First Attempt at the Carb Challenge: Oats

If you have been noticing all my social media tidbits about a book called “Wired to Eat” and all the blood sugar readings I’ve been posting, you may be ready for this post. The author of this book, Robb Wolf, is really interested in how food affects people differently.  We all tend to agree that there are foundational principles in nutrition that make up the bulk of what most people should be eating.  However, there are always going to be caveats and exceptions to every rule.  In the functional medicine community, the health industry, and the Ancestral physicians, we have some different opinions on carbs:

How many carbs should someone eat?

What kinds of carbs?

What ratios of carbs to other macronutrients?

The answer to all these questions tends to be simple: “It depends.”  And really, more specifically, it depends on YOU.  Everyone’s body needs adequate nutrition for survival and thriving, but how we get those nutrients can look very different.  (If you are a healthcare practitioner who is familiar with Weston A. Price’s work, you know all about how different diets can be!)

I took a couple weeks to read the book, get a glucose monitor and test random times throughout the day to get a good idea of what my blood sugar is on a regular basis.

Fasting am: 73-83

Fasted am or pm after high intensity workout: 110 or 104 respectively

Fasting pm (lunch at 12, test at 5:30pm): 73

AM after a 50% carb breakfast and workout: 63

2 hour after normal meal: 83

I figured that was enough data for me to know that I am not diabetic, I run in the 70s and 80s on a normal day, and I would expect my sugars 2 hours after a meal to be close to that.  At minimum, I would expect them to read under 100 2 hours post eating.

For the carb challenge, Robb suggests eating 50g of net carbs by ingesting ONE kind.  This way, you can see what that ONE food is doing vs combinations.  The truth is, this is highly unlikely in a real scenario, but it will give more detailed and specific information.  The average non-diabetic, non-insulin resistant person should have fairly normal blood glucose levels 2 hours after eating those 50g of net carbs.  If not, then it may be worth evaluating the amount someone eats in one sitting or which types of carbs your body responds more efficiently to.

Test #1:

What? Oats with a Tbsp of grassfed butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I think it’s wise to have some fat for mineral absorption and I wanted it to be fairly close to what I would normally eat it with without sacrificing macronutrient profiles.  I also needed A LITTLE flavor or I would not have been able to do it.

Why?  Oats are gluten free, and on occasion, I would eat oats.  I do prefer they are prepared correctly, and made that part of the plan.  I only want to test foods that I would actually eat. I soaked steel-cut oats overnight in water and apple cider vinegar and cooked them in the morning.

How much? It takes about 2 cups of cooked oats to give you 50g net carbs.

How was it? Terrible. It took me 25 minutes to get those 2 cups down the hatch and I was sure the last bite was going to push me over the edge.  Due to the sheer volume, I felt overly full and uncomfortable until around 10:30am (2 1/2 hours after eating them).  By 11am, I was so hungry I could’ve eaten a cow.

Blood sugar before eating it? 73

Blood sugar 2 hours after eating it? 122

Take away for me? Since it was so hard to consume that amount, my guess is that oats are a food that would be difficult for me to overeat in the carb department.  Since the fiber content is so high, you have to eat a lot more volume to reach those 50g.  Also, I would never eat 2 cups again (not just because it was too much) because I wouldn’t be happy with that blood sugar response to a meal. I also just didn’t enjoy how I felt.  I went from overly full to overly ravenous way too quickly once the switch began.

Things I will consider:  This was my first test, so I plan to do more and have data to compare.  Will my readings be similar to 50g net carbs regardless of the source? If I find that my readings on 50g are similar regardless of fruit, veggie, or grain, I will not likely vilify oats; I would be more apt to vilify the quantity of carbs in one sitting for me.  Will they be better than oats?  If I find that a fruit gives me better 2 hour readings despite being the same 50g of carbs, then I will likely make the decision that my body doesn’t handle oats as nicely as other things.  If I want to be really anal, I will go back and halve the carb load to 25g (1 cup) and see what my reading is to verify if it was in fact the oats or just the dose.

Follow along as I test more sources of carbs and I encourage you to play with your own results to find what works for YOU!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *