Glucophobia: The Novel

Just kidding: No novel here. However, there is indeed a story to tell that should scare the pants off you.

If you haven't yet gathered that carbohydrates are a macronutrient nightmare, let me recount the list:

Carbohydrates increase small LDL particles
Or, in the cholesterol-speak most people understand, "carbohydrates increase cholesterol." It's counterintuitive, but carbohydrates increase LDL substantially, far more than any fat.

Carbohydrates increase blood sugar
Eggs don't increase blood sugar, nor do chicken, raw almonds, onions or green peppers. But a bowl of oatmeal will send your blood sugar skywards.

Carbohydrates make you fat
Carbohydrates, whether in the form of wheat flour in your whole wheat bread, sucrose in your ice cream, fructose in your "organic Agave nectar," or high-fructose corn syrup in your dill pickles. They all provoke de novo lipogenesis, or fat formation. They also stimulate insulin, the hormone of fat storage.

Carbohydrates cause glycation
High blood sugar, like the kind that develops after a bowl of oatmeal, triggers glycation, or modification of proteins by glucose (blood sugar). This is how cataracts, kidney disease, and atherosclerotic plaque develop. Small LDL is 8-fold more glycation prone than large LDL, providing a carbohydrate double-whammy.

Your glucose meter remains the single best tool to gauge the quality of your diet. Many people have horror stories of the shocking experiences they've had when they finally get around to checking their postprandial glucose.

Comments (25) -

  • Ladyred56

    4/13/2010 12:44:29 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    I am so glad to see your writings here. I have worked in long term care for over 19 years as a nurse but also spent 2 years as a dietary manager. It is disheartening to see the way we are feeding our patients with high carbohydrate diets. A low carb diet is hardly ever talked about and the best you can reasonably manage is a controlled carbohydrate diet which simply means we are still giving them oatmeal or other cereals, wheat bread, which is not whole wheat etc.
    and why....... because the government demands that we follow the nutrient scheme set out by the USDA. I had to make menus during my training. What a joke! I felt like a traitor with almost every mean I served because I knew I was damaging my patients with the food I was giving them.

  • Kitty

    4/13/2010 12:55:55 PM |

    Onions cause my blood sugar to spike. Took me a long while to accept that. Not everyone reacts the same to foods.


    4/13/2010 2:06:40 PM |

    Oatmeal- which I don't eat but did have a half bowl last week just for a change and had very low BG numbers for a week or so, keep my sugars HIGH all day and through the night which is when my metabolism really kicks. Never again. A butterfinger doesn't do that.

  • Matt Stone

    4/13/2010 2:09:44 PM |

    I think I'm getting it. Carbohydrates are bad because they turn into glucose, and even worse because they turn to fat in the liver. Cool, now if I could just eat a fat and carbohdyrate-free diet...

    “It is of interest that diets high in fibre-rich cereals and tuberous vegetables tend to result in an improvement in basal blood glucoses.”
    -Denis Burkitt


    4/13/2010 2:11:14 PM |

    You don't need to post this but I it is crazy that google dumps this:

          High Fructose Corn Syrup
          What Does Scientific Research   Really Say About HFCS?

    on your site.  ouch I know you have no control but google should allow a little

  • Lou

    4/13/2010 2:58:20 PM |

    Matt Stone,

    Very misleading about Birkett. He spent a lot of time in Africa where he's responsible for curing Birkett's lymphoma. You're trying to compare orange to apple. That doesn't work. In Africa, people probably got a lot of sun which kept their vitamin D level at optimal level. We have a major problem with deficiency in USA. What else... I find it hard to believe that people in Africa consumed high amount of UNREFINED carbohydrates. They probably even fermented grains which modern processing doesn't. I've read that people there drink cow's blood although I'm not sure which part of Africa does this. They spent a lot of time outside staying active.

    I've seen your works. You tend to stick to old information and not latest studies. There's a clinical study where they compared Paleolithic diet to American Heart Association's high carb, low fat diet. Paleo diet did MUCH better when it comes to improving lipid numbers and essentially curing diabetes (if they haven't progressed too far).

  • Nigel Kinbrum

    4/13/2010 5:23:56 PM |

    Just being picky, but insulin is more the hormone of fat non-burning than fat storage.

  • tom

    4/13/2010 8:45:38 PM |

    Can someone help me understand  please?
    I took Dr. Davis's advic and bought a meter (TrueTrack).
    my base, fasting, level from my last lab was 101, LDL 161.
    I made a 1 hour reading after a breakfast of 1/3  cup of oatmeal, 1/3 cup of uncooked oat bran, walnuts, 1-1/2 cups blueberries & strawberries, 2/3 cup of low fat yougurt, and 1 ts cinnamon.
    My 1-hour reading was 117.

    I did the same
    check after a dinner of 2 fried eggs and two pork chops.  reading was 114.

    Am I doing something wrong?  I would have expected my post-breakfast meal to be much higher.

    Thank you for any suggestions.

  • Dr. William Davis

    4/13/2010 9:32:09 PM |

    Hi, Tom--

    I think that it just means that you are not very insulin resistant. Not perfect, but not bad at all, and you are able to tolerance some carbohydrates.

    That's why I love individual postprandial blood checks so much: Everybody is so different.

  • tom

    4/14/2010 12:11:12 AM |

    Dr. Davis,
    Thank you for your comment on my post.
    I intend to continue with the postprandial testing until I've verified my response to fifferent foods.  Purchasing the meter and using it is a great recommendation.
    Now, time to try a thick crust pizza and a Starbucks double latte with a snickers bar for desert!

  • Rick

    4/14/2010 12:45:33 AM |

    why is it that only when I went to a vegan diet, inclusive of steel cut oats and plenty of legumes, whole grains, greens and fruit, did my fasting glucose finally settle into the 80's rather than over 100 when I was eating a higher fat low carb (less than 100 grams per day) diet??

  • Dr. John Mitchell

    4/14/2010 2:34:42 AM |

    "I'll give you a pair of nickels for you paradigms"
    Dr. JM

    It's very difficult to get people to believe how carbohydrates can be deleterious to the human body. Facts can never compete with beliefs...

    Over millions of years of evolution, humans have adapted and evolved to a low carbohydrate, famine induced state of homeostasis. We (4.4M yrs) have existed in that environment until very recently. And only recently have we developed carbo-induced degenerative diseases.

    The current research, studies, and human biochemistry support this view...NEJM, Lancet, AJCN, etc...

    So, (Matt Stone) Dr. Burkitt's research was very limited at best...only observational studies of a selected population....not one that can apply to the American public today.

  • Alfredo E.

    4/14/2010 3:01:54 PM |

    Dr Davis. I have been following your advice and bought a meter but I am lost here.

    My fasting glucose readings are in the 100-110 every morning. Even at 4 am is 100. I follow a diet low in carbs.

    All my post prandial readings are in the 90-120.

    I am a 5 10", 200 lbs,exercise 30 minutes everyday, 25%fat.

    How can I lower my fasting glucose?


  • Onschedule

    4/14/2010 8:00:37 PM |


    I'd suggest taking multiple readings, especially with a TrueTrack. I follow the instructions for calibration carefully, yet still often get wildly varied readings. For example, yesterday, three tests taken within five minutes yielded: 120, 106, 91. Sometimes the groupings are much tighter. I've spoken with others using TrueTrack and have received similar feedback.

    Whenever you get a reading that doesn't seem right, test again. It's hard on the fingers, but may offer some useful insight...

    You'll find Dr. D's recommendations for meters elsewhere in his blog. I'll be picking up a different brand next time I see a rebate.

  • Lori Miller

    4/15/2010 3:15:42 AM |

    Add another chapter to the novel: in susceptible people, excess carbs cause acid reflux. Carbs, unlike protein and fat, can lead to gas, which pushes stomach acid into the esophagus. Curing acid reflux is as simple as cutting down on carbs--I've done it.

  • Peter

    4/15/2010 9:05:09 AM |

    Since in traditional societies where people ate lots of rice, or corn, squash and beans people tended not to get obese or diabetic, I have to suspect there's something about wheat and sugar rather than carbs in general that's bad for us.

  • signs of high blood sugar

    4/15/2010 11:42:26 AM |

    It is very important to maintain blood sugar levels. High Blood sugar can be very dangerous and unhealthy. High blood sugar in medical terms is known as hyperglycemia. Having high blood sugar can cause many diseases of heart, kidney etc. There are many signs of high blood sugar such as excessive urination, excessive thirst, weight loss, tiredness etc. Right exercise and diet helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.

  • tom

    4/15/2010 2:25:33 PM |


    Thank you for you suggestion.  I did follow the instructions about the calibration.

    I'm thinking now of doing a test at 30", 60", 90", and 2 hours to see how the readings change.


  • billye

    4/16/2010 2:01:10 AM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Great great valuable post as usual, and right on point.

    Billy E

  • billye

    4/16/2010 2:32:29 AM |

    To all the great within commenter's,

    I enjoyed all of your comments.  I just read a newly published amazing study in Science Daily (Mar. 29, 2010)which gave me an AH HA! moment.  I just had to write a post about it and share it with you.  It is entitled "Eating low fat and high carbohydrate causes compulsive eating and shares addictive biochemical mechanisms with cocaine, and heroin abuse".  This post can be found at

    Billy E

  • Denny Barnes

    4/16/2010 7:00:42 AM |

    I think fructose deserves a special mention when talking about the evils of high carb eating.  Our blood glucose does not spike after we eat fructose.  Our meters do not even budge.  They are glucometers not fructometers.  Ironically, fructose is far more damaging to the human body than glucose. Fructose creates ten times a many advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) as glucose.  I call fructose the stealth carb ... deadly and not easily detected.

  • pjnoir

    4/17/2010 10:15:07 PM |

    Whenever I see Matt Stone post somewhere, I figure it is time to move on. He still has no concept that many people can not process Carbs due to diabetes and other metabolic condidtions and that eating them does not self correct the problem.

  • H

    4/28/2010 1:59:12 AM |

    Can someone comment on lentils.  Do they spike your blood sugar?


    5/5/2010 2:28:31 PM |

    hey, i am really enjoying your blog, have read some about this in the past, and have had an easy time loosing weight when i cut out wheats and sugars, but i am curious about asians, rice and sugar is a staple in asian diets, japanese and chinese come to mind, yet when i think of japanese i think of healthy society, what are your thoughts on this? have studies been done, do their simply appear healthy while on the inside there cholestoral numbers are way off,

  • Anonymous

    10/20/2010 2:28:23 PM |

    Onions and raw almonds spike my blood sugar. Green peppers also have sugar and I believe they'd spike my blood sugar as well. I wonder if it's ok to eat oatmeal if my BG only goes to 120. However, I remain in the pre-diabetic state and never seem to recover, just like with fruit. I can't fast because I'm currently unable to gain weight. Oats do stabilize blood sugar, perhaps I'll just eat a small amount with fat and see how that works.