Personalized Diet and Glucose Response

Hunt Record

To find out what works for your personal diet takes some effort. There is no “one size fits all.”

Did you ever try a diet and discovered that your friend lost weight on it but you didn’t lose weight? Did you ever wonder why some people can eat junk food and never gain an ounce but if you are within a mile of a donut the weight comes on?

For over 100 years the dietary advice was simple: calories in and calories out—move more and eat less. It turns out that our body isn’t as simple as a machine and that different people react differently to different foods.

Some people’s blood sugar response to a specific food is higher than others. If you have a high blood sugar response those foods tend to add weight.  For example, some when they eat whole-grain bread have high levels of blood sugar and others have much lower levels. There is no uniform response of all people to all foods. For some, sushi provides a higher blood glucose response than bread.

The glycemic index and glycemic load diets predicted this but were incorrect in making the tables. That is, those tables were based on the response of a few individuals, and now we know that not everyone responds the same.

What affect your response to food is not only genetics, but the bacteria in your guts, and the things that you have eaten with them, and the history of what you have eaten.


So how do you decide?

First, there is no company that has anything to offer. While genetic testing can offer some insight , it cannot tell you if the bacteria in your gut. The bacteria in your gut break down foods, and how they break down those foods also determine how they are taken up by your body and the response your body has. Personalized diet advice based on a laboratory test may be in the future, but there is no one that can offer it currently.

For example: feed someone whose family comes from Italy dairy products and they will more likely gain weight. Feed someone from Scandinavia a high dairy diet and they will lose or maintain weight. Feed an Alaska Native a high carbohydrate-low fat diet and they will likely gain weight. Feed an Alaska Native a high fat and high protein diet and they will do fine.

Here is the best plan:

Five servings of vegetables daily, and a serving is about ½ cup of uncooked vegetables.

Low in calories and high in nutrition

Low in calories and high in nutrition

Add some lean proteins in limited quantities from there and see how you do with those (fish typically works best).

Weigh weekly. Add things every week to your diet to see if you have made progress in terms of if you gain or lose.

The way the personalized diet did was to see how people’s blood glucose responded to what they ate. If their glucose went up rapidly then those foods were removed or altered.

Confused? No one bit of dietary advice fits all – but usually people can tell you what works with them and what doesn’t work.

This is why most diet centers do not work for all. Pre-packaged food may not contain the right ingredients, even in the proper portions. But a comprehensive program based upon what works for an individual – and guided by a willing participant will work.


Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Zeevi, David et al. Cell , Volume 163 , Issue 5 , 1079 – 1094

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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