Carb Nite® Experiment - First "Nite"

I tried my first "Carb Nite" a few weeks ago and it was an interesting and educational experience, but with no major surprises or changes.  (See my post introducing this experiment.)  First of all, my "Carb Nites" are really "Carb Afternoons." I am typically an early riser, usually waking up at around 4 in the morning.  So I'm typically in bed by 8 at night.  So to get a good 6-8 hours of carb binging in, I need to start around lunch time.

For my first attempt at this I went to lunch at Noodles & Co.  If you aren't familiar with them, they are a fast food chain that specializes in pasta dishes of various cuisines, such as Italian, Asian, and American style dishes.  Before I started eating low carb, I used to like to eat here.  Even though they are a fast food restaurant, they are somewhat higher quality by making their dishes fresh to order and yet are reasonably priced.

I found it interesting to have to think of and select a high carb, low fat meal after thinking just the opposite for the past 3-1/2 years.  It reminded me of the strange experience years ago when I was adapting from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to low carb, high fat eating.  I experienced that same cognitive dissonance now when thinking about finding a low fat, high carb meal.  I knew there was a rational reason to eat that type of meal but it felt wrong since I was very much not used to it.

I chose the following meal; 

Penne Rosa Pasta (small)

Parmesean-Crusted Chicken Breast

Margherita Flat Bread 

The net macro nutrient content of that meal was;

Fat: 13 gms (21%), Protein: 36 gms (25%), Carbohydrate: 76 gms (54%), Fiber: 5 gms

Getting home late from work, I decided to just pick up a snack, and grabbed a bag of Chex Mix as the first low fat, high carb, (and yes, low quality) snack I found.  At home, someone had given my wife a gift of some "boutique" cookies.  Normally I would stay away from these but this was a great opportunity to take advantage of "Carb Nite" so I had a couple.  The macronutrient totals for this "carb nite" was: Fat: 42 gms (28%), Protein: 47 gms (14%), Carbohydrate: 188 gms (57%), Fiber: 11 gms.

I tracked my blood sugar fairly closely through lunch and then a few hours after to see the effect of the meal.  I know from experience that my typical low carb, high fat meal will result in little to no increase in blood sugar -- usually not over 100 and never over 130.  The graph below shows the result with a peak of around 210 at about 2 hours after the meal.  Blood sugar didn't return to normal until at least 4 hours after the the meal.

What I find interesting is a comparison between this graph and the graph that I did for the little glucose tolerance I did and reported on in my last post.  I put those to the same scale in the graph below.

Even though in the glucose tolerance test I consumed only 30 gms. of carbohydrate, and in the lunch on "carb nite" I consumed about 76 gms., the carbs were different.  First of all, the meal was consumed as a meal.  There was fiber and protein, etc. that slow the digestive process, while the test was with pure glucose.  The pure glucose gets absorbed into the bloodstream quickly while the meal gets absorbed more slowly.  Thus the peak in blood sugar is "spread out" so it's not quite as high and takes longer to return to normal.  In addition, all of the pure glucose goes to make blood glucose levels increase.  Even pure sugar in the meal does not.  Table sugar (sucrose) is about 1/2 glucose and 1/2 fructose.  Fructose doesn't significantly raise blood sugar and is processed differently by the liver.  (Fructose is the considered more damaging since it mostly gets converted to fat by the liver and most of that fat is deposited in the liver contributing to insulin resistance.)

I've been continuing this experiment by doing a "carb nite" every 5-7 days and will report on that in coming posts.