Saturday, February 02, 2013

a carb is a carb. or is it??

Pasta.  Who doesn't love pasta.  If I ask my son in law what he would like
me to make him for dinner, he'll say "lasagna".   Ask my oldest daughter and her answer will be "chicken parmesan with penne".  Aubrey, my 3 year old granddaughter "loves spaghetti". 

I love pasta.  I enjoy a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with a lovely sauce. I also love lasagna with a nice ceasar salad.  However, pasta does not always love me.  My blood sugars sometimes tend to soar a couple hours after eating pasta.  I don't usually have any bread, be it garlic bread or rolls, with my meals.  Not a big bread eater.  So the only thing causing this rise is the pasta.

I've noticed advertising on some of the blogs I read  for a "low carb pasta".
A while ago I tried to see if I could find a store that sold it in Canada.  At that time, I wasn't able to find it anywhere in Canada.  

Well for some reason, this "low carb dilema" came back to me the other day.  I was actually looking for a sugar-free pop that we sell at work, called Zevia.  We only sell it in single cans so I was looking for a place that sold it by the case.  I came across an online store here in Ontario   You can purchase online and they will deliver or you can go into their store.  The store is a little less than 2hrs from my home.  My husband, the truck driver, goes to Markham a couple times a week so I was contemplating having him drop in and pick up some for me.  It is made with Stevia, is all natural and comes in lots of flavours.  

While perusing their product list, I came across the very pasta that I had previously looked for!  Dreamfields Pasta.  Claiming to have only "5grams of net carbs".  Hmmmm.  Net carbs.  What exactly are net carbs?? I looked at the nutrition label on the package.  I must say I was a little confused.  If you look to the right of the Nutrition Facts there is something called "Carbohydrate facts".  When looking between the two, I see the Total Carbs and the Fiber, but I don't see anything called "Protected Carbs".  What exactly are they and where do I find them on the label.  

Turns out that "protected carbs" are, according to Dreamfields,
"Carbohydrates that normally would be digested but are not digested due to a physical limitation. The added fiber and protein blend in Dreamfields creates a protective barrier to reduce the starch digestion in the small intestine. When the unabsorbed or protected starch reaches the colon and is fermented it provides many of the same benefits as fiber."

According to the Carbohydrate Facts on their boxes of pasta, they have found 31grams of these "protected carbs".  This is done, apparently through their "patented formula and unique manufacturing process"  which  "protects all but 5 grams of carbohydrates from being digested."

So, if my glucose usually goes up after eating regular pasta and bolusing according to the number of carbs per serving (which by the way is approx 63gr per serving),  did that mean that I would only bolus for 5gr of carbs per serving?  Didn't seem possible.  More research.  

I googled "bolusing for Dreamfield pasta" and found numerous results.  One from a forum topic at TuDiabetes.  Another here  from a pump forum.  Most people had various results.  Some bolused for the full amount of carbs on the box, and some for just the 5gr of carbs.  Some went high and some went low.  Some mentioned that they stayed "in range" for the first couple hours and then spiked at hour 4-5.  

I even found a blog where there was some "scientific" research done showing that Dreamfields pasta and regular pasta did not differ much when it came to blood sugar spikes.    There is even a 3 part interview with the President of Dreamfields questioning some of the Diabetic aspect of their pasta.  None of the tests they did included Diabetics or pre-Diabetics.   Hmmm.  Isn't that who this product is marketed for? 

I may have to send my hubby to this Low Carb Grocery after all.  I'll get him to grab me some all natural 0 calorie 0 carb pop, and some Dreamfields Pasta.  I'll give it a try myself.  I'll bolus using the full carb reading on the box.  Take some BG readings and then a week later, I'll do it again only bolusing for the 5gr of "net carbs" and see what happens.  I'll keep you posted.  

Have any of you tried this brand of pasta?  Do you use it regularly?  How do you bolus for it?   I'm interested in any feedback, good or bad.  


  1. /This whole thing about "subtracting" carbs is an evil marketing game, in my opinion. After reading this blog post (and your links), I'm convinced that I don't need to waste my money on this more expensive pasta and can stick with the cheaper 99-cents-a-box variety.

    One interesting thing to note, from the blog post you linked to, is that this "experiment" was NOT done in people with diabetes, which somewhat explains why the blood sugars were the same in both groups -- the body (in particular, the younger ones) did its thing and that is the result. Substitute a bowl of rice or a decadent fudge cake and you'll probably see the same thing.

    The other thing that gets hidden in an experiment with non-PWDs is the effect of small amounts of carbs being absorbed over an extended period of time. I think this is what happens with all "subtracted" carbs; their effect is stretched out over such a long period that the normal insulin-producing body, or even insulin-resistant body, has no trouble keeping up, and it is therefore negligible. Adding protein or fat to a meal, whether cooked in the high-carb food or on the side, has the same effect.

    Now look at the response to the TuDiabetes thread, and indeed these carbs are being absorbed into the body - slowly, even hours later. Blood sugars rise, and stubbornly stay elevated. As I would expect.

    If you were to bolus for this, I'd suspect some sort of extended/combo bolus, stretched over many hours, is the way to go (and good luck figuring that out!). Personally, I find it too frustrating to have my lunchtime carbs still working when I'm eating dinner, or having my dinnertime carb ratio still working hours later when I'm sleeping (my midnight carbs need more insulin than my 6pm carbs), so I'd just as soon avoid any so-called "net/digestible" carb products.

    Of course, this is just from my own mind and my own experience, and I have little evidence to back it up; so don't treat it as gospel. But I'm looking forward to seeing how your own experiment works.

  2. Maybe do it the other way? First only bolus for the carbs they say you should bolus for and if you go too high, do it the other way the next time. If you bolus for the full amount and go low, you're going to be eating a lot of food to bring you back up... on top of all the pasta you ate first! I'm not sure if I miss pasta or the sauce/cheese that goes with it more...

  3. I haven't had great luck with this, but I've heard there is a very specific way to cook it. Like mostly al dente or something like that. If you cook it too long it releases the carbs or something... ??

    Regular pasta for me is tricky because it digests so slow. I have to be very conservative with my bolus up front, then watch for a spike a couple hours out and hit it with some more insulin.