Glucose spikes: eating carbs but drastically lowering them


(PJ) #1

I found a woman who addresses stuff I have always felt was important but didn’t get enough play in the public, and was often assumptions and superstition rather than research and measured results. I like her. She’s on instagram. She goes by the alias ‘glucose goddess’ (she wrote a book on the topic).

She has a great series of glucose charts on there about the spike (the spike and rise of glucose is a primary health issue) and how different foods affect it in sequence or combination . I think this is important stuff for people who are carb cycling, or who eat carbs/fruit with exercise.

So for example if you take 1 Tbsp of vinegar (any kind) in a bit of water prior to eating, even if you’re eating pasta, the spike is drastically reduced.

If you are eating a meal with for example steak, green beans and baked potato, your glucose will be very different if you eat it in the order she recommends – fiber (failing any of those, fats) first (green beans), protein second (steak), sugars/carbs last (potato). I mean it’s literally the difference between a meal that does legit body damage vs. one that is no big deal at all – and the same foods were involved.

If you eat the same sweet thing as dessert (so after your meal) instead of on its own or for breakfast, it’s drastically different in the body. She also in the book talks about the impact of exercising (like a walk) after you eat, and not being sleep deprived.

This issue, of food combination, and food sequence, is really important and seldom gets the attention it deserves.

Just thought I’d mention it. My new eating plan has two weeks of no carb restriction, in cycles, but I will be sure and eat in the sequence she recommends. She has ton of these cute little images with measured blood sugar examples, I’ll put a few in here.








It seems like managing symptoms (blood sugar fluctuations) to avoid dealing with the cause: metabolic dysfunction. Devising dietary hacks to continue eating the stuff that caused the problem is not going to help solve it.


I think the only way to confirm her theories for your personal eating plan is to wear a continuous glucose monitor but they are generally by prescritption in the US so that is generally impossible. I am told outside the US in some places you can buy them in a drugstore but I have no idea. Otherwise you are just guessing. A friend who is not diabetic recently started using one and she was surprised at what did and did not cause blood sugar increases and where her bg was when she got hungry. In some ways it was the opposite of what she expected


Makes sense. We know the high GI of carby food is reduced if we eat it with something else (I am sure it’s too sloppy but I never cared about it much and my memory isn’t all perfect. some things it retain super well, others are deleted immediately and the rest is in between).
And I know very well that grapes alone are different from grapes followed by some sausage :smiley: My otherwise pretty resilient body managed to show slight sugar poisoning symptoms in the first case and all was fine in the second.

I didn’t know the vinegar trick, wow. Too bad my SO couldn’t drink that stuff (I am the big vinegar lover and he is the one who has problems with high GI stuff. I have problems with much carbs, no matter what) and I just keep my carbs pretty low all the time, it’s way easier and better for me… But I eat everything with eggs anyway. Or fat, in the very least. I don’t know how to eat carbs only, never did (okay, fruits were exceptional but as they made me hungry, food was nearby anyway and food meant lots of protein and even more fat to me).

So in good cases one just eat whatever their body fancies and hopefully all is well. That’s my style. Sometimes my mind hack the system but I am too big of a hedonist not to learn and desire what is good for me almost all the time. Being unwell is NOT hedonistic at all.

What is different for me that I need my fatty protein after my carbs, not before. I can’t even finish my meals with sweet stuff, no matter the carb content (I never could start my meals with desserts but I used to have them in the end. now I have my sausage or egg in the end. Or if my dessert is based on eggs and fat - well of course they do -, it may be okay alone.)

And having meat with 2 carby side dishes just to eat everything separately is still as super irrelastic and weird to me as ever. Who eats like that? One has the side dishes because they need something with their meat. My SO requires a very specific ratio for each and every bites. I am the one who can eat anything alone but that’s why I can eat meat alone without all the other fluff… I suppose some interesting types can do this but it can’t be enjoyable for most of us. Not even for me and I can eat anything alone in bigger amounts except very spicy sauces and salt. Okay, now food with an extremely high sugar content is an exception too… And I never could eat most green vegs either especially the leafy ones. And I need salt on my meat too. Eggs are near perfect so they are fine, with or without salt, raw or powdered… But I got carried away.

If I just wanted to eat much carbs, I would focus on starches and legumes. Not instant noodles or sugary brownies for sure… I ate hundreds of carbs mostly from vegs on paleo sometimes but I am not interested in them anymore and they just trigger overeating in my case.

By the way why isn’t brownie okay alone? It’s crazily fatty (I saw recipes. I probably ate it 1-2 times in my life except my fat-reduced keto one but don’t remember) and must have some protein too…
But if one doesn’t want a spike, skipping sugar sounds super basic…

(PJ) #5

Well I see your point. There are a few elements here I found interesting:

First: she is not actually referring to metabolic dysfunction. The idea is that the functioning might be just fine, it’s simply that many/most human beings react with a blood sugar spike to certain foods. That’s the property of the food, not a sign the person’s body is unwell. That being the case, might as well educate the public on a way to eat that allows them to best-case their eating and improve their health.

Second: she (and most the research) is not in a keto-context, it’s just in a how humans respond to food context. So there isn’t really any focus on “bad, don’t eat brownies” but rather “since humans eat brownies, show them how to do it yet be healthier anyway.”

Third: there are keto implications though. Some people “carb cycle.” Would be ideal if when they are eating carbs, they were having the least glucose spikes. Or some people eat carbs on high-exercise days. Or… Some people may give in and have something carby with a holiday family dinner. Some people may even fall off the wagon (pretty common) for awhile. Seems useful to know these things about blood sugar spikes, if it helps even a keto person have a better result in any of those situations.

I thought the big pear with nut butter was a good example. Some keto people still occasionally eat fruit. I’m sure if they’re going to, knowing this and adding some nut butter would be better for them. I didn’t know it would make that much difference.

I drink homemade kefir berry smoothies. Not so many when on keto – because I like being able to make them big and not carefully regulate every ingredient detail to keep carbs low. But sometimes. I think it’s useful to know what I can eat before that, OR, add to that smoothie, in order to reduce the impact. For example, sometimes I have dropped a little frozen spinach in (you can’t taste it) when I’m not getting many greens. Well who knew that if I added that, and I could add a little almond butter, that smoothie would have less glucose impact than without those things. Useful to know, it seems.

Looking at the various charts, it leads me to think that two people (albeit humans vary) could eat all the SAME foods in a week – and one would be healthy at the end of it, and one would have been harmed every meal, every day of the week, just because of the food combinations, or sequences. That seems like a pretty radical finding to me!

I grew up with a stepmom cooking dinners that were ‘healthy’. They included wheat flour breaded PUFA fried chicken, mashed potatoes, bread rolls, green beans, as an example. Well, knowing that eating the beans first, then chicken, then potatoes (mind you this doesn’t mean not a single bite of anything else, just ‘dominantly’ I expect) would have a very big difference over eating the potatoes then chicken then beans, who knows, that might have helped. :slight_smile:


Fair enough. Unfortunately, what this proposition apparently fails to recognize is that a rise in glucose followed by an equally or faster drop indicates an insulin spike as well. The shape of the glucose spike is a marker for the insulin spike. As is pointed out on this forum frequently by @PaulL elevated insulin is the more serious issue. One can follow this woman’s recommendations to reduce the magnitude of glucose spikes and at the same time maintain elevated insulin. The primary reason folks eating carb-centric diets remain at elevated risk for metabolic dysfunction is the constant overload of ingested glucose that in turn stimulates an elevated insulin reaction. I think this plan is a recipe for a slo-mo train wreck.

PS: Ms Inchauspé is still young. If she’s as smart and attentive to detail as she appears my bet is she will be singing a different song in 10-15 years.

I retract! She will keep singing the same old tune. And in the last years of her life wonder what the hell happened.


I had to jump on this. Certainly it’s very true we all have individual responses to various foods - as attested by the personal reports by folks on this forum. That said, if the energy and nutritional content of the food consumed by two people is exactly the same I think it is unwarranted to conclude that one would remain healthy and the other be damaged every meal every day - due to different combinations/sequences. The only ‘evidence’ presented for this claim is the difference in glucose spike shape over time.

The glucose spike is itself a marker for a corresponding insulin spike, which we can not observe. In addition, many other hormonal and cellular responses are generated by consuming carbs than indicated by the rise and fall of blood glucose.

The important point to keep in mind that both are being damaged (taking into account individual variability) by eating the same exogenous load of carbs/glucose. Both will eventually end up in the same train wreck. I think the most we can get from this is simply that maybe one of the two will suffer the long term consequences a little more slowly than the other.

Eating carbs/glucose is the problem. Stop eating them is the solution.

Agreed. And the world-wide pandemic of metabolic dysfunction and disease will only continue to increase as a result. SAD - but I can only take care of myself. I gave up trying to save the world long ago.

(PJ) #8

She is a biologist. She’s writing greatly about research that’s been done on the topic.

She is not promoting a diet! This is not the brown diet lol. She is simply telling people how to greatly reduce the insulin spikes caused by whatever their existing diet may be.

Most the world is never going to be keto. A way to improve things for the rest of the population – or even us if we choose to eat them sometimes – is a good thing.

(Bacon is better) #9

While this is true, and avoiding a serum glucose spike is definitely to be preferred, the even greater problem in metabolic dysfunction is the insulin response to any rise in glucose levels, or even, in the case of the cephalic-phase response, the insulin rise resulting from even thinking about foods, particularly sweet foods. The reason this is a problem is that our understanding of “metabolic dysfunction” is so gluco-centric; whereas it has repeatedly been shown that problems appear in the insulin response as much as two decades in advance of the loss of glucose control. The result is that many more people are metabolically dysfunctional than the authorities are willing to admit.

If there is insulin-resistance, it is entirely possible for the insulin response, even to a low rise in serum glucose, to be high enough to take us over the threshold into fat-storage mode. According to research by Ralph De Fronzo, as reported by Gary Taubes in The Case for Keto, the threshold of serum insulin is low, around 25 μU/mL. Below that ketogenesis takes place, above that, fat-storage is what is happening. Fat storage may not be a concern to everyone, but there are epigenetic and hormonal effects of the three ketone bodies that are beneficial, but which become unavailable when ketogenesis is shut off.

Since, unfortunately, it requires a radioimmunoassay to measure the level of serum insulin, we can’t test our insulin response at home. But I would argue that is reason for caution when thinking in terms of glucose only. Ideally, researchers would be testing not only serum glucose but serum insulin and glucagon, so as to get a fuller picture of what-all is going on.

(Robin) #10

@RightNOW @Belisarius PJ, this is interesting and has it’s place in the dietary world. My almost 40 year old autistic son Matt was recently diagnosed T2D. He is a sacker at a grocery store, so has easy access to every temptation. He ate a wide variety of food, but sweets were top of the list.
I have persuaded him to simply cut out the desserts. No more cookies, cakes, chocolates etc. I told him to otherwise eat normally and not be hungry.

Is it ideal? Absolutely not. But is it a start that I believe he can manage. And he’s lost 8 pounds in a month and is suddenly motivated. I am not pushing him to move to the next level. YET. I ask him how he feels and he is noticing positive changes.
His dad is keto and I am keto turned carni. So Matt knows the keto path. He may yet make more healthy changes. I hope he does. But I will be content with significantly less carbs. HealthiER is good enough. Today.

(Bob M) #11

As an engineer who wore a CGM (purchased out of pocket) for over a year, I like these kinds of tests.

As for insulin, Gabor Erdosi shows a study as to the effects of food order on insulin:

The study:


This is from page 32 here:

You can see that insulin (and glucose) are affected by food order. (And if you want to see how complex everything is, including the effects of processing, take a look at the rest of this PDF.)

I have used AC vinegar in the past to blunt high spikes, when I knew I was going to eat high carb. When I had my CGM, I did not test this, however. (I rarely ate carbs and was more interested to see the effect protein had on glucose at the time; for me, no effect on glucose no matter how much protein I ate.)

What could be interesting is if this was population-wide. One argument I see is along the lines of “the French” eat high carb, and here you could use Northern Italians, etc., yet aren’t obese. Something as simple as eating a salad with oil and vinegar first could blunt high sugar/insulin and could lead to a difference between populations. Compare with the US, where as soon as you sit down, they bring you bread.

On the other hand, I’ve had conversations with people on Twitter who have tested this and they said there was no difference. But I don’t know how they tested it.

I’m personally glad there’s someone out there doing these tests.

(Bob M) #12

I think there is an at-home insulin test:

Quite expensive, though.

(PJ) #13

Yeah I didn’t know there was an insulin test yet! Even expensively.

The book that woman wrote is based on various research about the topic, dominantly. It’s sort of a compilation on the topic.

(Bob M) #14

I was going to sign up to be a tester for this (Gabor Erdosi is one of the people involved), but I couldn’t swing the cash.

I’d love to see (1) CGMs to be integrated into watches and be “free” (the watches cost a lot); and (2) the insulin test to get more reasonably priced. When I starting taking ketones, the strips were $5/each. Even that cost might be useful for insulin.

(PJ) #15

I agree, good point.

But gosh you guys, I did not mean to present it as “hey this chick says everybody should eat brownies.” or “Hey go eat brownies no problem!”

Merely that anybody not eating super keto foods all the time every time has an opportunity to mitigate at least the glucose impact of the food – and the insulin that results – with combination or sequence consideration. That’s a big deal! That’s important.

Sure some people are diseased and their insulin is massively out of whack and reducing blood sugar spikes might not solve the insulin problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

I mean you could take any useful research finding and go yeah but man this doesn’t apply to people with disease-X. Well it might not. But it might be super useful to the other mass% of the population, and some in very specific niche instances as well.

(Bacon is better) #16

Nor was I saying that everyone needs to worry about insulin spikes. But those of us who fatten easily (as Gary Taubes puts it) probably do need to worry about insulin, and it’s also pretty clear that there are a lot more of us out there than is recognised by the current diagnostic standards.

There are two reasons to say, “but people with X condition need to worry about this.” The first case is when “people with X” react extremely badly, regardless of how common X is in the population. The other case is when “people with X” form a significant percentage of the population. Particularly, as in this case, when X is something people might not realise they have.

I also didn’t mean to minimise the benefit of reducing glucose spikes. That has to have a beneficial effect on insulin, even in the most insulin-resistant.

But I did mean to say that reducing glucose spikes might not be as beneficial to people (depending, of course, on their degree of insulin-resistance) as might appear at first glance. We’re dealing here with a complex response to diet that has evolved over two million years, and it is always worth keeping in mind that the real situation might be far more complicated than we currently realise.

After all, a century ago, calories were the only thing we could measure, and the existence of insulin hadn’t quite yet been discovered, let alone its use as a treatment for Type I diabetes. Not to mention that it took around forty years after the discovery of insulin in 1923 for us to be able to measure the level of it in the body. Similarly, the existence of mTOR, an important part of growth and ageing, wasn’t identified until this century, fifty years after the discovery of rapamycin, which targets it. So it is highly likely that we still have a lot to learn.


Cutting out sugar still sounds the best idea to me… My SO eats high-carb, very far from keto but he dislikes sugar and is health-conscious way beyond that. Maybe the brownie and instant noodle was just an example but maybe not the best. It sounds like “oh eat this and then you should eat whatever you want”.

And… While my SO is seemingly thrives on high-carb and can’t eat low-carb anyway, most people probably should lower their carb intake and/or change what carbs they eat. No matter what they may do, eating a ton of sugar and too much carbs and overprocessed food may and will cause problems in many cases.

If someone values their health, they should do more than the bare minimum and hoping for the best. Keto isn’t necessarily needed and surely it’s even harmful or impossible for many for various reasons. My old low-carb (maybe with some finetuning) surely would be perfect for many people. It was too carby for me. I would have been a non-hedonistic idiot to know the right direction and not do anything (I already ate my eggs before or along my carbs).
(Non-hedonistic is a serious insult to me. My big goal is to be a very very good hedonist. It would solve so many problems regarding my life.)

And don’t say taking small steps isn’t better than nothing… I just find it too little effort for HEALTH. I would sacrifice things for health if it was needed! (I prefer not to but I never ate insanely wrong either - I could have done so much worse than eating much sugar. my diet was quite nutritious - and have good genes.)

(PJ) #18


But there is such a thing as letting perfect become the enemy of good.


I doubt anyone talked about anything even remotely perfect… (Least of all me, I can’t even stick to keto for a few weeks and whatever I fancy or sometimes just have I eat it but it’s good enough for me. And that’s the thing, we should do what works, not some random hard stuff. Keto isn’t for everyone, not even low-carb. If one thrives on carbs, eat carbs - but still matters which kind and how much ) But just eating an egg or drink vinegar before something carby, that doesn’t help out much of us who just don’t thrive on higher-carb (there are probably many people like this). Sure, each can ruin their own health as they like (though it affects other lives but it’s true for so many things where we respect people’s freedom) but if someone focus on health, they should do a bit more. But every little step is something, sure. I just am a bit sad seeing people wanting easy effortless solutions clinging to bad habits.


Agreed all day long, what you eat with certain carbs absolutely has a HUGE impact on what happens after the fact as fat as glucose/insulin spikes, but I’d disagree that a spike by itself is bad. Just like what you eat with carbs, the context of everything matters. I do a TKD/CKD hybrid these days, so clearly my carb intake is higher than most, especially around my training, post workout I very much WANT that spike!

In keto circles, we go from 100% in one direction (fat bad when eating SAD) to the polar opposite of carbs/sugar/insulin bad 100% of the time, and that’s just as wrong. Aside from not being able to say all carbs bad while eating a cauliflower crust pizza, it all depends on that person, their insulin sensitivity and where those carbs / sugars came from.

After 4yrs super strict keto, to TKD, to CKD, a brief walk in the Carni world, now my weirdo hydrid I’ve tried everything, every way I could. When I was real insulin resistant a spike would take hours to fix, plus I’d usually pass out and then have carb hangover afterwards. Now none of that happens, and there’s a huge difference in my post workout carbs when it comes to whether I just take them in, or take them in and intentionally spike myself (which I usually do now).

If I took a picture of myself shirt off, depleted, and take in carbs next morning, I’ll look like I have an extra 10lbs of muscle on me, if I did the exact same thing but spiked myself real good, it’d look like 15-20 extra lbs of muscle, plain as day couldn’t miss it if you tried. Not subcutaneous water, no bloat, all sucked into the muscle. It’s one of the many things the bros actually got right from the old days. The differences in how we process stuff when other things are involved are night and day sometimes.