What is this wacky thing called "weight loss"?

I've discussed this before, but it has proven such an (encouragingly!) frequent issue that I thought it was worth discussing once again.

What happens when you lose weight?

The process of weight loss is characterized by multiple shifts in metabolic patterns that can be confusing. To the uninitiated eye, weight loss can look like a disastrous distortion in metabolism. The naive doctor on seeing your lab values, for instance, might insist you take a statin drug, a fibrate like Tricor (to reduce triglycerides or increase HDL), or simply berate you for your bad health habits--when it's actually a good thing you've accomplished.

So when you lose weight, say, 30 pounds in 3 months, what have you accomplished?

Energy stored as fat, especially from visceral fat stores, is mobilized into the bloodstream. It floods the bloodstream as fatty acids and triglycerides. These fatty acids and triglycerides don't occur in isolation, but interact with other particles and metabolic patterns. The resulting blood patterns include:

--Increased triglycerides--An increase in triglycerides, for instance, from 90 mg/dl to 200 mg/dl in the midst of weight loss is common.

--Reduced HDL--The flood of triglycerides leads to increased degradation of HDL, thus a drop. A drop in HDL from, say, 40 mg/dl to 27 mg/dl--very frightening to people--is exceptionally common.

--Increased blood sugar--The flood of fatty acids and triglycerides results in insulin resistance, leading to higher blood sugars. It is not uncommon for someone with pre-diabetes to develop diabetic-range blood sugars, or a non-diabetic to show pre-diabetic blood sugars.

--Increased small LDL particles--Though small LDL is highly variable during weight loss. When it does happen, it's probably from the interaction of VLDL (triglycerides) with LDL particles and the reaction that overloads LDL particles with triglycerides and conversion to small LDL particles.

So why don't doctors often recognize these patterns when a patient loses weight? Because they rarely see it. Most of my colleagues are accustomed to having patients come back with weight gain, getting heavier and heavier each time. Lose weight? Impossible! So they just don't recognize weight loss effects when they see it. As followers of The Heart Scan Blog know, a frequent conversation around here is "Am I too skinny?" or "How do I stop losing weight?"

The solution: Be patient. Be patient and wait about two months after a weight plateau has been achieved. That's when the numbers "settle down" and you see marked drops in triglycerides, increases in HDL, drops in blood sugar, reductions in small LDL.

As with many things, it's all about timing.

Comments (41) -

  • chuck

    9/20/2011 2:02:02 AM |

    Isn't the form of storage fat saturated fat?  maybe this is how they came up with the theory saturated fat is bad for you.  look at all those symptoms when all that sat fat is released into the blood ;)

  • Dee Miles

    9/20/2011 3:18:39 AM |

    Wow!  I'm so glad you explained this very topic because that's exactly what happened to me recently.  For the past 8 weeks I've not had any grains or sugars and I've kept my carb level about 20g per day. I've lost 15 lbs so far.  I visited my Dr. in May (prior to any weight loss, and maybe during some gain), and the lipid panel was like this: LDL 84, HDL 76, Trig 40.  When I had another blood test in early Sept, I was shocked to see the markers worse!  LDL 122, HDL 48, Trig 88.  Boy was I disappointed in those latest numbers.  Thank you for explaining how this works while losing weight.  At one point recently I was really discouraged but now I'm really glad about the timing of the tests and your post.  My next blood draw is scheduled for 3 months out from last week, at the request of my Dr.  Maybe then the numbers will have shown some improvement.
    Also, glad to hear the you will be on the low carb cruise in May.  My hubby and I are looking forward to hearing you speak and hopefully meeting you then.

  • Donald Kjellberg

    9/20/2011 5:18:03 AM |

    I experienced this very thing. After losing serious weight from the eliminating wheat, processed, and sugary foods (1 year in total) I lost 130 pounds (this is an update from a previous post per your request Dr. Williams). When I was nearly finished I went to see my doctor. He wanted to put me on statins. I explained to him how the data does not support application to me (no evidence of heart disease) and I got the mantra about standards of practice, etc, etc. I held my ground and decided I am much happier eating dairy, eggs, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, and as much raw foods (nuts, veggies, fruits) as my body desires to treat my health parameters.

    Maintaining weight, it is easy. My BMI (23 down from 40) has remained constant for a few month now. You are right, metabolic processes definitely change. I no longer have sensations of glucose fluctuations or an uncontrolled appetite. I can only imagine the improved hormone regulation and metabolic communication going on inside my body. The symptoms from obesity, all gone. Goodbye sleep apnea, hypertension, hemorrhoids, arrhythmias, gastroinestinal disruptions, smelly body, chaffing thighs, and others not mentioned.

    The positive effects are just as dramatic, but I don't want to ramble on.

    Weight loss? What is it?
    Getting your life back!

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/20/2011 12:30:01 PM |

    Excellent, excellent, excellent, Donald!

    I'm glad you got your life back and deprived Big Food and Big Pharma of revenues.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/20/2011 12:31:07 PM |

    Yup, happens time and again. And your doctor will have no idea what this pink elephant is.

    Yes, see you on the cruise!

  • Buckaroo Banzai

    9/20/2011 1:45:43 PM |

    Would the same lipid response happen if one were replacing body fat with muscle and remain at roughly the same weight?

  • kathyj333

    9/20/2011 1:51:53 PM |

    When I lost a large amount of weight, I had a gallbladder attack. I had my cholesterol levels done during this time, and, yes, the LDL was high. Thanks for this post.

  • Jack Kronk

    9/20/2011 2:16:45 PM |

    Dr Davis,

    I began VLC back in Aug 2010 and transitioned until December. During that time, I went from a slightly pudgy and undefined 163 to a slim and muscular 148 (meaning that I likely lost more than 15 pounds of fat since I was gaining muscle at the same time.)

    My weight has remained stable but very graudally increased since December 2010 because I do heavy resistance weight training consistently and take a whey protein powder supplement. Currently I weigh in at about 155 and I have very little flab, if any.

    With respect to my lipid numbers, is my body still in some kind of transition phase?


  • Haggus

    9/20/2011 7:23:52 PM |

    I went through this back some 3 years ago and was put on a statin as a result.  While it seems out of fashion now with Dr. Davis, at least with those with blood sugar issues, I used oat bran to drive my LDL to 38 from 193mg/dl, thereby bettering Dr. Davis's 60/60/60 guidelines.

    Other effects: My trigs actually went down from 55 to 15mg/dl, my a1c increased from 4.8 to 4.9% and finally, I became anemic.

    Would I do it again if need be?  Yes, for me, life without the use of a statin trumps most everything else.  Thankfully, these days I still have better 60/60/60 numbers without the heavy use of oat bran which keeps my doctor and the blood bank happy.

  • Linda

    9/20/2011 9:20:57 PM |

    Dr. Davis................
    Another question regarding D3................
    Is there any benefit derived from taking D3 and glaucoma? Does it help relieve eye pressure in any way?

    [I am facing laser surgery, so I am really wondering if the D3 will help.]

  • Joe

    9/20/2011 9:31:43 PM |

    I don't think there's anything in the literature about D3 helping prevent glaucoma. There is some correlation between D3 and prevention of macular degeneration, but the jury is still out on it.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/20/2011 11:05:11 PM |

    Sorry, Linda: Way out of my area of expertise.

    However, vitamin D is beneficial across so many aspects of health that it's worth doing regardless.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/20/2011 11:25:13 PM |

    Hi, Jack--

    If your VAP doesn't reflect recent weight loss, consider:

    1) On the surface, your pattern looks like excessive carbohydrate intake for your genetic susceptibility (small LDL, low HDL, high triglycerides).
    2) Apo E2
    3) Another condition has entered the picture, such as kidney disease. Unlikely, thank goodness, but worth thinking about.

    Let me know what comes of this.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/20/2011 11:25:38 PM |

    Yes, Buck, since the fat still needs to be mobilized into the bloodstream.

  • Ellen

    9/21/2011 2:47:16 AM |

    THANK YOU, Dr. Davis for posting this!   I've been trying to find supporting information on what happens during weight loss, because I get questions about changes in blood work from the readers of my websites.   It made sense to me that trigs would increase because of stored fat mobilization, but I searched all over pubmed and could not find a single paper to support that hypothesis.   Thanks again for confirming this!

  • Bob

    9/21/2011 3:37:37 AM |

    Dr. Davis, I posted last week about high numbers after being on a no carb, no sugar, no wheat diet for a year. You posted back that it could be weight loss and not to worry. I just heard back from two different doctors who looked at my last two VAP tests and they both suggested that I start statins as soon as possible. They are both doctors who specialize in lipids and also believe in not eating carbs sugar etc. They both want me to take a NMR test which would give them a clearer picture of what is going on. I have lost 25 lbs. over the last year. Do you think that after a year of losing weight it would still have an effect on my numbers? They are worried about apo B which I guess is why they want to see NMR. I don't mind taking the statin if I really need it but I am worried that if my apoB is high because of weight loss I am making a big mistake because once I start there will be reason to be taken off of them. I am also worried that if I don't take the statin now, if I wait another 6 months for another test, I am risking my health. I am 59 with two young children.

  • Jack Kronk

    9/21/2011 2:55:39 PM |

    ApoE2? I thought I was more in the running for ApoE4. Isn't 4 the one where it gets a bit dicey with dietary fats?

    Also, kidney disease? what makes you say that. I have had 7 kidney stones (all calcium oxalate. all "pre paleo").  I have several hypotheses about why I don't get them anymore, but my best guess is due to the increase in VitK2, since K2 sort of 'directs' where calcium goes. So I figured my kidneys were much happier with my new diet than with my SAD.

    As for excessive carbohydrate intake, yah that may be true, but I think you make an important reference about genetic susceptibility, as many people can do just fine with my carb intake as it does not produce these numbers for them.

    We have some interesting things brewing over there on PaleoHacks about what might be affecting my lipids. Travis Culp is kind of leading the charge right now and Dr K is in the mix as well.


    Thanks for your thoughts Doc.


  • Dr. William Davis

    9/21/2011 9:36:04 PM |

    Hi, Jack--

    If the 150 grams carbohydrates mentioned in the blog post was referring to your intake, then that is definitely at least part, if not all. of the underlying cause.

    Apo E2 would serve to exaggerate this effect, mostly by way of delayed clearance of postprandial lipoproteins. This could be apo E4 but it would be a very atypical pattern, since there are low HDL/high triglycerides.

    Kidney stones in and of themselves would be insufficient; it would have to involve overt kidney dysfunction.

    Anyway, please let me know what comes of this.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/21/2011 9:40:23 PM |

    Hi, Bob--

    It's not so much the period of time required to lose the weight, but whether the blood was drawn too soon (less than 2 months) after weight plateaued. If drawn too soon, it will yield confusing or alarming numbers to the weight loss-uninitiated.

    Getting an NMR is always a good idea, since it yields the most confident value, LDL particle number.

    Have you gotten a heart scan? Remember, it's more about coronary plaque than about calculated LDL or apo B.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/21/2011 9:42:40 PM |

    Hi, Ellen--

    Surprising, isn't it? Perhaps it's something we should do!

    Anyway, it is critical to recognize this, else people get mad and throw things and think that the diet is destructive when, in reality, it works like crazy--if you know when to draw the blood sample.

  • Bob

    9/21/2011 10:28:03 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    I had a heart scan thanks to your blog about 4 years ago with a score of zero. At the time I was on Lipitor following low carb diet but with little sat. fat. I was mostly eating skinless chicken, salmon with mayo. Now I am on high sat. fat diet. Beef and more beef. My weight is still dropping. I started at 186 and now I am 159. I have no idea when my weight will plateau. I feel I am in a bad position as two lipid doctors feel I should be on statins now yet I believe the numbers are not accurate because of the weight loss. If I wait for weight loss to stop I may be putting myself at risk but I don't want to go on statins if not necessary.
    Tomorrow I am planning on the NMR test.

  • Gene K

    9/22/2011 2:25:42 AM |

    Since I consistently get a server error trying to post this comment to the small LDL post, I am posting it here.

    Dr Davis,

    Do you think at some point you will drop the TYP target for LDL to be 700 or less in favour of a target amount or percentage of small LDL?

    Thank you.

  • Kat

    9/22/2011 8:38:16 PM |

    I've got to show this article to my mom. My mom has struggled with her weight for a long time. Her doctor told her she would give her 6 months to try and improve her numbers through diet and exercise. If they didn't go down she would have to start taking statins which my mom did not want to do. My mom did manage to lose a considerable amount of weight (about 50 pounds) in that 6 months period. She went to see her doctor, had a lipid panel done and the doc said her lipid panel numbers were worst than before. The doctor blamed her for not eating the right stuff  and said she needed to start statins now or die. It really scared my mom and she got frustrated. She ended up taking the statins because she didn't feel she had a choice and reverted back to her old lifestyle. Maybe if she knew this information she wouldn't have been so discouraged.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/23/2011 12:35:53 AM |

    Oh, boy, Kat. It sounds like this is precisely what happened.

    I truly find it incredible that weight loss for my colleagues is such an uncommon thing that they don't even recognize it.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/23/2011 12:37:46 AM |

    Hi, Gene--

    Yes, I am trending in that direction. However, it remains unclear what the safe threshold is for LDL particle number or apo B when small LDL is minimized or eliminated. BIG question with no current answer.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/23/2011 12:47:36 AM |

    Hi, Bob--

    Be careful: Even the NMR is subject to the confusing and transient changes that occur during weight loss. In fact, you can observe these effects in ALL lipoprotein testing techniques.

    I know of no way to subtract the effect of weight loss except to be patient and wait for weight to plateau.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/23/2011 12:49:06 AM |


    I loved your comment so much I'd like to make it the focus of a blog post!

  • Tom

    9/24/2011 3:17:32 PM |

    I' ve cut out wheat from my diet and my wheat belly has disappeared. Unfortunately there is still fat around the hips/thighs. Still, I'm very pleased. Thanks!

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/25/2011 12:08:12 AM |

    Great, Tom!

    Just be patient. It tends to come with time.

  • Suze

    10/2/2011 1:31:41 PM |

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for posting this. I have been going crazy trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
    I went to see my doc in mid-June, who put me on lovastatin (added to blood pressure meds, Ambien, and Prilosec). He had done labs and was unhappy with my cholesterol.
    I went on low carb in early June, about a week before the doc visit. I have done low carb before and knew it would drop my cholesterol, but went along for now. For 6 weeks all was fine and I lost nearly 20 pounds. Started feeling better - was able to get off Ambien and sleep better. Was able to stop the Prilosec also (my GERD disappeared). Because I was trying to get into ketosis to burn fat, I was monitoring my blood sugar. At about 6 weeks into it, I hit a stall and have had to fight like heck to keep losing any weight. But the worst part (for me) was my glucose level. Inexplicably, my fasting glucose crept up just over 100 and stayed there most days. I was horrified - I was not eating any excess sugars, in fact, trying to stay under 20-30 carbs a day. I am a nurse and I know what a fasting glucose over 100 will get me diagnosed with - diabetes. My goal is to get OFF all meds, not get labeled with diabetes and put on more of them. To top it off, my doc wanted new labs after 6 weeks on lovastatin, and I refuse to go until I figured out what the heck was going on with my glucose and fixed the problem. My doc is nice, but I highly doubt he is evolved enough to listen to this argument. He still subscribes to the high cholesterol theory of heart disease, after all.
    I Googled my head off and tried to figure it out. Lots of theories out there. I tried all kinds of supplements supposed to regulate your glucose, and experimented with timing of food and activity. Even stranger, my glucose would RISE after exercise in the morning (still fasting!), but lower if done in the afternoon. I thought maybe I wasn't eating enough carbs and my liver was kicking out glycogen during the night. The day I came home from work after a just-over-100 fasting that morning and checked my glucose and it was 90 (!) 4 hours after lunch, I wanted to go get the damn labs done, but they were closed.
    I knew blood pressure, cholesterol levels and glucose are all tied together, but it had not occurred to me that losing weight mobilized fats into the bloodstream and may be behind my glucose being a pain. Makes me wonder what the lovastatin did for the 60 days I was on it, lol. But my dilemma is that to find out, if I go with an elevated glucose, I will be hosed. :-( So I guess I'll go find a home cholesterol kit and see, and be patient on the glucose issue.
    I also found some interesting info on low stomach acid - I had been on Tums, Zantac and then Prilosec for some time, and I found my glucose issues started around the time I *stopped* taking that stuff... More food for thought.
    Anyway, thank you so much for posting this - at least I am not in a panic at the moment. I am not done yet, though - I still have about 45-50 pounds to go. I am not sure I can hold off the labs that long. I plan to keep an eye on my fasting (97 this morning) and when it's well under 100 will try to get the damn labs done.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/2/2011 2:32:28 PM |

    That's great, Suze!

    Yes, we have to be properly armed against our doctors!

  • Kelly

    10/9/2011 1:09:15 PM |

    What defines a weight plateau? I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant. I left the hospital 20 pounds lighter than I was pre-pregnancy thanks to a lower-carb diet. Over the next 6 months, I lost an additional 25-30 pounds. I'm not losing weight drastically any longer -- I'm now well within the "normal" range for my BMI. However I am still dropping a pound or two every month or so (still breastfeeding). When I tested my blood sugar about 4 months ago, my fasting number was 104. I'm now 11 months postpartum, so its been about 5 months of very gradual weight loss. Would this still change my numbers because I'm technically still losing weight?

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/9/2011 10:59:32 PM |

    Probably not, Kelly.

    I don't know why, but weight loss that has "decelerated" to this degree seems to not be associated with distortion of metabolic markers. It doesn't mean that continued weight loss won't yield further improvement, but that the current numbers are indeed true.

  • DanD

    10/12/2011 4:48:46 PM |

    Donald, congratulations on these tremendous improvements.  Your experience makes me think that I can do the same if I keep at it.

  • Wanda E

    10/18/2011 1:59:06 PM |

    Dr. Davis, I really appreciate all the work you put into the Wheat Belly book.  It is an eye opener.  I have a question.  My husband is diabetic (2 shots per day) also he has Mysenthia Gravis.  Do you have any information regarding Mysenthia Gravis.  Will  eliminating wheat help get rid of or lessen the effects of this disease.  My husband and I are deleting the wheat and i already feel better.  Thank you.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/19/2011 1:28:44 AM |

    Thanks. Wanda.

    There are, unfortunately, no formal clinical observations that combine wheat/gluten elimination with markers for myasthenia gravis.

    On the most anecdotal level, I have one patient with myasthenia gravis who tells me that her symptoms are substantially improved, though not entirely relieved, with wheat elimination. This seems to be true of nearly all neurologic phenomena that do not have wheat as their original cause: at least partial improvement.

    It is certainly worth trying for this as well as a host of other reasons.

  • Jo

    10/22/2011 2:25:09 AM |

    Thank you for posting this. I think I'm going through this right now. I've lost 63 lbs since being diagnosed with DM last Nov and my A1C is down to 5.5 from over 13.3.  My weight loss has slowed to about 5 lbs per month now and I have low thyroid symptoms but all my doctor cares about is putting me on statins. I'm seeing a new doc next month to try to get more than a TSH test but I know he's going to be concerned about my lipid profile, too. I'm going to ask for either a VAP or NMR test. I don't know how bad these numbers really are but they made the last doctor flip out. I keep under 30 carbs per day, am off all wheat now, and walk at least a mile a day. Here are the most recent numbers and the change from 8 months ago:
    Total: 338 (+58)
    Trigs: 138 (-39)
    HDL: 50 (+10)
    VLDL: 35 (+4)
    LDL: 253 (+44)
    %HDL: 15 (+1)
    Chol:HDL Ratio: 7 (no change)

    I'm not sure what to do in the meantime while I wait for the next appointment, other than be patient, but I'm going to print this post out, anyway.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/22/2011 12:42:39 PM |

    Very nice result on your weight and diabetes, Jo!

    It looks like you have a genetically-determined pattern, either familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia and/or apo E4. Sadly, in this situation, diet efforts cannot fully disable the impaired handling of fats that arises from these genetic variants. Statins in this case may not be a bad idea. You may be the occasional exception. Statins are overused and abused, but your situation is one in which they may be appropriate.

  • Suze

    10/23/2011 3:34:55 PM |

    Well, I finally went to get the labs done, and it's a mixed result. After 4 months on low carb and nearly wheat-free:
    cholesterol - 368 to 282 (-86)
    HDL - 40 to 61 (+21 :-D)
    LDL - 287 to 185 (-102)
    ratio - 9.2 to 4.6 (cut in half!)
    VLDL - 41 to 36 (-5)
    triglycerides - 207 to 179 (-28)
    Pretty good improvement in 4 months, I think. The first two months I was on lovastatin, and the last two months, all diet/exercise. I really do not want to go back on statins.
    However, my fasting glucose was 104, despite my efforts to get it lower before getting labs. Now I will have to argue with my doc, I am sure. I got an A1c and it was 5.2, which is totally normal, so at least I am armed with something!!!

  • Suze

    10/23/2011 4:04:17 PM |

    P.S. - I have also lost almost 30 pounds!
    And - I just ordered Wheat Belly to read on my Nook. I can't wait! I think you are SO right about all of this!

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/23/2011 11:46:11 PM |

    Wow, Suze!

    Stupendous progress! Keep going.

Oatmeal: Good or bad?

Oatmeal: Good or bad?

You've heard it before: oatmeal reduces cholesterol. Oatmeal producers have obtained permission from the FDA to use a cholesterol-reducing claim. The American Heart Association provides a (paid) endorsement of Quaker Oats.

I've lost count of the times I've asked someone whether they ate a healthy breakfast and the answer was "Sure. I had oatmeal."

Is this true? Is oatmeal heart healthy because it reduces LDL cholesterol?

I don't think so. Try this: Have a serving of slow-cooked (e.g., steel-cut, Irish, etc.) oatmeal. Most people will consume oatmeal with skim or 1% milk and some dried or fresh fruit. Wait an hour, then check your blood sugar.

If you are not diabetic and have a fasting blood sugar in the "normal" range (<100 mg/dl), you will typically have a 1-hour blood glucose of 150-180 mg/dl--very high. If you have mildly increased fasting blood sugars between 100 and 126 mg/dl, postprandial (after-eating) blood sugars will easily exceed 180 mg/dl. If you have diabetes, hold onto your hat because, even if you take medications, blood sugar one hour after oatmeal will usually be between 200 and 300 mg/dl.

This is because oatmeal is converted rapidly to sugar, and a lot of it. Even if you were to repeat the experiment with no dried or fresh fruit, you will still witness high blood sugars in these ranges. Do like some people and pile on the raisins, dried cranberries, or brown sugar, and you will see blood sugars go even higher.

Blood sugars this high, experienced repetitively, will damage the delicate insulin-producing beta cells of your pancreas (glucose toxicity). It also glycates proteins of the eyes and vascular walls. The blood glucose effects of oatmeal really don't differ much from a large Snickers bar or bowl of jelly beans.

If you are like most people, you too will show high blood sugars after oatmeal. It's easy to find out . . . check your postprandial blood sugar.

In past, I recommended oat products, specifically oat bran, to reduce LDL, especially small LDL. I've changed my mind: I now no longer recommend any oat product due to its blood sugar-increasing effects.

Better choices: eggs, ground flaxseed as a hot cereal, cheese (the one dairy product that does not excessively trigger insulin), raw nuts, salads, leftovers from last evening's dinner.

Comments (67) -

  • Church Dude

    3/11/2010 6:12:31 PM |

    this is somewhat surprising, however, not completely shocking. Carbs are sugars, and I've known for quite some time that Oats are loaded with carbs. I never thought of the effects of the oatmeal though, I've always seen it as a positive and healthy way to start off the day...

    I guess that view has changed now.. I'll be consuming a lot less oatmeal.

  • Anonymous

    3/11/2010 6:28:20 PM |


    Does this also include whole unprocessed (cooked) oats?

    Those, along with wild rice are the only grains our cardiologist said are okay, and only so long as they remain whole, unprocessed grains.



  • sonny

    3/11/2010 6:31:42 PM |

    Oatmeal- what a pickle it's gotten itself into.
    Healthy, healthy oatmeal is all you read about until one checks their blood sugar after eating it. Mine went from 82-179 in 45 minutes.
    No honey or raisins or anything added- the same spike.
    For me, eating oatmeal is like having an IV drip of straight sugar into my blood stream.

    Oatmeal has now been relegated to  food for my mealworms who in turn are snacks for my bearded dragon.

    Darn, I like oatmeal!!

  • Marnee

    3/11/2010 6:41:19 PM |

    Are you saying that butter triggers more insulin than cheese?  Can't be.

  • MissPkm

    3/11/2010 6:54:34 PM |

    Thanks! This one has been very hard to discuss since EVERYONE thinks oatmeal is VERY healthy! Great post

  • karl

    3/11/2010 9:21:30 PM |

    ??? I eat 1/3 cup (add water) of Oatbran for breakfast everyday with berries - 1 and 2 hour blood sugars are about 100. ( or a serum level of 89)  That is a carb load of 16 for the oat-bran - add the berries and it is 20. Not a lot for the big meal of the day for a large guy.

    I'm not sure everyone has the same problem - it is a matter of amount, not 'just' the type of food.  I am much more careful to eliminate fructose containing sugars.

  • Bob Fenton

    3/11/2010 10:13:51 PM |

    Thank you!  Appreciate the information.  Now I must email my CDE and ask if she is going to insist that her charges continue to eat it.


  • Payam

    3/11/2010 10:25:28 PM |

    You lump all "oatmeal" into a single category.  Is there a difference between instant oats vs. rolled oats vs. steel cut oats?

    I sometimes cook steel cut oats overnight, and then add some whole raw milk at the end.  I eat it with walnuts and cinnamon.  I would assume that the fats and cinnamon decrease the blood sugar spike?  Is this the case?  I would appreciate your comments

  • Stephen

    3/11/2010 10:28:31 PM |

    Do butter or cream generally trigger an insulin response?

  • StephenB

    3/11/2010 10:35:21 PM |

    In addition to cheese, shouldn't heavy cream not raise blood glucose?

  • ShottleBop

    3/11/2010 11:08:36 PM |

    Re:  cheese being the one dairy product that doesn't excessively trigger insulin. Doesn't heavy (whipping) cream qualify as another?  It doesn't raise my blood sugar--even when consumed at breakfast, the time of day when I'm most carb-sensitive.

  • Anonymous

    3/11/2010 11:15:04 PM |

    Dr. Davis,

    I am not a cereal eater of any sort, and never eat oatmeal or oat bran.

    A typical breakfast for me might consist of 2 whole pastured eggs + vegetables and some coconut milk with around a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon mixed into it. Would 1 serving of oatmeal added to something like that be as likely to trigger higher readings (relative to each of the states you mentioned)?

    NOTE: I'd try it out and test with a glucometer, but I dislike the taste of oatmeal and oat bran, so it makes that avenue a moot point.

    Roy Davis

  • Rose

    3/12/2010 12:19:09 AM |

    Cholesterol intake from egg yolk is atherogenic in fowls (1), rabbits (2), swines (an omnivore like man) (3) and monkeys (3) as you can read in the following articles:

    (1) "The pathology of experimental atherosclerosis in egg-fed fowls".


    (3) "Comparison of the Effect of Egg Yolk or Butter on the Development of Atherosclerosis in Swine".

  • Lori Miller

    3/12/2010 1:18:43 AM |

    I found that oat bran gives me acid reflux. Now I use it to exfoliate.

  • randyntona

    3/12/2010 1:24:01 AM |

    Thanks for this information, I am glad to see you are not recommending oat bran anymore.  Recently I tried 2 tablespoons of oat bran a day for 4 days for ldl cholesterol reduction.  As a result I gained 4 pounds and experienced a resurgence in my joint pain (and cravings) which had been previously greatly reduced by going grain free.  It took about 4 weeks to loose that 4 pounds.  No more 'healthy' oats for me!  Randy.

  • Anonymous

    3/12/2010 1:49:28 AM |

    Dr. Davis,

    Do buckwheat and quinoa have the same blood sugar-raising effect?

    Thank you,


  • Dr. William Davis

    3/12/2010 2:54:47 AM |

    If you are concerned about carbohydrate sensitivity, you must--MUST!--check blood sugars after a meal.

    Then you will know for a fact what your response is.

    The worst: instant oatmeal.

  • Michael Barker

    3/12/2010 4:08:32 AM |

    Eat oatmeal? I can't even look at a box of oatmeal without my blood sugar going ballistic!


  • Gene K

    3/12/2010 4:49:40 AM |

    I have been eating quick oats for breakfast every day for fifteen years, lately adding cinnamon, flaxseed meal, and blueberries. Is it enough time to make me a diabetic? I typically walk for 25 min one hour after breakfast to catch the train, so it is difficult for me to check my blood sugar during this time. Is oat meal consumption harmful even in this combination with physical activity?

  • Sweet Sensations

    3/12/2010 5:51:02 AM |

    What about cream of wheat? is it any better for you than the oatmeal?

  • Pascal

    3/12/2010 6:46:40 AM |

    I think your comment that oatmeal will raise sugars in non-diabetic people to over 150 is a little exaggerated. I had a fasting sugar of around 100 and 1 hour after one serving eating Old Fashioned Quaker Oats my blood glucose got to 126. While this is not an ideal glucose level it is nowhere near the 150 you are referring to. I had some other members (non-diabetic) of my family try the same experiment and none of them came close to 150.

    I switched to a non-wheat diet, moderate carb diet at the beginning of the year. For breakfast I stopped eating sugar-packed cereals and ate Old Fashioned Quaker Oats instead. My triglycerides dropped like a rock from almost 200 to around 60. My HDL went from 35 to about 60.

    I do agree however that people who are insulin resistant may need to avoid oatmeal as it does contain a plenty of carbs but comparing oatmeal to candy bars in the context of blood glucose response is really stretching things.

  • Peter

    3/12/2010 12:18:29 PM |

    Tons of carbs = raised blood sugar. I meet a lot of people eating oatmeal believing it is healthy. I am from Sweden and we have a long, long tradition of oatmeal.

    The grain industry has been sponsoring Swedish athletes for a very long time.

    Apparently, kids who get into sports get a brochure, from sponsored by one of the biggest grain producers in Sweden, loaded with propaganda about how athletes MUST eat a lot of carbohydrates.

    Fortunately there are more and more athletes breaking away from traditional diets. One of the main reasons being, that top athletes get sick a lot. Björn Ferry, who won a gold in Vancouver, is on a low carb diet. No oatmeal whatsoever for him.

  • Peter

    3/12/2010 12:43:49 PM |

    I've been testing my blood sugar after meals and what I find is a little steel cut oats, a little wild rice, a little beer doesn't raise my blood.  A lot of any of these, on the other hand, does. It seems more related to quantity than to which carb.

  • Jen

    3/12/2010 2:11:12 PM |

    I have heard, "...eat fats with your carbs..." to keep one's insulin livels from spiking so much.  I choose butter or cream from grass fed cows.
    Have not checked insulin levels after fat or no-fat old fashioned oatmeal to see the differences.
    It's worth testing on myself as my fasting glucose levels are in the low range.

  • zach

    3/12/2010 3:16:48 PM |

    Now they even have "organic" oat meal to make it super healthy! The madness never ends.

    My 4.5% butterfat whole, unprocessed jersey milk does not cause my blood sugar to spike, neither does butter, yogurt, cream or cheese made from it. But I am non-diabetic. Measuring blood sugar after drinking pasteurized store bought milk (~3.2% butterfat) does raise it about 10 more units (110) instead of 100. WAPF says the heating makes lactose digest quicker.

  • Haggus

    3/12/2010 3:20:06 PM |

    I didn't hear anything that oat bran can't bring down LDL, only that one has to be mindful of the BG issues concerning it.

    I'm mindful as I'm IGT, but don't seem to have issues with oat bran and my 1h ppg readings.  They've never been above 6mmol/L, and more than likely be in the mid 5s like anything else I've tested with the expection of food containing starch.

    For the record, I use water and don't load it with fruit.

  • Dr. William Davis

    3/12/2010 7:25:32 PM |


    Excellent point.

    Portion size is indeed a crucial factor: The greater the quantity of carbohydrate, the greater the impact on blood sugar.

    Therefore, many of us can get away with small quantities of oatmeal, cream of wheat, or other carbohydrate (at least from a blood sugar standpoint). Most of us cannot deal with any more than a little. Some cannot deal with any at all.

  • Myron

    3/12/2010 7:26:57 PM |

    Just recommended your Blog to my brothers.  Gave them the comparison of "low carb diet verses the whole grain inflammatory diet."    In addition to the Blood Sugar problems, grains tend to be loaded with  inflammatory oils and for some allergic, too!   Chronic inflammation and Chronic disease go hand in hand.  

    What do you think of the Curry diet, Tumeric is a COX-2 inhibitor;  thought to reduce prostate cancer in India to 10% compared to USA.

  • Tony

    3/12/2010 9:33:26 PM |

    My one hour postprandial blood glucose, tested today after eating 1/2 cup (dry) oatmeal with 2 TBS flax seed meal, 1 TBS raisins, and 1/2 tsp maple syrup: 114 mg/dl,

  • Lori Miller

    3/13/2010 3:02:01 AM |

    My diabetic mother's FBG was finally down to 126 yesterday. Then she had some peas and carrots last night, then some oatmeal and raisins this morning. Her blood sugar a few hours after eating it: over 200. Her reason for eating the oatmeal: "My nurse told me I could have a little."

  • Anonymous

    3/13/2010 4:36:28 PM |

    I found that a bowl of oatmeal, with cream and two boiled eggs was enough to shoot my blood sugar from fasting 110 to 160+.  Now, I clearly have issues since my fasting is a bit high, but my conclusion for myself was, fat and protein didn't stop the carbs.  I do fine with a small bowl of full fat strained yogurt and walnuts though.  And eggs, veggies, or a small steak...

  • Paul

    3/15/2010 3:50:31 PM |

    I've been wondering...is bacon REALLY bad for you (like most people say), or is it okay? I've been eating a relatively low-carb breakfast of poached eggs and bacon, and a small serving of fruit, but I'm concerned that the bacon is a bad choice (although I love it, and it leaves me satiated until lunch). Any insight?

  • Anonymous

    3/16/2010 5:55:15 PM |

    The effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels is represented by the glycemic index. The glycemic index is determined by feeding various people a certain food and measuring their blood sugar level multiple times over a period of several hours.

    Oatmeal has a fairly low glycemic index (around 50 I think), which means its effect on the blood sugar level of a regular person is low.

    The glycemic load of the whole meal containing oats can be even lowered by mixing it with some other very low GI food such as nuts.
    A half a cup of oatmeal with 1 oz of walnuts cannot be much worse than fried eggs and bacon everyday, can it?


  • mongander

    3/29/2010 4:04:22 PM |

    Okay, y'all have prodded me to check my blood sugar.  Despite being a diagnosed type 2 diabetic for over 20 years, I've relied on the A1C test and avoiding processed foods.

    Today, fasting level = 90

    After a huge bowl of old fashion slow cook oatmeal (1 cup dry uncooked), plus raisins and MCT oil, I tested 126 immediately after eating.

    20 minutes postprandial = 120 (after 15 minute walk)

    1 hr postprandial = 136

    2 hr postprandial = 71 (after another 15 min walk)

    Normally I eat oats/groats but I'm visiting my mom now, and don't have access to groats.  In my opinion, oats/groats is metabolized more slowly and is more nutritious.

    I have a lot of Scottish blood and the Scots have thrived on oats for millenia.

  • Sandip

    5/6/2010 11:37:49 PM |

    This is so ABSOLUTELY true and helpful!!!  I have been eating a big bowl of quick oats (with only water) for about a year and regularly measuring blood sugar one hour later.  The results were always confusingly amazing.  My blood sugar wold reach from 90's (fasting) to 180 easily!  I have asked two internists but no help.  This article is exactly what I have been searching for.  Great analysis!  NO MORE OATS for me.

  • Anonymous

    5/12/2010 12:39:09 PM |

    The unasked question is, what constitutes 'repetitive' consumption of oatmeal? Breakfast every day? Twice a week? Or what?

  • Raine Saunders

    6/29/2010 2:42:55 PM |

    If you were to soak the oats in an acidic medium overnight (such as kefir, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, whey, or lemon juice), and then eat it with real, raw milk and a bit of real maple syrup, it would be much healthier for you. But I wouldn't recommend eating it every day because this habit of eating grains too often, even when properly prepared can still lead to health issues. Grains that are not traditionally prepared as our ancestors did lead to many problems like obesity, heart disease, cavities,digestive disorders, candida overgrowth, Crohn's Disease, Leaky Gut, hiatal hernia, diabetes, and much more.

  • Roxanne Sukol MD

    7/22/2010 7:03:21 PM |

    Great idea to check your blood sugar after you eat.  Then either way, good or bad, you'll know.  And you'll be able to make your decision based on the facts.  Check out my take on "What's for Breakfast" at http://yourhealthisonyourplate.com  Roxanne Sukol MD

  • Joyce and Bob Schneider

    7/30/2010 7:35:30 PM |

    What a fantastic post! It's about time someone started cracking down on so-called "good carbs." My husband is a cardiologist too, has been preaching this for years and getting the very same "Huh?" reactions. The credo is our house is: CARBS & SUGAR ARE THE SAME THING, because all carbs metabolize into sugar. "Good" ones may take 30 minutes longer, but they'll still become sugar faster than your body wants it. Try to stick to just low-sugar fruits and veggies...and thank you, doctor, for helping to clear the blizzard of misinformation out there. Here's our non-profit site if you're wondering who wrote this: http://tinyurl.com/b8vjja

    P.S. Many diabetes "educators" are dreadfully behind, giving out in some cases what amounts to harmful information, especially where diabetics are concerned.

  • Jenny

    8/4/2010 4:09:10 AM |

    Yikes!  This has certainly been very surprising.  Oatmeal has always been thought of as a healthy breakfast.  Little did we know!  

    Thank you so much for sharing this.  I will forward this post to my fellow oatmeal-loving friends.

  • Anonymous

    8/16/2010 9:20:06 AM |

    This blog usually delivers scientifically sound nutritional information. This particular blog publication is the exception. It gives information without a single reference. It is daunting to write that oats will make a spike in your blood levels without any further information. Oat porridge is known to lower the glycemic response to a load of carbohydrates. You are missing important information about the fiber content. It IS a good source of fiber, both soluble (beta-glucans) and insoluble when eat as a whole. Additionally, is proven to lower serum LDL levels and increase HDL. Of course if you use a oat product full of sugars or in the wrong presentation/processing the history is quite different.
    Much more can be found if you type Oats and glycemic index at Pubmed.

  • Wilcox Angus Beef

    8/28/2010 6:03:33 AM |

    I remember when I thought eating oatmeal was good for me.  I even made granola and ate that frequently.  The only thing that happened to me was that I gained a lot of weight!  

    I have not had grains in about a year, unless I am on vacation and have no other options.  I ate steel cut oats this summer on vacation.  Yes, they were satisfying at the time but I also came home with weight gain and a viral lung infection. Not saying that was because of my grain intake, just sayin....

  • Peter

    9/4/2010 12:33:45 PM |

    I sed to eat lots of oatmeal and oat bran, and my doctor said I was anemic.  Then I read that oat bran prevents iron absorbtion, so I quit, and the anemia went away.  Maybe coincidence, maybe not...

  • Anonymous

    9/8/2010 3:59:39 PM |

    I'm extremely grateful for this information. For years I have conscientiously followed the type of diet that is widely promoted as being healthy, including whole grain oatmeal. My cholesterol numbers have been stellar, aside from the total sometimes being below the reference range. My fasting glucose has been normal. I was shocked to learn in follow-up after a severe foot infection that my peripheral arteriosclerotic situation is not so stellar. In view of the information on your blog I bought a glucose monitor. My blood sugar an hour after a large bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal with no fruit, milk, sugar, or other additions = 150!

  • grgsr

    9/27/2010 10:54:56 AM |

    Oat Bran, I have read that Oat Bran is good for you as it is high in fiber and helps to clear fats from the blood.  I am not sure about the refinement as to whether fine ground or medium ground is best?  I have read other medical materials that support using Oat Bran for cereal, muffins, or even as bread crumbs for baking.  This can be confusing as I had once believed Oat Meal was good for you and a heart healthy diet.  Does OAT BRAN fall into the same catagory as OAT MEAL?

  • Anonymous

    10/12/2010 3:39:26 PM |

    Perhaps it is the skim milk that is the culprit here?With cream or whole milk and some coconut oil perhaps it's not so bad?

    Skim milk is evil.

  • Simon

    10/27/2010 10:33:37 AM |

    You are a Great while writing in the blogs it is awesome I liked it too much good and informative thanks for the sharing.

  • blogblog

    10/31/2010 8:55:33 AM |

    The 'healthy breakfast myth'. Humans don't need any breakfast or lunch if they eat a proper diet. The body has ample fat stores to provide our energy for the day. Most hunter-gathers don't eat any breakfast and lunch is rarely anything other than a small snack. They start eating mid-afternoon and nibble away for most of the evening.

    The only reason westerners need breakfast or lunch is because they are carbohydrate addicts. If you switch to a VLC (<20g/day) diet you won't get hungry before 4pm once you adapt. In fact once adapted to a VLC diet you can effortlessly go 2-3 days without food and not have any problems.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 2:20:21 PM |

    If you are like most people, you too will show high blood sugars after oatmeal. It's easy to find out . . . check your postprandial blood sugar.

  • Jack C

    11/18/2010 3:25:42 PM |

    We eat oatmeal on occasion and have no problem with high blood glucose probably because we add enough butter, cheese and cream so that the calories from dairy fat far exceeds the calories from the oatmeal. And we have no insulin problem from consuming a lot of butter.

    We are not concerned about cholesterol levels. The only reason we eat oatmeal is because it seems to help regularity.

    Jack C.

  • rhinoplasty los angeles

    11/26/2010 6:18:39 AM |

    I have oats without dried fruits or any fruit even.But I do add a little of skimmed milk and also add a little bit of sugar.I have no problem as far as sugar or heart is concerned.

  • diseño web

    12/15/2010 5:26:17 PM |

    wow im glad im reading this post thanks for the info

  • Anonymous

    12/17/2010 8:27:21 PM |

    Dr. Davis:

    What are your thoughts on brown rice? Is this beter than oats or wheat? I know white rice has high glycemic index.


  • Sara

    12/21/2010 9:22:34 PM |

    Personally, oats cause a spike up 170. My fasting is 90. Cheerios spikes as well.

  • Anonymous

    12/23/2010 1:49:42 PM |

    How does the article justify going from heart healthy benefits to affects of oatmeal for diabetics?
    Just because a food has to be eaten with caution by diabetics does not mean it is not beneficial as it has been determined.
    It is the same as with any food: Read The Label. Yes, oatmeal is a grain, and therefore has carbohydrates (an essential food). So, add protein if you have blood sugar issues or eat it less often, or in smaller quantities!
    Any whole grain will have the same issues. And why would a diabetic add sugars or fruits to a carb food??? Come on!
    For heart benefits, lowering harmful cholesterol, it is one of the whole grains that is important to have in your diet. Profiling it as a diabetic issue is just not fair.

  • revelo

    1/16/2011 2:18:25 AM |

    Just got my glucose monitor and was testing it out:

    morning fasting: 75
    immediately after salmon and salad: 78
    1 hr after salmon and salad: 92
    2 hr after salmon and salad: 81
    5 hr after salmon and salad: 88
    immediately after 2 cups dry oats mixed with cinnamon, preceded by a medium sized canteloupe (almost 200 grams of carbs): 102
    50 minutes after the carb feast: 144 !!!
    75 minutes after the carb feast: 111

    I'll do another experiment tomorrow without the canteloupe (which was on sale and I couldn't resist) and maybe only 1.5 cups of dry oats instead of 2 cups.

  • Health

    1/21/2011 12:20:27 PM |

    ive been enjoying those instant packets of oatmeal every morning, like the apple and cinnamon, banana bread, and fruit and cream flavors, but I'm not sure if they're that great for you.. even if they are only 130 calories. what are your thoughts? is healthy?

  • ccf344

    1/30/2011 6:37:51 AM |

    Hi Doctor Davis,
    Can't disagree that oatmeal does indeed contain a fair amount of (complex) carbs. However, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (link below), when it comes to insulin demand generated by different common foods, oatmeal ranks surprisingly low while some foods not normally associated with a high insulin response don't fare as well as we would think. http://www.ajcn.org/content/66/5/1264.full.pdf+html

  • Anonymous

    1/31/2011 12:46:21 PM |

    Dear Dr Wiliam Davis,
    Could you comment this :
    "Low-Carb Diets Linked to Atherosclerosis and Impaired Heart Vessel GrowthStudy suggests that popular diet regimen may have adverse effect on body's restorative capacy

    Date: 8/24/2009
    Now, a study led by a scientific team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides some of the first data on this subject, demonstrating that mice placed on a 12-week low carbohydrate/high-protein diet showed a significant increase in atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries and a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. The findings also showed that the diet led to an impaired ability to form new blood vessels in tissues deprived of blood flow, as might occur during a heart attack."

  • Anonymous

    2/3/2011 2:01:31 AM |

    I like oats so when I came across this blog I was interested to read about oats being taken off the Dr.s' recommend food list
    due to spiking bloodsugar levels. I'm in this category described in the blog post - "If you are not diabetic and have a fasting blood sugar in the "normal" range (<100 mg/dl), you will typically have a 1-hour blood glucose of 150-180 mg/dl--very high."

    I decided to perform an informal blood sugar profile of my typical oats breakfast meal under the following test conditions:

    Test device: Accu-chek Integra

    50g - Quick Oats Homebrand Woolworths Australia
    125g - 1% low fat milk
    50g Mixed Frozen berries (raspberries/blackberries/blueberries/cranberries)
    Total Kcal from meal = 271

    No other food or drink during 2 hour testing period.

    Testing period: Initial measurements at morning fasting but after gym workout (T0) then every subsequent 30 minutes for 2 hours

    T0: 91.8 mg/dL
    T0+30: 136.8 mg/dL
    T0+60: 120.6 mg/dL
    T0+90: 108.0 mg/dL
    T0+180: 104.4 mg/dL

    The peak 136.8 mg/dL at the 30 minute mark is within the  acceptable range post meal and well below the 150-180 range suggested in the blog.

    I will try slow oats next time - Kcal content is the same but the oat flakes are larger which suggest slower glucose release.

    Everyone responds to food differnetly so YMMV.

  • Anonymous

    3/6/2011 1:54:34 AM |

    My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Oatmeal is listed as a low glycemic index food, so we thought it would be fine for him to enjoy this once in a while. Unfortunately, his last bowl of rolled oats with no sugar and only a dash of milk caused him to have blood sugar in the mid 200's for FOUR HOURS afterward.

    We are discovering that we have to forget what the industry says and base our food choices on a case by case basis. Some foods cause him to spike, and other foods that you would think would be terrible (like potato chips) don't cause a glucose spike at all. It's certainly a learning curve.

  • Anonymous

    3/15/2011 4:15:20 PM |

    Hi i have been finding the same thing with oat meal. Im on my second day of testing. after eating 3/4 cup old fasion quaker oats, 1/4 cup raisins, 2 tbs pecans 1 1/2 tbs flax 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 1 tbs of real maple syrup. 1st days numbers where. 110 just before eating. 189 1hr after start of eating. 100 2hr after, 78 4 hrs after. 2nd day. 102 just before eating, 172 1hr after start of eating, 84 2hr after. My question would be. Is the BS spike after eating enough to kill off the Beta Cells in the Pancreas? Also why do I sustained lower BS lvl for hrs after eating the oat meal? Only meal so far that I get the Lower numbers for hours after.

  • Physical Therapy Supplies

    4/26/2011 5:36:46 AM |

    I'm in this category described in the blog post. Now, a study led by a scientific team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides some of the first data on this subject, And why would a diabetic add sugars or fruits to a carb food??? Come on!

  • Chris Tamme

    6/30/2011 2:57:45 PM |

    I eat no grains and my trigs and HDL are better then your numbers.  The benefits of grains are wiped out by the phytates.  It is a waste of calories.

  • Richard

    1/2/2012 3:48:16 PM |

    More internet BS....  Oatmeal is the last thing you want to eat if your a diabetic. I do clinical test for a doctor and oatmeal is a no, no for diabetics... Eggbeaters, bacon and coffee.  Very little rise in sugar..

  • Janice

    1/9/2012 6:07:27 AM |

    I haven't been diagnosed as diabetic, but I do have a sensitivity.  If I eat a medium or large meal that includes bread, I practically go to into a coma and must sleep for 30 to 45 minutes.  Yet, I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast for the past year and my cholesterol went from "above acceptable" to the low range of "acceptable".    All my cholesterol levels improved dramatically and are in the most perfect range they can be in.  Though I  don't check my blood sugar, I can eat a bowl of oatmeal at any time and I never have that spike that puts me to sleep.  So for me, it's been a God send.  It's one of the few "treats" I can eat without any noticeable adverse affects.

"Instant" reversal with fasting?

"Instant" reversal with fasting?

Here's a fascinating e-mail we received recently. It came from a man in Hawaii who dropped his heart scan score a modest amount, but did it in two months using fasting. He also has the advantage of access to the Holistica Hawaii scan center with our friend, Dr. Roger White. His experience is so fascinating that we asked for his permission to reprint his story which he did enthusiastically.

So here is Don's story:

I am a 61 year old male with a history of heart disease in my family. My maternal grandfather, for instance, died at age 39 of a
heart attack and my mother died of a stroke. There are other instances in my family as well.

I, personally, before going to Holistica had had three heart procedures; one radio catheter ablation for WPW Syndrome, and two radio catheter ablations for atrial fibrilations. After suffering with WPW for over 30 years and A-Fibs for about a year, those issues seem to be behind me fortunately.

Three or four months back, however, I was suffering from shortness of breath and slight chest pains when doing the uphill part of a 5 mile walk that I do almost every day. My wife had had a coronary heart scan several years back at Holistica so that's how I knew about it.

I had a scan done on October 4th this year. The scan did show fairly
advanced plaque build up; my total coronary plague burden was
312.9. The day following the scan I felt absolutely terrible; lightheaded, weak, much like feeling you were at death's door.

I had read a book a number of years back about therapeutic fasting
(water only) called "Fasting and Eating for Health" by Dr. Joel

According to his book, one on the areas where he consistently has dramatic and quick results with fasting is with reducing arterial plaque. Based on how badly I was feeling at the time, I decided to start an immediate fast. Within just the first 24 hours, the relief was dramatic and amazing. I continued the water only fast for 3 weeks.

Yesterday, December 1st I went in for another cardio scan instead of the coronary angiogram that I had previously been scheduled for. I could tell they were a little confused why I was doing that but went ahead and did another coronary EBT scan.

When I went in for the doctor consultation, Dr. McGriff said, "OK, exactly what is it you've done since last time." In less than two months, my coronary plaque burden had dropped to 296.2. That's a 6% reduction in less than 2 months. Had I gone back in for the second scan right after my 3 week fast then it probably would have a 6%
reduction in less than a month.

Frankly, based on how good I've been feeling (I'm even thinking of
getting back into jogging instead of walking), I was surprised it was
only 6%. Based on the common experience, however, that it sometimes
takes a year or two to just stabilize your plaque increase, much less
actually start losing it, the doctor was truly startled and
surprised. He said he had never seen such a sudden reduction as that

We are still going to proceed with the coronary angiogram and I
intend to apply what I find in your book but I thought you might be interested in these results since I've never heard or read of anyone actually measuring the effectiveness of a fast with before and after EBT Scans.

I admire your direction and work focusing on prevention instead of catastrophic management like most doctors. Dr. Fuhrman is very much the same with the greatest attention on prevention so if you haven't heard of his book you might be interested. Especially interesting regarding this particular issue is Chapter 5 entitled, "The Road Back to a Healthy Heart-the Natural Way."

I can personally verify everything he has said about the fasting procedure itself from start to finish. I consider his book the Bible about fasting. As I mentioned, given your similar direction in medicine, I thought I would bring my personal experience on the matter to your attention for your consideration. Maybe in a future edition of your book, you might want to include some information on fasting.

Anyhow, I hope you will find this helpful. Any other questions,
don't hesitate to e-mail back. Please keep up your good work and
thanks for what your doing!

Yours truly,

Don P.
Honolulu, Hawaii

Isn't that great?

Now, in all honesty, a change of 6% could conceivably be within the margin of error for heart scanning. (Although several studies from a number of years ago suggested that variation in heart scan scoring was about 10%, sometimes more, in my experience, on EBT devices like the one Don used, variation is <5% at this score range.) Genuine regression would probably be better documented by yet another scan down the road. If the trend is consistent, then it is probably real.

Nonetheless, Don's story may support we've been saying for some time: Fasting is a rapid method to gain control over plaque--but I didn't know it might be that quick! Perhaps Don is a living example of what I've called "instant" heart disease reversal.

Don is potentially off to a good start. But, unless he can periodically repeat his fast, he will still have to engage in a program that allows continuing control over coronary plaque in between fasts. Also, fasting cannot address issues like vitamin D deficiency, lipoprotein(a), and any residual lipid/lipoprotein issues. But I am continually impressed with the power of fasting to "jump start" a program of heart disease reversal.

It would be a fascinating study to perform, with serial heart scans within brief periods of weeks or months to gauge rapid response. However, we need to keep in mind that as wonderful as heart scans are, they do involve modest radiation exposure.

It might be interesting in future to add a fasting "arm" to the virtual clinical trial. That might yield some great insights.

Copyright 2007 William Davis,MD

Comments (17) -

  • Stan

    12/4/2007 4:10:00 AM |

    Re: "It might be interesting in future to add a fasting "arm" to the virtual clinical trial. That might yield some great insights."

    Yes I am sure it might. Let me think, fasting = burning one's body fat (and a little bit of  muscles) = ketogenic metabolism.

    Hmm, what is that other method of inducing a ketogenic metabolism?

    Stan (Heretic)

  • chickadeenorth

    12/4/2007 4:47:00 AM |

    hmm.so if a diabetic did this after so many hrs if bg fell low wouldn't you liver start spewin some glycogen, then bg would rise,making you hungry, but only water,man would you lose weight, would this be ok for a diabetic, ????
    GoodonyaDon, did the hunger bother you or did it stop after few days???

  • jpatti

    12/4/2007 4:52:00 AM |

    How long a fast do you feel is necessary to be beneficial?  

    Do you think the whole intermittent fasting thing (fasting 24 hours on /24 hours off) is useful?  How about just a one-day a week fast?

  • Anonymous

    12/4/2007 10:18:00 AM |

    How long would a fast need to be to get results? It's rare I can go even eight waking hours without getting the shakes (I've been this way since my teens).


  • Dr. Davis

    12/4/2007 12:46:00 PM |

    Interesting thought.

    But I do think that fasting provides a unique phenomenon, unlike that of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. I can only speculate why. But the physical and emotional perceptions  experienced during fasting are a world apart from low-carb eating.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/4/2007 12:53:00 PM |


    Nobody knows. You will find discussions about length of fast and various patterns of fasting to achieve weight loss, regression of various disease states, but no real data on regression of coronary plaque by heart scans. The Track Your Plaque experience is informal and has not been subjected to formal examination. But it sure is fascinating, particularly when you hear about experiences like Don's and the stories articulated by Dr. Fuhrman. (I'm going to ask Dr. Fuhrman for an interview for Track Your Plaque.)

    Please see the Track Your Plaque in-depth Special Report, Fasting: Fast track to coronary plaque control at http://trackyourplaque.com/library/fl_04-012fasting.asp

  • Dr. Davis

    12/4/2007 12:55:00 PM |


    This is a very common phenomenon in the carbohydrate/wheat addicted. (I assume you are not diabetic.)

    I know of no way to get beyond it except to get beyond it. Also, you will need to work with your doctor if you are taking medications, particularly blood pressure meds, etc.

  • kdhartt

    12/4/2007 2:28:00 PM |

    I read in the TYP report of optionally discontinuing supplements during a fast, what about my statin?

  • wccaguy

    12/4/2007 4:30:00 PM |

    What is the best approach to supplements during a fast?

    Keep taking all supplements including TYP program supplements?  or not?


  • Anonymous

    12/4/2007 11:51:00 PM |

    Dr. Davis

    I am possibly in the beginning stages of diabetes: FBS good, but a1c a bit high. I had been drinking a lot of koolaid (with sugar), and doing a lot of processed grains, and also starches when the a1c test was taken.

    I haven't gone into my new GP with the a1c results yet (my ob/gyn caught the a1c), since I have a colonoscopy scheduled next week. I'll go to the GP after I receive my colonoscopy results to see what they want to do about the a1c.

    Instead of koolaid, I now drink tea with 1 tsp of sugar in 2 quarts, the rest sweetened by stevia. I eat about 3 pieces of bread a week now, and no potatoes, rice either. I've been using cellophane/glass noodles instead of regular pasta.

    So we'll see if those changes made enough of a difference to bring the a1c down.

    Back to fasting: I wonder if reducing high glycemic carbs, especially wheat, will eventually enable me to fast longer periods? I should start a food/carb journal, makring what/how much I ate, and how long I can go before the shakes set in.


  • Dr. Davis

    12/5/2007 1:26:00 AM |

    Though clearly an improvement, the amount of carbohydrate intake you are describing would make me either very hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) or diabetic.

    I find completely divorcing yourself from these sugars and sugar equivalents easier than cutting back, since continued inclusion of sugars and wheats maintain a craving.

  • jpatti

    12/5/2007 4:48:00 AM |

    anonymous, it sounds like you have reactive hypoglycemia.  This means you have a slow phase 1 insulin response, so when you eat, your bg goes really high, then your pancreas overreacts and splurts out too much insulin and you go low.  Most people with reactive hypoglycemia progress to diabetes if they don't get it under control because it's a disorder of insulin production.

    You really need to get a bg meter and begin testing how specific foods effect you.  You can't rely on the glycemic index, because we're all different - the GI is an average.  The diet you described *may* be fine for you; it would massively spike my bg though.  You have to find out what really works for *you* and the only way to do that is to test.

    There's good advice about testing at these links:


    Meters are often given away by the companies for free, or free if you buy 100 strips or such.  The biggest cost is in strips, so you want a meter with cheap strips unless you can get a doctor to prescribe it and insurance to cover it.  Both Walmart and Walgreens have cheap generic meters with inexpensive strips.

    If the bg targets at the links I provided make you feel hypo, it's cause you've gotten used to high bg feeling normal.  Just aim at higher targets for a few weeks while you adjust before going lower.  

    I hope you follow this advice and find out what you need to do to avoid diabetes; I'm a member of the club and we don't want new members!    ;)

    Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    12/8/2007 9:41:00 AM |

    Thanks Dr. Davis and jpatti,

    Now that my procedure is out of the way, I'm cutting all sugar, bread/grains, and starches, and have started a food journal at http://www.myfitnesspal.com and I'm going to leave the times the meals were eaten in the food notes so I can monitor how I can go before the shakes/light-headedness sets in.

    As soon as my procedure results come back, I'll make an appointment with my new GP to see what they want to do about my a1c being 6.3 five weeks ago. Maybe they'll retest, or start me with a glucose monitor. If it's the glucose monitor, then I'll be able to do the PP tests to see which foods do me in on my blood sugars. But if I have to test, maybe they'll be better numbers with my stopping sugars, grains, and starches.


  • Dr. Davis

    12/8/2007 1:28:00 PM |


    Let us know how it goes.

  • chickadeenorth

    12/11/2007 3:12:00 PM |

    STAN,in Canada an A1C over 6.1 is considered diabetic, may want to have a 2 hr GTT as well for firmer diagnosis as some docs don't treat it aggressively and it does damages minutely everytime your bg is over 140, from what I have read. I'd buy my own meter and work aggressively to stop it in your tracks as it contributes greatly to calcium score as well. If I could do it all over again and had a mentor that knew what I know now I may be healthier and as patti says this isnt a fun club.... you shouldn't even peek into the doorway of, so jump start it now .You may find it helpful to read Dr Bernstein's Diabetic Soltuion, new editon Oct 2007.Its very similar program to TYP except for few diff to keep bg low. Of course he is not the guru of calcium score etc so the 2 work well together, goodonya for paying attention to it SmileGood Luck.

  • Anonymous

    12/15/2007 12:08:00 PM |

    S's progress in stretching out hypoglycemic events by cutting out quick carbs:

    Although I haven't cut out quick carbs 100% in these last few weeks (small burger at drive through once, with a frozen hotpocket later that day -- I was run down and wasn't up to cooking, and used flavored creamer in coffee twice), I've been able to go 9 hours before feeling the beginning stages of hypoglycemia today:

    0530 Woke up
    1000 Kefir (whole milk) w/ wheat germ*
    1730 Baked chicken thigh, beans, greens, 1/2 tomato, 1/2 cucumber, 1 tbsp ranch

    *I've been using wheat germ in my kefir to increase fiber. Since cutting out most wheat products, except my puny day, my gastro problems haven't bothered me. But the day after I ate that burger and hotpocket, my gastro problems returned for most of the next day.

    I don't have other signs of gluten allergies, but I wonder if I might be sensitive to gluten or wheat. I'll bring it up to my gastro dr when I go in for my follow up. I already know there's no CA or polyps, and from my pics there doesn't seem to be any diverticulits pockets, or raw Crohns area, but I am not a gastro, and I'm basing that guess on only a few pics.

    But between battling against hypoglycemia and probable beginning diabetes, and also gastric problems, I am definitely stopping wheat (and also continuing with the slow-carbs only). I still have to make an appt with my new GP regarding my a1c of 6.3 a few months ago when I was a glutton with sugar, wheat and other starches.

    I don't know how much weight I've lost since I don't have a working scale yet, but my face has thinned and almost no double chin (now it's only noticeable when my face is towards my neck), and my waist has started to indent again.

    I'll check back in when I've found out if my dietary changes helped my a1c, or when I can fast all day.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/15/2007 2:24:00 PM |

    Have you tried ground flaxseed in place of wheat germ?