Let's do some N=1 studies: Blood glucose


N=1 is shorthand for an experiment with a ‘test subject’ of one. In other words, it’s a personal experiment.

I would like to invite you soylent people to do the following experiment on yourself. It’s very simple: Measure your blood glucose, while eating soylent as only food.

Having normal blood glucose levels are thought to be one of the most crucial parts of being healthy. And I’m very curious how soylent affects blood glucose. To make this a little bit more scientific, it would be even better if you first measure your blood glucose levels 1 or 2 weeks while eating the way you normally do, and then measure your blood glucose 1 or 2 weeks (or more) while eating only soylent.

The only thing you need to participate in this experiment is a blood glucose meter (and soylent of course !). You can easily buy a blood glucose meter on the internet (amazon for example). They are quite cheap (10-25 dollar or something). I think you can even find them in your local pharmacy. There are also some fancy android/iphone glucose meters.

It would be great if everybody post their results in this thread, and then we can make some nice report of it and do some statistics.

The more often you measure your blood glucose, the better of course. The most interesting are the blood glucose levels just before a meal (fasting levels), one hour after a meal and 2 hours after a meal.


I’m currently doing this (haven’t received Soylent yet), and will continue through at least my first two weeks on Soylent.

I have been testing at regular intervals (waking, 12, 2:30, 7, before bed) with the thought that I’m unlikely to do “meal time” once I’m on Soylent and would be better able to compare results at the aforementioned intervals. What are your thoughts?

Also, can you link to any information on normal blood sugar levels in individuals without diabetes? I’m sure it’s out there, but I’ve read a lot on the subject but haven’t found much that’s not geared specifically for diabetics.


This will be a waste of time and money for anyone except diabetics (who should be already testing) and pre-diabetics, who can wait the three months to have their a1c tested.

That being said, I would recommend everyone getting a good blood panel done before they start soylent and three months into it.


Where do you base that on? Do you think that GI of foods is not important at all? Because that is what you are basically doing by testing this, testing how fast does soylent raises blood sugar.


I have type 2 diabetes. I do think the GI of food is important (kind of) for diabetics. For non-diabetics, much less so. In fact, I’d be surprised if any non-diabetics really pay much attention to it. As far as health is concerned, I don’t know that a high GL or a low GI would determine how healthy Soylent is.

If you really do want to find a GI for Soylent, a mass testing is not going to tell you much. Especially in the way you described. Everyone processes food differently at different times of the day and with different activity levels.

If a GI is what you are after, I suggest having a lab do the testing.


If you’ve read any of the recent research on blood sugar and its ability to give you a window into your body’s response to food, stress, and exercise, you know better than to think this is only for diabetics. You may not have the short-term urgent needs as a diabetic, but monitoring blood sugar is a fantastic way to stave off ever getting into that sort of situation.

That said, blood sugar monitoring is not particularly cheap or convenient. The monitor may only be $20, but the test strips for even one month will be a LOT more if you’re testing 5-7 times a day.

In my mind, it makes sense to get this information 1-2 weeks a year (do it right before your yearly check-up and your doctor will LOVE you), or anytime you are making big changes to your diet, stress levels, or activity levels. Outside of that, I feel like the returns diminish significantly and fail to outweigh the costs of ongoing testing.

All that is to say, while I wouldn’t tell a non-diabetic that they need to monitor blood sugar year round, I think it would be valuable information for anyone making the kind of seismic diet shift constituted by Soylent.


Which is why I ended my post with “I would recommend everyone getting a good blood panel done before they start soylent and three months into it.”


As a diabetic, surely you understand the difference between one blood sample vs monitoring your blood sugar over even a short period of time. Too many things can skew one snapshot, but even a few days worth of testing will give you some great insight.


Well the GI is a model to predict what food do with your bood sugar. In other words, GI is surely interesting, but in the end, you want to know what Soylent does with your bood sugar. Many people without diabetic have no perfectly stable blood sugars as well. Too low blood sugar is also common, there was a study some months ago that partners have the worst arguments when their blood sugar is low. Will blood sugar go low between meals, if you only eat soylent and don’t snack? And so there are much more interesting questions which doing this experiment with a lot of people could answer.

Btw, on Amazon I saw a deal for like 4 dollar 50 strips, doesn’t sound that expensive to me.


Do you know what reader it works with? For me, portability is a high priority, (entire setup including alcohol wipes, strips, lancet and reader need to fit in my pocket) and the one I am using requires the One Touch Ultra Blue Strips which are quite a bit more expensive. Again, I think it is well worth the costs to have this insight, but it IS a bit of an investment.




I do understand the difference. My point is that unless you have reason to believe you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, there really is no need to test. Your annual blood tests should be enough to alert you to a change in your body’s ability to process glucose. With the rare exception of late onset type 1 diabetics, the change is pretty gradual.

That being said, I do suggest everyone get tested before they start and three months after they start as it will be such a big change for most folks. Annual check ups after that.

@kasper It is true that low blood sugar can make people irritable. This is usually caused by not eating enough and/or going too long between meals. Most people are able to recognize and resolve this issue by naturally listening to their body which tells them to eat. Soylent will be no different, as shown by Rob, the beta testers, and many, many DIYers.


As someone who regularly checks their own blood sugar, I suspect you are dramatically overestimating the average person’s understanding of what their bodies are telling them. I’ve had two serious revelations after checking blood sugar for only four days. I’ve known the symptoms, but for these two issues I’ve not known the root cause, though I had a couple of hunches. Now I know for sure, and I can say it’s been well worth the investment even BEFORE my dramatic diet shift towards Soylent. Not bad for a rookie, I’d say.

I guess what I’m saying is, for people who have NEVER had any ongoing testing and who’s blood panels are basically good, good, good, on down the list, glucose monitoring for a couple of weeks could be a revelation. I understand where you’re coming from as someone who is used to seeing numbers on their body regularly , but for those of us who aren’t, there may be some forehead-slapping insights ready to come out if we’ll just give ourselves a chance.

EDIT: Typo


Can you expand on your revelations? I’ve thought about getting a blood glucose monitor but haven’t been sure about whether it’d be useful for me.

  1. [THIS ONE IS PROBABLY NOT VERY UNIVERSAL- SKIP TO #2 IF YOU WANT SOMETHING YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY IDENTIFY WITH] I HAVE GOT to start eating throughout the day. For a variety of reasons, I often eat only one or one and a half meals a day. Watching my blood sugar drop to dangerously low levels before over-eating around 5 or 6 corresponds with a serious drop in creativity (though I still feel energized).

  2. I do REALLY poorly when eating late. I’ve had many episodes waking up around 1 or 2 throwing up food I ate at 8:30 or 9. I’ve often thought that this had to do with over-eating because of putting off dinner too long. Unfortunately, it apparently goes a lot deeper than that. While my fasting glucose has been in the low 70s every morning, I ate at 9:15 last night and went to bed immediately after. I had some stomach pain around 4 this morning but no throwing up. This morning when I took my “fasting” test, it was 102. Under normal circumstances, this would be considered pre-diabetic. Obviously, this is a problem that has a cause that runs deeper than what I suspected and I’m now committed to making earlier eating a much higher priority.

I’m not sure how many people will identify with either of the above, but hopefully it gives you an idea of the HOLY S*** moment you can have when your suspicions stare you in the face in the form of hard data and call you a moron.


I’d love to regularly monitor my blood sugar, if for no other reason than I find it interesting. Unfortunately, I’ve got a problem with needles. I did get a full blood panel last year, when I thought Soylent was going to be shipping, but it wasn’t easy. If I ever get diabetes I’ll have to have a glucose monitor implanted like @rob did.


I would love to get a CGM. Unfortunately, without insurance paying for it (no “medical need”), I’d have to trade in a couple of hobbies to afford to go that route.


It wouldn’t be a total waste to measure blood glucose when fasting and after eating. Lots of people have diabetes or pre-diabetes and don’t know it. http://ndep.nih.gov/diabetes-facts/#howmany

To answer @CarltonLemley’s question, I’m not sure if testing at regular intervals is going to be useful; the interesting numbers, around glucose, have a lot more to do with time-since-eating than time-of-day.

For my part, I’m trying to decide whether or not I’m willing to punch holes in myself for science. :smile:


Thanks, that is helpful.


Maybe I’m really missing the point here. What science are you referring to? We will not be able to determine the GI of Soylent based on people testing their sugars. Everyone processes sugar differently, even if it’s the same type (as in Soylent). The body’s ability to process sugar is affected by stress, insulin resistance, time of day, activity level (both during that day and in general), and BMI. I’m sure there are other factors I am leaving out, but you get the idea.

Do you drink soda or pop? If so, that will affect your blood sugar more than Soylent. As will orange juice.

If anyone is concerned about being diabetic, please go see a doctor. In fact, I have suggested before that anyone who is about to start Soylent should talk to their doctor and have blood work done. This will establish a baseline and help you track the unseen changes to your body that Soylent will produce.