Free Meter for Weight Loss

Free Meter for Weight Loss

Blood Glucose Monitor

It doesn’t hurt. Really!

Blood glucose monitors are devices that we tend to associate with diabetics. According to the CDC, in 1958, about 1% of the US population were diagnosed with what was then called Adult Onset Diabetes. Nowadays, the number is approaching 10% & it’s no longer just adults being diagnosed. This is along with the many more of us that are undiagnosed, or pre-diabetic. With the growing number of Type 2 diabetics, the shelves of our pharmacies display a huge range of these things, like they are the latest best-selling tech gadget for health. Even if we are fortunate enough to have avoided a diagnosis of diabetes, these monitors can be a useful tool to help us keep it that way. Along with being a useful tool to gain some insight on the impact of the foods we eat.

Many of us have impaired our natural feedback loops when it comes to eating. A diet overloaded with sugar and refined starch puts us on the path to obesity. Staying on that path can lead to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Checking our blood sugar levels periodically can help us identify how far down the road we are. And the results can provide some added motivation to change things. If you haven’t used a glucose monitor before, you’ll be fascinated to see what different foods do to your blood glucose levels. That big rib steak wasn’t so bad, was it? But, man, you should have seen my numbers after that pizza! And those cookies were off the chart!

While the correlation isn’t perfect, there is generally some decent relationship between blood glucose levels and insulin when it comes to carbohydrates. Among other things, insulin is released to prevent our blood sugar getting too high. While insulin first stores this energy into our muscles and liver, for more immediate use, it then stores the excess in the long term storage areas … our bellies and our bums! In other words, along with all the wonderful things it does, insulin is the fat storage hormone. This too is wonderful. But if we’re already obese, this probably isn’t what we’re looking for.

A meter won’t cure our obesity. But if you knew that a bagel or a muffin sent your blood sugar soaring, while a bacon and egg breakfast didn’t, how might you consider ordering your next morning meal? And how about that mid-morning snack of healthy yogurt that has 15g of sugar? Did you ever wonder what that might do to your blood sugar level? Keeping our blood sugar levels in the normal range is a good thing. The longer these levels are normalized, the less opportunity there is for storing more fat. A meter can help identify what foods increase our blood sugar so that we can think more carefully when choosing our next snack. An ongoing barrage of sweet treats throughout the day tends to maintain elevated insulin levels. And that may keep us in fat storage mode for the duration. That’s probably not where we want to be if we are hoping to lose weight.

In Canada, the manufacturers offer a “free” monitor with the purchase of a large box of 100 strips. Insurers may also cover the costs of meters and strips if you have a prescription. Most manufacturers have apps that link to their monitors now too. That can be good information to take along to your next doctor’s appointment.

A glucose monitor can be a relatively inexpensive tool to help us understand how our bodies interact with different foods. And it can help us reconstruct our diet to better achieve our goals.

I’d like to think that, one day, I will have repaired my natural feedback loops to the point where I no longer need an external device to tell me what my body is doing.



Rice is a Killer Carb!

Rice is a Killer Carb!

Sunrise Zen Moment

But only in a good way! And now that I’ve now figured out how to eat it.

When I was a little kid, my Mom often told me that my eyes were bigger than my belly! She was right, I always went for the biggest piece. The biggest cup, bowl or plate. The largest slice of anything I thought was nice. Oh boy, if only I’d listened to my Mom!

I have the same problem today. When I filled that tiny pot with just a small serving of rice a few days back, little did I realize that, when cooked, the stuff would grow into three days worth of heavy-duty glycemic load. Though only very occasionally threatened by blood glucose numbers that might suggested I was heading towards prediabetes, I’ve always changed my eating pattern to, hopefully, avoid any consequence. Nowadays, I use a glucose meter to monitor the varying effects of the foods I eat while testing dietary patterns.

The Glycemic Index ranks foods, all with an equivalent glucose content, in order of their impact on blood sugar levels. The Glycemic Load goes one step further, ranking foods by more realistic serving size. The Index, for example, might suggest that we ought not eat carrots. While the Load, recognizing that there is far less sugar in a reasonable serving size, suggests we can.

Except in my case!

Because, sometimes, I have no concept of serving size.

Now, the Glucose Meter helps me see the impact of my eating. Today, my finger tips look like pincushions. After three days of monitoring things, while I was gorging on rice. I couldn’t help but prick my finger every time I sat down, just to see how things stood. It was fascinating.

My blood sugar never went into dangerous territory over the course of the past three days. But it did stay at a higher level than I would like. I don’t buy the theory that says older people should have more relaxed guidelines. I want my blood sugar at or below 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dL) most of the time. It’s been above that for most of the past three days, and today. After eating “well”, and with a lot of variety, since July 1st, I think my body is generally handling the glycemic load better. And remember, I had that bread too when I kicked off this carb-loading binge!

My weight over the course of these four days? Stable!

I think this means that I can safely include some rice, & even some bread, in my long term diet. With the odd binge, of course. If you’ve been following this story for any length of time, you know I’ve already “qualified” potatoes as a health food! But it’s really good news that I can now add these additional, almost forbidden, carbs to my regimen too. Not in these crazy quantities, and maybe not on a daily basis, but I can have them. Now that’s starting to feel a little bit like some kind of dietary freedom! 🙂

I think I need a Zen moment, by the water, to contemplate the sheer magnificence of it all!

An Index of Indices

An Index of Indices

Poison Garden

The Poison Garden at Blarney Castle

From the development of the Glycemic Index, at the University of Toronto, in the early eighties, dieters have been trying to harness the power of indices for weight loss. The researchers at the University of Sydney went on to develop the Glycemic Load Index. The glycemic index tells us the glucose response of foods that contains a fixed amount of carbohydrate. The glycemic load index looks at more realistic serving sizes for each food so that we’re taking the sugar, fiber and water content into account. In other words, the carrot might appear high on the glycemic index, but it’s much lower on the glycemic load index. A pound of carrots is not the same as a pound of sugar.

All good so far, the glycemic load index looks like the winner. But now lets switch to one of my favorite veggies, the potato. The potato numbers vary widely, based on the type of potato and where it’s grown, but, on average, it fares a little worse than the carrot on the glycemic index. It fares much worse on the glycemic load index. That sounds like a problem, doesn’t it? It sounds like it’s not a vegetable, it more like a make-me-fat pill!

The team at the University of Sydney, again, came up with the Insulin Index. Now if we agree with the carbohydrate-insulin theory of weight gain, anything that raises our insulin levels, too high and for too long, makes us fat. There is generally some good correlation between the glucose response (our blood sugar levels) of carbohydrates and their potential for insulin triggering. But on the insulin index, the potato is the worst. It tops the charts for real food (only jelly beans and candy bars were higher), causing a disproportionately high insulin response. Eating potatoes opens the insulin flood gates.

You low-carbers knew you were right all along, didn’t you!

Not so fast though. I am a fan of keto and low carb but, as you may know, I love my potatoes too. There’s one more index to consider, the Satiety Index. Also from the University of Sydney. And guess what? The potato is the king of satiety. The potato makes us feel fuller, for longer, than all the other stuff. It’s even better when compared to the high protein content of meat.

Despite the potato winning at least one of the indices wars, I was generally wary about eating very much. Especially while trying to lose weight. Until one day, I decided to test drive its effect on the scale. I am not diabetic, nor am I on any medications, so please don’t try this if you are not in good health. No question, potatoes blip the blood sugar. I can’t measure it but it’s probably driving up my insulin levels too. What’s going on in there? Are there other little peptides, enzymes and biological goodies that are working in concert with those potatoes that might be doing me some good? In theory, with all that sugar and insulin floating around in my blood, I can’t possibly be burning my own fat, can I? I’m not sure what’s going on in there but I can tell you that it feels great to eat potatoes every now and again. And the scale usually rewards me the following morning.

Now that’s satiety!

PS .. I try to mitigate the effects of eating potatoes in isolation. I cook and cool them first. Then fry them in oil (olive or coconut) or fat (butter or lard). I also mix them with other veggies. Garlic and onion are almost mandatory, just for the flavour. And I’ll usually dress everything with some shredded full fat cheese. I’ll mix them in with shredded cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms or Brussels sprouts. It’s just more volume for that pig out feast. Which I now enjoy without the recriminations. If you can tolerate it, and your doctor okays it, this might be a great way to add some variety and flexibility to an otherwise restrictive regimen.