What affects your blood sugar and insulin (other than carbs)?

Does X, Y or Z raise my blood sugar? 

This is a common question we get when people start with Data-Driven Fasting

It’s also an important question for people (like my wife Monica) who are managing diabetes to empower them to make well-informed food choices that will keep their blood sugars stable.

While carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar and insulin levels, there are several other quantifiable parameters of the food we eat that have a considerable impact. 

Five years ago, I shared some insights from my analysis of the Food Insulin Index data (see Making Sense of the Food Insulin Index).

After getting lots of questions from people in the Data-Driven Fasting Facebook Group, I thought it would be useful to revisit the data to understand how the food we eat affects our blood sugar response.

To summarise, the table below summarises the results of the analysis, showing how fibre, protein, fructose and fat influence:

  • maximum rise in blood sugars (within two hours),
  • glucose rise (area under the curve over two hours), and
  • insulin (area under the curve over two hours).
parameterfibreproteinfructosefat
glucose rise-20%NA-90%15%
glucose AUC-20% NA-70%10%
insulin-45% 55%-70%10%

A negative value means that the parameter will decrease our blood glucose/insulin response (and vice versa).  A positive value means that it will incrase your blood sugar/insulin response

The data 

Before we get too deep into the analysis, let me quickly give you some background on the data. 

The original Food Insulin Index testing was done in 1997 at the University of Sydney and documented in An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods.  While only 27 foods were tested initially, we now have data for 120 foods as documented in Clinical Application of the Food Insulin Index to Diabetes Mellitus (Bell, 2014).

The primary goal of the testing was to measure the change in insulin response above baseline in healthy non-diabetic subjects (i.e. uni student volunteers).  The chart below shows an example of the insulin response  ‘curve’ for a handful of foods. 

Before trying to draw any conclusions from this data, it’s important to note a couple of things.

  • The testing measured the change against baseline for insulin and glucose.  This does not account for basal (or background) insulin which makes up the majority of your insulin demand across the day (i.e. about 50% for people on a high carb diet and up to 80% for someone on a low carb or keto diet). 
  • Insulin response was only measured over two hours.  While simple carbs will be digested quickly, foods and meals that are a combination of carbs and fat will keep glucose and insulin elevated for much longer.  So, we need to keep in mind that this testing only represents the initial response to foods. 

While this data is useful for people trying to stabilise their blood sugars and insulin levels over the short term, it has limitations when we are considering the long term insulin and blood sugar response across the whole day.  The data doesn’t account for the full effect of protein and fat, which take longer than two hours digest and be metabolised.

To illustrate this, the chart below (from this study) shows how blood sugars respond differently to a high carb low fat (green line = Plant Based Low Fat) vs low carb high fat (red line = Animal-Based Low Carb) diet.  Blood glucose rises quickly in response to low-fat foods while blood sugars increase rise with low carb high-fat foods.  However, for both extremes, after two hours, blood sugars are still elevated above baseline.

We don’t know much about the long term insulin and blood sugar response to the food we eat.  However, it’s safe to assume that all calories have some impact on blood sugars and insulin because they will prevent your body from needing to draw down on your internal energy stores. 

Just because a food has as minimal blood sugar or insulin response over two hours does not mean that it is a “free food”.  Your pancreas will always produce just enough insulin to keep your stored energy locked away while it processes the energy from the food you are eating.

People who are metabolically healthy and lean tend to have more stable blood sugars.  However, as shown in the chart below, from our analysis of data from the people who have used Data-Driven Fasting, a lower rise in blood glucose does not necessarily mean that you will be leaner.  If you already have healthy blood sugars in the non-diabetic range, manipulating your diet to achieve even more stable blood sugars will not necessarily lead to weight loss. 

However, managing your pre-meal blood sugars by delaying your next meal until they have returned to below baseline will help you to reduce your waking blood sugar, weight and improve your metabolic health (see Want to lose fat? DON’T aim for stable blood sugars! (Why your CGM could be making you fat for more detail). 

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the analysis.  The thing most people seem to be interested in is the rise in glucose after eating, so we’ll tackle that first.

Blood glucose rise after meals

You may have heard of the Glycemic Index (or GI) which was developed by the same team that developed the Food Insulin Index at the University of Sydney

The GI is useful to help us understand which carbohydrate-containing foods raise blood glucose the most.  However, the problem with the GI is that it is based on foods with 50 g of carbs (with no consideration of total calories).  Therefore, there is no way to compare the blood sugar impact on a calorie for calorie basis. 

The good news is, as part of the Food Insulin Index testing, they also tested the maximum glucose rise after meals (i.e. for both low and high carb meals).  They called this the Glucose Index.  Compared to the Glycaemic Index, the Glucose Index is much more useful to help us choose foods that will achieve stable blood sugars. 

The chart below shows calories from carbohydrate versus the glucose index (i.e. the rise in post-meal blood glucose).  All foods tested were in 1000 kJ (or 239 calorie) servings.  The x-axis of the chart is the calories from carbohydrates in each food. 

In the top right, we have pure glucose (which has been given a score of 100% to designate the maximum glucose rise).  In the bottom left we have high-fat foods such as butter, bacon and cream cheese (which have the lowest increase in glucose after meals). 

The number we will be looking more at in the remainder of this article is the correlation coefficient (i.e. R2).  The correlation of carbohydrate with maximum rise in blood glucose is 0.628. 

While carbohydrates explain the majority of the rise in blood sugars, there are other factors.  To better understand the other factors, I have analysed the data to see how other parameters to enable us to better understand the things that raise blood sugars after we eat.

Fat

The chart below shows how the correlation changes when we assume that varying proportions of the calories from fat contribute to the rise in post-meal glucose.  Somewhat surprisingly, we see that we get a better correlation when we assume 20% of the calories from fat contribute to the maximum rise in glucose.

Mechanistically, this makes sense.  If we had glucose alone, it may be absorbed into the liver and muscle quickly and not show up in the bloodstream.  However, if we are also filling the fat stores at the same time, glucose seems to rise a little more because both the fat and glucose fuel tanks in our body are being filled.   

When we sub this back into the 120 data points (as shown in the chart below), we see that the correlation increases.  Considering the effect of fat on blood sugars helps us to better predict the glucose response to foods that are a combination of fat and carbs together in the middle of the chart.

Fibre

When we look at fibre, we see that we get the best correlation when we assume that 15% of fibre does not raise blood glucose.  Not all of the fibre will be digestible to form glucose.  Fibre will also slow digestion and hence blunt the maximum rise during the two-hour window.

This next chart shows the glucose rise forecast when we assume that 15% of fibre doesn’t cause a blood sugar rise, with a slight improvement in the correlation coefficient. 

Protein

Protein is interesting.  The highest correlation was achieved when we assume that there is no influence from protein on blood sugars.  Both positive and negative factors decreased the correlation.  The data indicate that protein doesn’t affect our rise in blood glucose after meals. 

When we eat protein, glucagon balances the effects of insulin. 

  • Most people see a negligible blood sugar response to protein.  Many people who are metabolically healthy see their blood sugars drop after a higher protein, low carb meal. 
  • At the other end of the spectrum, people who have diabetes or significant insulin resistance often see some rise in blood glucose because their glucagon response is not being matched by their insulin. 

However, a short term increase in blood sugars should not be seen as a reason to avoid protein. Protein tends to increase satiety and help reduce your overall energy intake across the day. The fact that people who are insulin resistant see more of their protein being converted to glucose means that they actually need to focus on a higher percentage of protein to make up for the protein being lost to glucose. As per the Protein Leverage Hypothesis, their appetite will go in search of more food to make up for the lost protein and to ensure they get the protein they require.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, can check out:

Fructose

Fructose (i.e. the sugar predominantly found in fruit) is interesting.  While fructose is technically a carbohydrate, it can be metabolised into either glucose (if required) or fat (if glucose stores are full)

Anecdotally, some people using Data-Driven Fasting have noted that fruit doesn’t seem to raise their blood sugar as much as they might expect.  There are even groups of people with Type 1 Diabetes who seem to do reasonably well on a diet that contains a lot of fruit (although not nearly as well as people using a low carb adequate protein approach). 

As shown in the chart below, we get the most significant improvement in correlation with glucose rise when we assume that nearly all (i.e. 90%) of the fructose in food does not contribute to our rise in glucose. 

When we apply this to our data, we get a much better prediction of the rise in glucose when we account for fructose. 

While fruit (which has more carbohydrate from fructose) may be a better choice than refined grains (which provide carbohydrate in the form of starch), this does not necessarily mean that fruit will not cause a blood sugar rise.  You can test and see how it affects you, and avoid it if it causes a rise of more than 1.6 mmol/L or 30 mg/dL after eating. 

In addition to fructose, fruit contains a significant amount of glucose and sucrose, which will also raise your blood sugar.  Excessive fructose consumption has also been shown to drive Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (i.e. a build-up of fat in the liver).  So the fact that fructose can be converted to fat rather than glucose is not necessarily beneficial in all cases. 

Combining carbohydrate, fructose, fibre and fat

Finally, we can combine all these insights to give us a better prediction of the glucose rise to foods. 

As shown in the chart below, when we account for the calories from carbohydrates, minus 90% of fructose, minus 20% of fibre, plus 15% of fat we get a better overall correlation (i.e. the R2 increase from 0.628 to 0.7586).

What does this all mean?

The first point to make here is that, if your blood sugars are in the healthy, non-diabetic range, then trying to stabilise them further by avoiding carbohydrates will not necessarily lead to better metabolic health. 

People with good metabolic health tend to have more stable blood sugars, but manipulating your diet to have flatline blood sugars will not necessarily lead to weight loss or better health outcomes.  If that is your goal, you should optimise your diet for greater nutrient density and satiety, and more stable blood sugars will follow. 

However, this analysis indicates that:

  • Foods with more fibre will help to stabilise your blood sugars,
  • Naturally occurring fructose in fruit and veggies are unlikely to raise your blood sugars as much as starch in grain-based foods.  However, foods that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup are still nutrient-poor empty calories and should ideally be avoided, particularly as the fructose may be metabolised directly to fat and stored on your body. 
  • While high-fat foods don’t appear to raise blood sugar much in the short term, foods that are a combination of fat and carbs together will likely increase your blood glucose more than you would expect from the carbs alone. 

Which foods will raise my blood glucose the least?

The table below shows the calculated glucose rise with nutrient density score for popular foods.  To minimise your rise in blood glucose after you eat, you should avoid foods towards the top of this list with a high glucose rise.  But if you also want to lose fat, improve satiety and get enough nutrients without excessive calories, you should avoid foods with a low nutrient density score and prioritise those with a higher nutrient density.

nameGlucose RiseNutrient Density
grapes92%21%
banana91%26%
rice90%25%
blueberries88%24%
oranges87%32%
sweet potato85%45%
carrots82%57%
garlic81%45%
beets80%44%
daikon77%49%
bell peppers74%52%
onion74%35%
black pepper73%46%
radish72%58%
blackberries72%42%
oatmeal71%34%
green beans71%63%
sauerkraut67%58%
celery67%63%
sour pickles64%62%
dill pickles64%62%
Brussels sprouts63%71%
cucumber61%57%
kiwifruit61%39%
raspberries60%38%
cabbage59%57%
mushrooms59%64%
green peppers57%60%
arugula/rocket56%14%
apples56%13%
kale55%49%
parsley54%85%
milk (low fat)50%60%
cauliflower50%75%
coriander/cilantro47%56%
spinach46%85%
lettuce43%76%
broccoli43%84%
asparagus41%85%
yogurt (whole milk)37%50%
zucchini35%72%
kefir 34%49%
guacamole32%32%
black olives30%19%
cashews29%34%
90% chocolate28%17%
avocado28%30%
flaxseeds27%42%
half and half26%28%
dried coconut24%16%
almonds23%36%
sunflower seeds23%49%
Parmesan cheese22%47%
sour cream22%18%
green olives21%15%
filberts/hazelnuts21%29%
macadamia nuts20%17%
pecans20%20%
walnuts20%25%
pumpkin seeds19%43%
peanuts19%37%
cottage cheese (low fat)19%23%
Brazil nuts19%31%
whipping cream 18%10%
feta17%51%
butter16%5%
beef liver16%77%
mayonnaise15%6%
MCT oil15%0%
olive oil15%3%
lard15%1%
coconut oil15%1%
avocado oil15%0%
bacon14%25%
cheddar cheese14%43%
Mozzarella cheese (whole milk)14%45%
gouda13%46%
brie12%47%
whole egg11%62%
ground beef (80% lean)11%46%
lamb liver10%73%
sirloin steak (fat eaten)8%51%
ground beef (85% lean)8%49%
chicken liver8%76%
sardines8%63%
shrimp7%68%
chicken drumstick7%56%
egg white6%49%
chicken thigh5%59%
salmon5%65%
mackerel4%70%
sirloin steak (fat not eaten)4%59%
chicken breast (no skin)4%52%
tuna2%62%

The chart below shows nutrient density vs glucose rise.  If you want to minimise your rise in blood glucose, you should choose foods lower on this chart while also trying to stay towards the right to ensure you get the nutrients you require.  For more detail, click here to view an interactive version of this chart. 

If you would rather think in terms of recipes rather, rather than foods, you can check out our series of 22 nutrient-dense recipe books. If your blood sugars are elevated after meals (i.e. a rise of greater than 1.6 mmol/L or 30 mg/dL) then you may want to try the Low Carb and Blood Sugar or Nutritional Keto recipe books. If your blood sugars are already stable but you have fat to lose you could use the Maximum Nutrient Density or Fat Loss books. If you have elevated blood sugars and fat to lose (as many people do) then the Blood Sugar and Fat Loss book will help.

Glucose score (area under the curve)

As part of the Food Insulin Index testing, they also measured the Glucose Score, which is the area under the curve glucose response to foods over two hours. 

Foods with a higher Glucose Score will keep your blood sugar elevated higher for longer.  This is potentially more important than the maximum rise in blood sugar. 

The chart below shows the calories from carbohydrate versus the Glucose Score.  Low carb high-fat foods in the bottom left have a low glucose score, while cornflakes and pure glucose have a glucose score of 100% in the top right.  We have an R2 correlation of 0.6468 when we only consider the effect of carbohydrate.

I’ll spare you the detail of the correlation charts this time around, but the analysis found that the best correlation was achieved with:

  • minus 70% fructose, 
  • minus 20% fibre, and
  • plus 10% fat.

Considering the negative impact of fructose and fibre and the positive impact of fat give us a better prediction of the blood sugar area under the curve over two hours (i.e. the R2 correlation coefficient increases from 0.6468 to 0.7122). 

In practical terms, this means that:

  • foods with naturally occurring fructose (i.e. fruit and vegetables) won’t keep your blood sugars elevated as much as other carbohydrates (e.g. grains), and
  • foods with more fibre (which are partially indigestible) will also help to blunt the blood sugar response, and
  • fat has some influence on keeping blood sugars elevated over the short term and likely has a more significant effect over the longer term too.

Which foods will keep your blood glucose elevated the most vs least?

The table below shows the calculated glucose score with the nutrient density score.  To keep your blood sugars stable over two hours, you should avoid foods towards the top of this list.  But if you also want to lose fat, improve satiety and get enough nutrients without excessive calories, you should prioritise foods with a higher nutrient density score.

nameGlucose ScoreNutrient Density
grapes91%21%
banana90%26%
rice89%25%
blueberries88%24%
oranges87%32%
sweet potato85%45%
carrots81%57%
garlic81%45%
beets79%44%
daikon77%49%
onion75%35%
bell peppers73%52%
black pepper72%46%
radish72%58%
blackberries71%42%
green beans70%63%
oatmeal69%34%
sauerkraut67%58%
celery66%63%
kiwifruit64%39%
cucumber64%57%
sour pickles62%62%
apples62%13%
cabbage62%57%
dill pickles62%62%
Brussels sprouts61%71%
raspberries61%38%
green peppers59%60%
mushrooms57%64%
arugula/rocket56%14%
kale53%49%
parsley51%85%
cauliflower51%75%
milk (low fat)47%60%
spinach45%85%
coriander/cilantro45%56%
lettuce44%76%
broccoli43%84%
asparagus43%85%
zucchini37%72%
yogurt (whole milk)30%50%
kefir 26%49%
guacamole22%32%
cashews19%34%
black olives18%19%
cottage cheese (low fat)17%23%
90% chocolate17%17%
flaxseeds16%42%
avocado16%30%
half and half15%28%
Parmesan cheese13%47%
almonds12%36%
beef liver12%77%
sunflower seeds12%49%
dried coconut12%16%
sour cream9%18%
filberts/hazelnuts9%29%
pumpkin seeds9%43%
peanuts8%37%
green olives8%15%
walnuts7%25%
pecans6%20%
macadamia nuts6%17%
feta6%51%
Brazil nuts6%31%
egg white6%49%
shrimp5%68%
lamb liver5%73%
whipping cream 4%10%
Mozzarella cheese (whole milk)3%45%
cheddar cheese3%43%
chicken liver3%76%
gouda2%46%
whole egg2%62%
butter2%5%
bacon1%25%
brie1%47%
mayonnaise0%6%
chicken drumstick0%56%
mackerel0%70%
salmon0%65%
sardines0%63%
tuna0%62%
chicken thigh0%59%
sirloin steak (fat not eaten)0%59%
chicken breast (no skin)0%52%
sirloin steak (fat eaten)0%51%
ground beef (85% lean)0%49%
ground beef (80% lean)0%46%
olive oil0%3%
lard0%1%
coconut oil0%1%
MCT oil0%0%
avocado oil0%0%

This chart shows nutrient density vs glucose score.  If you want to stabilise your blood glucose, you should choose foods from the bottom of this chart while staying towards the right to ensure you get the nutrients you need.   For more detail, click here to view an interactive version of this chart. 

Insulin response to food

Finally, I wanted to revisit my previous analysis to understand how different foods elicit a different insulin response.   

This first chart shows carbohydrate calories versus the food insulin index (i.e. area under the curve insulin response over two hours).  We see an overall correlation of R2 = 0.369. 

The analysis found that the best correlation was achieved with:

  • plus 55% protein,
  • minus 70% fructose, 
  • minus 45% fibre, and
  • plus 10% fat.

By considering these other factors, we get a significant improvement in our ability to predict the insulin response to food. 

Which foods will keep my insulin stable?

The table below shows the calculated food insulin index score with the nutrient density score.  To stabilise your insulin levels over the first two hours after you eat, you should avoid foods towards the top of this list.  But if you also want to lose fat, improve satiety and get enough nutrients without excessive calories, you should prioritise those with a higher nutrient density score.  While very high-fat foods will keep your insulin levels stable, they will not provide a significant amount of nutrients and tend to have a low satiety value, meaning that you will tend to eat more and your insulin levels will be higher across the whole day.

nameFood Insulin IndexNutrient Density
rice94%25%
grapes92%21%
banana91%26%
garlic88%45%
blueberries87%24%
sweet potato87%45%
oranges87%32%
beets83%44%
carrots78%57%
onion78%35%
daikon76%49%
oatmeal75%34%
bell peppers74%52%
arugula/rocket73%14%
green beans73%63%
black pepper72%46%
radish71%58%
cucumber70%57%
Brussels sprouts69%71%
milk (low fat)67%60%
blackberries67%42%
celery66%63%
cabbage66%57%
mushrooms66%64%
kiwifruit65%39%
sour pickles64%62%
dill pickles64%62%
kale64%49%
sauerkraut63%58%
green peppers61%60%
apples61%13%
parsley60%85%
cauliflower60%75%
spinach60%85%
raspberries56%38%
egg white56%49%
cottage cheese (low fat)56%23%
asparagus55%85%
broccoli54%84%
coriander/cilantro53%56%
shrimp51%68%
tuna50%62%
beef liver49%77%
lettuce49%76%
zucchini48%72%
yogurt (whole milk)47%50%
chicken breast (no skin)44%52%
sirloin steak (fat not eaten)44%59%
kefir 44%49%
mackerel43%70%
lamb liver42%73%
salmon41%65%
chicken liver40%76%
chicken thigh40%59%
chicken drumstick35%56%
Parmesan cheese34%47%
sardines32%63%
cashews31%34%
ground beef (85% lean)30%49%
sirloin steak (fat eaten)30%51%
whole egg28%62%
half and half28%28%
guacamole28%32%
90% chocolate26%17%
flaxseeds25%42%
pumpkin seeds25%43%
feta25%51%
Mozzarella cheese (whole milk)25%45%
sunflower seeds25%49%
almonds25%36%
gouda25%46%
black olives25%19%
peanuts24%37%
cheddar cheese23%43%
avocado23%30%
ground beef (80% lean)22%46%
brie22%47%
sour cream20%18%
filberts/hazelnuts20%29%
dried coconut20%16%
walnuts19%25%
Brazil nuts18%31%
pecans17%20%
bacon17%25%
macadamia nuts16%17%
green olives16%15%
whipping cream 15%10%
butter12%5%
mayonnaise11%6%
coconut oil10%1%
MCT oil10%0%
olive oilers10%3%
lard10%1%
avocado oil10%0%

This chart shows nutrient density versus food insulin index response. If you want to stabilise your insulin response to the food you eat, you should avoid foods towards the top of this chart while also staying towards the right to ensure you get the nutrients you need.  For more detail, click here to view an interactive version of this chart. 

Practical implications of this analysis

This more in-depth understanding of the insulin response to food is particularly useful for people who need to calculate how much insulin they need to inject.  Being able to calculate short term insulin demand and matching the food they are eating with their medication requirements is critical. 

For the rest of us, this information is interesting, but we need to keep in mind that this data only represents the insulin and glucose response over two hours.  Most foods will require insulin and keep blood sugars significantly elevated over much longer than two hours.

If you are testing your blood sugars and find that they rise significantly after meals (i.e. by more than 1.6 mmol/L or 30 mg/dL) then choosing food that causes a lower blood sugar and insulin response will stabilise your blood sugars.  However, if your goal is fat loss, flatline blood sugars should not be your primary goal, especially if it requires you to consume more low satiety, higher fat, nutrient-poor foods.  

If your goal is fat loss, it is much more useful to target foods that contain more nutrients per calorie (i.e. nutrient density) and provide greater satiety if your goal is weight loss. 

While large swings in blood sugars are not ideal and can increase hunger and appetite, blood sugar swings in the healthy non-diabetic range are not cause for concern.

If your blood sugars are elevated after meals (i.e. a rise of greater than 1.6 mmol/L or 30 mg/dL) then you may want to try the Low Carb and Blood Sugar or Nutritional Keto recipe books which will stablise your blood sugar and insulin levels.

If your blood sugars are already stable but you have fat to lose you could use the Maximum Nutrient Density or Fat Loss books. If you have elevated blood sugars and fat to lose (as many people do) then the Blood Sugar and Fat Loss book will help.

Then, managing your pre-meal blood sugars by waiting a little longer until they return to below baseline (e.g. using Data-Driven Fasting) will also be useful if your goal is fat loss or reversal of Type 2 Diabetes

To kickstart your journey towards optimal get your free program and one of 70+ food lists personalised just for you!  

Marty Kendall
 

  • Hakan says:

    Thank you for summarizing great info

  • Mervyn Chananie says:

    The information is compelling, and helpful and easy to understand.

  • Sudhakara Rao says:

    Very good article.

  • Rene Lockey says:

    WOW.. So interesting. I’m determined not to take chronic meds for diabetes. I believe in a healthy eating to maintain my sugar levels.
    Thank you
    Rene

  • Rathindra Mishra says:

    I would like to say blood sugar index I;e should be taken care of region wise,hight,weight,age,and there style of living in that particular part of area.It needs more systematic analysis.Thanks for your above article which gave some in-depth knowledge about food quality.Still the question remains unanswered of your wife.What should be blood sugar range of FBS,PPBS,and RBS.Thank you very much for sharing this article.Every doctor should read this article,and accordingly prescribe there medicine with a diet chart.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      how would you consider it based on region (i.e. based on different foods available)? this data only really gives us an insight into post-meal blood sugars. fasting blood sugar and insulin levels is largely related to the amount of body fat you are holding onto.

  • Rev. Akin C. Akeredolu says:

    Thanks for this, it’s a good information, and instruction for help. God bless you

  • From Philippines. Rosendo Bardemorilla says:

    Sir. I appreciate you good medical statement and address regarding blood sugar and Insulin. Many thanks Sir.

  • Kamal Sharma says:

    Great insight and in a simple language to understand complex subject.

  • HH says:

    I disagree that adding fat to a carbohydrate meal will rise glucose further than carbohydrates alone. The fat will actually prevent a higher spike but will keep sugar elevated for longer time.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      combining fat and carbs has been advocated to help people stabilise blood sugar. sadly, it actually tends to lead to lower satiety and greater energy intake and thus higher insulin levels. fat has a smaller impact on blood sugar and insulin in the short term, but appears to keep blood sugars and insulin elevated for longer before the body needs to draw down on your stored energy again.

  • Rina Sarkar says:

    very informative ,it will help to educate my obese diabetic patients.

  • Tammy says:

    I just finished reading the whole article.
    I’ve been a diabetic for over 15years and I couldn’t make any sense out of what I just read.
    Why don’t we have a simple way to explain what foods cause high sugar levels and what foods to keep it level.
    I’m 62 a woman with out of control Diabetes.
    All doctors,want to do is give me more tablets more Insulin Im just about ready to chuck all medication in the bin as I’m more sick now with taking all these drugs then when I started them.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      if you look at the charts in the article, you want to stick towards the foods towards the bottom right that will stabilise your blood sugars and insulin while also providing the nutrients you need. if you’re still confused, the recipe books may be helpful. we created them as the basic starting place for everyone to keep it really simple.

  • Nigel says:

    Live with diabetes for,50 years then you can say what to eat and what not to eat p

    • Marty Kendall says:

      there will definitely be an element of individuality based on a whole range of factors such as insulin resistance and your ability to produce insulin. this data gives us a starting place to understand what works for most people most of the time. from there, it’s definitely good to test and see how your body responds to different foods.

  • RR says:

    Good information. But I believe that leafly vegetables and green beans are good with GI and absolutely no starchy vegetables. Need more information on veggies that can be taken.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      This article didn’t really cover the GI data. You should test your blood sugars before and after a meal of beans vs other foods. I’m a big fan of leafy greens as they are nutrient dense and most people can’t eat enough of them to raise their BGs significantly.

  • Sanjay kshirsagar says:

    Excellent please keep posting updated research findings….

  • Daniel Sesay says:

    Very educative

  • Jameel akhtar says:

    Nice article it helps to maintain my blood sugar levels after food

  • Allen M says:

    Wow! Great! Need more information presented this way, very well thought out. But what’s up with celery? Boo-hiss!

    • Marty Kendall says:

      thanks. sorry about celery. the key thing to keep in mind here is that this is based on glucose and insulin response per calorie. you will need to eat a massive quantity of celery to get much of a response.

  • Lillie P. says:

    I need some suggestions. I am 60 lbs overweight. When I wake up in am, I have a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. I feel fine. I have no appetite in the am, so I don’t eat anything until 4-5 hours later. However, during this 4-5 hour period, since I’m in Texas and this summer has been very hot (100+), I will consume a lot of lemonade and sweet iced tea. When I start to feel hungry, I will eat typically eat half a sandwich, either ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. Within about 30 minutes, I am absolutely exhausted with brain fog. I feel the need to sleep. Yesterday when this happened I laid in bed and ate a banana. After an hour I felt better. After two hours I felt even better and after three hours I felt normal. Sometimes a similar thing happens after dinner. I sometimes will push through exhaustion just to clean up the dishes, but by the time I do go to bed, I feel much better. What the heck is going on? High blood sugar or low blood sugar? I do have the Hashimoto thyroid problem and I take a 2-grain (130mg) Nature-throid each day. I have experimented taking this in the am and at bedtime, but cannot tell a difference.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      your symptoms sound like you may have elevated blood sugars. suggest you pick up a simple blood sugar meter and check your sugars. if your blood sugars are rising more than 30 mg/dL after meals then the lower insulin load foods and recipes in this article will help stabilise your blood sugars. once your blood sugars start to stabilise you can use the meter to guide your meal timing, delaying your meal until after your blood sugars return to below your baseline. check https://www.datadrivenfasting.com for more details on our Data-Driven Fasting system.

  • Suyash says:

    Hi Marty,
    Thanks for the valuable info.
    Just wanted to know if we could get similar values of Food Insulin Index and Nutrient Density for food items like Wheat, Pulses and Grains.

    Thanks

  • Tony J. Bertronski says:

    Excellent research and analysis. By measuring my sugar levels twice daily, I have learned what foods and their quantity I can consume to obtain my sugar levels. This, of course, includes the effect of daily exercise and drinking lots of water.
    My goal as a type 2 diabetic is to someday eliminate my daily consumption of acarbose and glipizide, of course with my doctor’s approval. I plan to ask him about intermittent fasting. What are your thoughts on fasting?
    Thanks again. I’m sure your research will help many people learn to maintain a healthier food consumption life style.

    • Marty Kendall says:

      thanks Tony! I have some reservations about popular fasting. However, I’m a fan of intermittent fasting. you can use your blood sugar before you eat as a nice little fuel gauge to guide meal timing. you may be interested in our Data Driven Fasting system here https://optimisingnutrition.com/data-driven-fasting/

    • Robert Knight says:

      Tony, it is my experience that decreasing oral type2 medications is a fairly long and complicated process. I could not have succeeded in doing that without a continuous blood glucose monitor (Abbott FreeStyle Libre II) You will probably have to pay for it yourself, as the monitors are generally only prescribed for type 1 diabetics at this time. Additionally, I was also dealing with moderate non-alcoholic fatty liver. Doctors do not have a great metric for monitoring fatty liver improvement. I was also dealing with severe insulin resistance. There was no practical for getting at insulin levels. C-Peptide test seems to be coming into it’s own for judging insulin resistance. Lastly, check out these YouTube presenters. Dr. Ken Berry and Dr. Jason Fung Based on my experience it will take 50 hours of viewing such videos to get a handle on the complicated mess of Type2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and fatty liver. I feel intermittent fasting in combo with constant blood glucose monitoring were the keys to me getting ahead of my problems.

  • GM says:

    How much does low Hemoglobin levels distort these results? Or in other words what is the correlation of Hemoglobin levels to Blood sugar levels?

    • Marty Kendall says:

      Do you mean your HbA1c? It’s a measure of the average of your blood sugar over the last three months. Your blood sugar after meals is related to what you eat while your blood sugar across the rest of the day will depend on how often and how much you eat.

  • Danilo Delgado says:

    I appreciate your information thank you

  • Kurt Frye says:

    Why do you make no distinction between the types of diabetes? Is it somehow your belief that every person with type 2 with partial responses from partial functioning pancreas (or possibly other insulin resistance based issues) reacts ‘like your wife’ making her the yardstick?

    And type 2 who have no response, no pancreatic function…with essentially a totally different disease…we react the same as well?

    You have a lot to say…a lot of opinions…and seemingly a lot of assumptions…but lumping diabetics all together is a mistake… maybe one you are aware of…maybe you are dumbing down your explanations… I’ll give you the benefit of doubt here. However many with diabetes don’t even understand differences…it’s a huge disservice when general topic discussions and articles treat type 1 and type 2 as the same disease. There are multiple types of type 2… and TOTALLY different issues for type 1… they are only grouped together due to similar outcomes…similar ways they present… but differences between diabetic types are great. Not to be swept aside by calling everyone a diabetic… not when talking about what food (as an input to the system) does to the body!

    • Marty Kendall says:

      This article really just focuses on the food, not the mechanism.

      Both T1D and T2D is a condition of relative insulin insufficiency.

      People with T1D can’t produce as much insulin as everyone else. People with T2D often produce much more insulin than everyone else, but because they are trying to hold more energy in storage than their body can comfortably handle, they see the stored energy overflow into their bloodstream.

      The blood sugar response to protein for both T1D and T2D is actually quite similar, with a rise in blood sugars after eating.

      For both T1 and T2 it makes sense to reduce refined carbohydrates to the point that blood sugars stabilise to healthy non-diabetic levels.

      Adequate dietary protein is important for both conditions but especially T2D to improve satiety and help reduce body fat until they return below their Personal Fat Threshold.

      You may also be interested in these articles.

      https://optimisingnutrition.com/ted-naimans-dam-fat-storage-insulinographic-explained/

      https://optimisingnutrition.com/how-to-reverse-type-2-diabetes/

      • Robert Knight says:

        I believe that your response does not give proper weight to sever insulin resistance, something that can develop over 10 years or more, even while fasting blood glucose levels are normal. I believe in the next 10 years insulin resistance will be re named to insulin toxicity.

      • Marty Kendall says:

        I’m hoping we skip ‘insulin toxicity’ and move straight to ‘energy toxicity’ which is a much better description of the root cause.

        I think what you are describing is often termed ‘double diabetes’ where people with T2D can find their pancreas effectivley burns out and can no longer produce insulin. Conversely, people with T1D can become obese and insulin resistant, with their total insulin demand skyrocketing.

  • Kurt Frye says:

    sorry…my paragraph started with “And type 2 who have no response…”

    Should read…

    And Type1 who have no response, no pancreatic function…with essentially a totally different disease…we react the same as well?

    • Marty Kendall says:

      If you have a relative insulin insufficiency, you will see a similar blood sugar response, regardless of whether you are T1D or T2D. But the good news is you can reverse T2D with intelligent dietary choices.

  • JR says:

    Thought provoking, again, thank you.
    I am getting interested in this basal long term insulin, and also the development in insulin after 2h aka 120m. Late Dr. Kraft did not only measure insulin reactions, he studied them until 5 h. We know the different patterns representing unbalanced insulin reaction, which still hammeres down glucose (and lipids, I presume). All “broken” patterns are longer in duration with higher peak, but not necessarily the first rise gradient is still strong.

    This hints that they have “natural” overdosing problen, similar to your description of bolus amount vs. junk food. There is too much insulin, for too long, all day long if you follow the “healthy” snacking advice. Since visceral fat has more insulin reseptors (3-4 fold) than skin fat, sounds like packing energy into stomach even if there is no treshold difference inbetween these differerent adipose depots. Winding back, the fat moves very quickly away from the liver and viscera, if you totally fast, cut the carbs, or take those liquid diets of 800 kcal (with 50% carbs). In this order, speed directly proportional to reduced carbs.

    Is this a question? More like deduced statement, feel anybody free to guide me to correct path…
    JR

    • Marty Kendall says:

      Kraft is interesting. But I think wasit:height will give you a lot of the same information with a lot less hassle. Data Driven FAsting uses premeal blood sugars to guide you to wait to ensure an energy defiit until you achieve more optimal waking blood sugars.

      • Robert Knight says:

        The problem most medical providers still use BMI as their metric.

      • Marty Kendall says:

        yes. waist:height or body fat is much more useful as it doesn’t penalise you for gaining lean muscle (which is just as important as having less body fat).

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