Food Testing Chronicles


The Myth
Not all “low carb” foods are truly low carb. Now that the low carb food movement is well underway, there are many food companies that are eager to take part. Unfortunately, many of the food products don’t really qualify as being low carb. A part of the problem is that there is no standard definition of “low carb.”  As a result, what may be low carb for you, may not be low carb for Nabisco.

Low carb designations come in various forms including, “No Sugar Added,” “Reduced Carb,” “Low Net Carb” or “Sugar Free.” If you’re following a low carbohydrate or ketotic diet, many of these foods will sound very tempting. But buyer beware! Many of these foods behave no differently than their non-“Sugar Free” counterparts. They can either kick you out of ketosis or cause a similar rise in blood sugar. In this blog, I hope to shed some light on these products and help you make a more informed decision about which foods to buy.

I do want to add a disclaimer. The ideal testing method for all foods should involve multiple individuals testing foods multiple times. One or two readings for an individual won’t necessarily be translatable to the general population; as such, you’ll never hear me cry “foul” against a particular product. You can view this blog as educational, inspirational or even as entertainment, but please don’t regard it as a definitive claim for or against a particular food product.  This blog is to help you navigate the “low carb” food product waters. Use this as guide to help you explore the boundaries of what is out there.

You have to decide for yourself how you want to use this information. Depending on your dietary goals, you may find that some of the tested foods may not suit your needs. If you are trying to maintain a very disciplined, low carbohydrate approach to your diet, you might choose the foods that cause very little deviation in blood glucose. If you’re an avid exerciser and feel like you have better carbohydrate tolerance, you may include foods that cause higher fluctuations in blood sugar, but still remain < 120.

The Machine
For blood testing, I used the Abbot Precision Xtra glucose and ketone meter. As far as I know, they are the only ones that make a machine that measures both blood sugar and ketone.

How the testing is performed
My food testing is done under fairly stringent conditions. I test foods on Wednesday and Friday mornings after fasting for about 12 hours. For a day prior to the testing, I follow an easily digestible, almost liquid diet. I avoid any stimulants or cathartics to make sure my digestive tract is fairly “quiet” before the testing is done. I don’t exercise, consume any food or beverages for the 12 hours preceding the tests. I also don’t eat, drink or exert myself during the two hours that I test. I usually begin at 6:30 in the morning with my first blood test. I’ll then immediately eat the food to be tested. I consume the food in the serving sizes that are suggested by the manufacturers. I then check my blood sugar and ketone levels at 30 minute intervals for two hours. On Tuesdays, I test my blood sugar and ketones, while on Fridays, I retest the food, this time just checking my blood sugars.

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