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n=1

One of the common themes you’ve often heard me share over the years is find what works for you, follow that plan exactly as prescribed and keep doing it for the rest of your life. I’m a big believer in the concept of n=1 and that we are all different. That simply means we each have varying nutritional and fitness needs that require a customized plan to meet us where we are metabolically, physically, and even psychologically. It’s that final point–psychologically–that usually leads so many of us low-carbers to seek out special treats that we hope fit within our commitment to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. And yet, ironically, it’s these same foods that oftentimes derail our efforts to see the kind of fat loss and health improvements that led us to start livin’ la vida low-carb in the first place. We’re just one messed up bunch, aren’t we?

But the fact of the matter is we each have a tolerance to these kind of foods that can be measured on a scale from very sensitive to no impact at all. Many times on low-carb forums like mine you’ll see someone comment about a particular “low-carb” food that one person says makes their blood sugar spike and/or they gain weight while someone else responds that there was no impact on their blood sugar and they lost weight. Somebody will inevitably chime in with the all-too-familiar initials YMMV which stands for “your mileage may vary.” And it’s certainly true as has been articulated by people like Gary Taubes regarding a person’s tolerance to foods. Is it fair that some people are able to eat foods that we cannot because their bodies handle it better? No. But it is what it is. The sooner you can accept that as a reality, the sooner you’ll be able to become pro-active in doing what is right for your weight and health.

All of this got me to thinking about the foods I consume as part of my healthy low-carb lifestyle and whether I’m maximizing my ability to improve my weight (which is higher than I’d like it to be, but still well over triple-digits lower than the 410 pounds I was in 2004) and my health (which I cannot complain about with stellar blood lipids, steady blood sugar control, and an overall healthy and active 39-year old body even if I do say so myself). The only way to know for sure is to test, test and test some more my personal blood sugar responses to foods. All this thinking about testing makes me wonder what products that are promoted as “low-carb” could likely have what I’ll refer to as “the Dreamfields effect” (see my test results of this “low-carb” pasta below) going on? There are plenty of candidates for testing and I want to try to get to as many of them as possible over the course of the next year or so. I think this is too important for the low-carb community to simply gloss over and turn a blind eye to. We have to know how certain foods we are consuming are impacting our blood sugars and the only way to know with certainty is to test.

While my body may respond in a certain way to these various foods I’ll be testing, that doesn’t mean they’ll do the same in your body. That’s why I highly encourage YOU to purchase your own glucometer and testing strips to see what happens to your blood sugar to determine whether or not these foods are impacting you the same way they are impacting me. While there’s nothing necessarily “proven” by what I’ll be sharing in my n=1 experiments, I certainly want them to be as scientific as they can possibly be. No, I’m not a researcher nor am I a scientist. I’m simply an informed and interested individual who wants to find answers to the most pressing questions regarding nutrition and health.

People who are new to this way of eating cannot attempt to go on a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb nutritional approach without first having an honest assessment of the foods claiming to fit within that mold. This is why low-carb is first and foremost a “real food” diet plan consisting of delicious and nutritious foods that provide nourishment, satiety and energy from the fat and protein you consume while minimizing the impact of the hormone insulin when restricting carbohydrates. It’s the basis of what makes livin’ la vida low-carb work and something that needs to be harped on more heavily as we educate the public about low-carb. There are PLENTY of products I have every intention of getting to in the coming months and likely years–so be patient with me as I do these experiments.

I’m not going to do more than one test per month so I can give my body time to recover from any blood sugar spikes that take place during testing periods (since I’ll also be consuming the “bad” version of these same foods for a fair comparison). It does me no good to conduct these tests over a short period of time if I’m gaining weight and destroying my health in the process. I know you’ll understand. But the payoff for your patience will be worth it when you see the results of these tests that I have for you. And boy do I have some good ones to share with you.

Here’s a schedule of tests that I have conducted and/or have planned in the future:

MAY 2011: Dreamfields pasta
JUNE 2011: Julian Bakery SmartCarb breads with coconut oil and cheese
JUNE 2011: Julian Bakery SmartCarb breads alone
JULY 2011: Atkins shakes
APRIL 2012: “Safe Starch” Sweet Potato
JUNE 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 1-30
JULY 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 31-60
AUGUST 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 61-90
SEPTEMBER 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 91-120
OCTOBER 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 121-150
NOVEMBER 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 151-180
DECEMBER 2012: Nutritional Ketosis Day 181-210
JANUARY 2013: Nutritional Ketosis Day 211-240
FEBRUARY 2013: Nutritional Ketosis Day 241-270
MARCH 2013: Nutritional Ketosis Day 271-300
APRIL 2013: Nutritional Ketosis Day 301-330
MAY 2013: Nutritional Ketosis Day 331-360 (FINAL UPDATE!)

Here are the weight loss results on my one-year nutritional ketosis experiment from May 2012-May 2013:

I’ll be updating this page each time with the results of my testing. If there is a specific food that you feel like needs to be tested, then please e-mail the name of the product to livinlowcarbman@charter.net. Please note that I will not be testing products that have to be consumed with other foods such as low-carb ketchup, flours, sauces, etc. THANKS for sharing in my n=1 journey! Ready for the ride…let’s go!

Share YOUR test results in the comments section of the specific posts!