Carbohydrate Intolerance: How I Developed the Two-Week Test

By April 30, 2015 December 9th, 2016 Lifestyle & Stress, Nutrition

Many thousands of people are familiar with and have used the Two-Week Test to improve their health and fitness, including lose body fat and weight. I developed the Two-Week Test in the mid-1980s. After spending almost seven years trying to wean carbohydrate-intolerant patients off white flour and sugar, it was exhausting work—almost like dealing with drug addicts. My goal was to lower carbohydrate intake to find the level that would eliminate signs and symptoms of excess insulin. The process went too slowly.

One evening I was reading the Merck Manual, the most popular medical reference book used by health-care professionals to look up basic facts about assessment and treatment procedures. There was a single sentence, almost an aside, about elevations of insulin and how reducing carbohydrates might be necessary in some patients with hyperinsulinemia.

Then I recalled a 1971 study from the New England Journal of Medicine. It was tucked away with copies of other studies in a folder called “Blood Sugar and Insulin” in my filing cabinet. As I paged through the study called “Effect of Diet Composition on the Hyperinsulinemia of Obesity” the proverbial pieces to the puzzle starting falling into place. Then I recalled another study. I searched the file hoping to find it. There it was, from Columbia University’s Department of Medicine and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 1976 (“Composition of Weight Lost during Short-term Weight Reduction”)—it showed that 10 days of restricted carbohydrate foods resulted in not only the loss of weight, but significant reduction of body fat.

This information was not really new to me, it was the reason I was weaning patients’ off insulin-provoking foods. But for some reason, the short excerpt, and the other two studies brought everything into clearer focus. I asked myself, “If weaning patients off their unhealthy carbohydrate addiction was so difficult, why not go ‘cold turkey’ so they could experience the immediate benefits? They would actually feel better quickly because insulin levels would drop right away, and within the first few days they would begin to experience life without harmful levels of this hormone rather than by slowly reducing those foods, which could take weeks or months to attain the same effect.

At first, this new test period I devised lasted 10 days—the same period of time used in one of the studies I had reviewed. But the first few patients I used this new approach on needed more time off carbohydrates to fully appreciate the positive effects, especially with regards to burning body fats. I added four more days to the trial or testing period. Two weeks worked much better.

To be sure patients understood this was not a diet, I referred to it as a test. It eventually became known in my office as the Two-Week Test.

The Two-Week Test was unique. Not just because it helped me better understand the patient’s sensitivity to carbohydrate foods. But more importantly, rather than conducting a blood or urine test that provided numbers that most patients could not easily understand or translate to real-life changes, this new approach required individuals to take an active role the process of self-evaluation. During the testing period, he or she would actually feel what it was like to have normal insulin levels, optimal blood sugar and, in many cases, be finally free of signs and symptoms associated with CI—all within a short time frame. This was a far superior method of educating the patient.

For those individuals who were not carbohydrate intolerant and didn’t feel any different during the test, it ruled out CI as a common health problem. however, this did not mean they could consume white sugar and other refined carbohydrates such as white flour—ingredients that were becoming the bulk of many diets. But patients who were overweight, had blood-sugar problems, and simply could not escape the damage of eating refined carbohydrates, they now knew what it would take to quickly change their health.

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