“My high sugar diet has really improved my glucose clearance. My 1-hour post-prandial readings decreased from 120’s to the upper 90’s. My waking temps are 97.8, up to 98.4 after eating (that’s during the first half of my cycle, I get even hotter the second half).
Plus I’m happy, energetic, sleeping well and waking up spontaneously and well rested at about 6am.
I’m enjoying eating lots and lots of fruit, some milk, a little gelatin here and there, lots of carbs, a smattering of meat and veggies. I avoid [polyunsaturated fats], but not obsessively. And I eat Lemon Sorbet whenever I feel like it. :-)”
I’m in Reno for a couple of months, and, naturally, I went to a casino restaurant where some Asian dude (not Debbie’s husband) was putting on a cooking show – chock full of cheesy jokes, spatula acrobatics, and unnecessary explosions. And afterward, my buddy Aaron, weird diet warrior and follower of the 180 blog since way back, struck up a conversation with an older gentleman sitting on the other side of the Teppanyaki griddle.
“Well, you gotta watch out for sugar and carbohydrates in your diet now, my Doctor says,” I hear the gray-haired gentleman say.
I tried to hide my smile and prayed Aaron would shut the hell up and just talk about basketball, like a normal guy. Oh but no. He had to make a spectacle out of it and mention that I had written a book about type 2 diabetes. Then he put me on the spot to somehow convince this guy, in a sentence or two, shouting across this giant, steaming, soy sauce target, that carbohydrates didn’t cause blood sugar to become too high. I didn’t give it much effort. It’s not that easy of a thing to explain. Well, not on the spot at least.
Here is a quick and easy-to-grasp primer on why the belief that carbohydrates cause diabetes or some other nonsense is simple-minded fad thinking, more akin to rumor than fact. Not to use a worn-out metaphor, but blaming carbohydrates for diabetes is like blaming firemen for fires, just because there are usually a lot of firemen around when a building is aflame.
In a healthy person, when you eat a meal rich in carbohydrates (as well as fat and protein), the body secretes insulin. This insulin takes the sugar and amino acids that hit the bloodstream from the food you just ate and stores it away into skeletal muscle and the liver primarily. Accompanying this process is a rise in glycogen synthase, an enzyme that helps to convert sugar into its storage form as glycogen. Also, right after a high-carb meal, you see a big increase in glucose oxidation – the body is busy burning sugar for energy.
All these things combine to maintain homeostasis – keeping sugar levels in the blood stable by quickly “clearing” glucose out of the bloodstream by a combination of storing it away into muscles as glycogen and burning sugar at an accelerated rate.
But with the rapid surge of insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes that we’re seeing in the world today – this process is getting progressively worse. Insulin resistance means that the body’s liver and muscle cells are less responsive to the hormone insulin, which stores this stuff away and seems to be the CEO of this whole glucose clearance process. The more insulin resistant a person becomes, the less glycogen synthase they produce after a meal, the less sugar he or she burns after a meal, and the more slowly sugar is cleared out of the bloodstream.
In other words, slow glucose clearance is one of the early signs of there being a defect in glucose metabolism. When glucose metabolism shows significant impairment, it’s referred to as “impaired glucose tolerance.”
“Impaired glucose tolerance is an intermediate category between normal glucose tolerance and overt diabetes, and it can be identified by an oral glucose tolerance test. Subjects with impaired glucose tolerance have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and therefore form an important target group for interventions aimed at preventing diabetes.”
-New England Journal of Medicine
The horrifying trend taking place currently is looking at this issue as precisely that – an ‘intolerance’ to glucose. When you do not tolerate something, you stay away from it. But that is extremely flawed thinking. Try to fix problems by tackling them head-on before looking to permanent restrictions of one of the three sources of calories – carbohydrates.
We should be looking for ways, not just to identify impaired glucose tolerance, but to repair this intolerance. That’s how I look at things, and is precisely why such a high percentage of people, like Jessica Johnson up above (but even some full-blown type 2 diabetics), have had such great success with improving glucose metabolism on the 180D approach. Fixing this problem is one of the single most important things to know how to reverse in the 21st century. And the best answers for how to achieve it in a sustainable and lasting way appear to reside here.
What should the focus be on?
I think the rate of glucose clearance should be the focus, Clarence. The more insulin sensitive a person is, usually the faster their rate of glucose clearance. Someone with ideal glucose metabolism should be able to eat hundreds of grams of carbohydrates in a matter of minutes without seeing much of a rise in blood glucose at all. And this is an achievable thing.
So you grasp the concept, let’s say someone eats 4 slices of cheese pizza. At 1 hour their blood glucose is at 170 mg/dl. At 2 hours their blood glucose is at 110 mg/dl, and at 3 hours their blood glucose is back to what is a normal fasting rate at about 85 mg/dl. That is some pretty crappy glucose clearance.
But after a month of raising metabolic rate, sleeping more, reducing stress, and eating a higher carbohydrate diet, that exact same portion of 4 slices of cheese pizza should now send blood glucose to only around 100 mg/dl at the 1-hour mark, and be back to normal in less than 2 hours. Normal might also be a little lower. Like 70-75 mg/dl. That would represent a substantial increase in the rate of glucose clearance, and signifies a tremendous improvement in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
This may sound like a radical improvement for such a short period of time, but that ain’t nothin.’ A non insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic I worked with recently had her glucose clearance go from 340 mg/dl an hour after a meal to 130 mg/dl an hour after a meal – despite the meal having tons of carbohydrates. It didn’t happen overnight though. It took over a week to see this improvement.
There is much to be explored with glucose clearance, including exploring various meal frequencies, circadian rhythms, types and volumes of exercise, and something we may discuss in the future called glycogen supercompensation (where, by depleting stored carbohydrates, you create a greater reserve for stored glycogen and are thus able to clear much greater levels of carbohydrates out of the bloodstream – and there is some indication that the size of the glycogen reserve has a direct link with health and vitality).
But whether you are neurotic enough to play around with a glucose meter and track this for yourself or not (I wouldn’t recommend it, health fanaticism is a disease potentially worse than diabetes), you can at least take a sigh of relief and realize that you are now free from dully thinking that avoidance of foods that “spike your blood sugar” is the solution to rising rates of glucose in your blood. It is not. It can actually make the root problem worse and impair glucose tolerance and glucose clearance even further. Do not accept insulin resistance as your fate. Like Michael Jackson, just beat it. How? By being like Weird Al… Just eat it. Food that is.