Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Experiment With First & Second Phase Insulin Response

"Huh, what?" you ask!    What are you talking about?  Well it's a bit complicated and you can read about it for yourself at Jenny Ruhl's "Blood Sugar 101" web page here:   "How Blood Sugar Control Works- And How It Stops Working"                                                    

I was reading Jenny's hard copy "Blood Sugar 101" book for the second time through and I just wanted to wrap my head around this and try to understand it.  I also became very interested in what my own responses were.

Most of us type 2's don't follow our blood sugar too closely.  We may test in the morning or perhaps after a meal so we have a general idea of what our average blood sugar may be.  The quarterly or twice yearly A1C gives us another indication.   But what is really going on with our insulin response.  What happens in those few hours after a meal when we aren't testing?   How good or bad is out insulin response?

These were the questions I wanted to answer about my own body.   Do I have impaired phase one insulin response?  Failed phase 2 insulin response?  Both?

I was surprised after doing both experiments.   A bit disappointed too!

The first picture is one testing my 1st phase insulin response by taking 1-1/2 tsp of sugar right after testing my fasting blood sugar.  This is equal to about 7-8 grams of carbs which was certainly not carb loading.  It mimicked an average carb meal for me.  I started out with a nice 76 mg/dl  (4.2 mmol).   In the picture you can see the rise at 15 minutes.  At 30 minutes it is already on it's way down.  At 90 minutes my blood sugar it is back nearly to where it started at 80 mg/dl  (4.3 mmol).

Go to the larger Google Drive chart here.

This was shocking to me!  Looking at this you would question if I even was diabetic!    This is exactly the way a non-diabetics blood sugar would respond in 90 minutes or so.  The increase to 96 a half hour later may have been due to a glucose dump by the liver after blood sugar went below 80.

Exciting news, right!    But here is the not so exciting news.  My other experiment didn't fare so well.

Here is a chart of two meals eaten yesterday.  These were both usual meals for me.  I weighed the protein portions to be exactly 3 ounces since that is what I have determined is the right amount for my diet.  Both meals were LCHF ketogenic meals with added fats.  I stopped taking all of my supplements for this experiment as well so that I could get a true picture of how my body handled the meals without help from anything else.

Lunch was a salad with sour cream chipotle dressing , vinegar, macadamia oil and 3 ounces of Kielbasa sausage.  Supper was 3 ounces of baked haddock with butter and lemon olive oil with 7 spears of roasted asparagus.  I also had 3 ounces of V-8 juice (3.5 grams carbs) at the beginning of the supper meal thinking that it might get the insulin going faster.

See full chart in Google Drive here

Normally, I test before and after a meal.  Sometimes only after the meal.   I was making an assumption that my blood sugar would rise mostly the first hour to 45 minutes and then start coming down.  When I usually do my post meal test at 2-1/2 hours it is around 105-115 or so.  Sometimes it is lower, which is nice!

What I didn't realize is that  my blood sugar is only first peaking at the 2 hour mark!  This was shocking to me!  When I test at 2-1/2 hours I am only just beginning to come down from my "high".  Granted my peak is still below 130 which is certainly not anything to be concerned about but this whole experiment now leaves me with more questions to be answered!   After both meals my blood sugar didn't come down to a "normal" range below 100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol) for over four hours!

What does this tell me?  Well, I guess I am diabetic for one!  I knew that already! (smirk)   I show a very slow and impaired secondary insulin response.  I also wonder why it seemed like there was no 1st phase insulin response to the meals.  Is it because it took that long for my pancreas to recognize that I ate carbs?  I don't have the answers to these questions so on to more research!


  1. Have you read Peter's paper of Physiologic vrs pathologic type 2 IR? An eye opener for me as a low carb guy. What Peter describes is exactly what has happened to me. There is also this transcript of an interview with Matt LaLonde and Roibb Wolf starting on page 14 about IR being pathologic or physiologic. Dexter

    1. Thanks for the reply Dexter. Yes I have read it. However, if this was the case (physiological-insulin-resistance), then why was the sugar only test so successful after 15 month of LCHF eating. I should have been resistant during the sugar test but I was not resistant and passed it with flying colors. The sugar test was equivalent to 7 grams of carbs or an average carb meal for me.

      Also, I did not go from a low carb diet to a higher carb diet. I kept my carb and protein levels the same as they have been everyday for the past 15 months.

  2. for the link to Robb Wolf interview

  3. One of the mysteries. It seems for physiologic IR it takes 4-6 years of LCHF for a person to gradually have FBG 12 hr AM to creep up from the mid 80s to 105 to 125ish.and that is where I am now. I have never done a oral glucose test and don't plan on it. The only way I can get under 100 is a fast of 36 hours. I have tried resistant starch, adding back veggies slathered with butter, and have been limiting protein from meat. That seems to keep me around 110 FBG. I look back at labs from 10 yrs ago and I was always 80-85 and then 5 years ago discovered LCHF and my FBG started to climb...just like Peter's example. And what is even more confounding is I get higher FBG if I cook with a lot of coconut oil/MCT oil. Olive oil at low temperatures is what I am using now for the last week...but with little success. I am baffled but undaunted in finding a solution before I become a chronic diabetic on Metformin.

    1. Strange about the MCT oil Dexter! I as going to ask you about your fat percentage. As I had to up mine and lower protein. 10 years ago were you diabetic or pre-diabetic? My fasting blood sugar numbers before LCHF were in the range from 110-130. Since LCHF it is usually in the mid 80's-90 but rarely it can be lower than that.

    2. I am about 60% fat intake now...was around 75% and that was when my FBG started it's slow but steady rise to where it is now. Protein about 25% and rest non starchy plant food. Have never been pre or diabetic as FBG was always around 85 up til 5 years ago. I am 70 years old now. I used to be a Cocaholic for a long time and it is a wonder my pancreas is still functioning. I also suspect EMFs in our environment has a lot to do with a functioning pancreas. My rise coincides with a move to a new home from a house that was more isolated than we are now in a retirement community. We are considering a change to a more rural setting away from the cell towers, smart meters and wifi from all the neighbors with their routers on 24/7 invading our house envirement. I went wired to the internet about a year ago and seem to be doing better plus I shielded our smart meter. Did your reduction in FBG correspond to any change of your environment other than food? I am convinced where we live predicts our quality of life and life expectancy.

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