Tracking Insulin Response?

I’ve often been asked, in various forms and fashions, why I don’t bother with tracking my insulin response to various consumption and/or activity inputs and events.  My response has always been, “what’s the point?”  The fact of the matter is that insulin will increase even following a strict Paleo meal — hell, insulin will increase in response to a tough workout.  Yes, insulin is the “mac daddy” hormone within the overall metabolic cascade, however, the modifying factor here is what that insulin is in the presence of, and this leads us back to what was consumed (or, maybe more importantly, what was not consumed).  In any event, Robb Wolf and Andy Deas cover this idea (among a slew of other topics) thoroughly in episode 23 of Robb and Andy’s Paleolithic Solution, podcast.

It’s my belief that one needs to track a questionable substance’s affect upon one’s body composition via a weeks-long n=1 assessment; tracking short term insulin response to that substance really isn’t going to give you very much practical information to work with.  Think dairy might be your bug-a-boo?  Cut it out for a while, and note how you respond.

Now I’m the biggest Paleo-geek there is, but the real-life, fact-of-the-matter is that we all have to function within the constraints of the real world.  Are you really going to tote a glucometer around for the rest of your natural-born days?  Look, I know that if I want to get ultra-cut, all I need to do to to eliminate my beer consumption (sad, but oh so true!), and up my sprint sessions.  No amount of glucometer-jockeying would have told me that — simple n=1 experimentation lead me to this conclusion.

By the way, huge hat tip to Brent Pottenger (the healthcare epistemocrat) for so deftly verbalizing and defining the n=1 concept as it applies to self-experimentation.

Another On-the-Fly, Paleo Chow Dinner –

One small sweet potato, one onion, a pound of grass-fed ground beef, olive oil, Tropical Traditions coconut cream concentrate, 1 can of coconut milk, raw butter, 1 packet (dry) Lipton mushroom onion soup.

Once again, I’m a piss-poor excuse for a gourmet; I’m sure as hell not going to starve, though, or cave to quick-fix, fast-food.  The above is what I happened to have on hand when I got home from work (among some other various items), so I set about an impromptu session in food bricolage.  Hat-tip x 2 to Brent for his ongoing commentary  honoring the Paleo bricoleur.

Anyway, nothing much, here: thin-cut and “stir fry” (in the olive oil, coconut cream and butter mix) the sweet spud; remove and set aside.  Same treatment to the onion, then add-in the ground beef and cook until about half done.  Pepper heavily.  Add-in the soup and coconut mix and simmer the concoction until ” all-the-way done”.  Ladled the meat-mix over the spud, and chowed-down.  Not too damn bad, if I do say so myself.  Note: the dry soup is not celiac-friendly, nor particularly Paleo-friendly, for that matter.  It is, in my opinion, one of those dose-relevant ingredients, though, and the amount used, relative to the meal, was negligible.

Some pics:

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4 responses to “Tracking Insulin Response?

  1. Hmm, I’ve never tried using the coconut cream that way…I just tend to use coconut milk. But now that you suggest it, I think I’ll try it tonight.

    Sweet potatoes do seem to be a great carb. I generally feel good after eating them.

    I agree with you about the glucometer to some extent. But I just bought one. Not to carry around with me forever, but to see how various foods affect my blood sugar. From reading another health-blogger’s experience (and from my own) different carbs affect different people differently. I can tolerate rice, but wheat kills me. Sweet potatoes, but not white potatoes.

    So for me the value of the glucometer will be to quantify what’s happening, while at the same time, noting how I’m feeling. After a while I’m figuring I’ll be able to have a pretty good sense of the correlation between my blood sugar pattern and how I feel physically. Then I won’t need the glucometer.

    I guess I don’t see it as much different than using a stopwatch to quantify the drop off…ya know?

    • Absolutely; everyone needs to blaze their own n=1 path. I eat a pretty strict Paleo diet anyway, and very low carb at that (except for beer), so there’s not much that I’d really consider eliminating anyway. In other words, there’s just not much pay off in my circumstance. The one thing I had thought of tracking was the glucose response to various volume intakes — in other words, if it would be beneficial, from a glucose/insulin release point of view, to eat many small meals over the course of a day vs a couple larger ones. Realistically, though, I don’t have the opportunity during a normal day to eat many meals, so for me, it’s a moot point — for someone else in a different circumstance though…

  2. Hey Keith, is that viewer some sort of WP plugin? That’s pretty cool for showing multiple stages of a singe meal.

    Yummy, BTW. So much can be done with grassfed ground beef. Last night I added a bunch of taco meat seasoning and grilled burgers. Fab.

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