Snack Bars Keep Blood Sugars Up All Night Long

| Aug 1, 1996

For ages, people with diabetes have made sure to eat something before bed to keep their blood sugars up during the night. The trick has been to eat just enough to sustain blood sugar while not overeating. A nutritionist may recommend a half sandwich before bed, but the patient might fix himself a sixteen-layer sandwich like Dagwood Bumstead does in the comic strip. Overeating can lead to high blood sugars during the night and weight gain over an extended period.

In an effort to solve this problem, two companies have released special bedtime snack bars. These can provide long-lasting glucose control within a low-calorie, controlled package. The snack bars, called NiteBite and Z-Bar, use uncooked cornstarch for delayed carbohydrate absorption, providing an early morning reinforcement of glucose.

Francine Kaufman, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Childhood Diabeteic Center at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, presented an abstract at the 1996 ADA Conference in San Francisco, showing the positive results of a study she conducted with uncooked cornstarch. She divided a group of 79 volunteers into two groups. Before bed, one group ate a snack bar containing uncooked cornstarch, while a control group ate a similar snack bar without cornstarch. Kaufman recorded the blood sugar levels of both groups at regular time intervals and compared them. The mean blood sugars of the control group were much lower after five hours than the blood sugars of those who had eaten the uncooked cornstarch snack. Hypoglycemic episodes were also reduced, with only three percent of the volunteers who ate the cornstarch bar experiencing hypoglycemia compared to the 15 percent of volunteers who ate a control bar.

Kaufman used her research to design Z-Bar, which she now distributes through Baker-Norton Pharmaceuticals. NiteBite is distributed through Medical Foods, Inc. Both bars are similar in their composition of ingredients. Both have an average of three grams of fat. NiteBite has 100 calories and three grams of protein compared to Z-Bar's 110 calories and five grams of protein. The most significant difference between the two bars is the use of sugar as an ingredient. Z-Bar uses approximately eight grams of sorbitol, while NiteBite contains 10 grams of sucrose. Sorbitol has been known to cause gastric reactions such as flatulence and diarrhea, according to DIABETES HEALTH board member Beth Beller, RD, CDE.

"People with diabetes have been trying to figure out what to eat before bed forever. It's one of the great controversies of our time. From the studies I've done, I don't think simple sugars such as sucrose should be included in a snackbar," said Kaufman. She asserts that she used a prototype of the Z-Bar in her study, and that she has no affiliation with NiteBite.

Stacie Bell, a Doctor of Science in Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, endorses the NiteBite snack bar, and looks at the addition of sugar as a bonus. "From the research out there, we've seen that uncooked cornstarch works as an extended carbohydrate. We've taken that knowledge and gone one step further. With a small amount of simple carbohydrates, a person has a supply of sugar to balance the insulin at every phase. The sugar provides an initial glucose burst, then the protein kicks in, followed by the delayed absorption of cornstarch. The person is covered throughout the night," said Bell.

DIABETES HEALTH Board Member Phyllis Furst, RN, MA, ANP, CDE, is not impressed with either bar. Given the choice, she would recommend a natural snack. "I'd recommend a half sandwich, a glass of milk and a couple graham cracker squares," said Furst.

But portion control remains a problem. One of the most popular midnight snacks is ice cream. The high fat content in ice cream delays digestion while providing glucose in the early morning hours. The only problem with such a strategy is that a half scoop of ice cream before bed can quickly become a scoop or even two scoops.

"Who eats a half cup of ice cream?" Bell asks. "Given the opportunity to eat, people will overindulge. Their nutritionist will tell them to eat a peanut butter sandwich before bed, and the person will use half the jar on one sandwich. With a snack bar, you know exactly how much you're getting every time."

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diets, Food, Insulin, Low Blood Sugar


Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only
  • What's on the Horizon with Diabetes Research and Therapy
See the entire table of contents here!

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Latest
Popular
Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (1)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Comments

Posted by Anonymous on 19 March 2008

I JUST WANT YO LET YOU ALL KNOW I'M A TYPE 2 DIABETIC, I HAVE BEEN ON EXTENDABAR NOW FOR TWO MONTHS ITS'S GREAT REALLY WORKS.I'M NOT AS TIRED OR HUNGRY LIKE BEFORE. I TAKE A BAR BETWEEN LUNCH AN ANOTHER BEFORE BED. I FEEL 100 PERSENT BETTER EVERYDAY. TRY IT,IT REALLY WORKS.


Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...


Username: Password:
Comment:
©1991-2014 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.