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Foods and Meals Effects on Blood Glucose
By Gary F. Zeolla
This article is continued from Foods and Meals Effects on Blood Glucose: Part One. It should be remembered that a normal post-eating blood glucose reading is 70-120 mg/dl. If a food causes a spike higher than 120 and/ or causes a drop to less than 70, it is considered to be high glycemic and thus not healthy for a hypoglycemic or diabetic.
Frozen yogurt is often touted as a healthy alternative to ice cream. The reason is, it is usually non-fat. However, frozen yogurt usually contains more sugar than ice cream, and that, along with the lack of fat, causes frozen yogurt to have a higher glycemic response than ice cream.
Testing just half a cup of frozen yogurt caused my blood sugar to spike up to over 120. Usually, when a food spikes my blood sugar that high, it then drops dramatically, to less than 70. But with frozen yogurt, it stays in the 80s or even 90s, and that could be very problematic for a diabetic. So in regards to its blood sugar response, frozen yogurt is actually less healthy than ice cream.
I mention in my God-given Foods Eating Plan book that juice is not a God-given method of consuming fruit. The reason is that with commercial fruit juices, there is always a loss of nutrients. The processing of fruit into juice also greatly increases the blood glucose repose.
I found this to be true by a little experiment. I ate the exact same hot cereal breakfast two days in a row. The first day I mixed in half a cup of drained, canned pineapple with the cereal. The next day, instead of the pineapple itself, I drank the pineapple juice that the pineapple was canned in. That constituted about half a cup. So it was about equal amounts of pineapple versus pineapple juice.
With the pineapple, my blood glucose rose into the 90s then dropped into the mid-70s, a very good response. But with the juice, it rose over 100 then dropped below 70. And that was with just four ounces of juice. Most people probably drink at least eight ounces when they drink juice, and that would cause an even greater crash of blood glucose.
However, I also mention in my book that fruit juice would not be as problematic if it were homemade and made in such a way as to retain the fiber, such as with using a Vitamix. So I tested this idea by using such a homemade juice with my breakfast. But I ended up with just as much of a glucose spike and then drop as with the commercial juice. But this time, I drank a large 10 ounce glass of the juice. A smaller amount might not have been problematic. But still, most any juice is probably best avoided.
It should also be noted that this is where my readings differ considerably from the glycemic index. According to it, fruit juices are not that much higher glycemic than the fruits they are made out of. For instance, apples have a rating of 38 while apple juice is 40. Oranges have a rating of 42 and orange juice 53.
So by the glycemic index, it would seem that it would not make much of a difference is you ate fruit or drank fruit juice. But all of my testing has shown that a serving of fruit does not cause a significant blood sugar spike when eaten with other foods, but fruit juice even when consumed with other foods produces a large spike then crash of blood sugar. In fact, I would say that fruit juice is one of the worst things a hypoglycemic or diabetic could consume.
However, one important exception to this is Lakewood Organic Orange-Carrot juice. For some reason, it is relatively low glycemic. I say "important" as I drank a quart of this juice during my last two powerlifting contests. And it tasted really good. More importantly, the orange-carrot juice is high in potassium, to keep that electrolyte from dropping during a contest. It also provides lots of the antioxidants vitamin A (beta carotene actually) and vitamin C. Antioxidants help prevent muscle damage that can occur during a grueling powerlifting contest.
In my book, I classify vegetables into three types: low, moderate, and high calorie. Low calorie veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, zucchini, and the like. Such veggies have a glycemic rating of essentially zero, meaning they do not elevate blood sugar at all. Moreover, when eaten with high carb foods, the low calorie vegetables help to lower the glycemic response of the whole meal. I've found this to be true, with sautéed veggies working best of all. This is probably because the oil used for sautéing also tends to lessen the glycemic response.
Moderate calorie vegetables include carrots, pumpkin, squash, and tomatoes. In my book I discuss how carrots wrongly received a "bad rap" from the glycemic index when initial testing showed they were high glycemic. But further testing showed they in fact have a moderate rating. And more importantly, carrots are not that high in carbs, so eaten in normal amounts, they do not significantly affect blood glucose.
My testing confirms this. If I eat my basic meal of meat, rice or potatoes, vegetables, and a salad, my glycemic response is only slightly higher if the vegetable is a cup of carrots as compared to a cup of broccoli.
Similarly, pumpkin is listed as being high glycemic. But when I eat it, since it is somewhat high in carbs, I'll eat it as both my vegetable and my carb source. And eating even a cup or more of pumpkin with my meat and salad still gives the meal a low glycemic response.
Tomatoes have a low glycemic rating. And have found that they are not problematic at all. I usually include some tomato on my salad, and I often use canned tomatoes of some sort in cooking. For instance, I will spread a can of diced tomatoes over salmon when I cook it. Or I will add some tomatoes to a stir fry. These additions of tomatoes do not increase the glycemic response of the meal.
However, surprisingly, tomato soup was problematic. It caused my blood glucose to drop too low, even when only a cup was consumed with a meal. This was especially surprising since tomato soup has a low glycemic rating. Maybe this was because I was using canned tomato soup while the ratings might have been based on homemade soup.
But an organic "Very Veggie" juice was not problematic at all. It contains seven different vegetables, but is mostly tomato. But unlike the soup, it is very thick, more of a "sludge" then a liquid, so that heaviness might have made the difference. This was good as I drank this juice after weighing in for my last two contests as it is very high in potassium, an electrolyte that needs to be restored after cutting weight.
A canned lentil soup also was not problematic. This was not surprising as lentils and other legumes are all low glycemic. Other legumes I have tested have also given a low response.
The most notable high calorie vegetables are potatoes. I state in my book that sweet potatoes are lower glycemic than white potatoes. And that has proven to be true. However, if the white potatoes are eaten as part of my normal meal, they do not cause a significantly higher blood glucose spike than a lower carb source like sweet potatoes or corn.
However, if both white potatoes and carrots are eaten at the same meal, that does produce a significantly higher glycemic response. So eaten separately with other foods these somewhat higher glycemic foods are okay, but together, they are problematic.
So the basic meal plan that I recommend works. Even if a high glycemic carb source like white potatoes is eaten, the fat and protein in the meat and the fiber in the vegetables and salad prevent a dramatic blood glucose response. This is why the glycemic index is only somewhat useful. It ignores the affect of the other foods eaten with the meal. And I have found that meat and vegetables are the ideal foods to eat in combination with a high carb food. That combination almost never produces a high glycemic response.
I mention in my book that salsa is probably the healthiest condiment. This is because it does not contain added sugar like ketchup of BBQ sauce. It is also good for blood glucose control.
For instance, one of my favorite lunches is a tortilla. For it, I use a large Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla with about 3 ounces of lean ground meat or turkey and a cup of veggies rolled inside. I then will use about ½ cup of salsa. And that meal produces a low glycemic response. When I eat tacos and tortilla chips, the other foods are similar, and again, those meals produce a low response as well.
I used to use 1-2 tablespoons of ketchup when I ate a sandwich. The sandwich would usually include about 3 ounces of meat, and maybe a little cheese, with a side of veggies. But even that small amount of ketchup caused an increase in the glycemic response, so now I usually use salsa instead.
BBQ sauce seems to be even more problematic. Even a small amount significantly increases the glycemic response of the meal.
Pizza and Hoagies:
Pizza keeps glucose up longer than any other food. Researchers compared a pizza meal with a control meal that included high GI foods & found the initial glucose increase was similar. But, for the pizza meal, glucose was still high even after 4-5 hours (http://optimalhealth.cia.com.au/gi17.html).
I found this to be true. Eating two slices of delivery pizza with a salad raised my blood glucose into the high 90s at the half an hour mark. Most often, when a food raises my blood glucose to that level, it will then drop into the upper 70s an hour later. But with pizza, it was still in the 90s an hour later. But still, 90s is not that high, and such a response is not problematic for a hypoglycemic. But a diabetic might see an even higher increase, and remaining at that higher level for an extended period of time might be problematic.
Then I tried eating just one slice of pizza, with a side of stir fry veggies with a little meat mixed in. This time, the spike was still into the 90s, but then it dropped into the 80s, so that would be a little better for the diabetic. I also often make my own pizza using whole grain pita bread, again, with a side of stir fried veggies and meat. The response to it is the same as with the pizza and stir fry.
I also tried a 6" Subway roast beef hoagie (submarine sandwich) with double meat. The results were about the same as for pizza. It raised my blood glucose to 89, but then it was still there an hour later.
Colonoscopy and Check-up
Before closing this article, I want to relate another experience. Two days after Christmas '07, I had a colonoscopy done. For those who don't know, to have this done, you have to refrain from all food intake for at least 24 hours before the test. You also have to take laxatives to "clean you out."
When I came home from the hospital after the colonoscopy but before I ate anything, I tested my blood glucose, and it was a low 62. That was not surprising since it has been over 28 hours since I had eaten. But then I ate a much larger than normal lunch, and my blood glucose rose to 116. That is much higher than the 80s-90s that I usually get after lunch, but again, not surprising given the extra large meal.
I ate a little more than normal for the rest of my meals that day, and again, not surprisingly, my blood glucose remained higher than normal the whole day.
But what was surprising is that the entire next day my blood glucose was also running higher than normal, even though I was back to eating normal amounts. It was not until two days later that my blood glucose stabilized back to where it has been beforehand. This goes to show how important it is to not miss meals.
On a related note, I've mentioned n this article that meat is ideal for lessening the glycemic response of other high carb foods. In my book, I present many other benefits to meat eating. And in fact I eat a lot of meat and have for years. I generally eat 3-5 ounces of meat 2-4 times a day. I eat this much meat as I've found I just feel better by doing so. One reason for this is probably due to this beneficial effect of meat on the glycemic response of other foods.
However, one common objection to meat eating is that it raises the risk of colon cancer. But I propose in my book that this is only true if "non-God-given meats" are consumed. With "God-given meats" there is no such problem. I detail in my book the difference, and I of course, only eat God-given meats.
The results of my colonoscopy were that my colon was perfectly clear, no polyps, no cancer, no pre-cancer. My colon was so clear that the doctor told me not to bother having a colonoscopy done again for another decade.
It is also commonly claimed that meat-eating increases the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. But I recently had a basic check-up and routine blood test done. My blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride, and PSA levels were all just fine. So it would seem I am correct that with God-given meats there are no health detriments, only benefits, especially for the hypoglycemic and diabetic.
Summary of Modifications
As mentioned at the beginning of this two-part article, for the most part, the eating plan outlined in my book is ideal for control of blood glucose levels. However, this article has detailed some minor modifications that need to be made to the basic eating plan for the hypoglycemic or diabetic. So I will close this article by summarizing these modifications.
First, in my book I state about high-glycemic whole grain products like cold cereal, "These can be eaten, but in lesser amounts than the above [low-glycemic whole grain products], and the cereals must be low in sugar" (p.222). However, it would be best for the hypoglycemic and diabetic to avoid such grain products, especially most cold cereals. Even most whole grain, low sugar cold cereals cause too much of an insulin spike.
Second, I say to avoid commercial fruit juices. This is especially true for the hypoglycemic and dietetic. But I then state, "But if the juice is homemade using all of the edible parts of the fruit, then such juice could be consumed on a limited basis" p. 221). But again, it is best to avoid most fruit juice altogether.
Third, I recommend dark chocolate as a healthy snack. However, dark chocolate is too high-glycemic and should not be eaten as a snack by itself. This would be even more so for milk chocolate. But a small amount of dark chocolate as a mini-desert after a meal would be acceptable.
Fourth, I recommend the use of honey, molasses, and maple syrup as being relatively healthy sweeteners. But then I state, "even such unrefined sugars should only be used in limited amounts, no more than one tablespoon total a day" (p. 225). But even a tablespoon a day might be too much. A teaspoon or so at a time might be a better limit. Brown rice syrup is a better option as it has less of a glycemic response than these sweeteners.
Fifth, it was indicated in this article that whole grain pancakes are low glycemic. But using maple syrup on them would greatly elevate the glycemic response. In my book I recommend using real maple syrup not imitation syrup since the latter is generally just a concoction of artificial ingredients. But a comprise that might need to be made for the diabetic or hypoglycemic is to use a low calorie sugar free syrup.
One such brand I use is "Vermont Sugar Free Syrup." It uses Slenda (sucralose). This is an artificial sweetener, and generally speaking such sweeteners are best avoided. However, I state about artificial sweeteners in my book, "But if you have to choose one, sucralose is probably the safest option" (p. 225).
Sixth, salsa is the best condiment to use, while ketchup and especially BBQ are probably best avoided.
These minor modifications are about it. Basically, they can best be summarized as saying the hypoglycemic or diabetic just needs to be a little bit more strict in following my "God-given foods eating plan" than the average person.
Effects of these Modifications
Since I made these minor modifications to my eating plan, I have noticed a few beneficial effects. First off, my metabolism has been elevated. I don't want to lose weight, so I've actually had to alter my eating plan to eat more on a regular basis to keep from losing weight. This fits with my book where I state that the types of foods one eats is as important as how much one eats when it comes to body fat loss.
Second, any remaining sweet cravings have been eliminated, along with hunger pangs.
Third, my powerlifting training has been going especially well, after having stagnated for some time.
Fourth, I've been sleeping better. This is a very important point as I've always had a problem with insomnia. Maybe the insomnia was being caused by my blood sugar swings through the day. But now that I have my blood sugar stable through the day, I'm able to sleep better at night.
However, unfortunately, I haven't noticed any significant relief from my fibromyalgia fatigue or other health problems like I had hoped. But still, the above benefits make it worthwhile. Also, by keeping my blood glucose on an even keel, I am ensuring that I do not develop insulin resistance and thus diabetes. And that is probably the most important benefit of all.
If the reader is struggling with blood glucose problems, I hope by having related my experiences in this two-part article, it helps you to design an eating plan that will bring your blood glucose under control. For further details on all of the foods mentioned in this article and the overall eating plan, see my book God-given Foods Eating Plan.
Foods and Meals Effects on Blood Glucose. Copyright 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The above article first appeared in the free
FitTips for One and All newsletter.
It was posted on this Web site August 1, 2008.
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