The introduction of my n=1 experiment concept about a month ago when I first started testing my blood sugars after consuming the so-called “low-carb” pasta from Dreamfields has been very well-received by many of my readers. With more and more companies claiming to provide products that are good for people who are livin’ la vida low-carb, I feel it is my duty to test these claims, share my results publicly, and encourage my readers to do their own n=1 experiments on these same foods to see how they react to them. With easy access to affordable glucometers at your local Wal-mart or drugstore, it’s the perfect of way of seeing for yourself exactly how various foods respond to YOU. When it comes down to it, that’s the only testing that really matters.
My hope with the creation of this series of experiments that I plan on conducting every month or so for the foreseeable future isn’t to try to make any of these companies purporting to have products for low-carb consumers necessarily look bad–on the contrary. I sincerely hope that I’ll see GOOD results in my blood sugar testing after eating products that even I myself have enjoyed as part of my low-carb lifestyle. But rather than guessing how they impact me or taking the the manufacturer at their word when they tell me something is “low-carb,” I’m gonna see whether it’s true for myself and tell you about it. I would hope that any company making products for the low-carb community would actually WELCOME this kind of testing if they genuinely stand behind the carb claims of their products. Transparency and honesty about the carbohydrate counts and blood sugar impact of these low-carb foods should produce lifelong customers for these companies if they are what they say they are.
As I’ve stated many times before (but it bears repeating again), these tests I’m doing don’t actually prove anything except what happens to Jimmy Moore when he eats whatever it is he is testing. Nothing more, nothing less. Even still, I’ve tried to keep the process as scientifically sound as I possibly can and eliminating any confounding variables that might interfere with the testing. Nevertheless, there have been some people who are questioning my methodology for testing and stating how the experiments could be made better. I welcome that kind of input and even encourage people to share their results after replicating these tests for themselves.
In response to my testing of Dreamfields last month where I used the exact same testing procedure used by the researchers in this February 2011 study published in Diabetes Care (consuming the pasta alone with just salt and pepper to flavor), a family physician from Canada who follows a “strict zero carb diet” that has provided him “great success” with his weight and health sent me an e-mail sharing his blood sugar testing results consuming Dreamfields combined with fat and some protein. Here’s what he wrote:
I occasionally use Dreamfields and was intrigued by your results even if I guess why it can happen: it may be about what you eat with them. Studies on glycemic index had taught us this lesson many times. I decided to test myself with added fat and proteins. For 55g of Dreamfields spaghetti, I added 4 tablespoons of butter and bits + fat of 3 lightly cooked bacon strip (uncured and no sugar added). I think this is nearer to the reality of a modified-carb diet meal.
Note that I have a fasting blood sugar over 110, which is a normal number for a zero-carber as the body produces sugar in the morning in response to secretion of “waking hormones” AND as the permanent closing of sugar receptors of the liver prevents any picking up of glucose molecules, a more than normal reaction on a no carbohydrate diet.
Here are my results:
Fasting blood sugar: 112
30 min postprandial: 117
60 min postprandial: 113
90 min postprandial: 115
120 min postprandial: 112
150 min postprandial: 102
As you see, the blood sugar is stable and the variations are not significant. None of the people I know consuming Dreamfields Pasta have ever had problems with them, except having to put down their diabetes medication.
These are certainly interesting results and I encourage others to test just like this medical doctor did to see what happens to them. It is curious how adding fat and protein dampened the impact the Dreamfields pasta had on his blood sugar response–it would have been neat to see the comparison of his experiment to consuming the Dreamfields alone as I did in my testing. But I tee-totally agree with him that most people who consume this product will do so in a manner closer to what he did.
That’s the primary reason why when I moved to my next low-carb product test I decided to use it in a real world situation. I’m referring to my blood sugar testing of the Julian Bakery SmartCarb breads making them into grilled cheese sandwiches earlier this month. Using coconut oil and cheese with the breads, I conducted a comparison experiment using the SmartCarb #1 and #2 breads, traditional white bread, and a traditional whole grain bread. The results were astonishing and I published how my blood sugar reacted on my blog! Interestingly, even that low-carb physician in Canada who defended the use of Dreamfields pasta on a low-carb diet told me he had some issues consuming the alleged “low-carb” breads from Julian Bakery.
I recently tried the bread from Julian Bakery but I got cravings to eat more of it so I decided to stay away from the product.
Shortly after posting my blood sugar test results on the breads a couple of weeks ago, I received some rather defensive and accusatory messages from Julian Bakery representative Heath Squier who wrote in the comments section that my testing was “simply not accurate” because of the use of cheese in my experiment.
Cheese has sugar and if you were making a grilled cheese you most likely used a good amount of cheese. This cheese would of course completely alter the test. This test you posted is simply not accurate and reflects a spike from the cheese.
I shared in my previous post that I used two slices of American cheese with these grilled cheese sandwiches. Each slice does indeed contain 1g natural sugars from the lactose in the milk used in the cheese. Although this same amount of cheese was constant in all of the tests I conducted, Heath was certain THAT was the reason why I saw the rise in my blood sugar readings. He said he has had many of his customers (including diabetics) test their blood sugar levels after eating the bread with “almost no increase in blood glucose” since the bread allegedly contains only 1-2g net carbs per slice after subtracting the fiber from the total carbohydrates. Here’s what he said about the kind of test I should have conducted on his breads instead:
You have to test the product by itself in order to determine if it spikes blood glucose levels or not. The bottom line is that our bread is the best answer for a low-carb diet. This bread is used in hundreds of weight loss clinics nationwide. These clinics all ask their customers to eat the bread by itself.
Okay, Heath, fair enough–challenge accepted! I was happy to conduct this test again of just the SmartCarb breads alone (no coconut oil or cheese this time) after waiting a couple of weeks to let my body recuperate from the previous tests. In fact, for my new tests using Heath’s suggested methodology, I actually used bread from the same loaves I previously tested to keep everything constant about the experiment. Just to review, here’s the nutritional info that Julian Bakery claims regarding their SmartCarb #1 bread:
As you can see, there are 13g total carbs with 12g dietary fiber for a net carb count of 1g. If this is accurate, then there should be very little movement in the blood sugar readings when I consume 2 slices of the SmartCarb #1 bread all by itself. For the record, I would NEVER in a million years consume bread like this all by itself without any kind of fat or something. It’s very dry and took a lot of water to swallow it for this retesting. Even still, I consumed it alone and here were my results:
Blood sugar testing results–June 13, 2011 from 8:15AM-11:15AM
Peak reading: 155
Low reading: 88
My fasting blood glucose was 88 and shot up to 155–nearly DOUBLE!–within 45 minutes of eating two slices of the SmartCarb #1 bread alone. You’ll recall when I ate this exact same bread with coconut oil and cheese, my peak reading only reached 125. So why did my blood sugar go up an additional 30 points this time, Heath? There was no cheese consumed with it; just the SmartCarb #1 bread all by itself as you requested. Why would it spike like that if the impact of two slices of this bread was only supposed to be 2g carbohydrates? Now let’s take a look at what happened when I consumed two slices of the SmartCarb #2 cinnamon raisin bread that are supposed to contain 2g net carbs per slice? Here were the results from that blood sugar testing:
Blood sugar testing results–June 14, 2011 from 7:45AM-10:45AM
Peak reading: 137
Low reading: 92
My fasting blood sugar was 97 this time and I hit a peak of 137 within 30 minutes of consuming just two slices of the SmartCarb #2 bread all by themselves. My previous test of this bread showed a peak of only 133 eating it with coconut oil and two slices of American cheese. So, again, I have to ask what made my blood sugar spike, Heath? Could it be that the claims made by Julian Bakery about their “low-carb” SmartCarb breads are somehow inaccurate or misleading? It certainly appears that way based on my n=1 testing of these breads. Very clearly, it doesn’t look like the cheese was the culprit after all.
What are we to make of this retesting of Julian Bakery’s SmartCarb breads? It appears the bellyaching about the methodology used in the previous test was much ado about nothing. The results speak for themselves. If anything, the fat from the coconut oil and the fat and protein from the cheese I used in my original testing of the breads seemed to slow the blood sugar rise. Plus, it’s the way most people who get “low-carb” bread would probably use it in the real world. A grilled cheese, French toast, a sandwich…that’s how the bread is being used by people purchasing it. Not by itself as Heath claims.
I really had no intention of bringing any ill will towards Julian Bakery because of my n=1 experiment of his SmartCarb breads. But he took this personally and lashed out at me by questioning my integrity. My results are what they are and I don’t know what else to say other than buyer beware. Maybe your blood sugar will respond differently than mine and perhaps I’m the quirky one who shows a response to eating this bread when nobody else has that kind of reaction. Again, this goes back to my original purpose in starting these personal experiments–getting people to test the foods they consume on their low-carb diet to see how they impact them. The more you are educated about how certain foods react in your body, the better off your health will be in the end so you can make informed choices about what you put inside of your body. And that’s the essence of my n=1 experiments.
Next up on my n=1 radar screen–Atkins bars! Look for those tests coming up in mid-to-late July. Should be interesting to see what happens. As always, I encourage and welcome your feedback in the comments section below.