Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Panera Bread sourdough experiment or Houston, we have lift off!

I spent a good deal of yesterday morning reading about sourdough bread and it's virtues of being relatively low on the Glycemic Index and therefore easier on blood sugar than many other breads. Over the last 12 years, I've experimented with so many breads and things inaccurately called bread and other than one made by Julian Bakery, the results have been pretty depressing.

As any experienced diabetic knows, there's not one thing that works for all. What works for you might not work for me and what works for me might not work for you. Panera's website says two ounces of the sourdough loaf contain 28 grams of carbs. For me, that's a bolus of nine units of insulin. Meh, that's a lot of insulin but sometimes a girl needs a treat, you know? And since my body doesn't adhere to the 'a carb is a carb is a carb' grind, 28 grams of carbs from sourdough might affect me differently than 28 grams of carbs from mashed potatoes. It's all one big experiment but I'm ready, willing, and able to jump in with both feet to learn what works for me.

In light of all that, I stopped at Panera Bread last night on the way home from work to get a loaf of their sourdough. The small (and it isn't small at all) loaf of sourdough was $2.99. A little pricey but if it's real bread I can enjoy, I'm so game! They have an amazing slicer there so the employee sliced it on the thinnest setting, I gleefully paid her the money, and headed home, my precious paper bag of sourdough in hand.

At one point last night my BG was a bit low at 63 and I was hungry so I gently removed a slice of the bread from it's plastic bag, admired the softness, smell and texture and felt my heart skip a beat. I placed two slices of good quality American cheese on it. None of that processed cheese food for me, oh no! I started the toaster oven and lovingly slid the bread and cheese in. I was so anxious to eat it I didn't let it get very toasted. Instead, I got it out before it was ready and happily dug in, enjoying every bite.

I didn't bolus insulin for the treat because I was running low and had bolused a bit over ten units for dinner less than four hours earlier so I knew I still had a smidgeon of IOB (insulin on board, what remains of a previous bolus). I wanted to see what it would do without an additional bolus. I knew it might send the BG sky high but sometimes we have to play with these things to get a good picture of what's really going on.

An hour after eating the bread and cheese, my BG was 67! I was tired and ready for bed so I set the alarm for an hour in the future. And woke up this morning at about 5 AM. What? I didn't hear the alarm? Apparently not and that's rare for me. I jumped up to check the BG, knowing that it might be way too high. (Theoretically, food is out of the system after several hours but that isn't the case with me most of the time. I find that what I eat before bed definitely affects my fasting blood sugar) It was 76! Really? Yes! I checked it two more times and each time it was within a few points of that number so I know it was somewhere in that range. Very interesting so I decided to try it again.

I toasted another slice of the bread with one slice of the cheese and let it get good and toasty. I did bolus nine units for the food and coffee knowing I had no IOB other than my basal insulin. I had it with a cup of java. Normally, I bolus at least five units just for the coffee but gut instinct and my recent coffee experiments told me 14 units of insulin would be too much. By the way, Panera Bread's sourdough loaf is some of the best sourdough I've had. It isn't super light but it isn't heavy, either. For me it's just right. An hour and twenty minutes after eating, my BG was 101! Really? That's all? It's a slight increase, yes, but it's still very much in the safe zone. At the two hour mark, the BG was 83!! Can you believe this? I'm shocked and thrilled! And a little concerned. I've been running low or on the very low side of normal a lot lately and am not sure why. It isn't a bad thing but it's something i need to understand so I can manage it properly and avoid hypos.

At the three hour mark, I got quite a shock. The blood sugar registered at 56. I checked it three times. My bolus calculator said I needed to consume 12 grams of fast acting carbs and since I suck at figuring out how much of a bottle of glucose drink containing 16 grams of carbs is 12 grams of carbs, I drank it all and 15 minutes later the BG was 134. A tad higher than I like but certainly not horrendous. Rather than a ratio of 1:3, perhaps this bread requires 1:4 or even 1:6. I'll have to play with it some more to fine tune it. Also, I didn't weigh the slice of bread so it might have been less than 2 ounces which would certainly explain the lower readings. I have a food scale and will weigh the slice next time I try it.

The success of these two experiments doesn't mean I can eat sourdough and cheese every night and every morning but I think it does mean I can enjoy that as a treat now and then. And maybe once in awhile a real sandwich with real bread. Oh wow, the thought makes me all soft and noodly!

More experiments to come as long as this doesn't interfere with weight loss in the long run. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

I like Panera's sourdough bread a lot (and it appears their Asiago cheese bread is also made with sourdough). I've just directly asked them to verify that it is indeed true sourdough (long proofing time, only starter and no extra yeast used in the final step of the process). I sure hope it's true (and I'll let you know what I hear). And your test results sure seem to point in that direction! Thanks for posting this.

Denise said...

Please do let me know what they say!

Denise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Gillman said...

Anonymous reporting back: this is what I sent to them: "Greetings. I've become a big fan of your bread, but I have to ask for clarification: is your sourdough bread truly a sourdough (long proofing time, using a starter and no yeast in the final step)? As a diabetic it's important that I choose low-glycemic foods, and sourdough bread is proven to be a great thing in that regard, but only if it's truly sourdough bread (and not regular bread with souring agents, etc., or half-sourdough). I know your website says it's made from starter, but I need to be sure before I incorporate it into my diet and recommend it to the diabetics I know. Also, if it is true sourdough, what other bakery products are made with the sourdough starter? It appears that the Asiago cheese bread is, is that true? Anything else? Thank you."

They replied: "Our sourdough is made using a traditional “mother sour”, we feed this “Mom” flour and water on a daily basis and after the MOM has fermented (following the feeding of flour and water) about 6 hours, it is mixed into a final dough to make our sourdough. Not all of the flour and water in this final dough has been pre-fermented. However, this final dough is made into loaves which are then held 36 plus hours prior to baking. The loaves when baked have a low ph typical of the traditional San Francisco style sourdough.
If you have further questions, please let me know."

So I'm not sure exactly what that means, if it's 100% sourdough, but it sounds good?

Jeff Gillman said...

Also, I recently found that a store near me sells this bread: and everything they do is sourdough (although they too mention "prefermenting").