Dr. Guyenet Asks: Do Blood Glucose Levels Affect Hunger and Satiety?

From the Whole Health Source blog:

“You’ve heard the story before: when you eat carbohydrate-rich foods that digest quickly, it sends your blood sugar and insulin levels soaring, then your blood sugar level comes crashing back down and you feel hungry and cranky.  You reach for more carbohydrate, perpetuating the cycle of crashes, overeating, and fat gain.

It sounds pretty reasonable– in fact, so reasonable that it’s commonly stated as fact in popular media and in casual conversation.  This idea is so deeply ingrained in the popular psyche that people often say “I have low blood sugar” instead of “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired”.  But this hypothesis has a big problem: despite extensive research, it hasn’t been clearly supported.  I’ve written about this issue before.

A new study offers a straightforward test of the hypothesis, and once again finds it lacking.”

Source: Whole Health Source: Do Blood Glucose Levels Affect Hunger and Satiety?

The study at hand involved 15 healthy young men. Results may not apply to overweight post-menopausal women with T2 diabetes, but I bet they do.

Steve Parker, M.D.

4 responses to “Dr. Guyenet Asks: Do Blood Glucose Levels Affect Hunger and Satiety?

  1. I have diabetes type 2 and am now on levemir and humalog. BS’s are not in control. Can’t eat any carbohydrates of any kind as they shoot my BS way up. This past April I ended up with pancreatitis and was hospitalized 4 days. The CDE’s now have me on 30gms carbohydrates for each meal and 15gms for snacks etc. Typical diabetic educationers. My weight is going up leaps and bounds on their regimen. Two years ago I was on ketogenic diet with great results-got off all diabetic meds, blood counts all down to normal and lost 30 pounds. Went off that way of eating and started to eat typical diet.
    I would like to know since I had the pancreatitis and don’t have any pain or problems would it be all right to go back on my ketogenic diet. Would eating keto harm my pancreas or liver now?
    I read all your information and follow you on this site. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all your endless research and passing it on to us.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Yolanda.
      I can’t give you any specific medical advice since I’m not your doctor and don’t know all the details of your case, such as the cause of your pancreatitis. Was it high triglycerides? Keto genic diets nearly always lower TG levels.
      Regarding folks in general who are in your boat: a well-designed ketogenic diet shouldn’t hurt liver or pancreas, and may help those organs if they are overloaded with fat (triglycerides).
      See what your own doctor thinks.
      Best wishes,

  2. I would tend to take this study with a huge grain of salt because a test of 15 young, healthy and presumably insulin sensitive men may not extrapolate to ME–severely insulin resistant (long before menopause). I can’t begin to describe how terrible I can feel a few hours after a big load of glucose. I lived most of my life on that roller coaster and by changing my diet to ingest minimal carbs I no longer feel that way all of the time (plus so many other health improvements!).

    Back in the day when I ate primarily carbohydrates, I would go from feeling OK (immediately after ingesting carbs) to feeling terrible in just a few hours–hungry, shaky, agitated, etc. until my next carb infusion. My blood sugars during these episodes could be anywhere from low 50’s to so-called “normal” low 100’s. I’m quite certain that it was the speedy drop from much higher blood sugars that caused me to feel so terrible.

    These young men in the study may feel OK at low blood sugars (Guyenet describes BG’s around 54 after a glucose load) but when my BG gets that low I feel like I’m dying even though I now run truly normal BG levels in the 70’s to low 90’s almost all the time.

    Sometimes I wish glib researchers out to prove their pet theory could inhabit my metabolism for a week and see how it feels. I suspect he would be signing a very different tune then.