Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Two-Week Test
Many people suffer from a condition known as carbohydrate intolerance, or (CI). This is perhaps the most well-hidden epidemic of our time and is being made worse by the prevalence of sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods common to our diets.
Carbohydrate Intolerance — and the full spectrum of ailments that accompany it — begins as a hidden problem. CI then progresses to a functional disorder producing symptoms, such as fatigue, that negatively affect quality of life. Gradually, this process generates serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
While best viewed as a single, escalating progression of the same problem, carbohydrate intolerance has series of distinct stages:
The symptoms can be elusive, often associated with difficult-to-diagnose blood-sugar problems, fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration.
The worsening condition is known in the medical community as carbohydrate-lipid metabolism disturbance or hyperinsulinism. It causes more serious conditions such as hypertension, it elevates triglyceride levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering HDL “good” cholesterol, and increasing body fat.
CI manifests as an array of more serious problems, including obesity, and various diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. These end-stage conditions are part of a set of diseases that are now well-recognized by modern medicine. They are referred to as Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome.
Taking the Carbohydrate Intolerance survey is the first step in reclaiming your optimal health. The next step is taking the Two-Week Test, which will help determine just how sensitive your body is to carbohydrates.
The Two-Week Test
This evaluation will tell you if you are carbohydrate-intolerant, and if so, how to remedy it. It must be emphasized that this is only a test and not a permanent diet — it will only last two weeks and should not be pursued beyond this 14-day period. You should never experience hunger during the test — you can eat as much of the non-carbohydrate foods as you want, and as often as you need.
Of all the clinical tools I developed and used for assessment and therapy through my career, the consistency of results from the Two-Week Test surprised me the most. It’s amazing how a person can go from one extreme of poor health to vibrant health in such a short time. It’s simply a matter of removing a major stress factor — refined carbohydrates and excess insulin — and allowing the body to function the way it was originally meant.
The Two-Week Test was unique because it required individuals to take an active role the process of self-evaluation. He or she would actually feel what it was like to have normal insulin levels, optimal blood sugar and, in many cases, be finally free of signs and symptoms associated with CI — all within a short time frame. This proved to be a far superior method of educating the patient.
Some people didn’t feel improvement because they were not carbohydrate-intolerant. But patients who were overweight, had blood-sugar problems, and simply could not escape the damage of eating refined carbohydrates now knew what it would take to quickly change their health.
It is not the purpose of the Two-Week Test to restrict calories or fat. It merely restricts many carbohydrate foods. For a period of two weeks, just eat as much as you want from what you’re allowed, and avoid what’s restricted.
Let’s summarize the basics of the Two-Week Test:
Write down a list of all your signs and symptoms.
Weigh yourself before starting.
Always eat breakfast.
Plan your meals and snacks — buy sufficient foods allowed on the test, and get rid of those not allowed so you’re not tempted.
Eat as much and as often as necessary to never get hungry.
After the test, re-evaluate your signs and symptoms, including weight.
Begin adding natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to every other meal or snack, and evaluate whether this causes any of your previous signs and symptoms to return.
The following sections discuss each of these steps in more detail, in order to help you through the testing process.
Before The Test
Record health problems. Includes any symptoms or ailments that you might have, such as insomnia or fatigue. This may take a few days since you might not recall them all at once. You will review these complaints after the test to see which ones have and haven’t improved.
Weigh yourself. This provides another important sign of how your body is working, especially after the test. This is the only instance I recommend using the scale for body weight—it’s not a measure of body fat, but it is a good pre/post evaluation. You may lose some excess water (which will show on the scale), but your fat-burning will increase and you’ll start losing body fat (which won’t show on the scale). I’ve seen some people lose anywhere between a few and 20 pounds during the test.
Stock up on the right foods. Before you start, make sure you have enough of the foods you’ll be eating. (Suggestions listed below.) In addition, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of any sweets, foods containing them, and all breads and products made from refined flour. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to eat them if you get cravings during the test.
Plan Correctly. Schedule the test during a two-week period in which you are relatively unlikely to have distractions. (It’s a bad idea to do the test during holidays, for example.) Don’t worry about cholesterol, fat or calories, or the amount of food you’re eating. This is only a test, not the way you’ll be eating forever.
Most importantly, eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
Following the test for less than two weeks probably will not give you a valid result. So, if after five days, for example, you eat a bowl of pasta or a box of cookies, you will need to start the test over.
During The Test: The Menu
What makes the Two-Week Test foods acceptable aren’t the foods themselves, but rather their properties. It’s all about eating unprocessed “real” foods that are low in carbohydrates. You can assume any foods that are similar to what you find on this list can be eaten. If you see any foods on this list or the following that are disallowed (e.g. potatoes), you can assume that similar foods (sweet, russet, and gold potatoes and yams) also cannot be eaten.
You MAY eat as much of the following foods as you like during the Two-Week Test.
Raw and cooked vegetables: Tomato, onion, garlic, greens such as spinach, kale, chard, and all lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (for those with thyroid dysfunction, cabbage-family veggies are best eaten thoroughly cooked), carrots, zucchini, etc.
Tree nuts (and nut butters): Macadamia, almond, walnut, for example. (Does NOT include peanuts or cashews).
Coconut: cream, oil, milk and flour.
Beef: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
Lamb: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc) are best.
Unprocessed Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, asiago, parmesan, etc.
Unprocessed Soft Cheeses: Feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, etc.
Cream: Heavy cream, sour cream, full-fat crème fraiche.
Oils: Avocado, coconut, and olive oil.
Coffee or tea: If you usually drink it.
Vinegar: balsamic, apple-cider, etc.
Pure, distilled spirits: Small amounts of gin, vodka, whiskey.
Dry red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc, Shiraz/Syrah, Chianti.
Dry white wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc.
You may NOT eat any of the following foods during the Two-Week Test.
All sugar products: Includes basically anything with honey, sugar, agave, fructose, crystals (e.g. beet crystals), cane, extract, or syrup in its ingredient list.
Sweets and desserts: Cake, cookies, ice cream, muffins, candy, gum, breath mints.
All non-caloric sweeteners (natural and non-natural): Includes stevia, xylitol, erythritol, aspartame, splenda, etc.
Many canned and prepared veggies: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!
Bread: Sliced bread or rolls of any kind (whole-grain, multi-grain, flaxseed, rye, gluten-free, etc).
Pasta: All types.
Crackers: Includes chips, rice cakes, and similar foods.
Packaged energy bars: And all packaged foods promoted as fuel for athletes.
Ketchup and other sauces: They often contain hidden sugars.
Corn: Bread, tortillas, etc.
Rice: Wild rice, brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, etc.
All wheat and wheat products: Whole wheat, farro, bulgur, khorasan, millet, etc.
Quinoa: Includes quinoa seeds and all products (e.g. quinoa pasta).
Potatoes: Any kind (russet, red, blue, etc.)
Fruits and berries: Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew.
Legumes: Beans, lentils, fava beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.
Processed meats: Sausage, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, etc.
Smoked products: Jerky (beef, buffalo, etc), smoked fish.
Many canned and prepared meats: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!
Milk: Especially low-fat and non-fat milk.
Yogurt and kefir: All types, including full-fat yogurt.
Processed cheeses: Stay away from pre-sliced, single-serving, pre-shredded, high-value corporate branding, etc.
Avoid corn, safflower, or canola and other vegetable oils during the test and after.
Fruit Juice: Any type — orange, berry, watermelon, etc.
All soda: diet and non-diet soda.
All diet drinks: Diet shakes, etc.
“Enhanced” Beverages: Vitamin water, mineral water with “health” additives.
Sweet wines: liqueur, Champagne, rum, etc.
If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there’s a good chance it’s a no food for the Two-Week Test. Be sure to read the ingredients for all packaged foods, as some form of sugar or carbohydrate is typically added. Better yet, simply avoid all packaged and processed foods for two weeks!
Click here for some meal ideas to use during the Two-Week Test.
Now that you know which foods to eat, you can start the Two-Week Test!
Once you are done with the Two-Week Test, click the button below to read about the Post-Test. The Post-Test will help you re-incorporate carbohydrate foods that are healthy for you without experiencing a return of the signs and symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance.
For many years I have recommended oatmeal as the ideal breakfast food. It is filling, does not cause a high rise in blood sugar and is an excellent source of soluble fiber. You can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your oatmeal by adding your choice of nuts, raisins or other dried fruits, fresh fruits such as blueberries, and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. The soluble fiber in oatmeal and in fruits helps to keep blood sugar from rising too high and to control cholesterol (Curr Atheroscler Rep, Dec 2016;18(12):75).
Although oatmeal ranks highest for soluble fiber content, other whole grains can be cooked into a porridge and eaten like oatmeal, with similar nutritional benefits: wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa and so forth. Experiment with cooking times to get the consistency you like and add your choice of fruits, nuts and spices.
How About Eggs?
Eggs are a good source of protein and other nutrients, but nobody really knows whether or not eating eggs is safe. We have studies showing that people who eat more than five eggs a week have increased risk for heart attacks, diabetes and breast and colon cancer, but the studies show only that eating eggs is associated with these conditions. We have no studies that show that eggs cause disease in humans. See my recent report on Eggs: New Review of Studies
The data show that the risks are nonexistent or very low at three or fewer eggs per week, but as people eat more eggs, their risk for cancers and heart attacks appears to increase also (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb 2016;103.2:474-80). I think that research on the chemical called TMAO justifies my recommendation to limit eggs to no more than a few a week. Note: All of the potential concerns about eggs come from the yolks; there is no known problem with egg whites or products made from them such as EggBeaters.
How to Cook Your Eggs
The most healthful cooking methods for eggs are water-based: poached, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, steamed or microwaved. If you choose to cook your eggs with butter or oil, do not heat the pan to the point where the oil smokes or the butter turns brown, which indicates that toxic products are forming. Once the raw eggs are added to the oil or butter, the temperature will go down to a safe level. See Which Vegetable Oils are Best?
Breakfast Foods to Avoid
I recommend avoiding the traditional breakfast meats: bacon, fried ham and sausages. These highly processed meats are frequently associated with increased rates of heart attacks and cancers, particularly colon cancer (The Lancet Oncology, October 26, 2015).
Current research shows that added sugars and refined grains may put you at higher risk for heart attacks and premature death than eating meat or eggs, which means that most of the “traditional” breakfast foods in the Western diet should be avoided or used only as occasional treats:
• pancakes, waffles or French toast covered with syrup
• most dry breakfast cereals that are made by grinding grains into flour, removing most of the fiber and often adding sugar
• bakery products made with refined grains, such as bagels, pastries, muffins and biscuits
• Breakfast is a good time for one or more servings of fruit. However, you should avoid all fruit juices because they cause the same high rises in blood sugar levels as sugared commercial soft drinks do and they are associated with increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks.
• Breakfast is also a good opportunity to eat various types of plant protein. Many studies show that plant protein is far less likely than animal protein to be associated with increased risk for heart attacks (JAMA Intern Med, 2016;176:1453-63). Try scrambled tofu or the many vegetarian versions of the traditional breakfast meats.
• If you don’t like oatmeal or want more variety, experiment with foods that are not typically associated with breakfast. There’s no rule that says you can’t eat healthful “lunch” or “dinner” foods at breakfast time. Diana eats black beans for breakfast almost every day.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Protein supplies the building blocks for all the tissues and functions in your body. These building blocks, amino acids, are used to make new cells and all the enzymes and other chemicals your body requires to function. Your body uses 22 different amino acids, and nine of those must come from the food you eat. These are called the essential amino acids. Your body can make the remaining amino acids it needs from the essential nine.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is about 50 to 70 grams per day. Most foods contain protein, and it is easy to meet your protein requirements with a typical varied diet. For example, you would meet your daily requirement for protein if you ate two of cups each of beans and whole grains such as barley, brown rice or oatmeal, three ounces of tuna, and two glasses of milk or a vegetarian milk substitute. If you are not sure whether you eat enough protein, keep track by checking the labels of the foods you eat for a few days. You will probably find that you are getting plenty of protein without any special effort.
Protein deficiency is virtually unheard of in North America, since any reasonably varied diet will give you enough. Before you decide to follow a high-protein diet or take protein supplements, understand that your body cannot store excess protein. Your stomach acids and enzymes in the stomach and intestines break down proteins into amino acids which pass from the intestine into the bloodstream. If your body needs to build protein, your liver combines amino acids to form body proteins. Any unused protein is burned for energy or stored as fat, and this process can stress the kidneys or liver and may pull calcium out of bones.
Most plants contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. Vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need from whole grains and beans. The beans may contain only seven of the essential nine, but the grains will have the other two. You do not need to do special combinations at each meal to get “complete protein”; just eat a variety of foods in your regular diet