The Importance Of Frequent Blood Sugar Measurements For Type 2 Diabetics

In Engineering there is a saying that goes something like this – You can’t control a process if you can’t measure it. If you’re trying to control the temperature of a process output then you will fail every time if you don’t have a thermocouple installed to measure the output stream. This is fundamental stuff in engineering but this same principle holds true for a Type 2 Diabetic attempting to control his blood sugar levels. Our bodies are very complex systems even when everything is working right but once you throw in an autoimmune disease like Type 2 Diabetes, you need good data to determine what inputs are affecting blood sugar levels so you can determine whether your lifestyle changes are yielding positive results.

For two years I’ve been measuring my blood sugar at least once a day (“fasting” – in the morning when I wake up) and most days I add another measurement after a meal (usually 2 hours after dinner). I keep meticulous records of these measurements and as I’ve made changes in my lifestyle to keep my blood sugar levels in the normal range, I’ve used these daily measurements as my guide.

But I’ve often wondered what happens with my blood sugar levels during the 12+ hours between these measurements. Am I fooling myself thinking that these measurements are good just because the first and last measurements of the day are good?

So this past Saturday, 07-MAR-15, I decided to find out what my blood sugar levels were during the whole day. To do this, I kept a log of everything I put in my mouth and measured my blood sugar levels 7 different times throughout the day.

Before I get to the graph, let me first describe when and what I ate as well as the physical activity that made up my day.

My day started when I woke up at 9:45 am (Don’t judge me, Saturdays are my only day to sleep in!) and that is when I took my fasting blood sugar measurement.

Breakfast consisted of 3 eggs over medium, 4 pieces of bacon, 2 almond flour pancakes (1 cup of almond flour, 1 egg, cinnamon, nutmeg and water), about 3/8 cup of organic grade B maple syrup and 3 cups of coffee. The eggs and pancakes were cooked in pans greased with coconut oil.

After breakfast I used the chainsaw to trim 4 trees in the front yard and in my opinion, this could be considered moderate exercise. The chain saw had to be raised and held in position and hauling the limbs away also involved lifting, squatting and walking.

After an hour of that activity, I ran up to the neighborhood workout room, lifted weights for about 10 minutes and then ran back home. All this amounted to about 30 minutes of exercise.

I ate lunch at 1:30 pm and that consisted of 4 thin sandwich slices of turkey, safflower based mayonnaise, hot sauce, green olives, sun dried tomatoes and sweet red peppers.

I had 3 small snacks through the day – 3:00 pm, 4:15 pm and 5:25 pm – which consisted of a couple handfuls of pistachios, Krave pork jerky and a pear.

At 7:00 pm dinner was comprised of a grilled pork chop (Step 4 from Whole Foods and the meat came from a local farm), grilled brussels sprouts (recipe here) and a glass of red wine.

I didn’t mention my water intake for the day but I keep myself very hydrated and easily drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water each day and this day was no exception.

Based on my estimates for this day, I took in 3,370 calories, 193 grams of carbohydrates and 127 grams of fat.

This was a pretty typical day for me but I did try to push my carbohydrate and sugar intake to see what my blood sugar did during the day. The bulk of the carbs came from the maple syrup (75 grams), the pistachios (25 grams) and the pear (27 grams) for a total of 127 of the 193 grams. I typically take in about 50-75 grams of carbs per day (75 on the days I eat fruit) so this was a real test for my blood sugars. Consuming maple syrup is rare treat for me but as I’ve written about before, this food no longer spikes my blood sugars.

I don’t exercise like this every day but I do workout about 3 times per week so this day is not too far off from my normal routine. From my Fitbit Charge HR monitor, this day saw 16,038 steps, 7.43 miles walked/run and 3,122 calories burned.

Now here is my blood sugar graph for this day:

blood sugar measurement

Keep in mind that a normal fasting blood sugar level is between 70 and 100 mg/dL and a normal blood sugar level 2 hours after a meal is below 130 mg/dL. And by “normal”, I mean normal for someone without Diabetes. If you look at what the American Diabetes Association states is normal for a Type 2 Diabetic, these numbers will be higher by about 20 mg/dL.

My first measurement was 87 mg/dL and this is a typical fasting measurement for me now that I have been controlling my Type 2 Diabetes through the Paleo lifestyle. My fasting blood sugar measurements are rarely over 100 mg/dL and they stay mainly in the 80’s.

Note that my blood sugar measurement 1 hour after dinner was 97 mg/dL and 3 hours after dinner it was 89 mg/dL, which would be considered normal for a fasting measurement.

I was actually very surprised how controlled my blood sugar levels were even with this high carb/sugar intake and this reinforces my theory that my body has reset itself after adopting this Paleo lifestyle over the past 18 months.

There is plenty of negative press out there about the Paleo lifestyle and most of that comes from people who are either ignorant of it or have vested interests in pushing medicine but if someone like me (who had fasting blood sugar measurements in the 350’s when I was diagnosed) can reverse this terrible disease without medication then there must be something to this diet/lifestyle.

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