Part 12: Wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor as a Physician without Diabetes: My Month on a Carnivore Diet

If you would have told me that at some point in my life I would spend a month eating only meat and virtually no plant products I wouldn’t have believed you. I’ve now done that, as part of world carnivore month.

I’ve written a separate post with more details about the month, including what I ate: My month on a carnivore diet – Debrief and Book Review: “The Carnivore Diet”

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD 2-1002 866
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD 2-1002 866 (View on Flickr.com)

The data

Above are my continuous glucose (cgm) readings, averaged over a 2 week period. It’s a flat line, flatter than any period I’ve ever measured my glucose.

Below are all the CGM readings I’ve ever obtained, 42,100 of them. The last month is on the right, and you can make out an overall lower trend in readings.

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD-1001 867
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD-1001 867 (View on Flickr.com)

I’m aware that different manufacturers and even different sensors can register differently (see: Just Read: Different continuous glucose monitors provide different personalized meal recommendations to minimize postprandial glucose in subjects without diabetes). Based on my experience, I feel the reduced blood glucose variability is not an artifact here.

The spikes are bouts of exercise, usually high intensity interval training. Here’s what one of those session looks like on the CGM close up.

2020.01.20 Never Skip Today, Washington, DC USA 022 01012
2020.01.20 Never Skip Today, Washington, DC USA 022 01012 (View on Flickr.com)

I understand that different people have different glucose responses to exercise. For me, I experience a significant rise during exercise, much more pronounced on the all-meat diet. I call it a version of the body carb-loading itself, since the workouts were done fasting.

What it means

Biochemistry works as expected & I’d say it’s quite impressive – the biochemistry, and the fact that we can know how our bodies are operating metabolically in real time.

This is a zero-carbohydrate diet, so glucose present in the tissues is manufactured on demand, typically from fat.

Why did I do this?

I do not have diabetes. I do not have prediabetes. On a standard low-carbohydrate diet, my blood glucose readings are only slightly more variable than what’s presented here. Why did I do this then?

Like the overwhelming majority of Americans (97% of them), I do not identify as vegan or carnivore. I am not even a diet, I am a human being.

Physicians need to support 100% of the population, so if they’re being told to understand one extreme (veganism), they should be familiar with the other, as a valid human variant of normal, which this is.

In 2020, it is a fact that people are thriving in both extremes. I can’t discount the experiences of anyone living and doing well with either; instead, I’d like to learn from them.

At the same time, we’re all living in a food environment created by dietary guidelines that are not based on rigorous science (see: My Public Comments to the US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting 4, Jan 24, 2020, Houston TX, USA)

Your current food choices may be low-carb, or lowfat, or plant-based, or any other number of descriptors—but you are not low-carb; you are not lowfat; you are not plant-based. You’re a human being trying to make choices that best serve you and your specific goals at this point in time. You are not defined by the foods you eat. You are not a slave to an ideology. Make your diet work for you; don’t work for your diet.Denise Minger (see: Just Read: Death by Food Pyramid, by Denise Minger)

Next post – the details

It was a good month. I’ve added some plants back in, because I can.

I’m writing a follow-up post about the diet and the experience for me. Happy to entertain any questions in the meantime.

2020.01.27 Never Skip Monday, Washington, DC USA 027 07012
2020.01.27 Never Skip Monday, Washington, DC USA 027 07012 (View on Flickr.com)

Disclosures / Disclaimers

Please see my disclosures page (short version: I have no conflicts). Additionally, I am not an advocate or activist for any specific dietary pattern for individuals. This is something they should decide in partnership with health professionals.

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