How I Discovered I Was Carbohydrate Intolerant

As a functional medicine physician, I’m used to helping my patients find the solutions to their health problems.  When they start gaining weight and feeling fatigued, for example, I become a kind of detective, searching for clues as to how their diet and lifestyle might be interfering with their bodies need to achieve optimal function.  

So, when I myself began putting on some extra pounds and struggling with late-afternoon exhaustion, I had to look at my own food choices.  A review of my own labs revealed that my blood sugar levels were in the pre-diabetic range.

This made no sense to me.  The usual reason for high blood sugar is a diet high in refined sugar, white flour, and other refined grains, such as white rice.  But I had long known how unhealthy such foods are, and I rarely ate them.  What was going on?

When I finally discovered the answer, I must admit, I was shocked.  The problem, I realized, was the so-called “healthy carbs”—whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, as well as starchy foods like sweet potatoes and beans, and high-glycemic fruits like watermelon, mango, and pineapple.  And indeed, these foods are healthy for many people.  But, not for me.  My system just couldn’t handle all the sugar.

As soon as I cut back on these sweet and starchy “health” foods, my own health improved dramatically. I quickly lost the extra weight I had gained and my usual blazing energy was soon restored.  A little more research soon revealed that my problem had a name: carbohydrate intolerance.

In fact, carbohydrate intolerance is such a common problem that I devoted an entire chapter to it in my recently released book, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat.  In the book, I explain that no matter what your age, you don’t have to feel old.  Nor do you have to gain weight. You need only eat the foods and practice the lifestyle that enables your body to achieve optimal function.  That way, you can be lean, energized, and symptom-free at any age.  And you can avoid the frustrating symptoms, loss of energy, and excess weight produced by carbohydrate intolerance.

Do You Suffer from Carbohydrate Intolerance?

Take the following quiz and find out:

  1. Are you overweight?
  2. Do you feel fatigued much of the time, especially after eating a carb-heavy meal?
  3. Do you lead a largely sedentary life?
  4. Do you have the sense that your appetite is out of control?
  5. Do you frequently crave sweet or starchy foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes, or beans?
  6. Do you feel light-headed and dizzy when you get hungry?
  7. Is your blood sugar in the upper ranges of “normal” or beyond?
  8. Are you struggling with one or more symptoms, such a brain fog, anxiety, depression, skin problems, joint paint, aching muscles, hormonal issues, or sleep problems?

If you answered “yes” to one or more questions, try fourteen days of cutting out of your diet all grains, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables (squash, sweet potatoes, yams), and fruit.  If you then experience a marked change in your symptoms, you might very well have discovered your own carbohydrate intolerance.  

Not everyone needs to be concerned with carbohydrate intolerance.  My wife, Janice, for example, is happily able to digest and metabolism complex carbs. Her diet is rich in whole grains, black beans, garbanzos, and fresh fruit—and if you are free of carbohydrate intolerance, you can enjoy the same foods.  If, however, you’re like me, you want to be careful and consume no more than two or three portions of complex carbs and two or three low-glycemic fruits (fresh berries, citrus fruits, apples) each week.

To learn more about carbohydrate intolerance, order my new book, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat.