Our Community’s Top Picks of Low-Carb Protein Bars

If I was stranded on a deserted island and had to choose 3 foods to get by with, a protein bar would definitely be first on the list. These bars make for an easy-to-grab, healthy and satisfying snack and/or meal replacement and can help keep you on track with your nutritional goals.

There are so many different brands and types to choose from; it can get overwhelming. And I personally like to look for low-carb, high-protein bars that also aren’t too caloric. It is a tall order to fill, so I asked the diabetes online community what their favorites were, and here is what they had to say:

Built Bars

Photo credit: Built Bars

1. Built Bars

Containing between 4-6 grams of carbs in each bar, these tasty treats can easily be used as a meal replacement thanks to their generous amount of protein, ranging between 17-19 grams per bar, which will keep you full for hours. The best part for me is that each bar only contains between 130-140 calories, which is significantly less than a lot of other high-protein bars on the market. There is also a great variety of flavors to chose from, making this a new staple in my pantry.

Muck Pack Keto Bars

Photo credit: Munk Pack

2. Munk Pack Keto Granola Bar and Keto Fruit & Nut Bars

I had never heard of these bars until I reached out to the community for their suggestions. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and nutritional information on this product. Munk Pack bars are plant-based and gluten-free and come in a wide variety of flavors. The bars contain natural ingredients such as almonds, flax, plant protein, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, peanut butter, and allulose, which is a natural sweetener that leaves no aftertaste. Keto Granola Bars and Keto Fruit and Nut Bars all contain a small amount of protein but come in at  2-3 grams net carbs and don’t contain a ton of calories.

Quest and Quest Hero Bars

Photo credit: Quest Nutrition

3. Quest and Quest Hero Bars

This is a great choice that won’t spike your blood sugars, and you can find a flavor for every palate. The consistency is chewy and delicious, and it packs in a ton of protein with bars averaging around 20 grams of protein and 5 grams net carbs or less. Thanks to our community, I also learned about Quest Hero bars, which is a new take on the old favorite, and instead of a chewy bite, it is packed with a tasty crunch. It’s around the same macros as the original, so you can’t go wrong either way.

Ratio Keto Friendly Bars

Photo credit: Ratio Food

4. Ratio Keto-Friendly Snacks

I was excited to learn about this brand as I had never seen it before. Thankfully, I looked and it is offered in a few locations near me. I look forward to trying their protein bars with 12 grams of protein and 2 gram net carbs each! They also offer Greek yogurt in some enticing flavors, and I will definitely be purchasing soon.

Kind Nut Bars

Photo credit: Kind Snacks

5. Kind Bars

In recent years, Kind has really upped their game. Offering many different bars, including thins (which contain a lot fewer calories with a crunchier texture), protein bars, and my favorite- their nut bars, to name a few. The nut bars have 5-6 grams net carbs and 6-7 grams of protein per bar. Also, look out for their latest, Kind Clusters, which is my new favorite bite-sized snack. Mix this with Greek yogurt for a great high-protein snack.

Power Crunch Bars

Photo credit: Power Crunch

6. Power Crunch Bar

This is my favorite protein bar and has been for years. I love the French Vanilla bar with coffee in the morning, and the peanut butter chocolate bar is a perfect sweet treat to end the day. Power Crunch bars average around 14 grams of protein and 5 grams net carbs per bar. The consistency can’t be beaten and is reminiscent of Kit Kat bars with their wafer-like crunch. Look out for some of their newest products, including bars just for kids and their Proto Whey Protein Powder; I am certainly going to give that a try!

Photo credit: Pure Protein

7. Pure Protein

Best known for their protein powder and nutritious shakes, their bars also do not disappoint. With 200 calories or less, this is a delicious treat that contains around 20 grams of protein and 3 grams net carbs or less. Be sure to also check out their newest bars, which stay chilled, and Pure Protein Puffs (a healthy take on cheesedoodles), and Pure Protein Cookie Sandwiches.

NGR Bites

Photo credit: NGR Foods

8. NRG Bites

These protein bites will be sure to keep you satisfied without elevating your blood sugars.  This low-carb, high-protein snack was developed by chef Paul Kahan, who lives with type 1 diabetes himself. I use these bars for a quick breakfast or a snack on the go or before the gym, and I never have to worry about a blood sugar spike.  I was glad to see so many others in our community enjoying them, too, as they were quick to recommend. I recently wrote a review on this company where you can learn more about their offerings.

Nature Valley Protein Bars

Photo credit: Nature Valley

9. Natural Valley Protein Bar

Once again, I am so glad I reached out for the community’s help on this because I had completely forgotten about this bar. I used to enjoy this years ago and will be sure to add them back on my grocery list since they only contain around 7 grams net carbs and 10 grams of protein… and they also happen to be absolutely delicious.

Perfect Bar

Photo credit Perfect Snacks

10. Perfect Bar

I first tried Perfect Bar’s original refrigerated protein bars a few years back and gave it rave reviews. I have watched this company grow so much in the past few years and am happy to see so many new products coming out. If I am watching my carb intake, these are a little high for me, ranging between 19 and 29 grams of carbs, but with some fiber to lower the total net carbs. They have a great flavor and taste like real, rich and creamy peanut butter. They also offer mini-bars, dark chocolate peanut butter cups (my favorite), and kid bars too!

Protein bars are healthy, tasty, and versatile, depending on your nutrition goals. These bars are a great choice for someone looking to get in more protein, less carbs, and enjoy a tasty treat!

Do you take advantage of the benefits of protein bars? Which is your favorite? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How Your Diet May Make Stress Even Worse (ADA 2021)

By now we’ve all heard that stress has huge effects on our physical health. The scope of the problem may still be surprising.

In a recent presentation at the American Diabetes Association’s annual scientific conference, Wake Forest’s Dr. Carol Shively exclaimed that “Stress accounts for more deaths annually than Alzheimer’s or diabetes.”

Stress is strongly linked to both major illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, in addition to other major causes of death, such as accidents and suicide. High rates of stress also help explain why there are such appalling disparities in American health outcomes between the socioeconomically secure and disadvantaged communities.

Stress, which is so often due to factors that are entirely out of our hands, is not easy to alleviate. There are some options, but there may be one other modifiable factor that you haven’t thought much about: your diet.

Dr. Shively believes that diet can have a huge impact on how stress can affect our bodies. If stress and diet interact to create real physiological changes, perhaps the negative effects of stress can be ameliorated with dietary change.

Monkeys and Stress

How do you study chronic stress? Dr. Shively does it with the help of the cynomolgus monkey, or crab-eating macaque.

These monkeys are good experimental analogues to human beings, because their responses to stress, diet, and aging are fairly similar to our own.

Cynomolgus monkeys form linear and stable hierarchies. It is immediately obvious to researchers which monkeys are dominant, and which are subordinate. And scientists can say with some confidence that the subordinate monkeys are more stressed.

Subordinate monkeys are the subject of more aggression, spend more time alone, and spend more time in a state of apparent vigilance than do monkeys higher in the social order. They also receive less grooming, a kind of pampering that relaxes monkeys and lowers their heart rate and blood pressure, just like a nice massage. Physiological indications—such as high cortisol levels—confirm that the subordinate monkeys experience more stress.

Social stress of this sort has an undeniable effect on the physical health of these monkeys. Stress leads to increases in visceral fat and atherosclerosis, just like it does in humans, two significant risk factors for chronic disease and early death.

Two Diets

Dr. Shively wondered if different diets might alter the way that stress impacts the monkey’s metabolism.

In a first study, monkeys were assigned to either the Western diet or a Mediterranean diet. They enjoyed these diets for 31 months – on a human timescale, that would be about 8 years.

These two diets were matched for macronutrients, so monkeys in each group ate about the same amount of protein, fat, and carbs. The composition of those nutrients differed quite a lot, however. The Mediterranean fats were more often plant-based, with a very high percentage of healthy monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, resulting in a much healthier ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Western carbs were also more likely to come from refined sources, such as high-fructose corn syrup; the Mediterranean carbs were mostly found in fruits and legumes.

The results weren’t surprising. Monkeys on the Western diet ate more food, gained more weight, had higher insulin and triglyceride levels, and had fattier livers than monkeys on the Mediterranean diet. These are similar to the results with humans. The growth of the Western diet, after all, is almost universally seen by experts as a primary cause in the global explosion of obesity and type 2 diabetes. (The two groups of monkeys got the same amount of exercise, by the way.)

The Diet-Stress Connection

When Dr. Shively subjected the monkeys from the two different groups to stress tests, she found that her hypothesis had been confirmed. The monkeys consuming the Western diet got much more stressed, secreting significantly more cortisol in response to social stress.

“The Western diet exaggerates physiological responses to stress, the Mediterranean diet did not.”

A second study split monkeys into two different groups, not by diet, but by stress level. Actually, the monkeys do it by themselves: in any group of four monkeys, two are always dominant, and two subordinate. The subordinate monkeys reliably experience more stress, as explained above.

In this study, all monkeys were fed the same Western-style diet for 3 years. At the end of the study, subordinate monkeys had higher triglycerides, higher fasting glucose, higher levels of circulating insulin, and more insulin resistance than when they began the study. By contrast, the dominant monkeys barely experienced any metabolic change at all, despite eating the same foods.

Nearly 25% of the subordinate monkeys had high enough fasting glucose levels to qualify as pre-diabetic; not a single one of the dominant monkeys had the same condition.

This study suggests that the unhealthy diet was not itself enough to cause metabolic dysfunction—both stress and diet had to be present.

Takeaways

Animal studies always have to be taken with a grain of salt – we can’t generally assume that what happens in the body of a crab-eating macaque will happen quite the same way in our own.

Nevertheless, the similarities between monkey and mankind are striking. Both social stress and the Western diet cause some of the very same negative physiological effects in monkeys as they do in humans.

The diet-stress connection is not far-fetched. While it would be almost impossible to prove a causal relationship in studies of humans, other scientists have already explored the interactions between the Western diet, stress, and metabolism. And there is much work to be done on the topic to tease out causation and correlation and test other dietary approaches.

In the meantime, Dr. Shively’s work may give readers one more reason to set aside the junk food and reach for more wholesome choices. Stress already causes so much metabolic damage—and that damage that may only be compounded by what you eat.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Do Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein Diets Offer an Advantage? (ADA 2021)

We already know that low-carb diets can be great for glucose control and diabetes management. The evidence is clear: patients with both type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes can benefit from the low-carbohydrate approach.

But as the diet has gained acceptance, some specialists have begun to look more carefully at the details and other consequences of the low-carb approach. Does the amount of protein matter? Can carbohydrate restriction have negative effects on lipid profiles, cognition, or mental health parameters?

Here we describe three new study reports just released at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 81st virtual Scientific Sessions that address some of these topics.

Higher-Protein Diet, Inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes Remission

Many studies have shown that weight loss and improved blood glucose levels can be achieved with a variety of dietary approaches, but does increasing the protein and lowering carbs offer even more advantages for those with diabetes?

Frankie Stenz, MS, PhD, and Associate Professor of Medicine Endocrinology, and her team at the University of Tennessee evaluated the effects of a high-carb (55% CHO and 15% protein) vs. a high-protein (30% protein and 40% CHO) diet in adults with type 2 diabetes for 6 months. They report that the higher-protein approach significantly reduced inflammatory markers (several important cytokines measured in the blood), as compared to the higher-carb group. Inflammation markers are important parameters, especially for those with diabetes, as inflammation is closely linked to insulin resistance. Also, while weight loss was similar between the two groups, those adhering to the higher-protein diet had a significant increase in lean body mass as well as a decrease in fat mass as compared to the higher-carb group.

Moreover, while improved glucose tolerance and and insulin sensitivity occurred in both groups to some degree, diabetes remission occurred in only 16% in the high-carb group, as compared to a striking 100% in the higher-protein group. Remission was defined by the study authors as a lowering of A1c to <6.5%, along with fasting glucose levels of <126 mg/dL and not exceeding 140 mg/dL at two hours post-meal. The researchers conclude,

The HP [High Protein] diet demonstrated improvement in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity with 100% remission… and a significant decrease in inflammatory cytokines.

Photo credit: iStock

Lower-Carb, Higher-Protein Diets and Lipid Levels

Effects on blood lipid levels when eating lower-carb (and by extension higher protein and fat) are often a point of controversy, especially when it comes to people with diabetes, who are already at higher risk for heart disease. Heart disease is complex and multifactorial; however, many researchers agree that both blood glucose parameters and lipid profiles can play a significant role. Previous research has produced some mixed results regarding how different diets can affect lipid profiles, with many studies showing improvements in lipid parameters when eating lower-carb.

Most recently, an international team of experts from Denmark and Texas released the results of a new study that evaluated how lower-carb, higher-protein diets affect weight loss and blood lipid profiles in adults with type 2 diabetes. Over a period of six weeks, 72 patients were assigned to a lower-carb, higher-protein diet (30% CHO and 30% protein) vs. a “conventional” eating approach (50% CHO and 17% protein). When weight loss and blood lipid profiles were examined between the groups, the findings demonstrated that while both groups achieved similar levels of weight loss, those in the lower-carb, higher-protein group achieved more of a decrease in their triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol levels, along with a greater increase in HDL-cholesterol levels. Also, they determined that the triglyceride levels in the liver were significantly reduced in this group, as compared to those eating higher-carb. The team concluded that,

Carbohydrate restriction adds to the positive effect of weight loss in T2D patients by inducing greater improvements in atherogenic lipid profile, maybe facilitated by a reduction in intrahepatic fat.

Carbohydrate Restriction, Quality of Life and Cognitive Performance

Do low-carbohydrate eating patterns have effects on cognitive function and mental health?

Nicole J. Jensen and a team from Copenhagen University in Denmark just announced the results of a randomized trial that examined quality of life parameters and cognitive function among “72 adults with type 2 diabetes and overweight and obesity” as a function of diet. One group was assigned to a lower-carb, higher-protein diet (30% CHO and 30% protein) and another to a higher-carb diet (50% CHO and 17% protein) for six weeks. Next, the team looked at weight loss along with mental health parameters and cognitive performance scores between the two groups. While both groups achieved similar weight loss, the study authors reported additional mental health and cognitive benefits in the lower-carb, higher-protein group. They conclude,

Weight loss improves physical health independently of diet composition, and carbohydrate restriction may further benefit mental health, without adversely affecting overall cognition.

Summary

Altogether, these new studies highlight that while weight loss and improvement of blood glucose levels is achievable using various dietary approaches, lower-carb and higher-protein diets appear to confer additional benefits. Namely, lowering carbs and increasing protein consumption can lower inflammation, improve lipid parameters, increase lean muscle mass and fat loss, and further improve glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, as opposed to a more conventional dietary approach. Moreover, a lower-carb, higher protein diet may confer additional mental health benefits and does not negatively affect cognitive performance.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: Real Good Foods Does Low-Carb Right

Low-carb frozen and quick meal options that use quality ingredients that don’t cost an arm and a leg can be hard to come by!

Real Good Foods is one company that has recently launched a variety of new products ranging from microwavable lunches and breakfast sandwiches to even ice cream. They sent me some products to try out at no cost so that I could relay my perspectives on the taste, convenience, and from a diabetes management perspective. I did not receive additional compensation for this review and all opinions are my own.

Read on for my honest review.

Who They Are

Real Good Foods is a company committed to creating “REAL Food You Feel GOOD About Eating.” The family-owned business was founded in 2017 and today delivers a variety of convenience foods that are all:

  • Made with real, nutrient-dense ingredients
  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrate
  • Free of added sugar

Products

Currently, the company carries food items in the following categories:

  • Entrees, including enchiladas, as wells as a variety of bowls; Almost all of these items provide at least 15-20 g of protein per serving, and can contain as little as 2 g net carbohydrates (some are higher, but never over 11 g of net carbs). The enchiladas are made with a tortilla that is made from chicken and cheese, while many bowls incorporate cauliflower rice and non-starchy veggies to keep that carb count down.
  • Breakfast sandwiches, which are made with a cauliflower and cheese bun, and boast 18 g of protein and only 4 g net carbohydrate per sandwich.
  • Stuffed chicken and nuggets (mainly filled with cheese and vegetables) that often deliver over 30 g of protein and virtually no carbohydrates
  • Pizza, which is made with several different types of crusts (caveat: the chicken one has a lot fewer carbohydrates than the other varieties!)
  • Ice Cream, which is primarily sweetened with allulose, a newer sugar substitute that is naturally occurring and preferred by many to other alternatives

My Review

I tried out several products, including beef enchiladas, a chicken lasagna bowl, bacons and egg breakfast sandwiches, and finally, an array of ice creams. Overall, I enjoyed everything I tried, and it was very convenient to have a low-carb high-protein meal available when I am pressed for time. For me personally, I feel that the lunches I tried (enchiladas and bowls) were a little on the small side, although it could just be because I often skip breakfast, so tend to be more hungry at lunchtime.

I like to top the bowls and enchiladas alike with some sour cream and/or guacamole as well. I think the flavors were bold and the meals tasted quite good. Importantly, the ingredients were simple and so the meals were easy to bolus for and did not wreak havoc on my blood sugar levels. For instance, the chicken lasagna bowl was essentially just marinara sauce, ricotta filling, chicken, and cheese!

As far as the breakfast sandwiches, I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and texture. To be fair, the cauliflower and cheese “bun” does not taste anything like an English muffin, to me. But, it delivers a nice flavor and texture, and is a great breakfast or snack for me, on-the-go. My husband and daughter also agreed that these were pretty good!

Bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich (4 g net carbohydrates and 18 g of protein).

Finally, the ice creams, which are available in a multitude of flavors, really were a hit with everyone in my family who tried them! They are:

  • Chocolate
  • Tanzanian Vanilla
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Salted Caramel
  • Mocha Java Chip
  • Cake Batter

Truly something for everyone, and my four-year-old is especially partial to the chocolate. As I often say, it must be good if it passed the toddler test for what is an acceptable dessert!

The ice cream, of all the products, was probably my favorite as well. Is it particularly nutritious as compared to some of the other foods? Of course not; however, I think everyone needs a little ice cream in their life, and this line really delivered on that. You can’t go wrong with whole and simple ingredients when it comes to ice cream, and since it’s sweetened with allulose and a little bit of stevia, it hardly affects my blood sugar levels, even without any additional insulin.

In addition to enjoying the taste and feeling like these foods made it easier to choose healthier options for me, I was also happy with the price point. While not the cheapest convenience foods, this company strikes a very reasonable balance between quality and price. The entrees are right around $7, give or take; the breakfast sandwiches come in at right over ~$2 per sandwich, while a pint of the ice cream is typically priced at $7.99, on the company website. I also noticed they have some items on sale; for instance, last I checked, there were a few ice cream options that cost between $3.99 and $5.99.

You can purchase directly form the website, or use a mapping tool to find the distributor that is closest to you.

Overall, I was happy with the taste, effects on blood sugar levels, and the convenience of the foods I sampled, and was particularly impressed with the ice cream line. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for quick meals that are nutritious and blood sugar-friendly.

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorites?

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Healthiest Choices at the 10 Biggest Fast Food Chains

Fast food: so temptingly convenient, but so fraught with danger. Most fast food joints specialize in exactly the sort of starchy, crispy, greasy food that people with diabetes are supposed to avoid. Nothing triggers those frustrating sticky blood sugar highs like the delicious blend of fat and carbs found in pizza or French fries. And it doesn’t help that they’ve been loaded with lip-smacking sodium, expertly engineered to keep you reaching for more—and why not order a large soda to wash it all down?

There’s no doubt about it, a fast food menu can be a minefield. But despite some notable recent setbacks—like in 2020, when McDonald’s discontinued its salads—the fast food options for healthy eaters are mostly growing. And as diners continue to demand more healthy options, it means you’re less and less likely to get a weird look when you ask for a lettuce-wrapped burger.

We’ve ranked America’s ten biggest fast food chains, from the healthiest to least healthy, and selected the best diabetes-friendly option at each one.

#1 – Panera Bread

Panera Bread must be the only major chain that specializes in food that most Americans would identify as healthy. The chain has grown like crazy in the last decade, proving that we can crave more than just grease and sugar. And while you might not guess it from a restaurant with the word “bread” in its name, it’s also a great option for people with diabetes. There’s a beautiful variety of low- and medium-carb salads and soups, some of which don’t need much customization at all. Skip the pastries—and don’t even think about the mac & cheese bread bowl—and you’ll probably do just fine.

Best choice:

It’s tough to beat a classic Caesar Salad with Chicken. This dose of delicious lean protein only has about 500 calories and 17 grams of net carbohydrates, even with the croutons included.

#2 – Chipotle

Chipotle stands alone in the fast food landscape as an exemplary keto-friendly option. It’s always been easy to customize your order at Chipotle, and as a result the chain has been popular with the low-carb crowd for years. (Double protein? No problem.)

Chipotle has always prided itself on using high quality ingredients prepared fresh on the premises. While doctors may bristle at the characterization of sour cream and slow-cooked carnitas as “healthy,” at least we can be sure that they’re not likely to spike your blood sugar. And Chipotle has embraced the carb-avoiding community to a unique and commendable degree: the latest innovation is cauliflower rice, launched nationally in January 2021.

Best choice:

For easy one-click ordering, choose from Chipotle’s line of “Lifestyle Bowls,” including several different Keto Bowls. Or start with a Salad, which swaps the Burrito Bowl’s white rice for lettuce, and add whichever ingredients you feel comfortable with.

#3 – Subway

It’s very easy to eat low-carb at Subway—any time you can see your food assembled in front of your eyes, it’s going to be easier to control what ends up in your body. Subway has also recently Chipotle-fied their menu and now offer a selection of salads and protein bowls.

Best Choice:

The Black Forest Ham Protein Bowl has only 9 grams of net carbs, and less sodium than other dishes in the category, along with a ton of chopped veggies.

#4 – Wendy’s

Wendy’s has several healthy options, at least as far as fast food burger joints go, and is easily a better choice than the more popular burger chains coming next on this list. The chain offers multiple salads, both as entrees and sides, and savory wraps. (And you can always order a burger without the bun.)

Source: Wendy’s

Best Choice:

The Southwest Avocado Salad is a complete meal that doesn’t require any fuss when you order it. Grilled chicken, bacon, avocado and southwest ranch dressing: all told, it’s 560 calories, and only 10 grams of net carbs.

#5 – Taco Bell

Tortillas everywhere means blood-sugar spiking simple carbs can be tough to avoid here. Taco Bell is one of several joints on this list that have recently de-emphasized salads, but in this case it’s not much of a loss, as the salads here tended to just be tacos and burritos in a slightly different shape. But Taco Bell has always been happy to customize your order, and a newer menu addition has really opened up the possibilities.

Best Choice:

The Power Menu Bowl is Taco Bell’s attempt at Chipotle-style fare, and they want you to customize your order. You can go light on the rice and beans, or omit them entirely, add extra meat: whatever you’d like.

#6 – Chick-fil-A

You might be surprised to learn that the crispy chicken juggernaut, not often associated with prudent dining, has openly courted keto diners. Chick-fil-A has grilled chicken sandwiches and several salad options, and it’s an easier place to find healthy choices than you probably imagined.

 

Source: Chick-fil-A

Best Choice:

Perhaps the single healthiest entry on the entire list, and certainly the simplest, Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Nuggets are pretty much just chunks of marinated chicken breast, served fresh off the grill. Okay, meat on a plate isn’t terribly exciting, but combine with a side salad and some less sugary dressing—try the buffalo or ranch sauces—and you’re in business.

#7 – Dunkin’

Just like Domino’s and its “Pizza”, Dunkin’ has dropped its “Donuts” in a bid to grow its menu and its market share. Good news: that means more options for us. You’ll still want to avoid any donuts, and tiptoe around the rapidly growing menu of super-sugary coffees and teas. But people love Dunkin’s black coffee for a reason, and the newer hot breakfast menu has some diabetes-friendly possibilities.

Best Choice:

Try a Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap. Dunkin’s wraps top out at just 15 grams of carbohydrates, and in addition to the traditional ham, sausage and bacon, you can choose turkey or BeyondMeat’s vegan sausage. They also offer sandwiches on thin multigrain bread—and of course you can ask them to hold the starch entirely.

#8 – Domino’s

Our first real challenge. Domino’s has dropped the “pizza” from its name, but most of the newer entrees remain tricky, like pasta and sandwiches.

Domino’s does have a Caesar’s salad available, but we’ve already recommended two salads, and besides I’m not sure that Domino’s is the first place I’d go for fresh ingredients.

Best choice:

If you’re bored with salads already, try the Chicken Wings. They are dusted with a little starch to make them crispier, but even so don’t pack much of a carby punch. A side of Mild Buffalo Wings clocks in at 260 calories and about 10 grams of net carbohydrates. Some of the other sauces can get pretty sugary—it’s probably best to avoid anything with “sweet” or “pineapple” in the title.

#9 – Burger King

Burger King seems to have mostly removed salads from its menu, which makes healthy ordering a challenge. And while there’s plenty of fish and chicken on the menu, nearly every last scrap of it has been enrobed in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Grilled chicken may be available at certain locations. Just about the only thing on the national menu within spitting distance of “healthy” is the side of apple sauce—hardly a meal.

Best Choice:

Your best bet is probably to order any Burger with No Bun. The chicken nuggets may be another option—an order of 10 has only 25 grams of carbs. If you’re lucky, your location has Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Side Salads too, but these are not reliably available.

#10 – McDonald’s

The world’s biggest fast food chain does not make it easy to eat healthy. It was, admittedly, pretty big news in the 80’s when McDonald’s unveiled a line of salads. It was somewhat less noticed more recently when McDonald’s pulled them off American menus entirely. The fast food behemoth no longer has so much as a single side salad on the menu. The grilled chicken was lost to the same purge. It’s slim pickings now!

Best Choice:

Errrr … do we have to pick one? The only really healthy choice at McDonald’s is to eat less instead of more. The simplest burgers, from the Hamburger to the Double Cheeseburger, use a bun with about 28 grams of net carbohydrates. You can manage to put together a keto meal by refusing the bun altogether. Either way, please hold the fries.

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is a lonely healthy-ish (but high carb) option for breakfast. The Sausage Breakfast Burrito has more potential as a keto option, if you were to scrape the filling off of its tortilla.

Conclusion

In some ways, it’s easier than ever to find healthy and diabetes-friendly fast food. Chipotle has led the way in the protein bowl revolution, and now there are many joints that will dish you up meat and veggies with little or no added starch and sugar. If there’s a single takeaway here, it’s to be wary of the biggest burger chains, which are sliding backwards, contrary to the trends, and making their menus even less healthy. If you choose the wrong restaurant, you might find that there’s no right answer.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Achieving a 6.0% A1c by Eating 40 Grams of Carbs Per Meal

My 6-Month Experiment

“6.0”. I didn’t think I heard him correctly. I asked my endocrinologist to repeat himself. “I said 6.0%. You’re A1c was 6.0%.” My mouth gaped in astonishment. Practically non-diabetic. The lowest A1c I have ever had in my 10+ years of type 1 diabetes.

How Did I Do It?

Over the past ten years since my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, I would consider myself a “good diabetic”. That means multiple fingersticks a day, remembering to bolus at mealtimes, and an overall idea of what kinds of foods were entering my body. My A1c hovered between 6.8-7.4% — which my doctors thought was just fine. I had a strong desire to lower my A1c, but nothing in the past seemed to significantly work.

About a year ago, I began medical school and became inspired to take better control of my diabetes. I began doing a lot of reading on the subject and started to toy with the idea of lowering my carb intake. There have not been many (if any) conclusive studies on the effects of low-carb diets in type 1 diabetics, yet I had a hunch that something like that could be my long-desired solution. I decided to perform a six-month-long clinical trial testing the effects of a low-carb diet on a particular type 1 diabetic — me.

The Rules

I recognized that diabetes is a lifelong condition and that any new diet I would undertake would have to be sustainable over a long period of time. Many popular diets only allow minuscule portions of daily carbs, and I knew that would not be maintainable long term. I didn’t want my diet to be unbearable and rebound. I, therefore, decided at the start that my diet was not to lose weight, and was not to start eating healthier. I allowed myself to eat cookies, cake, etc. (although I did naturally end up eating more vegetables in order to stick to the rules of the diet).

The diet consists of just one golden rule, plus 2 common sense rules.

The Golden Rule:

  • Maximum 40g of carbs at one sitting (eating to treat/prevent a low doesn’t count)

The Common Sense Rules:

  • Don’t eat any foods that make my blood sugar go wonky (some examples for me are pizza, bagels, and deep-fried foods)
  • Always try to bolus at least 15 minutes before eating

As part of The Golden Rule, each “sitting” is separated into three-hour chunks. For example, let’s say I eat lunch one day consisting of a hamburger (meat is zero carbs, the bun is 25g) and an apple (15g). Two hours later, I find myself hungry. What are my snack options at this point? Well, since I already reached my 40g maximum and it is within three hours of my meal, I must wait one more hour (i.e., three hours from my lunch), at which point the clock resets. I can then eat a snack up to 40g. However, let’s assume my lunch consists of just a tuna sandwich (2 slices of bread=30g). Two hours later, I find myself hungry. What are my options at this point? I can eat up to 10g of carbs because my lunch was 10g shy of the 40g limit.

I also toyed with the idea of imposing a daily maximum on carb intake, but I later nixed it. As mentioned, I wanted this diet to be highly sustainable long term, and I felt that a daily carb maximum might impede that goal. Also, diabetes diets that impose daily carb maximums are somewhat controversial in the medical field. Some medical professionals believe that such diets could even be harmful to people with diabetes, and I wanted to stay clear of that controversy.

Why Did I Think It Might Work?

Most people who start low-carb diets are trying to lose weight. Although I did lose a few pounds since I started this diet, this was not at all my intention in this endeavor (although truthfully, it was nice to finally fit into my wedding suit again). The reason I began doing this is twofold:

Reason #1: The Post Prandial Spike

Following a meal, there is inevitably a spike in blood glucose. The size of the spike is proportionate to many things (the types of carbs eaten, the timing of insulin injection, etc.). However, my personal experience has shown that for me, the spike is most directly related to the number of carbs I eat. Therefore, fewer carbs = smaller spike. (Similarly, giving at least 3 hours between meals allows time for the spike to come down).

Reason #2: The Guessing Hypothesis

Guess how much a single banana would cost you at your local grocery store. Go ahead, guess a price. You may have guessed 15 cents. 25 cents? 50 cents? One dollar? $1.50? The actual price is about a quarter. You may have guessed a quarter (you may have even bought a banana before and this, therefore, was not a guess). Or you may have been off by a bit. You may have even been off by a lot. However, most likely your guess was not off by more than a dollar. Now guess the price of 500-seat Boeing 747. Go ahead, think of a number. A quick Google search priced it at $357 Million. Was your guess off by a couple million? The point here is clear: when dealing with larger values, our estimates tend to have larger ranges of error. By keeping the carbs low, we are giving ourselves a better chance of correctly estimating our carb intake.

Conclusions

My main goal was to achieve better control of my blood sugar and somewhat lower my A1c. Yet, since the start of my diet, I’ve reaped numerous benefits and gained far more than I could have expected. My A1c has dropped a full percent, a stark reduction to a degree I had not anticipated. My day-to-day blood sugar has become much more predictable, and those horrible whacky-blood-sugar days that all people with diabetes experience have become much less common. Additionally, my average daily insulin usage dropped from 50.2U a day to 40.8U – almost a 20% decrease! As a nice fringe benefit, I lost a few pounds and really feel better overall.

One thing that people often ask is if my lower A1c came at the expense of more frequent hypoglycemic episodes. When I started this diet, I did indeed see a slight increase in hypos along with my tighter glucose control (however, I cannot quantify this with an exact number because I don’t have records of my hypo occurrences prior to starting this diet). Once I began noticing that my lows were becoming more frequent, I made a conscious effort to keep an eye on my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and be more aggressive in preventing them. Following that adjustment, I believe I have been having just as few hypos as I did before I started this diet.

I want to point out that my 40g maximum per meal is a completely arbitrary amount. It’s an amount that is feasible for me and is also fewer carbs than I was normally eating per meal. If you are reading this and thinking that you could never manage on such a meal plan, I would suggest coming up with your own maximum-carb-per-meal formula and giving it a try. Every person with diabetes is different, and this plan may not be the solution for everyone looking to gain better control of their blood sugar. However, this diet has had huge advantages for me, and I believe that there are aspects of it from which every diabetic can gain.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

ChipMonk Keto Bites: A Decadent and Wholesome Dessert

It has been just over a year since I first reviewed the fabulous assortment of cookies offered by ChipMonk Baking, a new company dedicated to “bringing back keto dessert for so many people who are struggling with challenges like diabetes, the keto lifestyle, and celiac disease.”

The company has since expanded, now offering a variety of other goods, including keto bites, dry mixers, sweeteners, and more on their website. I recently had the opportunity to try out the Keto Bites, and overall, I was very impressed. I received the products at no charge and all opinions are my own.

What Are “Keto Bites”?

Keto bites, much like they sound, are very low-carb, high fat, bite sized desserts. Somewhere between a muffin and a brownie in texture, they are available in a variety of flavors, including:

They are made with almond flour, butter, and eggs, and include allulose and monk fruit as the sweeteners. Some other natural ingredients used include psyllium husk powder, konjac powder, and fibers from plant sources, such as lemon and Norwegian kelp. All products are gluten-free and come in at only 1-2 g net carbohydrate per bite!

My Review

I really liked these! They were filling and delicious and did not affect my blood glucose levels, requiring a minimal and predictable insulin bolus. My personal favorites were the Toasted Coconut and White Chocolate Macadamia flavors, whereas my four-year-old really liked the Chocolate Chip Pecan variety. Even my 1-year-old approved of these, which is saying a lot. He preferred the Peanut Butter ones.

Overall, I enjoyed the chewy texture and thoughts all the flavors were tasty. Most importantly, these were filling and very easy to manage blood sugar-wise. I also appreciate the wide assortment of flavors – something for everyone!

The price point wasn’t the lowest, at a bit over $1 per each bite. However, you get what you pay for, and the ingredients used, texture, and taste all delivered! I would recommend trying these out for anyone who has a sweet tooth but needs to be mindful of sugar and carbohydrate content for health reasons.

You can purchase these directly from the company website. Be sure to check out the FAQ section and read the multitude of positive reviews, as well.

Finally, for a longer shelf-life storage, consider storing them in the refrigerator.

Have you tried Chipmonk Baking products yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Know of any other pre-packaged desserts that are easy on blood sugar levels? Please share!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Survey Reveals the Heavy Burden of the Pandemic on People with Diabetes

The COVID-19 pandemic has now been ongoing for over a year, and even with the light finally visible at the end of the tunnel, it is undoubtable that it will have lasting effects, for years to come.

Late in 2020, we partnered with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to conduct a survey-based analysis to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans living with diabetes.

Approximately 2,600 responses were collected from the Thrivable online patient panel. People from all 50 states shared their experiences during the pandemic, describing the impacts on access to healthcare, food, outlook on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and more.

Key Findings: Reduced Health Care and Food Access

  • About 4 of 10 Americans with diabetes delayed seeking routine medical care, with more than 50% stating the fear of COVID-19 exposure was the primary reason.
  • About 1 in 5 Americans with diabetes have foregone or delayed getting an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
  • More than 1 in 4 stated their access to healthy food was reduced, with about 1 in 5 relying on food assistance programs.
  • Almost half who receive assistance report that the food they receive negatively affects their diabetes management.
  • About 1 in 5 people who receive nutritional assistance report not having enough food to eat.

Moreover, about 1 in 5 Americans with diabetes have reported having to choose between buying food vs. affording their diabetes supplies.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are widespread and span across multiple facets of people’s lives. For people with diabetes, many of whom are already struggling to afford their healthcare expenses, the financial effects of the pandemic may be particularly grim.

Perspectives on the COVID-19 Vaccine

When asked about their comfort level of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is made available to them, people with diabetes reported being more likely to want to receive it right away as compared to data collected from the general population.

Less than half as many people with diabetes stated that they would never want to get the vaccine as compared to data on the general population (10% vs. 21%, respectively).

It is perhaps not surprising that people with diabetes feel more strongly about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine than the general population. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that people with type 2 diabetes  “are at increased risk  of severe illness” from COVID-19, while people with type 1 diabetesmight be at an increased risk for severe illness.”

Other Insights: Barriers to Clinical Trials Participation

In addition to exploring the financial burden of the pandemic and assessing readiness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, we also gathered information regarding previous participation or willingness to participate in a clinical trial. As per the recent press release,

“People with diabetes have participated infrequently in clinical drug trials in the past (only 11% report having done so), but the majority – 60% – say they are likely or very likely to participate in such a study in the future. Yet nearly a quarter of those who responded to the survey said they didn’t know how to participate in a drug trial if they wanted to do so.”

Check out the full press release from the ADA as well as the more data below:

New Data Alert: COVID-19 Brings Crisis of Access for Millions Living with Diabetes

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Diabetes

Methodology and Panel Demographics

These figures are based on Thrivable’s survey of more than 2,500 people with diabetes nationally, between December 7th and December 14th, 2020

  • A multiple-choice survey was distributed online to people with diabetes (U.S. residents) who signed up for the Thrivable Insights panel.
  • Participants were not compensated for their responses.
  • Data was analyzed using Qualtrics and Excel.
  • Details on panel breakdown include:
    • N = 2,595
    • o 47% with type 1 diabetes, 53% type 2
    • o 69% female, 31% male
    • o All 50 U.S. states are represented

Source: diabetesdaily.com

My Review: Sun Basket Meal Kit Delivery

Here at Diabetes Daily, we recently tried out several different meal kit delivery services and we learned that while pricey, they did save us a lot of time and mental efforts when it came to preparing meals for our family. One of the caveats for our family’s meals is that we often eat a lower-carb diet to help optimally manage our type 1 diabetes, while other family members may eat a little bit higher carbohydrate than we do, not entirely avoiding items like pasta and potatoes.

One of the reasons we chose to try out the Sun Basket meal kit delivery service was because they seemed to offer a lot of different options we thought would be able to meet our very low-carb requirements while also offering additional options that would please other family members. We received several meal kits and snacks at no charge and all opinions are my own.

Sunbasket box

Photo credit: Sun Basket

Sun Basket

Sun Basket offers a variety of meal kit delivery plans and strives to provide numerous options, including, among others:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Mediterranean
  • Pescatarian
  • Vegan
  • Carb-conscious

The company aims to source their food responsibly and be environmentally-friendly by working with local farmers and ensuring that their packaging is recyclable whenever possible. Also, over 99% of the food shipped by Sun Basket is organic.

Excitingly, the company offers a variety of meal types, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snack items as well.

You can view the specific meal kit plans here and also check out the pricing breakdown here. The average price per serving comes in at about $11-12 USD.

Our Review

We sampled the following items from Sun Basket:

Overall, we were very happy with the product packaging (complete in a brown paper bag), protein and produce quality, as well as with the ease of following each recipe.

Photo credit: Allison Caggia

We thoroughly enjoyed all of their meals and found them to be easy on our blood sugars. One stand-out was the steak with roasted sweet potatoes. I had never tried chimichurri before and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Also, I am a sucker for sweet potato fries and the little cubes only took a few minutes in my air fryer. I plan on preparing them this way moving forward. I also enjoyed the other meals and found the instructions very easy to follow and perfect for the cook-challenged.

Conclusions

Overall, here at Diabetes Daily, we were very happy with the meal kit and snack options offered by this company. We like the idea of having the a-la-carte options when it comes to the snacks, in addition to the variety of meals that are offered each week. We appreciated the organic protein and produce and was very pleased to see that everything was very fresh. The available options made it easy for us to stick to lower-carb eating while allowing our families the option of having more carbohydrates on the side. If you’re considering investing in a meal kit delivery service, Sun Basket should definitely be on your radar, especially if you need a variety of options to please your family!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Home Chef: Meal Kit Delivery That Fits Your Needs

Meal kit delivery services have been gaining popularity in recent years, and it’s no wonder why. It sure is convenient to have all the premeasured ingredients, all ready to prepare the predetermined recipe delivered to you every week, cutting down on both time and food waste.

Recently, I reviewed several meal kits from Home Chef, in particular to assess the more “diabetes-friendly” options. I received two meals at no charge and did not receive any additional compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

Who They Are

The mission at Home Chef is to “provide everything you need to bring more delicious meals and moments to the table, no matter how busy you are”. Their meal kit delivery service allows you to fully customize your preferences in terms of the types of food, quantities, and cost. You can also choose to skip any weeks when you do not need meal delivery.

Services Offered

When you sign up with the service, you can select from several dietary preferences to get suggestions. Select your preferences, as well as the number of people and meals per week, and you’re almost ready to go!

Photo credit: Home Chef

You will be given suggestions from the current menu, based on your choices. You can still choose to customize all your meal choices within the particular week’s menu options.

Photo credit: Home Chef

Some meals take about 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish, while others boast just a 15-minute prep time. You can also select from the oven-ready or grill-ready collections as well as the classic culinary collection. Finally, there are also entrée salads available for purchase.

The total cost per week will vary, depending on your specific delivery preferences and menu choices. Meals start as low as $6.99 per serving!

My Review

I chose to sample two meals: The Sirloin and Mushroom Demi-Glace for the culinary collection as well as the Pesto Parmesan Chicken with Tuscan Tomato Green Beans from the oven-ready section.

I was impressed with the appearance of the food upon delivery. Everything was appropriately packaged and at the correct temperature. The proteins and produce all looked fresh, and I also appreciated the recyclable packaging materials that were used.

The Sirloin dish was one of the 30-minute meals (*aside: no matter which meal kit I try, it always takes me a bit longer; clearly, this is likely a user issue). The recipe card made the cooking process easy and seamless, as the instructions were very clear, and provided illustrations as well. Most importantly, all the food tasted great! It really delivered a classic and gourmet meal in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The potatoes au gratin with spinach and gorgonzola cheese were particularly a hit with the family. Despite my lower-carb lifestyle, I sampled a small amount these as well, and they certainly delivered on flavor and richness, and were a great accompaniment to the star protein dish – the steak! I used leftover steak and mushrooms for my lunch over a salad the following day and wasn’t disappointed.

Although it was a simpler and plainer dinner, I was absolutely thrilled with the oven-ready chicken and green beans. As a mom of two young kids, working several jobs remotely, it was really a treat to just be able to stick the trays in the oven and have a delicious, nutritious, and carb-conscious option ready to go for everyone to enjoy.

This particular meal was a great option for blood sugar-friendly outcomes for those with diabetes. Can’t go wrong with plenty of lean protein and lots of green veggies covered in a tasty sauce – delicious and healthy for the whole family!

Summary

Overall, the entire family enjoyed both meals that we sampled. I appreciated the produce and protein quality and the clear instructions on how to prepare. Having all the ingredients ready to go, without extra planning or visiting or ordering from a grocery store certainly saves time and effort! Most of all, I really appreciated the multitude of customization options that Home Chef offers, whether by price, food type, dietary restriction, or frequency of delivery, to name a few.

If you’ve never tried a meal delivery kit service before, I would say, you can’t go wrong if you start here!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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