Glucose Revolution [Book Review]

Glucose Revolution

 
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Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar
By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

Book ReviewGlucose diet hacking is a game-changer!

My wife told me over dinner not long ago "You know you shouldn't eat your salad last, it's a lot healthier to eat the salad first and then the protein or carbs." That didn't make sense to me, it all ends up in the same place, right? I wondered if this was just a cultural thing because she's Bulgarian, and here in Bulgaria the way we always do epic holiday mealtime is a light salad first (with a couple of shot glasses of Rakia - Balkan fire water) and then slow-cooked meat with bread.

But my wife told me that there's a diet book really making waves right now that explains why food intake order is a major health hack. So I read Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspe and it turned out that sometimes you should listen to your wife!

Are you or someone in your family struggling to lose weight? Glucose diet hacking is one of the most effective (yet often overlooked) ways to lose weight and fix insulin resistance. This surprisingly easy-to-read book breaks down the most recent science and actionable glucose management hacks for breakthroughs in weight loss and health.

Blood glucose - the most important Biomarker?

Glucose is our fundamental dietary source of energy - Every second, your body burns 8 billion molecules of glucose. (p.39)

Glucose molecule

What the science shows is that in the black box that is our body, there is one metric that affects all systems. If we understand this one metric and make choices to optimize it, we can greatly improve our physical and mental well-being. This metric is the amount of blood sugar, or glucose, in our blood. (p.12)

We should start with glucose. Why? Because it’s the lever in the cockpit with the biggest bang for its buck. It’s the easiest to learn about (thanks to continuous glucose monitors), it affects how we feel instantaneously (because it influences our hunger and mood), and many things fall into place once we get it under control. (p.26)

continuous blood-glucose monitor

I'm sure you've heard of continuous blood-glucose monitors, those almost unnoticeable biofeedback devices that Biohackers attach to their bodies to figure out which foods may be harming us, but you might not need one if you apply what's in this book!

Flatten the curve

If you want to live a long, vigorous life, less of this...

Flatten the curve
The book has a number of great illustrations, done in a fun whimsical style, that I've borrowed a few of here. If you like them, get the book!

In this book, I advise you to flatten your glucose curves, which means zooming out and seeing fewer and smaller spikes over time. Another way to describe flattening your glucose curves is reducing glycemic variability. The smaller your glycemic variability, the better your health will be. (p.53)

The flatter our glucose curves, the better. With flatter glucose curves, we reduce the amount of insulin—a hormone released in response to glucose—in our body, and this is beneficial, as too much insulin is one of the main drivers of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and PCOS. (p.14)

What really are healthy blood glucose levels?

But what the ADA describes as “normal” may not actually be optimal. Early studies showed that the thriving range for fasting glucose may be between 72 and 85 mg/dL. That’s because there is more likelihood of developing health problems from 85 mg/dL and up. (p.51)

The ADA states that our glucose levels shouldn’t increase above 140 mg/dL after eating. But again, that’s “normal,” not optimal. Studies in nondiabetics give more precise information: we should strive to avoid increasing our glucose levels by more than 30 mg/dL after eating. So in this book I will define a glucose spike as an increase in glucose in our body of more than 30 mg/dL after eating. (p.53)

Flattening the curve beats mainstream traditional diabetes treatments...

A 2021 review of 23 clinical trials made it clear that the most effective way to reverse type 2 diabetes is to flatten our glucose curves. This is more effective than low-calorie or low-fat diets, for example (even though they can also work). In one study, type 2 diabetics who changed their diet and reduced their glucose spikes cut their insulin injections by half within one day. (p.80)

The book doesn't waste much time before getting practical with...

Ten game-changing glucose diet hacks

I'll share three here that really jumped out at me...

1. Eat your meals in this order: fiber first, protein and fat second, then starches and sugars last

Meal order

This is the major takeaway I got from the book, you can implement it at your next meal and your body will thank you!

The most important thing to remember is that it’s best to eat starches and sugars as late in the meal as possible.... As long as you eat starch and sugars last, even if it’s without stopping, you will flatten your glucose curve (p.96)

In fact, recent science shows that people who focus on flattening their glucose curves can eat more calories and lose more fat more easily than people who eat fewer calories but do not flatten their glucose curves. (p.113)

The best time to eat something sweet is after you’ve already eaten a meal with fat, protein, and fiber. When we eat sugar on an empty stomach, we’re throwing our system into a postprandial spin, riding on a big glucose and fructose spike. (p.154)

Here's the science on this...

I was taken aback when I read the scientific papers that proved this, notably a seminal one out of Cornell University in 2015: if you eat the items of a meal containing starch, fiber, sugar, protein, and fat in a specific order, you reduce your overall glucose spike by 73 percent, as well as your insulin spike by 48 percent. This is true for anyone, with or without diabetes. (p.84)

A startling study from 2016 proved the finding even more definitively: two groups of type 2 diabetics were given a standardized diet for eight weeks and asked to either eat their food in the right order or eat it however they pleased. The group who ate their food in the right order saw a significant reduction in their HbA1c level, which means they started reversing their type 2 diabetes. The other group, eating the exact same food and number of calories but in no particular order, didn’t see an improvement in their condition. (p.84)

the Cornell research team showed that if we eat our food in the wrong order (starches and sugars first), ghrelin, our hunger hormone, returns to premeal levels after just two hours. If we eat our food in the right order (starches and sugars last), ghrelin stays suppressed for much longer. (p.93)

I must admit that in my younger, less informed years as a Biohacker, I indulged in a bit of snacking on the regular. After lunch, in the midafternoon, post-workout, or after dinner I'd enjoy some brown rice snacks or a bag of "organic" chips because I just had a hankering for a bit more to nibble on! This probably had everything to do with me eating my meals in the wrong order!

2: Start or end meals with vinegar

Vinegar's effect on blood sugar

Good news, any source of vinegar lattens glucose spikes...

A drink consisting of a tablespoon of vinegar in a tall glass of water, drunk a few minutes before eating something sweet, flattens the ensuing glucose and insulin spikes. With that, cravings are curbed, hunger is tamed, and more fat is burned. (p.155)

Reach for vinegar first to counter some of the side effects of a glucose spike. Grab a tall glass of water (some people find that hot water is more soothing), and pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar into it. If you don’t like the taste, start with a teaspoon or even less, and build up to it. Grab a straw, down the drink either less than 20 minutes before, during the course of, or less than 20 minutes after eating the glucose-spiking food. (p.158)

This one is easy for me because I have freakin' loved balsamic vinaigrette (get the good stuff made in Modena, Italy - not the cheap generic brand stuff - it tastes better!) since I worked at an Italian restaurant after graduating high school. It's the ingredient that adds some tangy, bitterness to one of my favorite Biohacker beverages which I call Healthy Soda, simply pour a tall glass of chilled San Pellegrino water, add a liberal spill of balsamic vinaigrette, stir, and (I kid you not!) it tastes almost like Coca-Cola! This goes brilliantly with any southern European-derived dish or a pescatarian platter. You'll feel like a classy bastard with a bottle of San Pelly at your table and your blood sugar will thank you!

San Pellegrino and balsamic vinaigrette

But any kind of vinegar will work -  rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar - whatever suits your fancy! If you don't like the bitter taste, start with less vinegar mixed in water and work your way up. People have told me that vinegar is bad for the teeth, this is why she advises in the book to drink it with a straw, but I've been enjoying my Healthy Soda for years, my teeth aren't turning black, and I have zero dental issues.

Here's the science on this hack...

In the past decade, a couple of dozen research teams around the globe have measured the effects of vinegar on our body. Here is how most of the studies went: Put together a group of 30 to a few hundred participants. Ask half the group to drink 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a tall glass of water before their meals for three months and give the other group a placebo, something that tastes like vinegar but isn’t vinegar... What researchers found was that by adding vinegar before meals for three months, the subjects lost two to four pounds and reduced their visceral fat, waist and hip measurements, and triglyceride levels. In one study, both groups were put on a strict weight-loss diet, and the vinegar group lost twice as much weight (11 versus 5 pounds), even though they ate the same number of calories as the nonvinegar group. A Brazilian research team explained that because of its effect on fat loss, vinegar is more effective than many thermogenic supplements touted as fat burners. (p.156)

3. Light exercise after a meal flattens the curve

exercise

The good news is, you can work out at any time up to 70 minutes after the end of your meal to curb a glucose spike; 70 minutes is around the time when that spike reaches its peak, so using your muscles before that is ideal. You can also use your muscles acutely in a push-up, a squat, a plank, or any weight-lifting exercise. Resistance exercise (weight lifting) has been shown to decrease the glucose spike by up to 30 percent and the size of further spikes over the following 24 hours by 35 percent. It’s rare that you’ll be able to curb the entire glucose spike, but you can make a sizable dent in it. (p.169)

How much exercise do you need after a meal?

Studies usually look at 10 to 20 minutes of walking or 10-minute strength or resistance sessions. I’ve found that I have to do about 30 squats to see any change to my glucose level. (p.171)

Here's the science on this one...

In a study of resistance training in obese people, exercising before dinner (eating 30 minutes after the workout was over) lowered their glucose and insulin spikes by 18 percent and 35 percent, respectively, as opposed to 30 percent and 48 percent if the exercise was started 45 minutes after dinner. (p.171)

The bread question 

bread

Talking about bread, here’s what you’re looking for if you want to enjoy some while flattening your curves: skip the loaves that claim to contain “whole grain,” which often don’t have much more fiber than their traditional “white” counterparts. Buy bread that is dark and dense, made from rye with a sourdough starter. It’s traditionally German and usually called seed bread or pumpernickel. Those contain the most fiber. (p.102)

If you want bread that contains beneficial fiber, choose a very dark bread, such as seed bread or pumpernickel (p.187)

So it would sound like she concurs with Dr. Gundry in The Plant Paradox, whole grain bread is a sham!

Does booze cause glucose spikes?

Alcohols that keep our levels steady are wine (red, white, rosé, sparkling) as well as spirits (gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey, and even rum). (p.193)

Great news, I'll continue to enjoy a glass or two of dry Bulgarian red wine at dinner!

Wine

On calorie counting 

Judging a food based on its calorie count is like judging a book by its page count. The fact that a book is 500 pages long can certainly give you some information about how long it will take to read (about 17 hours), but it’s unfortunately reductive. If you walk into a bookstore and tell an employee you want to buy “a 500-page book,” they will look at you a little strangely and then ask for clarification. One 500-page book is not the same as another 500-page book, and likewise one calorie isn’t the same as another. (p.112) 

Calorie counting is crap, don't waste your time doing it!

The "eat frequent small meals" myth

To increase your own metabolic flexibility, eat larger, more filling meals so you don’t need to snack every hour or two. That goes against a popular belief that eating “six small meals a day” is better than two or three big ones, but research bears it out. (p.151)

Scientists in the Czech Republic, in 2014, tested this in people with type 2 diabetes. They decided on a daily calorie quota and got one group of participants to consume their calories in two large meals and the other group to consume them in six small meals. The two-meal group not only lost more weight (8 pounds versus 5 pounds in three months) but saw improvements in the key markers of their overall health: their fasting glucose decreased, their liver fat decreased, their insulin resistance decreased, and their pancreas cells got healthier. Same calories, different effects. (p.151)

Don't eat cereal for breakfast!

Special K

The results of this study were alarming. In those healthy individuals, a bowl of cereal sent their glucose levels into a zone of deregulation thought to be attainable only by people with diabetes. Sixteen of the 20 participants experienced a glucose spike above 140 mg/dL (the cutoff for prediabetes, signaling problems with glucose regulation), and some even spiked above 200 mg/dL (in the range of type 2 diabetes). That didn’t mean that the participants were diabetic—they weren’t. But it did mean that healthy people could spike as high as diabetics and suffer the harmful side effects those spikes cause. The discovery was groundbreaking. (p.112)

This has got me thinking about fat baby boomers. In America the majority of boomers are obese, and it's all too easy to think that they are fat because they are lazy and indulged too much in the dietary cheap thrills and comforts of life. Well, boomers were relentlessly fed the lie that things like Special K cereal were "healthy," doctors told them to eat low-fat diets, and there wasn't this awesome long-tail of internet content to inform them of real nutrition science - which was still in its dark ages up until the early 2000s. Go a little easier on the fat boomers, they simply didn't know better. Chubbies of subsequent generations are much more deserving of your ire.

How to spot a spike on the ingredients label

The first place to look is the ingredients list. Ingredients are sorted in descending order by weight. If sugar is in the top five ingredients, that means a hefty proportion of that food consists of sugar—a soft white roll, for example, or ketchup—and will cause a glucose spike. If sugar is in the top five ingredients, the food will be sweet, and you know what that means: a hidden fructose spike. (p.194)

This section also contains the Dietary Fiber line, and as I’ve described throughout this book, fiber is the only carbohydrate that our bodies don’t break down—the more fiber in the food, the flatter the glucose curve after eating it. So here’s a tip: for dry foods, look at the ratio of Total Carbohydrate to Dietary Fiber. Select items whose ingredients get the closest to 1 gram of Dietary Fiber for each 5 grams of Total Carbohydrate. (p.198)

Nutrition facts

Is LDL cholesterol bad?

Nine out of ten doctors still measure total LDL cholesterol to diagnose heart disease and prescribe statins if it’s too high. But what’s important is LDL pattern B and inflammation. (p.76)

Recently, I went down the rabbit hole on this because my wife's LDL cholesterol came back as a little high. I'm really NOT an expert on cholesterol but I listened to a bunch of different doctors and experts on this topic. The metaphor that gets made again is that cholesterol - even LDL cholesterol - are like firemen; they are there to put out a fire - inflammation. And reducing inflammation is its own topic that you should take a deep dive into if you're concerned about your LDL levels.

I'll finish up with a couple of fascinating factoids from the book...

On the scientific discovery of photosynthesis 

It was once common to assume that plants were “soil eaters”: that they made themselves out of dirt. In the 1640s, a Flemish scientist by the name of Jan Baptist van Helmont set out to understand whether that was truly the case. Van Helmont planted a 5-pound baby willow tree in a large pot filled with 200 pounds of soil. For the next five years, he watered it and watched it grow. Then, after those five years had passed and the tree had grown, he took the tree out of the pot and weighed it again: it stood at 169 pounds—164 pounds heavier than it had been at the beginning. But most important, the weight of the soil in the pot remained virtually unchanged. That meant that the 164 pounds of tree had to have come from somewhere else. (p.31)

On why sweetness is so seductive 

Why do we like sweetness so much? It’s because in Stone Age times the taste of sweetness signaled foods that were both safe (there are no foods that are both sweet and poisonous)and packed with energy. (p.46)

On fiber

Humans found a practical purpose for fiber: it was harvested and processed to create paper, from Egyptian papyruses onward. Today, it’s extracted from tree trunks, polymerized, and turned into sheets and reams of paper. If you’re reading these words in a physical book, you’re reading a book about glucose printed on glucose. (p.36)

Conclusion

5 stars

This one gets 5 stars from me, for concisely delivering the science, anecdotal evidence, and pragmatic hacks that we need to improve our healthAs per the usual, I've included some factoids and essential knowledge from this book in my Biohacking & Beyond flashcard collection on SuperMemo.

SuperMemo
 
4.0
Category: Software & Apps

Every year I read a diet book or two, and I always learn some new things that make me healthier, happier, and more productive. Not all diet books are boring, this one was about as easy to read as a Stephen King or Clive Cussler novel!

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Glucose molecule
Flatten the curve
Meal order
Vinegar's effect on blood sugar
Healthy Soda - San Pellegrino and balsamic vinaigrette - YUM!
Exercise
Pumpernickel - Köstliches leckeres deutsches Brot!
Compare these two cereal labels: Fiber One on the left, Special K on the right. The one on the left has a better fiber-to-carb ratio (14 grams of fiber per 25 grams of total carbs versus 2 grams of fiber per 25 grams of total carbs). The one on the left i
continuous blood-glucose monitor
Special K - a catastrophic blood sugar spike for breakfast!

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