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The Insulin Spike

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  • The Insulin Spike

    I have been primal for about two months and going strong. I didn't do it for body image, but because the science made sense. However, the effect of dropping down two pants sizes seemed to draw more attention from my household then my explanations of why I don't focus my diet on processed foods and grains anymore.

    Last night we were eating dinner and I was having my usual glass of wine when my charming better half decided she would forgo the rice side dish that she had made. (I will cook, but only the meat and veg. If she wants a grain or carb it is not an issue, but she has to make it herself. Thus I eat primal and keep the peace at the same time) However a good question came up that I just didn't know how to answer.

    When I eat primal it is with no grains or processed sugars (unless its a conscious cheat) but she had just finished a beer before dinner. She asked me what the difference would be if she didn't eat the rice. If the beer was already causing the insulin spike, wouldn't she have the same effect from the food no matter what?

    I thought about it and realized I didn't have any clue. What is better? If your going to cheat and have the chocolate bar, or slice of fresh baked bread and butter, whats the best time? Should you wait and try not to have it around any other foods so that the insulin spike is isolated? Or is it better for someone just starting to have a little bit of a cheat with a meal? If you have some carbs with a meal, does the amount really make that drastic of a difference, or is the process already in effect. If that is the case should you just eat your carbs then, and next meal go cold turkey (sorry bad pun )?

  • #2
    Yes the amount of carbs matter. The larger the insulin spike, the more likely that excess carbs or even 'innocent bystanders' like fat get stored as fat.
    If you look at what is widely known to be fattening foods, there are two common themes: foods with lots of simple carbs and fat (pizza, ice cream), and foods with lots and lots of simple carbs (pasta). Try to avoid eating too many carbs with fat, or lots and lots of carbs by themselves.

    EDIT: Just to expand a bit. Insulin isn't like an on/off switch, it's always there after a meal to a degree. After a fat only meal there is a very small amount of insulin, after a simple carb only meal there's a ton of it. The more carbs, the more insulin.
    Last edited by Laconophile; 05-14-2011, 10:53 PM.
    Ye shall know them by their fruits.


    • #3
      I think it's better to have the cheat/treat after a meal. That way you don't get such a high blood sugar spike, and you don't crash (so hard) afterwards. Also, the amount of sugar/carbs will determine the height of the spike and thus also the severity of the following crash, so less is better.

      At least, this is how it seems to work for me. I'm guessing different people may react differently.
      Norak's Primal Journal:
      2010-07-23: ~255lbs, ~40.0"
      2011-11-03: ~230lbs, ~35.5"
      2011-12-07: ~220lbs, ~34.0"


      • #4
        It's not just the amount of carbs that matters, but also what kind of carbs you are taking about (i.e., refined vs unrefined carbs). Unrefined carbs (such as those found in fruits/vegetables/starchy tubers, etc) causes a less insulin spike compare to eating a big chocolate chip cookie.


        • #5
          It would be more along the lines of Ice cream or a desert type treat. Since she is not willing to give that up (yet!! I still have hope ) I am trying to figure out when it is the least damaging to her system, with other good wholesome primal foods, or a stand alone consumption. I know better then to try and convince someone who is not ready to be make the switch, but anything I can do to lessen the damage while the concept slowly sinks in would be really helpful. Also the weight loss is what appeals to her, so anything that can maximize that (she has already cut out a fair number of carbs and is seeing good results) would push her even further towards a completely primal house.


          • #6
            These things like timing, insulin spikes, etc. are far far less important than reducing the amount of gluten grain and sugar and rancid vegetable oils one takes in. Focus any efforts on that stuff. 1 less bread 2 less sugar 3 less corn oil.
            If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):