In my last post I shared with you a weight loss technique I’ve started using on myself and with my clients regarding measuring blood sugar at home at various times during the day.
You then use the results of your experiment to form a diet strategy tailored specifically to YOU and your personal metabolism to help ignite your fat burning hormones.
In this post I am going to discuss how to use the results of your blood sugar experiment to formulate your personalized diet plan.
Remember, the theory is that we cannot burn fat when insulin is present in any significant quantity in our blood stream.
High blood sugar –> high blood insulin –> fat burning inhibited = no weight loss / possible weight gain.
That’s why measuring your blood glucose levels and knowing what they are throughout the day can be so highly beneficial.
Knowing which foods raise your insulin levels and which ones have a negligible effect is half the battle.
So, you followed my guidelines from the previous post and you’ve been running your own blood sugar experiment.
One trick then is to use the blood sugar data you collected and manipulate your diet so as to prevent excess amounts of insulin from being secreted in the first place.
You accomplish this by limiting the foods that cause you significant increases in blood glucose levels and eating plenty of the foods that have little effect on your blood sugar, essentially creating your own personalized low carb diet.
The Importance of a Personalized Diet Plan
There’s a very high chance that personalizing a diet specifically to your personal metabolism will be THE thing that will make you successful when attempting to lose your unwanted body fat.
There are a handful of popular ways of eating you could be following right now that all have success stories AND scientific research tied to them – real food diet, low carb, Paleo, LCHF, Ketogenic, etc.
Just to let you know, I endorse all of these different lower carb lifestyles. They all work.
But not all of these ways of eating work for all people.
To learn more about the low carb diet and 5 advanced strategies you probably don’t know about, check out my Kindle Ebook on Amazon here –> Low Carb Diet Strategies You Don’t Know About.
But how do you know which diet will work for you?
That’s what you’ve got to figure out by doing a little self-experimentation.
You see, foods will cause a different biochemical reaction in your body (it will be metabolized slightly differently) than it will in someone else’s body.
The fact is, some people can tolerate consuming carbohydrates, the food group that gets broken down into glucose before entering the blood stream, better than others who may have a tendency to store them as fat. These people are now becoming known as carbohydrate intolerant.
You probably know that person who can seemingly eat anything they want and never gain an ounce. They’re extremely carbohydrate tolerant.
My guess is, however, that you probably know more people at this point who seemingly put on fat no matter what they eat.
Maybe that person is you?
Performing the blood sugar experiments we spoke about in part 1 of this series, both fasted first thing in the morning and again 2 hours after you eat, is a great technique for discovering exactly how your body specifically reacts to different foods.
Knowing the way your body metabolizes any food, such as a sweet potato (“a safe starch” in the Paleo world), can help you personalize a diet plan that will control your blood sugar levels and optimize your fat burning capacity.
How to Control Your Blood Sugar with a Personalized Low Carb Diet Plan
Here is my 4 step strategy for A) discovering which foods will make YOU store and/or lose fat and B) personalizing your low carb diet plan.
1. Test your blood sugar for a minimum of 3-5 days before making diet changes.
If you are currently having blood sugar control issues, which may be a possibility if you are even a few pounds overweight, doing this first step will give you a good idea of what your blood sugar levels currently look like and what changes you may need to make to get them within normal readings.
The meter is small, reliable and shows results in only 5 seconds.
Measure your blood sugar first thing in the morning on an empty stomach as well as 2 hours after meals and snacks. The glucose meter above does a nice job of storing your readings but you may want to start a spreadsheet for easy data tracking.
On this spreadsheet I also suggest adding what foods you ate prior to the post-meal readings. That way, you will have cause and affect laid out right in front of you.
2. Experiment with different foods, including fast acting carbs.
Once you have your baseline blood sugar numbers it’s time to do some real experimenting.
*Note: if you are a diabetic please don’t do this step. Chances are you know what foods you can and can’t handle and I don’t want you to overload your body with insulin your body doesn’t handle well.
Experiment by eating some of your favorite foods, whether they’re starchy carbs or not. Include all your beverages, your desserts and foods you think you can’t live without. Then test your blood sugar 2 hours later.
The funny thing about this step is that it may be tough for you to do. For example, once I saw how some of the normal everyday foods I was eating negatively affected my blood sugar levels, I didn’t want to eat the things I KNEW would send them out of control.
Here’s a quick story about my experiment with blood sugar testing:
On my first day of testing I had grand plans. First, I tested a low carb, high fat breakfast of eggs, bacon, and avocado with spectacular results. My 2 hour post prandial blood glucose reading was 87.
For lunch I tested a BLT on 2 pieces of small white bread. When I tell you small, I mean that when I was finished with the sandwich I was still hungry. Two hours later when I tested I had a blood sugar of 139. That’s not horrible, but according to what Chris Kresser thinks is a better guideline for the 2 hour mark, I should have been below 120 at that time.
Did I mention that it was 2 LITTLE pieces of white bread that did this to me? Unreal…
I was sort of pissed about that. So much so that it made me not want to perform the third test I had planned, a soft ice cream cone from my favorite summer ice cream place (naively hoping it wouldn’t have a negative effect on my blood sugar).
If white bread caused that much of a spike in MY body, I shuttered at the thought of what a sugary ice cream would do to me.
So, I never got my ice cream, and my testing was over. I was on the straight and narrow. I have certainly tightened up my diet since then knowing that I have started to become carbohydrate intolerant.
I’m sort of kicking myself for not testing further with fast acting carbs and other foods I *think* I tolerate well. I’m too far along my own personalized diet plan to go back and test all willy nilly now, and that’s why I want to encourage you to do some testing.
Find out how your body responds to the following foods in various quantities: pasta, bread, ice cream, bagels, candy bars, bananas, watermelon, sweet potatoes, rice, pizza, chicken wings, veggies and any other food that you eat a ton of.
Make sure to keep track of your results on your spreadsheet.
You may be shocked at some of the results you get. I know it was enough to bring me back to reality.
3. Formulate your personalized low carb diet plan based on data collected from steps 1 and 2.
The first diet change that everyone should make is simply this –> eat real food.
There’s no room in a healthy diet that promotes longevity and weight loss for any food that doesn’t consist of one ingredient or is highly processed by man.
You can read more about eating real food in this post I wrote previously.
Next, from the blood sugar readings you’ll collect at baseline (step 1) and during food specific experimentation (step 2) you’ll have a clear idea of how efficient your body is in metabolizing carbohydrates.
If you get a higher blood sugar reading after eating a specific meal you’ll know that your body is intolerant of the carbs you ate.
If you get a normal blood sugar reading then you know your body is tolerant of the carbs you ate.
Furthermore, there may be some carbs your body is ok with and others it flat out hates. This is why simply going on a low carb diet won’t work for everyone and why experimentation is so important.
Your personalized low carb diet plan will consist mainly of the foods that you consume where your blood sugar levels are within normal ranges 2 hours post-prandial.
You’ll avoid all foods that cause your blood sugar to remain elevated outside of normal ranges.
By consistently consuming foods your body tolerates well, you will decrease the inflammation of the body and increase your insulin sensitivity as well.
This will be a great thing for when you do consume carbs, as your body will respond more efficiently to metabolizing them.
Keep a running list of all the foods that you should avoid and all the foods that you can consume freely. Refer to this list daily as your personalized diet plan.
4. Continue to test and tweak your results.
Once you are following your personalized low carb diet plan it will still be important for you to continue to test your blood sugar and tweak your results accordingly.
You may not need to test daily, but performing a morning fasted blood sugar test 1-3 times per week is still suggested. If you aren’t within your normal range you may have to look at the previous day to find out why.
You may still want to test the occasional 2 hour post-prandial blood sugar as well, to make sure your body is handling any carbs you consume well.
Keep track of all of your meals and your blood sugar tests on your spreadsheet so you can go back to look at what’s working, and, more importantly, what’s not working at a moment’s notice.
Wrapping Things Up
As you can see, self-experimenting by testing your blood sugar can give you brilliant insight to be able to design your very own personalized low carb diet plan.
This plan will be specific to your metabolism and allows you to not have to blindly follow some random diet that *may* have worked for someone else.
Remember, what gets measured gets improved upon. Keep track of all the meals you eat and all of your subsequent blood sugar readings so you can go back and easily determine what’s working for you and what’s not.
Eat the foods that your body can handle well, as determined by your blood sugar readings, and avoid the ones that your body can’t tolerate.
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