I just finished Gabrielle Hamilton‘s excellent memoir Blood, Bones and Butter, and this part made me wince knowingly:
“We’d better start to make our move. I’m going to need to eat soon.” People who know me well understand fully what I am saying when I suggest that I am working an appetite and that we’d best be making our move. This means it is time to hit the road before my blood sugar—what’s left of it—crashes to that point where I’m going to ruin your fucking day. My friends dive into their pockets, backpacks, and purses and proffer any peanut, energy bar, lint-covered M&M that they can lay their paws on, because friends are great like that. They can see what’s happening, from where they are standing, before you can.
We’ve all felt “hanger”—that special kind of irritability that crops up when you’ve gone too long without a meal or snack and, as a result, makes civility toward your peers feel close to impossible. Hanger is probably in my top five most frequent emotions. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. In my weak defense, I’d say that over the years I’ve at least learned to waylay my hanger by stashing meat bars and plantain chips in my backpack and asking for a snack break before I start seeing red and flipping tables. Nevertheless, this description of hanger hit home.
About six months ago I started to reevaluate what I was eating for breakfast because I was noticing that I regularly crashed while making the daily sandwich par at Cured. Aside from the unpleasantness I felt, I’d also noticed my managers’ gently whispered offers of snacks around 10am, when The Hanger usually strikes. As touched as I was by their perceptiveness, it was clear the oatmeal+coconut oil+turkey bacon breakfast was failing me and I needed to try something else.
I switched to eating just protein and fat (usually eggs, meat, avocado) and noticed markedly better mornings. Not only was I not crashing mid-morning, but I had enough energy to work through lunch without feeling like I was going to snap. But was eliminating carbs or eliminating oatmeal, specifically, the key?
About a month ago, I read Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat and learned about the 7-Day Carb Test, a tool to help figure out which carbs work best for you. Coach Mike at Barbell Strategy offered to buy a glucometer for the gym so we could become guinea pigs, test how we react to various carbs and share our experiences.
As the pioneer tester, I picked and ate seven different carbs, and took blood samples to test my blood glucose two hours after the meal. The results were surprising and gave me a pretty on-point picture of why certain carbs sink me mere hours later. To be clear, I still eat a good amount of carbs because I feel better and perform better, but the breakthrough here was learning which carbs have a positive or neutral impact on my blood glucose and which make it go haywire.