July 11, 2011

Healthy Whole Grains, Just as Healthy as Pepsi--One Reader Reports

As readers of this blog know, there's nothing I like better than data, and there's no data I like better than the blood sugar meter test results that tell an individual what foods they can eat without raising their blood sugar over the level that causes complications (which is roughly 140 mg/dl or 7.7 mmol/L).

So I was intrigued when a Richard Smith, a friend of the blog, sent me the following report on his personal study as to how what dietitians like to call "healthy whole grains" affected his blood sugar, using as a control a 12 ounce glass of regular Pepsi.

Richard gave me permission to share his data, so here it is:

The New Pepsi Challenge results (Pepsi vs. whole grains)



Net carbs

BG before eating

BG at 1 hour

BG at 90 minutes

BG at 2 hours

12oz Pepsi






Oatmeal and milk






Whole wheat bread






Whole wheat toast
& milk






Testing was done with a NovaMax meter over a two day period.

He adds: It is no surprise that meals with whole grain starches have about the same effect on my blood sugar as drinking a 12oz Pepsi.

This was his brilliant counter-argument to the advice of ADA-associated nutritionist, Hope Warshaw, whose recommendations have been getting more attention on the interwebs than they deserve.

But rather than rage against the so called professionals who give toxic advice, I'd just like to remind everyone reading that your blood sugar meter is the most powerful diabetes-correction tool you own. Test your blood sugar after you eat a food you've been told is healthy to find out if it really is "diabetes friendly" for you.

There is solid research that points out that heart disease gets going when blood sugars rise over 155 mg/dl (8.6 mmol/L) one hour after meals. (Details HERE.)

Obviously the "healthy whole grains" beloved by doctors, nutritionists, and the American Diabetes Association failed to pass the "diabetes friendly" test for this experimenter.

So consider no food healthy unless your own one hour post-meal numbers after eating eating them in a meal comes in under 155 mg/dl (8.6 mmol/L) and, ideally, under the 140 mg/dl (7.7 mmol/L) level that, maintained over time, usually results in an A1c in the 5% range.



mattscottc said...

what were the specific foods used here? ex. whole steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal with sugar? The results obtained were great, but I would need specific information on the independant variable (grains used) in order to actually use it to support anthing that im saying, in order to stop any criticism of it before it would start.

mattscottc said...

what were the specific foods used here? ex. whole steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal with sugar? The results obtained were great, but I would need specific information on the independant variable (grains used) in order to actually use it to support anthing that im saying, in order to stop any criticism of it before it would start.

mattscottc said...

what were the specific foods used here? ex. whole steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal with sugar? The results obtained were great, but I would need specific information on the independant variable (grains used) in order to actually use it to support anthing that im saying, in order to stop any criticism of it before it would start.

Jenny said...

Since I've seen even worse numbers after eating a small portion of home boiled steel cut oatmeal, I'm not at all surprise by these results.

But that isn't the point. The point is to test these foods yourself to learn what you can eat.

Big Tim said...

Grains will kill diabetics!!! NO one should eat them at all!!

I am reversing my T2 by living 100% Primal/Paleo...70 days ago my fasting BG was 190...today it was 117!!! I stopped taking my 2 medications just 2 weeks into the lifestyle!!

To all those who don't believe me, visit my facebook page notes section for my journey and results so far.

ItsTheWooo said...

Clearly whole grains reward component must be very high, or else this cannot be explained any other way.

LOLz. Srry.


It's really sad that this is so obvious - carbs spike blood sugar, which causes diabetic complications in diabetic people (due to a decompensated insulin/glucose regulation), however it just causes fatness of varying degrees in non-diabetic / mildly diabetic people due to a relatively robust insulin response in these not yet / non diabetic people.

It's sad the intervention is so simple - don't eat a lot of carbs. People with metabolic type diabetes may also benefit from supplements (my glucose stability / hypoglycemia/ insulin surges definitely get better when I take a lot of omega 3s and inositol and acetyl l carnitine).

Dawn said...

I hate to break it to you, but your conclusion is slightly flawed. You added milk to two of the 3 whole grain items. Which distorts your results.

Jenny said...

Here are some answers from Richard:

Quick follow-up to two of your commentators:

Here are the nutritional guides for the foods that I eat in my tests:




I also had butter on the toast.

The carbs for the oatmeal and toast meals include the carbs from the milk. Good luck eating starches without some kind of fat! ;-)

As a point of comparison, here’s what I got for a breakfast with eggs, salsa, bacon, and coffee with milk:

Before eating: 95
At the one hour mark: 109

Chuck said...

question for richard:
you had 12 oz. of pepsi. how much of the other foods in your test did you have?

Chuck said...

Also, is Richard diabetic or prediabetic?

John said...

Last year when I was diagnosed the doctor let me have the weekend at home. I returned to the hospital on the Monday with the nutritional details of the meals my OH had served me over the weekend. She had kept them lowish in carbohydrate. The doctor gave me a severe telling off over the lack of starch in the meals and wrote to my GP to warn him that my diet was "not well balanced". Since then we've carefully ignored her advice and my HbA1c has dropped from 8.2% to 5.2%. I think that were I to carry out the same experiment as Richard, my results would be much the same. Healthy Whole Grains? Huh!


Addie said...


My doctor complained about the lack of starch and fruit in my diet, too. Of course, when I was sitting there in his office waiting to be sound, I found a diabetic flyer advising that diabetics stay under 180 mg/dL two hours after a meal. If he's going to give me such a generous target, then perhaps I can afford to eat grains. If I want to live past 50, I think I'll stick to low carbing.

Soozcat said...

180 mg/dl? Healthy? *snx* In what universe?

If you ask me, it's criminal what the ADA advertises as "healthy" BG targets for diabetics. It's akin to doctors claiming that a healthy body temperature range is 102° F or less.

Jenny said...

Soozcat, The best analogy to the ADA's advice would be if the American Cancer Society was telling people to only smoke five cigarettes a day.

John said...

Sorry Jenny,

I don't often take issue with your comment but this time I have to. I think your sentence should read "....20 a day


Jenny said...


Well, my thinking is that 180 mg/dl after meals is considerablylower than what the typical person with diabetes will see before treatment. Untreated Type 2 Blood sugars usually run anywhere from 250 to 400 after meals. So 180 is an improvement and the one study testing it as a target in real people showed a decrease in various complications. But it wasn't anywhere as good a decease as you can get by hitting the much lower target we strive for.

John said...

Thanks Jenny, Point taken but I still feel that the ADA is leading the world in encouraging doctors to believe that, for example 180 is an acceptable value, albeit it's better than new diabetics are used to. In France, they are no better. The advice I got last August when I left hospital was a real joke. Nothing was said about post prandial figures, all I was told was that I should adjust the basal insulin dose based on a fasting range of 80 to 120. What these numbers meant? I had to find out for myself. Thank you for your book, between it a Dr Bernstein's my wife and I learned a lot.

Ta, John

BronteT2 said...

I've just been diagnosed with Type 2. I know I need to exercise but am soooo tired all the time I can barely get going at all, let alone take a long walk. I've spent hours trawling though the internet to find appropriate nutritional guidance and, as most people who read this site will know, there are so many contradictions out there. I'd be grateful if somebody could direct me to credible advice....a site, a book or otherwise.....so I can start eliminating what's ailing me and fill the pantry up with whatever you advise I actually sustain myself with. At this stage I need lists - things to eat and things to avoid. I can cook and devise recipes. It's the basics I was help with. I too thought (previously) that whole greain bread was OK but it seems not. Same with oats. Beans (legumes)? Is one kind better than the other? Or not at all. Apples??? I thought fruits were generally OK but maybe I was wrong. All help very welcome. Thanks

Jenny said...


The exhaustion is because your blood sugar is going way up and way down. If you can flatten it, your energy will improve.

But the only way to find out what foods will work for you is to test different things and see how your blood sugar performs after eating. Each person is different and what works for one might not work for another.

Try the strategy described below for a few days and see what it tells you.

The problem with so much nutritional advice is that it is advice that might work for people WITHOUT diabetes but which causes those blood sugar spikes that damage our organs and exhaust us when we have it.

How to Lower Your Blood Sugar

Boz said...

I, too, cannot eat oatmeal w/o huge spikes. whole, quick, what have you, so I just say no. Oat meal just seems to thumb it's nose at insulin, as does rice and any fried carbohydrate. The meter doesn't lie, so live by it. The only time cars are an ally to me are when I do a longer (2+ hour) workout, such as a hard bike ride. Then, I have to take some on board. Hammer Heed and gels are what I use, along with Agave 9 gel. But that's just me, we are all different and have to figure out our own methods

Jenny said...


I'm assuming you meant carbs not cars. (I too am always making typos places they can't be corrected.)

Agave gel is a poor choice for exercise carbs as Agave is full of fructose which doesn't provide blood glucose but DOES make a beeline to the liver where it turns into liver fat and increases insulin resistance. Yet another bogus "health food" promoted because people don't really understand its properties.

Karen said...

Jenny why dont you tell us what you really think about aguave!! LOL
thanks for all you do for us!!!

Fred M said...

I'm new here so don't be surprised if my questions have already been answered, Also, I'm a relatively new type 2 and still trying to figure it all out. For now, one question will do.

You said that fructuse is worse for diabetics than glucose because it follows a metabolic path thru the liver. Well if that's so, what about fruit in general? Doesn't it include tons of fructose? I'm thinking of plums and grapes, which I eat quite often when in season. (At least I have - maybe I should quit).

Thanks, Fred M.

Jenny said...

Fred, There isn't much fructose in fruit. That's something that the grain companies have made people think so they could sell all their corn sugar (which is full of fructose) as healthy.

Look at the table half way down this page:

As you can see there are only 5.9 grams of fructose in an apple. High fructose corn syrup can be 95% fructose and there are 41 grams of sugars in a single 12 oz Pepsi, so thats anywhere from 20 grams of fructose if they use sugar which is 1/2 fructose to 39 grams of fructose if it is very high fructose corn syrup.

6 grams vs 20-39 is a huge difference.

Fruit juice can get dicey though, because one glass of juice might be 2 or 3 pieces of fruit's worth of fructose. Orange juice is as sugary as a soda.

tntneal4 said...

Israeli Doctor David Servan-Schreiber recommends eating mutligrain bread instead of whole wheat because the multigrain bread slows down the assimilation of sugars from wheat. Also bread raised with yeast raises the glycemic index, leavened (sourdough) bread on the other hand decreases the glycemic index, etc...

Jenny said...

The Israeli doctor's recommendations sound logical, but an actual research study that measured the blood glucose response to whole grain wheat bread and compared it to white bread found no difference. (Study HERE.

The glycemic index is scientifically weak, non-reproducible, and irrelevant to people with diabetes for reasons discussed HERE.

Catherine said...

Fructose is bad. I read a lot of articles about it. here's an article that will tell you how bad fructose is.

Jenny said...

The glycemic numbers are baloney. They aren't even reproducible. Every study that attempted to come up with a glycemic index came up with different numbers. The whole thing is a marketing ploy that the grain makers got behind when low carb dieting caught on. study that actually measured the glucose curves produced by white and whole grain bread found they were identical Details and research HERE.