To lose weight, prick your finger

We know that foods that trigger insulin lead to fat storage. Putting a stop to this process allows you to mobilize fat and lose weight. If you're starting out from scratch, rapid and dramatic weight loss can be experienced, as much as one pound per day.

So how can you stop triggering insulin?

The easiest way is to eliminate, or at least minimize, carbohydrates. My favorite method to restrict carbohydrates is to eliminate wheat and minimize exposure to other carbohydrates, such as oats, cornstarch, and sugars. All these foods, wheat products worst of all, cause blood sugar and insulin to skyrocket.

Another way is to check your blood sugar one hour after completing a meal and keep your after-eating, or "postprandial," blood sugar 100 mg/dl or less. Let's say you are going to eat stone ground oatmeal, for example. Blood sugar prior to eating is, say, 90 mg/dl. One hour after oatmeal it's 168 mg/dl--you know that this is going to trigger insulin and make you fat. Oatmeal should therefore be eliminated.

Keeping blood sugar to 100 mg/dl or less after eating teaches you how to avoid provocation of insulin. A shrinking tummy will follow.

To do this, you will need:

1) A glucose meter--My favorite is the One Touch Ultra Mini ($13.42 at Walmart). It's exceptionally easy to use and requires just a dot of blood. Drawback: Test strips are about $1 each. Accuchek Aviva is another good device. (We've had a lot of problems with Walgreen's brand device.)
2) Test strips--This is the costly part of the proposition. Purchased 25 or 50 at a time, they can cost from $0.50 to $1.00 a piece.
3) Lancets--These are the pins for the fingerstick device that comes with the glucose meter. A box should be just a few dollars.

No prescription is necessary, nor will insurance pay for your costs unless you're diabetic. To conserve test strips, use them only when a new, untested food or food combination is going to be consumed. If you had two scrambled eggs with green peppers, sundried tomatoes, and olive oil yesterday and had a one hour postprandial glucose of 97 mg/dl, no need to check blood sugar again if you are having the same meal again today.

Comments (45) -

  • Anonymous

    7/7/2010 10:02:42 PM |

    So what if you blood sugar before a  whole-wheat cereal is < 90, and an hour later it's 115?  

    Didn't reach the 168 mark, nor did it stay below 100...   based on those numbers, should the cereal be avoided for weight loss?

  • The 50 Best Health Blogs

    7/7/2010 10:15:48 PM |

    "My favorite method to restrict carbohydrates is to eliminate wheat and minimize exposure to other carbohydrates, such as oats, cornstarch, and sugars. All these foods, wheat products worst of all, cause blood sugar and insulin to skyrocket."

    I have diabetes, and I have belatedly started cutting way back on all those foods. And I sure hate to give up my sandwiches, but the bread has become a disaster for me.


  • Anonymous

    7/7/2010 10:21:00 PM |

    ReliOn by WalMart $12, 50 test strips $20, my choice.

  • Peter

    7/7/2010 11:18:02 PM |

    A small portion of oatmeal hardly raises my blood sugar but a big portion raises it a lot.  For me the portion size of carbohydrate seem to be more important than what the carb is.

  • Matt Stone

    7/7/2010 11:39:22 PM |

    Comical. Hiding from carbs isn't going to make your blood sugar problems go away.

  • Anonymous

    7/8/2010 1:36:40 AM |

    sorry but I'm Scottish

    "The Scots developed a deep love for oats, and it shows in their traditional recipes handed down through the generations.

    Porridge, oatcakes, fish fried in oatmeal and many other particularly Scottish recipes have the humble oat at the centre.
    Oats are extremely nutritious, containing more protein and unsaturated fat than any other cereal grain and for many years right up and including the present day, Scottish soldiers are considered to be tougher and stronger than their English counterparts, thanks to a daily diet of oats."

    "Celts ate like most other Europeans, subsisting mostly on grains supplemented by meats, fruits, and vegetables. Exactly what they ate varied by area, and Celts grew local crops. Scottish highlanders were famous for supposedly subsisting almost entirely on oats, though this was not entirely true. However, oats remain the favorite grain of Scotland, and Scottish cuisine is full of them."

  • Lori Miller

    7/8/2010 1:57:11 AM |

    My mother has found that certain other things can raise her blood sugar as well--mostly stress and Xanex.

    For the past few months, I've gotten after her every day to lay off starchy foods. It helps keep her blood sugar down, but mostly, I think she sticks with it because she feels better. She has a better mood and more get-up-and-go than I've ever seen in her.

  • KitingRules

    7/8/2010 3:43:10 AM |

    @Matt Stone:

    Comical, yes, I agree.

    Sorry, but Dr. Davis appears to sincerely believe that:
    carbs => insulin => fat

    Remember, you're talking to someone who claims to have tried an Ornish type of low-fat diet and yet gained 31 lbs and had "skyrocketed" triglycerides.

    I wonder how those Asians eating white rice stayed so thin.  The "it's genetic" cop-out won't work, as those same populations gain weight when they come to the USA and adopt more SAD-like diets.

    What would explain Dr. Davis' 31 lb weight gain on a low-fat diet?  I wonder where those extra calories came from?  31 lbs * 3500 calories/lb = 10,8500 excess calories.  

    I wonder where those excess calories came from.

  • Eva

    7/8/2010 4:21:55 AM |

    I think the thing with Asians I have known is although they eat a lot of white rice, they also eat a lot of veggies and meat and they do not eat much desert or other sources of carbs.  Most do not eat much wheat and no sodas.  Many do not even have bread in the house other than an occasional piece of 'bao.'  I suspect, compared to Americans, their overall carb/sugar intake is likely less.  Most food is prepared fresh, not canned or out of boxes.  And many lowcarbers think that sugar (fructose) and wheat are probably worse culprits than rice when it comes to glucose control.

    As for oatmeal, you might want to research how much phytic acid and lectins are in that stuff.  Phytic acid leaches nutrients out of your system and lectins damage the intestinal tissues.  PLus there is the already mentioned issue of high insulin response.  Maybe the Scots are just tough because they are tough with a tough attitude and oats were eaten simply because they were available and people were hungry.

  • Darrin

    7/8/2010 4:44:57 AM |

    Another vote for the ReliOn meter. Crazy cheap (apart from the strips) but wicked easy to use.

  • Eva

    7/8/2010 4:48:06 AM |

    I forgot to mention, people might want to do a bit of research on glucometer accuracy before purchasing one.  Many are wildly inaccurate and erratic, even the more expensive ones.  Some of the most accurate have often been cheap ones.  Back when I bought mine (my dog at the time was Type 1 diabetic and I needed to track his BGs), I found that a simple $20.00 one had excellent accuracy ratings.  SOmetimes you can even find free glucometer offers, but again, make sure you get a well rated one.  Some of those are so bad that to me they should be illegal.  Manufacturers are happy to provide the less wealthy with lowcost glucometers cuz they figure they will get you later when you buy the expensive matching test strips.  On the flip side, many who want the best wrongly assume the expensive glucometers are better.

    Also, for those who want to do a glucose tolerance test for diabetes like they do at the hospital, you can do a reasonably accurate facimile of the test using 26 jelly beans and your own glucometer instead of the gross sugar syrup they feed you at the hospital.

  • Hans Keer

    7/8/2010 6:19:24 AM |

    It is broadly know what drives insulin. You can look it up everywhere. So why spend money on devices and test strips and put pins in your finger? Furthermore the measurements will depend on the state of Insulin Resistance you are in.

  • Linda

    7/8/2010 7:16:55 AM |

    I agree with Eva - people need to see studies and results first before purchasing a glucometer, or at least be educated with the gravity of the disease before resorting to self-help equipments.  Diabetes assessment is not a walk-on-a-park.  It should be treated with utmost consideration to how your body would possibly react to certain medications / equipments, because we all know its fatal if we do otherwise.

  • Jenny

    7/8/2010 1:15:57 PM |

    Thought you might want to know your post was accompanied by an ad from telling us that a diet of pineapples and apples will cure our diabetes.

    If you are going to use google ads you have to put some time into reviewing which ads come up and blocking them in your adsense account. Otherwise your visitors will be wafted to sites promising miracle cures and promoting all the foods you are warning them about. I check my ads on a daily basis. There's always one or two to weed out.

  • RealityRules

    7/8/2010 2:57:34 PM |

    Even more comical is a bloated, doughy, carb-binging Matt Stone thinking he's somehow not a prime example of why Dr. Davis recommends laying off the carbs.

  • Anonymous

    7/8/2010 3:02:12 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    Isn't a "blanket" target of 100mg/dl a bit unrealistic? I have witnessed some people never go above 90 even after having lots of carbs. I myself am very thin, but there's no way I could stay under 100 an hour after eating, even with almost zero carbs.

  • Peter

    7/8/2010 4:02:22 PM |

    I don't know Matt Stone, but the question he raises seems like a good one.  Does lowering your blood sugar lead to less insulin resistance?  If anybody knows, I would be interested.

  • Alfredo E.

    7/8/2010 4:31:02 PM |

    What Matt Stone said was " Hiding from carbs isn't going to make your blood sugar problems go away.", different to "Does lowering your blood sugar lead to less insulin resistance?".

    In my case I have a personal problem with insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose 110, but no  postprandial, below 100 after almost any meal.

    Can anybody ad some insight as to what may be the problem, or how to understand it?

  • Anonymous

    7/8/2010 6:51:37 PM |

    "Even more comical is a bloated, doughy, carb-binging Matt Stone thinking he's somehow not a prime example of why Dr. Davis recommends laying off the carbs."


  • KitingRules

    7/8/2010 7:49:09 PM |

    "Even more comical is a bloated, doughy, carb-binging Matt Stone thinking he's somehow not a prime example of why Dr. Davis recommends laying off the carbs."

    FAIL.  Nobody explained how Dr. Davis managed to gain 31 lbs on a low fat diet?  You can't manage that on rice and potatoes.  Maybe he indulged a bit too much on "low fat" refined sugar products, "low-fat-by-serving-but-still-fat" products, and oils.  That weight gain came from a calorie excess not possible by unprocessed starches, that's for sure.  Unless you think Dr. Davis could eat upwards of 20 potatoes a day...

    Double FAIL for ignoring the thin Asians who eat carbs, yet when they quit their high carb diet for a SAD-like diet, they gain weight.

  • john gardner

    7/8/2010 11:03:52 PM |

    Wavesense Presto, also available
    at Walmart - Test strips $17.87/50
    in my store.

    It does'nt hurt that the meter is
    noticeably more accurate than many
    (I take insulin, so it matters...)


  • stephen

    7/9/2010 12:19:17 AM |

    My BG starts at 99, so eating a meal and keeping it at 99 would require me to eat no carbs.

    So is it reasonable for me to try to keep my GB under 115 after a meal or should I stop eating all carbs?



  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 3:43:21 AM |

    Related to this topic, I just returned from North America after several months in Japan and I saw a television show where they implemented an eating program for four people with high blood sugar. The diet program consisted mainly of eating all meals by chewing the food thirty times for each food bite as well as eating some type of vegetable fiber in this manner first.   The show monitored the people for three weeks, during which, the average blood sugar reading went from above on average 120 down to  88 when properly and slowing chewing the food. I could barely believe what I saw.

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 7:23:07 AM |

    Dr. Davis, you will love the linked post below, an exhaustive analysis of the raw China Study data which completely ratifies your prescient beliefs about wheat (to a degree that may amaze even you):

    The China Study: Fact or Fallacy?

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 7:29:34 AM |

    Matt Stone, you are fat.

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 8:25:22 AM |

    Matt Stone -- if that's him in that picture, is not fat. At all. Don't belittle people just because you don't agree with their opinions.

    As for his statement of "Hiding from carbs isn't going to make your blood sugar problems go away." I'm not sure what that means. Where do you get "blood sugar" problems if not from carbs?

    Regarding China, everyone just assumes they gorge on sticky white rice all day. In reality, the Chinese eat way more meat (especially fish), some vegetables and then finish the meal with rice. Visit China, they eat a lot less rice than the average person thinks. Also there is an "iodine theory" for as why they don't get fat off white rice. Plus just because white rice is a staple for them, doesn't mean it is anywhere equal to an american/SAD diet of french fries, bread, cereal etc.

    Yes, if your blood sugar stays at normal levels you're less likely to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance happens when your blood sugar is elevated for long amounts of time.

  • Dr. William Davis

    7/9/2010 3:31:56 PM |

    The weight I gained years ago on an Ornish-like 10% fat diet, I believe, was from whole wheat bread products mostly, but also oat meal, oat bran, and some low-fat snacks like low-fat ice cream.

    I'm going to make a prediction: controlling the excursions of postprandial blood sugars is going to prove to be among the most powerful youth-preserving, antiaging strategies known.

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 4:18:36 PM |

    Does this also apply to athletes who go through strenuous physical exertion and training? Or, does the 100 mg/dl apply to the typical couch potato who goes for an occasional walk?

    -- Boris

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2010 10:28:13 PM |


    Slowing gastric emptying should lower the post-prandial insulin spike.  

    --Fiber: ?guar gum or pectin

  • Eva

    7/10/2010 5:51:47 AM |

    I disagree with Linda. I don't think you need an expert to figure out if your blood sugar responses are bad or not.  Try to get your fasting bgs around 80 or at least under 100  (80 is better).  Try to keep your post eating sugars from jumping all over the place, not too high but neither should they drop super low either.  There are tons of example charts on the net about what the govt considers normal/acceptable and you can assume you want to do way better than those.  There is disagreement about how low it really should be, but I don't see anyone arguing that you want those numbers to be high, that is for sure.  My point was only, when testing this, make sure you don't by a crappy inaccurate glucometer.  Informed type 1 diabetics are typically the most knowledgeable crowd on glucometers simply because their life depends on knowing their blood glucose (even in the short term) and so they are highly motivated.

  • Anonymous

    7/10/2010 3:54:48 PM |

    Post-prandial at one hour under 100? I thought the target was under 120 at 2 hours post-prandial.  Why the sudden stricter number?  The rate of digestion is affected by many factors such as fiber and fat content of a meal.  Therefore -- one may not see their true blood glucose peak for 3 hours after a meal.  Also, those with hypothyroid conditions have delayed stomach emptying.  I think Dr. Bernstein and/or Dr. Michael Eades wrote that 1 gram of carb raises blood sugar 5 points -- this is an approximation -- so even a very small amount of carb could raise sugar over 100.  Say if I have small portion of meat, plus 2 cups of veggies, plus 1/4 cup nuts and 10 blueberries for dessert -- sugar hit from the blueberries may be delayed for hours because of the nuts.  Ditto for small amounts of very dark chocolate (85%+) -- chocolate slows stomach emptying.  This is why Dr. B does not believe in ever adding "fun foods" and restricts all fruit and sugar -- forever -- no small amounts added back.  His plan is 6 carbs in the morning, 12 at lunch and 12 at dinner. If I was a diabetic, I would do this - but for those of us that do not have diabetes and who are normal weight -- I don't thinks such strict measures are necessary for health or longevity.  As an aside -- my husband has the same supposedly ideal triglycerides as me -- 30s or lower -- yet he lives on whole wheat and grains -- seriously -- eats it at every meal plus desserts.  Yet his HDL is high for a man and LDL is low. He does exercise vigorously (lifelong athelete) and has an active job (no a desk jockey) -- plus both parents are active and near 90 -- no diabetes in either of them though both eat mixed carb rich diets.  I believe differing genotypes may explain this. Everyone's looking for a one size fits all holy grail to diet and I think we have to find what works for each of us.  Some people find fruit -- even low carb berries - makes blood sugar skyrocket yet can handle small amounts of tubers or whole grains.  I think testing gives one information on how to optimize one's diet but I am dubious of the 100 post-prandial target after only 60 minutes.  I have also noticed that when I am at my slimmest summer weight, the same carb portions make my blood sugar higher than when I am at my slightly heaview 5-6 pound heaview winter weight.  Drastic seasonal changes suck for weight control.

  • jackie

    7/11/2010 2:07:02 AM |

    One of the best info sources I've read regarding diabetes/heart/low glycemic load.  Thank you.  I'm the only true non-diabetic in my family and have other complicated genetic medical issues going on.  I have learned to ignore much of what I've read about diabetes since my family followed the traditional diet without success.  What has worked for me best has simply been finger sticking and paying attention to everything and every reaction.  No oatmeal, no wheat, no rice/potatoes, small and frequent meals, moderation in all things, exercise, and I'm still amazed when people say "I can't do this".  It is not easy to change your habits but when your life depends on it, you just have to.  Watching our own reactions to food and lifestyle should always be the measure we follow. We all need to be our own health advocates, or at least I need to be.  I'll be reading "you" to follow the info you are providing.  Thank you so much.  Enlightening.

  • Dr. William Davis

    7/13/2010 2:27:56 PM |

    Hi, Jackie--

    Your experience is similar to what I am witnessing: Knowledge of your postprandial blood sugars tell you what foods are screwing up metabolism. It tells you which foods, what portion sizes, and what other factors (like exercise, macronutrient mix, and liquids) affect glucose excursions.

  • EMR

    7/14/2010 4:00:14 AM |

    There is a lot of help to control sugar these days.The instruments that can test sugar at home helps.Diet and exercise still stay at the top being the controlling factors for the disease.

  • Peter

    7/15/2010 4:17:13 PM |

    I am losing weight like crazy on this diet.  If you wanted to get a lot of attention for it you could call it Dr Davis's Prick Diet and before you know it you'd have it in the Huffington Post.

  • Matthew

    7/18/2010 3:17:38 AM |

    Decided to try this - bought a one touch meter at wally world this afternoon - $11.75 for the meter, and $55 for 50 strips.

    I hadn't had anything to eat for around 20 hours. Glucose shows 106. Had a Wendy's chicken club sandwich + diet coke - 2 hours later, glucose is 107. Had curried chicken for dinner with 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice and 20-25 rainier cherries, and 2 hours later - 157. Prediabetic? Tong

    My hand is sore too.

  • CarrollJ16

    7/18/2010 6:19:43 AM |

    the level of insulin secretion doesn't necessarily correlate with blood sugar level.

  • Helen

    7/20/2010 3:02:35 AM |


    It might not be insulin resistance causing your high fasting sugars.  With insulin resistance, usually your post-prandial numbers decline before your fasting levels do.

    I am in the process of trying to get tested for MODY 2, a type of usually mild diabetes marked by elevated fasting glucose, which can be accompanied by anything from a normal A1c (glucose control over time) to a moderately elevated one.  It has varying degrees of severity - often it is subclinical.  A person with MODY 2 may become insulin resistant, like anyone else, however.  In fact, the elevated fasting sugars and moderately impaired glucose tolerance might lead to insulin resistance in some people with this mutation.

    Fortunately, people with this mutation tend to have low triglycerides, unlike most people with diabetes.  

    You very well might not have this - it's supposedly rare - but I was in your boat for many years, and later developed gestational diabetes and now have "mild" diabetes.  

    Read more about MODY types of diabetes at
    (Diabetes Update Blog by Jenny Ruhl.)  

    As for people questioning how Dr. Davis got fat and diabetic on the Dean Ornish diet - I do think some people are less carb tolerant than others.  If you can eat all the carbs you want and not get elevated post-prandials and/or not become insulin resistant, kiss your genes, your pancreas, and your liver, and keep your fingers crossed.  Not everyone is built the same.  They really aren't.

  • Peter

    8/6/2010 4:55:35 PM |

    The first few nights I kept dreaming about brown rice and steel cut oats, but now I am back to dreaming about women.

  • Peter

    9/4/2010 1:07:03 PM |

    I've been doing this for a month and a half and I'm wondering about trade-offs.  My fasting glucose is normal for the first time in years but my measured LDL is way up, and my small particles are high too (835).

  • Joseph

    9/22/2010 1:53:53 PM |

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