Keto Product & Lifestyle Testing w/CGM

In this article you’ll get a first hand look at specific keto products (and their ingredients) and how they impact blood sugar, why monitoring blood sugar is important, and how some activities change blood glucose.

What’s a CGM?

A device I wish everyone could have access to.

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is made for diabetics (both type 1 and type 2) – it’s a life changing/saving device. Those that need to monitor glucose levels are able to see (in real time) how foods and activities impact blood sugar.

I’m not a diabetic, I’ve been wearing a CGM for over two years (on and off) to ensure that foods we produce at Explorado Market won’t raise blood sugar (are safe for diabetics and those on a Ketogenic diet). I also wear it to learn about me. The data I get from wearing a CGM is priceless.

Foods that Impact Blood Sugar

In this post, I’ll be showing results of how foods and activities impact my blood sugar. This post is not to be used as personal medical advice. These are my results and my opinions alone. I am not a doctor and this information is not to be used as medical advice.

In this post, I’ll include my opinions on why blood sugar levels changed (which ingredients were likely to blame and why).

Note: Everyone is different. Something that impacts me a certain way may impact you differently. However, ingredients that add sweetness to packaged goods almost always have the same reactions across demographics (generally). If you’re insulin resistant (more later) carbs and certain activities and lifestyle may have a much more dramatic impact for you.

What happens when you consume carbs?

Let’s see a baseline for items that are NOT considered Keto first. This will help you visualize what happens when you eat sugar/carbs. In this example, I consumed a dinner with added sugars in the sauce, quite a bit of protein, and limited fats. After dinner, we ate regular ole’ cookies from a local cookie shop. This blood sugar spike and drop pattern happened all night long and then regulated by morning.

Dinner and Sugar Cookies

Carbohydrates are converted to sugar/glucose. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, insulin is utilized to transport glucose to cells within your body (for use).

Overconsumption of carbs (similar to the CGM data here) over an extended period of time is one major cause of Insulin Resistance.

Gauging Glucose Levels

General recommendations on fasting glucose:
Healthy Fasting: 70-100
Risk of Diabetes: 100-125
Diabets: 126+

Insulin Resistance

The hormone insulin helps control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. When a person has insulin resistance, their body’s cells don’t respond normally to insulin. When this happens, Glucose can’t enter the cells easily, it builds up in the blood (more glucose in the blood). This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and much more.

Keto Products as a Partial Solution

The reason we created Explorado Market: to provide treats for those trying to reduce sugar and be an aid in the reversal of pre diabetes, type 2 diabetes, managing a low-carb/Ketogenic diet, and to help manage type 1 diabetes. Our goal is to provide treats/products that allow those needing and wanting to reduce sugar consumption an option and outlet for treats without the fear of high blood sugar and instability. Great taste, texture, and no rise in blood sugar is our ultimate goal.

The following images are from my personal CGM results testing our products, products we sell online and in our store from other brands, and products that claim to be “Keto” or “Sugar Free”.

CGM Product Testing

At the time of this testing: I’m a healthy, 40 year old male (6ft 185lbs) – I generally eat low carb (and mostly “paleo”) however, I do not count macros or calories. I generally intermittent fast 5 days a week.

Let’s get in to the results!

Electrolytes & Caramel CGM Test

Salty Lemon Twist Electrolytes – No impact on blood sugar, electrolytes are an essential part of any low carb or ketogenic diet.

Caramel Sauce – Sweetened with Allulose and no impact on blood sugar.

Reb M Stevia

(in the electrolytes) – Highest quality stevia with no aftertaste (unlike some other variations of lesser quality stevia options). Stevia does not impact blood sugar.

Allulose

(in the caramel) – Allulose is sourced from the fructose in corn. The corn is broken down into starch and fructose, the fructose is then converted to allulose via an enzymatic conversion process. The enzymes – which serve as processing aids – are not in the final product. There are no residual corn proteins in the final product either. Allulose has been proven time and time again to NOT RAISE BLOOD SUGAR.

Dairy

(in the caramel) – Dairy can be tricky as some dairy products have sugar. In this particular case, the dairy used doesn’t contain sugars enough to show a glucose spike. However, beware of hidden sugars in products like milk and yogurt.

Bang Electrolytes and Champion Bars CGM Test

Bang Energy‘s main sweet ingredient is Sucralose. I’ve written about Sucralose here. Sucralose does NOT impact blood sugar.

Blueberry Crunch Champion Bar by Explorado Market does NOT impact blood sugar. The sweetener is Allulose (info above).

Sucralose

(Bang Energy) – For more information on Sucralose, read the article Is Sucralose Safe? The short answer is: yes, it’s safe and will not raise blood sugar. However, it’s not safe in baking (high heat) applications.

Donut and ChozZero CGM

Pumpkin Donut from Explorado Market – no impact to blood sugar (main sweetener is Erythritol & Monk Fruit).

ChocZero – so tasty (I really like the flavor) and I’ve tested it extensively over the last 2 years – However… I always get a spike (not terrible). I would not classify this product as Keto.

ChocZero CGM Fail

Here’s my CGM with ChocZero results from 16 months ago. Same results (different scenario). While it’s not a dramatic spike, it’s enough to advise those on a Keto diet and those searching for diabetic friendly chocolate to avoid.

Erythritol

(Explorado Market Donut) – Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that does NOT raise blood sugar. About 90% of this sugar alcohol is excreted, unchanged in the urine. Erythritol is produced with enzymatic hydrolysis of the starch from corn to generate glucose. Glucose is then fermented with yeast or another fungus to produce erythritol.

Soluble Corn Fiber

(Non GMO resistant dextrin) ChocZero – In theory: resistant dextrin will not spike blood sugar. However, in my tests, with ChocZero, it does, UNLESS the product contains maltodextrin and just isn’t labeled correctly. Or contains another ingredient not listed. SCF is made by heating it and adding acid to high-fructose corn syrup. It’s rendered down and “sugars” are removed.

Cheesecake Ice Cream CGM

Explorado Market Cheesecakes – for this I had a lot (all different flavors) – with no impact to blood sugar. The sweeteners used vary and include Erythritol and Allulose (both listed and described above).

Rebel Ice Cream – no glucose rise, main sweetener is Erythritol. One questionable ingredient is Chicory Root Fiber (though this is limited in this product).

Chicory Root Fiber

(in Rebel ice cream) /Inulin- I haven’t been able to test at quantities that would prove to provide definitive information at this point. However, chicory root fiber is believed to be safe for diabetics and those on a Keto diet. It’s considered to be a sweetener that also helps to add “texture” to products. Chicory root comes from a plant with bright blue flowers that belongs to the dandelion family. I have no reason to believe this ingredient should be avoided on a Ketogenic diet.

Workout – slight rise in blood sugar (details below).

Sauna is known to raise blood sugar (details below).

SmartSweets – We removed all products from our store due to glucose spikes – they changed their recipe – lots to unpack here (see below)

Chipotle Bowl (Double chicken, queso, medium salsa, sour cream, cheese) – no impact.

Blood Sugar & Working Out on Keto

If your glycogen stores are already depleted (in Ketosis), your body (when in need) will provide additional energy in the form of more Ketones and additional Glucose. This is especially true for me if I do a heavy workout or a HIIT workout. If I’m fasted/in Keto my body will provide me with additional glucose for output needs.

If you’re not fat adapted (eat excess carbs) you will likely see a decrease in blood sugar as you deplete glycogen stores. In this example, I was fasted and did a moderate workout. My glucose increased slightly to help with energy demand.

Why does the sauna raise blood sugar?

Hormones that oppose the action of insulin, such as growth hormone and glucagon, which have a hyperglycemic effect are partly to blame for raising blood sugar during a sauna session. It’s also reasonable to assume that excessive sweat (dehydration) may decrease blood volume which in turn increases blood glucose levels.

In this particular example, I finished fasting for 18 hours – I ate a large steak/butter and got right in to the sauna (after my workout too). Digestion (even though it was protein and fat) may have an added impact on blood sugar when sauna is involved.

Smart Sweets’ Ingredients

I thought for a moment, Smart Sweets’ new recipe was going to be blood sugar friendly… I was wrong. First pic: old recipe, spike. Second pic, new recipe, no spike. Third pic, spike (with new recipe).

Why did the second pic (new recipe) not raise blood sugar? Prior to eating the Smart Sweets, I lifted weights, ate a steak, spent time in the sauna. This combination played a significant role in reducing my glycemic response. I will be doing more research on this.

SmatSweets Old Recipe CGM
Smart Sweets CGM Data

The first test here is my response to Smart Sweets after an energy drink, and a Keto drink (high fat). Blood sugar spike. No good.

Let’s look at the sweet ingredients in the new recipe:

Allulose

(information listed above) – great alternative sweetener – does not raise blood sugar. Safe.

Isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO)

IMOs are typically derived from a sugar called maltose. Maltose is a malt sugar made from modified glucose. IMO’s are slow digesting carbohydrates. I would not classify this ingredient as a true fiber. I believe IMOs may under circumstances raise blood sugar.

Soluble Corn Fiber

See information listed above. The verdict is still out for me on this ingredient. It may have more of an impact due to quantity. We will never use this ingredient in any of our products (too many unknowns).

Tapioca Dextrin

I’d like to test this ingredient further. A hydrolyzed starch made from tapioca, tapioca dextrin is said to have a low glycemic impact, is derived from tapioca starch, and may be used in low-carb products. Verdict is still out on this.

Low overnight glucose on a Ketogenic Diet

It’s okay, no need to worry.

Here’s what my blood sugar typically looks like overnight. If I wasn’t fat adapted we’d see bigger peaks and valleys. Having blood sugar this low for some may prove dangerous. However, when you’re in ketosis, your body is creating ketones (for energy use) and having lower glucose levels is just fine.

Zevia Energy – as discussed previously, Stevia will not raise blood sugar. This product doesn’t use Reb M stevia (so there is a stevia taste). In fact, when I first had this product I didn’t like it… now I love it.

This CGM test is over a year old – I’ve tested Zevia on multiple occasions with no impact to blood sugar. Same meal at Chipotle too (mentioned above). That stable blood sugar line is common on a long-term low carb diet.

Costco Keto Bread

“Keto bread” found at Costco – not keto, raised blood sugar: AVOID. I tested this product 3 months ago. The very first ingredient is Tapioca Starch. This is most likely the main culprit for the rise.

Tapioca Starch (not Keto Friendly)

Different then Tapioca fiber, starch is not keto friendly. Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root through a process of washing and pulping. The wet pulp is then squeezed to extract a starchy liquid. Once all the water evaporates from the starchy liquid, the tapioca flour remains. While I love cassava, it’s VERY high carb.

In circumstances like this, I wonder if the manufacturer (not a keto-centric company) just got things mixed up (Fiber v. Starch) dunno.

Space Shake Breakfast Panda CGM

Space Shake – high fat and no significant impact to blood sugar (sweetener: Stevia).

Keto and CO – hot breakfast – slight rise in blood sugar, sweetener: Erythritol (not responsible) soluble corn fiber (possible), inulin (possible), dried apple (probably too small of an amount to impact).

Panda Express – big spike

Panda Express Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies

In theory, this would be the best option for Keto at Panda Express but as you can see, it doesn’t pass the test. I wanted to highlight a “fast food” option – never a good idea. Sugar in sauce (even a small amount) – has a large impact. Most fast food includes added sugars. Living optimally: don’t eat fast food. Also, Panda Express uses soybean oil…

Is soybean oil bad?

New research shows soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression. Source

  • Inflammatory
  • Half linoleic acid – terrible at room temp and worse when heated.
  • A problem for managing Omega 6 and 3

Beware of “sugar-free” options & store bought beef jerky.

Wasabi Blue Diamond – Almonds are fine… the question is, what are they coated with? (more below)

Jack Links – Don’t trust beef jerky… this one had sugar added, slight raise. Moderately balanced with the protein.

Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate – Moderate rise – avoid (more below).

Blue Diamond Almonds

There is a small amount of sugar and maltodextrin. More on maltodextrin below. Products like this (mass production) tend to use the lowest cost oils (which are terrible) – soy and canola oils should be avoided (more on that below).

Is Maltodextrin bad?

YES. Maltodextrin is believed to be a terrible alternative ingredient to add sweetness. It’s cheaper than the alternatives but is believed to cause blood sugar spikes and contribute to insulin resistance. Read this rat study. Maltodextrin is NOT Keto friendly nor is it a good alternative ingredient to promote insulin sensitivity.

Why is canola oil bad?

Yes. The reason people think it’s a good alternative goes back to the war against saturated fats. To be clear, canola is low in saturated fat. To be clear, saturated fat is GOOD.

YES – Margarin is REALLY BAD. YES – anything cooked in canola oil is BAD.

Fatty Acid Composition:

  • Saturated fat: 7%
  • Monounsaturated fat: 64%
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 28%

Here are a few reasons why you should avoid Canola oil:

  • High Glyphosate levels (weed killer)
  • Full of chemical solvents
  • High in trans fats (heart disease, obesity, memory loss)
  • Heart Disease (Studies have identified that the trans-fatty acids created in the hydrogenation process cause inflammation and the calcification of arterial cells) study
  • Inflammation (linoleic acid – pro-inflammatory and thrombogenic properties)

Why should I avoid products with soy?

Soy contains isoflavones (mimic estrogen) and goitrogens (inhibit the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine correctly). Soy also contains a variety of nutrient blockers which make it difficult for your body to absorb various nutrients.

Jerky typically has sugar unless the label specifically states sugar free. Not a significant rise but with the wrong combination, you’ll feel it. Avoid.

Hershey’s Sugar-Free Chocolate

How can some keto chocolate be so expensive and Hershey’s be so cheap? Two reasons: mass production vs. small batch. And the bigger culprit, ingredients. Ingredient #1 in Hershey’s chocolate is Maltitol. And it doesn’t get any better after that… here’s what the ingredients are: Maltitol, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate*, Polydextrose, Cream Milk*, Polyglycitol, Milk Fat, Contains 2% or Less of: Calcium Carbonate, Cocoa Processed with Alkali*, Maltodextrin, Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Lecithin (Soy), Natural Flavor and Artificial Flavor, PGPR, Emulsifier.

What’s the problem with Maltitol?

If you like consuming sugar alcohols with a glucose spike, Maltitol is just right for you. On the glycemic index, Maltitol scores a 35 (which is high – learn more about glycemic index for sweeteners in this post). Maltitol is not a Keto friendly ingredient.

Eating an entire pint of Killer Creamery ice cream

Okay, so this is a little bit much BUT… No glucose spike. Do I recommend eating a pint of ice cream? No. Did it raise my blood sugar, nope. Was it good. Oh yeah.

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6 comments
  1. Thank you so much for this article! I started wearing a CGM about 3 months ago for newly diagnosed T2 diabetes. I’m a little obsessed with it and find myself checking my sugars constantly. It’s fascinating to see how my body responds to what I’m eating and I never would have had this much information doing finger stick glucose tests. Thank you for highlighting some of the products you’ve been trying and explaining what in them works and doesn’t. I’ve been ordering so many products that claim to not raise sugars but have found my sugars spike after a lot of them. It gets very expensive to order something and then find out you can’t eat it. I just found Explorado Market and look forward to trying your products! Regardless, you are my new favorite website for this article alone!

    1. That is so very kind of you. I really wish everyone could feel the way you do and learn what you’re learning. It’s powerful. All the best while you reverse your diagnosis. It can be done!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to test and Explain everything so thoroughly. I really enjoy your products! I love how passionate you all are as well about them, which makes me Love more cause I know they are great products! I will continue to shop here!!
    God Bless!

    p.s. thank you testing Cosco “Keto” bread. I didnt do the research on Tapioca starch but wondered about it:( I won’t buy this bread again.

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