appear to tolerate them.
Others start to see a pattern indicating that they need to eat their biggest meal when their blood sugars are lower in the early afternoon. Your blood sugars can offer fascinating and powerful insights about WHEN and WHAT to eat!
The Bottom Line
- Your blood sugars can provide powerful insights to guide WHAT and WHEN you eat.
- Simply eating to stabilise your CGM trace can lead people to consume foods and meals that worsen their metabolic health.
- Fat and carbs are both energy sources for your body. Consuming carbs with protein and fibre will help improve satiety and minimise the blood sugar response.
- Adding fat to your carbs will lead you to overconsume these foods and see larger insulin and blood glucose responses over the long term.
- Your blood sugars before you eat are the most powerful indicators that you can use to guide when you eat.
- You can use your premeal blood glucose as a guide to ensure you are using your stored energy and not adding to it, which would drive insulin resistance and worsen metabolic health.
- You can use your glucose data to make more intelligent choices on WHAT to eat while staying out of the fat-and-carb danger zone.
Data Driven Fasting – Improve blood sugar in 30 days or money back guaranteed.
- Data-Driven Fasting: How to Lose Weight and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Without Tracking Your Food
- Hunger Training… How to Use Your Glucometer as a Fuel Gauge to Train Your Appetite For Sustainable Weight Loss
- How to use a Continuous Glucose Monitor for Weight Loss (and Why Your CGM Could Be Making You Fat)
- What Foods Raise Your Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels After Eating (Other Than Carbs)?
- Oxidative Priority: The Key to Unlocking Your Body Fat Stores