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Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool

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Author Topic: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool  (Read 70545 times)

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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2010, 04:41:00 PM »

I bought a FreeStyle blood glucose monitor today. The strips are really expensive, and it says to use FreeStyle strips only. Todd, when you ordered off of Amazon, did you buy the branded strips or another kind? I'm wondering if the company is just trying to sell its own products with that warning to use its brand only. Also, do you have recommendations of when to test? I'm thinking a fasting level first thing in the morning, then after breakfast...and then what? Wait two hours and test, then two more hours and test, then lunch and repeat the cycle until 4 hrs. after dinner? That's probably too many times. It would be helpful to have a little chart with suggested times to test, where I could fill in the results. There's a little journal that comes with the kit and it looks like testing is done before and after meals and before bed. Any suggestions? Thanks!!! J
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NTB

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2010, 05:30:29 PM »

J,

Glad to see you are joining the experiment! Yes, glucose test strips can be expensive. It's the same business model as razors/razor blades and laser printers/ink cartridges, where they almost give away the main device and make their money on the consumables. And just like printers, each brand of glucose meter uses only its own designated test strips.  (This is because the electronics inside each test strip are actually quite sophisticated).

If you buy the test strips in the pharmacy, they are 2-3 times as expensive as from Amazon, where they are only about $0.52 per strip, which is not too bad.  (I long ago joined Amazon Prime, so all my shipping for books, gifts, etc. is free). If you are using 5 strips per day, that's less than $3/day, which is not too bad for an experiment that can help you to optimize your diet and exercise for maximum health.

Here would be my suggestions for a monitoring plan:

A. A minimal plan: 5 strips per day. Measure you blood glucose at the following times:

1. Within 30 minutes of waking, or right before breakfast.  This is your "baseline" for the day. You want this to be no more than about 100 mg/dl.  If it is higher, you should work on getting it lower.  Then you will be normalizing your blood sugars, losing more weight during the night and getting more "even" energy.
2. One hour after the start of each meal (If you eat 3 meals, that's 3 total strips).
3. Right before going to bed.


B. You can add optional test strips for the the following:

1.  If you have allowed at least 4 hours between meals with no snacking, add one test right before dinner or lunch. Note how much your glucose has dropped since the last meal.
2.  If you want to see the effect of exercise, measure right before exercise and 1 hour after exercise.
3.  If you want to see whether coconut oil (or other medium chain triglycerides) lowers your blood glucose, measure 30-60 minutes after the CO.

I use the journal every day and record the following:

1. The date at the left of each row
2. The time of day, and glucose reading in the next two columns (under the fork, spoon and knife symbol)
3. In the third column, I add two codes
    A.  H = state of hunger, which I rate between -2 (stuffed) to 0 (neutral) to 2 (starving)
    B.  E = energy level, which I rate between -2 (very tired) to 0 (neutral) to 2 (wired)
4. In the space at the bottom of each row, I add comments about what I ate, exercise, or other noteworthy events

I have been using Microsoft Excel to plot my blood glucose, hunger and energy levels vs. time of day. Yeah, it seems a bit obsessive, but that's just because I'm an engineer. I think you could still figure out cause and effect just by thinking about your results. I am continuing to learn a lot, and as a result, I've significantly reduced my average blood glucose levels and developed a much more even energy level. One thing is for sure: you will be surprised at what moves your blood sugar levels up and down.  A lot of the conventional wisdom will go out the window!

Happy bloodletting!

Todd




« Last Edit: March 01, 2010, 04:55:25 PM by NTB »
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2010, 05:47:31 PM »

Todd, thanks so much!!!! That's exactly what I was looking for in terms of guidelines for monitoring. The cost of those strips from Amazon is half of what they were charging at CVS. I get free shipping on items more than $25 so hopefully I still won't have to pay for shipping even though I don't have an Amazon Prime acc't. Looking forward to learning about myself and sharing my results. Thanks again for your quick and thorough response! I feel so lucky to have such a knowledgeable, generous resource available to me! J
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Seth Roberts

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2010, 03:55:38 PM »

I've been using the strips -- just the same ones as NTB -- for about a year. I heartily endorse what he says. At the moment I only use one per day (in the morning). I discovered that my blood sugar was higher than it should be and I figured out a way to lower it. So it really paid off. Although the strips are relatively expensive, they are well worth it. I too am glad to know about Amazon and will order future strips from them. I was buying them elsewhere for more.

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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2010, 05:59:45 PM »

Wondering about the lancets. Are those also brand specific? Cheaper to get on Amazon? Thanks in advance... J
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NTB

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2010, 06:45:13 PM »

Wondering about the lancets. Are those also brand specific? Cheaper to get on Amazon? Thanks in advance... J
When you buy the Freestyle glucose meter, it comes with an automatic lancet plunger and a set of about 10 or 20 lancets. You don't need to change the actual lancets very often -- I think I change them about every 25 strips or so. They stay sharp and unless you are sharing with others, there's no need to change very often. So you probably have enough already for several hundred tests. The lancets are brand specific, but in any case Amazon charges $7.93 for 100 lancets...less than 8 cents a lancet, so not a big deal.

By the way, it really isn't that painful to get a small pinprick of blood.  Once you learn the routine, it is very fast...takes less than a minute to collect the sample, record the number and get on with your day. It's much easier than it sounds.
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2010, 07:46:37 PM »

I'm so stupid! I thought they had to be thrown out after each use. They are in the bathroom trash so easy to retrieve. I'll wipe them with alcohol to make sure they're sterile. I had a painful time of it at first, but I do see that it's becoming easier. I think I'm getting false low readings because of dehydration, so tomorrow should be a better indication since I'm making sure I get a lot of fluids today. First thing in the morning it was 27, which can't be right, and the booklet says dehydration can cause low readings. An hour and a half after breakfast it was 79, before lunch it was 95 and before dinner it was 106. I didn't eat much today and nothing high glycemic, so nothing made it go above a normal range, which is good, but I'm not sure any of these is a very accurate reading. I'll have to see what's happening over several days, weeks, etc. I'll also try to stick to more of a schedule like what you outlined. It wasn't always convenient to go through the whole rigamarole, but I can see that it will become quicker and easier with practice. Thanks again for answering all my questions so quickly! J
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2010, 01:42:07 PM »

The glucose monitoring is coming along, but I'm not sure how to interpret the results or whether I need to start doing readings after meals as well as before. My readings haven't been higher than 106, except for the first night I tried it after drinking two beers, which is pretty unusual for me. It was 170! But except for that the readings and what I consider a false low reading of 27 that must have reflected dehydration, have ranged from 79-106. I do notice, however, that I'm hungry when eating low GI vs low carb. I keep wanting it to be OK to eat things like Ezekial sprouted grain bread (which has a low glycemic index) or high fiber cereal, but even though low GI foods are supposed to prevent insulin spikes, I definitely continue to feel hungry rather than satiated and really struggle to stay within my calorie limit or cave in and overeat more of the low GI carbs. Is there any explanation of that? Of course, I wasn't taking readings after I ate, just before. Even low glycemic foods might be creating a spike, so I should probably do some before and after meal testing. Today I'm sticking with platinum calories and low carb fare (had coffee with coconut milk this a.m., then later this afternoon 2 eggs), but in the name of science, maybe I should test my low GI carb reaction before and after. If so, I wonder how long I should wait after eating to test again. Thanks! J
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shovelqueen

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2010, 03:02:55 PM »

The standard medical test is "2hr pc", meaning tested 2 hours after the meal.  That gives your body time to start digestion and absorption, and the hormonal response to that process.
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2010, 07:22:50 PM »

Thanks, SQ!!! Very helpful!!! I will try that tomorrow.
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NTB

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2010, 11:04:47 PM »

Jbird, First off, it sounds to me like you are starting off in good health if your blood glucose stays in the range of 79-106 all the time except when drinking a few beers.  There are a lot of folks who would readily change places with you!  Sometimes, rarely, you will get bad readings like the 27 you mention. When that has happened to me, I just repeat the test to double check.  I'm not sure from what you wrote exactly when you are measuring your glucose. I would test right before eating, then either 1 or 2 hours after eating. I agree with SQ that 2 hours after a meal is the most telling. But once or twice, just to check it out, you may want to find out the full response by testing right before eating, then every 30 minutes for a few hours, then hourly until it comes back down to 100 or less.  I would try this once on a low carb meal and once on a really high carb meal just so you see the difference.  You'll be amazed at the difference.

Your point about low GI carbs is a very good one. To a large extent, I think the "good carb" idea is a myth that has been oversold. I've found the same thing as you, that "whole wheat" bread is just as glycemic as white or sourdough bread, and there is little difference between the GI of brown rice or white rice.  Dr. Bernstein, in his book "The Diabetes Solution" makes exactly this same point. He tested a lot of the supposed good carbs on himself and his diabetic patients, and they all caused glucose to spike.  Whole wheat bread and brown rice do have the advantage that they contain the B vitamins and nutritional cofactors needed for the body to compensate for the vitamins and minerals that carbohydrates would otherwise "rob" from your tissues. But this still does not overcome the fact that they raise blood sugar and insulin if eaten in anything but very moderate amounts.  And add to that Pip's good points (http://boards.sethroberts.net/index.php?topic=2169.msg96959#msg96959) on the Appetite Suppression thread about wheat allergies and it begins to look like bread should be consumed only occasionally, or avoided for those who are allergic to it.  The main "good carbs" that I enjoy are green vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, avocados, artichokes, green beans, lettuces of many varieties, kale, spinach...there is a lot of variety there. And so far, they barely budge my glucose levels.

You and others on this thread may be wondering:  What's the point of testing blood glucose anyway?  Is it just idle experimental curiosity or does it have any value?  My answer is: everyone responds to food, exercise and sleep a little differently. Without testing, you'll never know how your body responds to various foods.  And you can't just "feel" it, except in rare cases of extreme hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.  Based on your physiological individuality, testing will teach you things like whether you are going to sleep with elevated glucose (a very bad idea), how things like skipping a meal or short walk after dinner can significantly drop your glucose, and how your energy level and hunger correlate with glucose.  I don't think a person has to do this forever.  Once you've tested yourself under a variety of typical situations, I think you could just decide to test periodically (to see if your baseline glucose level is staying nice and low), or just stop the experiment and rely on annual physicals.  So it's not meant to be an obsession, just a learning tool.
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tek_vixen

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2010, 09:12:13 AM »

You raise an interesting point about allergies, NTB.  I was a gestational diabetic for two of my three pregnancies.  One who was heavily insulin dependent in the middle pregnancy.  My blood sugar went absolutely whacko if I ate anything with wheat in it.  Potatoes did the same thing.  But rice didn't do it nearly as much.  Carrots were also a big contributor to huge blood sugar swings.  The endocrinologist didn't get it, and it was really tough to adjust my insulin levels until I identified and cut back those foods.  A couple of years later, I was sent in for allergy testing and guess what showed up.  Yep, you've got it.  Wheat.  Potatoes.  Carrots.  And other things.  But I thought it was very interesting that those sensitivities showed up in my blood sugar results.

I'd really like to do some testing to see how my blood sugar is doing with my adjusted diet.  I haven't managed to screw up the courage to do it yet.  I know they've made great strides in making it less painful, but it's hard to erase the memories of my fingers hurting constantly.  I think it would be worthwhile, though.  Since adding platinum calories and focusing on keeping insulin levels low, the pounds have just melted off.  It's pretty exciting.

T-Vix
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2010, 10:12:39 PM »

That's something I've been wondering about too--whether the glucose monitoring will indicate food intolerances/sensitivities/allergies. Someone here said it would indicate lactose intolerance, which I know I have anyway. But how does that reveal itself? Do lactose intolerant people get a higher than normal reading after ingesting dairy products, or what? I don't remember who made the comment. Anyone, anyone? Generally, can a high reading after a specific food indicate an individual sensitivity? I haven't felt like stabbing myself the past couple of days and it's been trickier being out and about more than usual, but I'm curious to try the post-eating experiments. I think that's going to be more revealing than the pre-prandial ones. Oh, I used a fancy scientific term! It just slipped out... :shock:
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Jbird

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2010, 02:57:48 PM »

Todd, I did test what is supposed to be a low GI meal of Fiber One cereal and unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze, and I'm not sure what a normal response is supposed to be but I suspect this was not normal and would appreciate your interpretation:

Just before eating, blood glucose reading: 84
1 hr. after eating, bg: 145
2 hr. after eating, bg: 140
3 hr. after eating, bg: 89

I was aware of being hungry, light-headed and cold during this time. I'm going to do an experiment with the same calorie (200) portion of low carb food to compare, but I think I can see why all my attempts to stick with healthy carbs left me hungry and wanting to binge on more carbs. It's interesting to be gathering hard evidence, rather than always speculating, but I don't know how to interpret my data, so I appreciate your help or Shovel Queen's or anyone with knowledge in this area. Thanks!!!

P.S. Added results from low carb meal of same calories (200) and what Todd said is really true--dramatically different response. One hour after eating "good carbs" (above) my reading was 145; one hour after eating a can of sardines packed in water with 2 tsp. of EVOO added, it was 81. No spike at all! So it looks like for me, the key to stable hunger/eating/weight will be testing some different types of meals and noting their effects, then sticking with what I know will keep my blood sugar stable as best I can. I had seen a study online that had people only eat when their blood sugar reading was 85 or less and that's something I'm keeping in mind too. I think that's consistent with what Todd's been saying about waiting till your insulin levels fall to a base range before eating again. As I understand it, that would indicate true hunger as opposed to appetite. Is that right?
« Last Edit: March 05, 2010, 09:10:03 PM by Jbird »
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NTB

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Re: Blood glucose monitor as a weight loss tool
« Reply #29 on: March 05, 2010, 08:16:54 PM »

J, Your results are completely consistent with what I would have expected.  Goes to show that so-called "good carbs" are often deceptive. What's interesting is that your numbers for the Fiber One cereal meal are very similar to what I measured for a high carb spaghetti dinner.  By contrast, after my chicken/gorgonzola/pecan salad tonight, my BG rose from 87 to 94 after one hour, similar in range to your sardine meal.

That's an interesting study you mention that had people eat when their BG was low.  It would be great if you could find that and share it. I agree that we should control the frequency of eating in order to keep insulin low -- not just basal insulin, but insulin most of the time.  I think occasional spikes in BG and insulin are not a big deal (enjoy the occasional treat, right?) so long as most of the time (at least 50% of the day) insulin is low, especially during sleeping hours. My reasons for wanting to target low insulin are the benefits this provides for keeping appetite and weight in check, and for the positive health benefits of low insulin -- which go beyond merely avoiding the bad health consequences of hyperinsulinemia.

As to whether low BG is associated with true hunger vs. mere appetite, I don't know. I'm not really sure I understand what underlies the difference between appetite and "true hunger", or even whether this is a real distinction that shows up in blood biochemistry. Probably very few of us have experienced real hunger of the sort that exists among the poor for whom it is not a choice.  I'm guessing (but I don't know) that the majority of our appetite, even what we call hunger, is totally a conditioned response.  Not that that is a bad thing, its just the way it is.

The points raised by you, pip and Tvix about a possible insulin response to allergenic foods is interesting, let's look into that.  If true, it could be useful.

Thanks for the update.
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