Sparked by our conversation with Robby Barbaro on the last podcast, I tallied each bite of food entering my esophagus, for an entire day. This was a new experience. I do not actively count carbs, but go by feel alone. Inherently, some people are thinking, “WHAT?!?! How can you possibly do this and have type 1 diabetes?” Yet, some people are thinking, “Makes sense to me.” Regardless, Robby lit a spark and I embarked on a one-day journey to reexamine lifelong habits.
My initial motivations were three-fold: 1) Count how many carbs I was eating in each meal and all day 2) Get the percentage of my daily calories in fat 3) Stack muscle mass.
Most of the food consumed represents what I already eat. No big changes, just bigger portions than normal. I eat a plant-based diet (emphasis on fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds. Sans the meat, eggs, and dairy).
MyFitnessPal was the food tracker of choice based on Robby’s suggestion. I currently weigh 175lbs. My target weight is 182 in 3 months. The app’s suggestion for daily calorie intake to meet that goal was 3,150. This seemed like a big number.
The results were enlightening… and encouraging. Let’s break ’em down.
Count how many carbs in each meal and all day
Carbs at breakfast: 97.5 grams
Carbs at lunch: 138.1 grams
Carbs at dinner: 113.5 grams
Total carbs (including snacks): 423 grams
Analysis: Going in, I knew I was eating carbohydrates, quite a few for sure. But, 423 grams was an eye-popper. My total insulin needs for the day were 8 units of novolog and 32 units of Levemir (16 in the morning and 16 at night). My blood sugars hovered between 90-140 all day except in the afternoon when I registered a 280. I forgot to dose for a snack and got caught up with a patient. Pretty solid day of BGs. (Side note: Just got approved for the Dexcom 5! Starting soon, can’t wait.)
Get the percentage of daily calories in fat
Total Calories: 3249
% Fat: 29
% Carbs: 52
% Protein: 19
Analysis: That’s a bunch of fat! Fat is necessary no doubt. The bulk of that fat came from nuts and seeds. One existing hypothesis around insulin sensitivity is that more fat means more insulin. Robby suggested aiming for less than 20%, meaning I would need to eat a few more carbs to compensate for calories. And honestly, I can pound an extra papaya a day no problem. We’ll see what happens to the insulin sensitivity.
Stack muscle mass
This urge rises every winter. Time on the trail with the bike diminishes and something primal about putting on weight arrives. Being plant-based, I’d always wondered what my daily protein intake looked like. There was no shortage. Coming from nuts, seeds, beans, hemp powder, and tempeh, my total protein value for the day was 153 grams. For context, the recommended dietary allowance of protein in a sedentary man is .36 times your body weight in pounds. By that equation, my RDA comes out to 63 grams, more than doubled on plants!
Analysis: Protein will not be an issue in putting on weight.
Overall, the experience was fruitful and will influence future choices. I plan to use the app every day for the next week to see what patterns emerge, and then see what role it has in my life. By no means am I tech savvy. If you’ve never used a calorie tracker, check it out by going to the app store in your phone.
Holy $hit: I ate 114 grams of fiber in pure plants (or the equivalent of 33 tablespoons of Metamucil). Constipation has not been an issue in many years, including this recorded day.
Carbs are funky in the ways they show up in our diets. But 114 grams of plant fiber is amazing. Clearly impressive.
This item has been referred to the TUDiabetes Blog page for the week of December 5, 2016.
Thanks for reading and sharing Rick!
I would like to know how you racked up all those grams of carbs. Or maybe that is not that much. Could you share what you had eaten?
Great question. Thought about sharing the food sources in the article, but ran out of time.
Turns out the recommended daily amount of carbs for someone (not with T1D) was 394 carbs in a 3000 calorie day. So, my 423 wasn’t too far away. Alright, the bulk of the carbs came from a sweet potato, two bananas, various frozen fruit in a smoothie (blueberries, pineapple, cherries), brown rice, black beans, clementines, black bean pasta, and peas.
That about wraps up the carb sources! Hope that helps!