Carbohydrate Sensitivity Quiz


Take my carbohydrate sensitivity quiz to find out!

Score: 0
  1. Do you feel sleepy or foggy 2 hours or less after eating a meal or snack that contains sugars or starches?
  2. Do you tend to gain weight around your middle, instead of in your hips and thighs?
  3. Does your weight fluctuate a lot?
  4. Do you feel hungry when you shouldn’t need any more food?
  5. Do you frequently crave sweets, starches, or dairy products?
  6. Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep unless you eat something sweet or starchy?
  7. Do you get irritable, restless, tense, or anxious in the early evening before dinner?
  8. Do you have a hard time controlling how much sugar or starch you eat?
  9. Do you have symptoms of “hypoglycemia” if you don’t eat every 2-3 hours? [Typical hypoglycemic symptoms include feeling shaky, panicky, irritable, anxious, or lightheaded when you’re hungry.]
  10. Are you an “emotional eater?”
  11. Do you gain weight easily?
  12. Do any of the following diseases run in your immediate family?
    • Obesity?
    • High cholesterol?
    • Type 2 Diabetes?
  13. Do you often binge on sweets, starches, or dairy products?
  14. Are you obsessed with food?
  15. Do you prefer sweets and starches over all other types of food?
  16. Do sweets and starches make you feel temporarily less depressed or less anxious?
  17. Do you feel you need to carry food with you wherever you go?
  18. Are you very hungry first thing in the morning?
  19. Do you tend to get panicky or hungry while exercising?
  20. Women only: Do you feel much more emotional in the days prior to your period?

Your carbohydrate sensitivity score is 0.

What does my score mean?

The more YES answers you have, the more likely it is that you are sensitive to carbohydrates (insulin resistant), and the more seriously you should consider cutting back on carbohydrates in your diet.

1 to 5: YELLOW ZONE. Possible mild carbohydrate sensitivity.
6 to 12: ORANGE ZONE. Likely moderate carbohydrate sensitivity.
13 or higher: RED ZONE. Very likely strong carbohydrate sensitivity.

How can I be sure my symptoms are due to carbohydrates?

These symptoms are just a collection of common clues. For more accurate information about your carbohydrate metabolism, you should ask your doctor for an evaluation and request blood tests. These tests can help determine whether or not you are already on the road to diabetes and related health problems. In the final section of this post there’s a link to a list of the latest lab tests and other practical resources to help you prepare for a conversation with your doctor.

There are also other medical conditions which can cause some of the symptoms mentioned in the quiz. This is another important reason to see your health care professional for an evaluation to make sure that your symptoms aren’t due to another health problem, such as a thyroid condition.

If my score is low, is it ok for me to eat sweets and starches?

If your score is 0 or in the lower end of the yellow zone, your body probably handles carbohydrates better than most, which means you may be at lower risk for carbohydrate-related diseases. However, we can’t say your risk is zero, because there isn’t enough scientific research available to answer this question.

Also, your score can easily change over time. Our ability to process carbohydrates tends to gradually worsen as we get older. Some people do fine with carbohydrates until they reach a certain age or stage of life—puberty, pregnancy, middle-age, or menopause. This is partly due to natural hormonal changes, but also may be influenced by the amount and type of carbohydrate we eat. So, even if your score is low now, it could rise over time. Choosing healthier forms of carbohydrate from now on may help to keep your score low as you get older, and keep your risk of carbohydrate-related diseases low.

If my score is high, do I have to stop eating all carbohydrates in order to feel better?

Not necessarily. Some people with high scores do just fine if they simply avoid sugars, refined carbohydrates, and other foods that rapidly raise blood sugar and insulin levels.[For a complete list of “bad” carbohydrates, please see my refined carbohydrates list.]. Others have to remove almost all forms of carbohydrate to restore their health. Everyone’s metabolism is different.

If your score is in the upper orange zone or in the red zone, you may be at higher risk for carbohydrate-related health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and fatty liver disease. I don’t want you to be discouraged, though–in fact, I want you to think of a high score as a helpful early warning sign of problems to come. You can improve your metabolism very quickly and greatly reduce your risk simply by reducing your carbohydrate intake! Even if you already have a carbohydrate-related health problem, reducing your carbohydrate intake is the most powerful way to turn things around!

What Should I Do Next?

Regardless of your quiz score, the single most important thing you can do for your health is to reduce the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet! It is amazing how quickly the body responds to being fed properly. You can begin improving your metabolism and protecting your health around in just a few weeks!

  1. KNOW YOUR RISK. Learn where you are on the carbohydrate sensitivity/insulin resistance/pre-diabetes spectrum by obtaining a medical evaluation including blood tests. For a free downloadable PDF of lab tests with their target values, a simple formula for estimating your insulin resistance, recommendations for how much carbohydrate you should consume based on your metabolism, and an infographic with tips for making healthier choices and improving your metabolism, see my post How to Diagnose, Prevent and Treat Insulin Resistance.
  2. EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT SUGAR AND HEALTH. To learn more about the link between insulin resistance (poor carbohydrate metabolism) and serious chronic illness, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, heart disease, obesity, and gout, read my post Why Sugar is Bad For You.
  3. EXPLORE LOWER-CARBOHYDRATE DIETS. To learn more about low-carbohydrate diets, some of the challenges you might encounter, and get some helpful resources, visit the Low-Carbohydrate Diets page. If you are ready to experiment with the level of carbohydrate in your diet, visit the Carbohydrate Sensitivity Diet Options page.

Here’s to your good health!

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  • Pingback: Are You Carbohydrate-Sensitive? Take the Quiz! » Diagnosis: Diet()

  • Michal Piják MD

    Excellent. It´s more practical/simple and more realistic then other similar tests, e.g. Mercola´s nutritional typing. By the way, there are only three main macronutrient variants of LCD: high fat LCD, low fat LCD (or conversely high protein LCD) and mixed. If you exclude low fat LCD, because it´s not healthy, then you have only two types LCD, i.e. high fat LCD and mixed type LCD.

    • Dr. Ede

      Thanks, I’m glad you like the quiz. As for variations of LCD, what about protein content? Some support a LCD with unlimited protein, whereas others support limiting protein to promote ketogenesis…

  • angie

    I know I feel much better on a low carb diet.

  • Sarah

    I have been diagnosed as having mild diabetes. I was on a low carb, often ketogenic diet for about a year. I did lose weight on it, however what I now think must be histamine intolerance symptoms became worse during that diet. On my diet I did eat lots of cheese. I ate plenty of other histamine containing foods as well. I can no longer eat gelatin without having unpleasant allergy like symptoms. Maybe that’s the free glutamate. My blood sugars stayed, at least, below 120 and often below 110 on this diet unless I overrate on something I shouldn’t. Later, when I became aware of the probable histamine problem, I first tried a little more starch to make up for the foods I could no longer comfortably eat. That didn’t work out so well.
    Finally, I tried something I had read about in an article by Ray Peat who has a site with many of his articles on health on the Internet. I stopped eating starch again and started eating plenty of fruit and some sugar, even. I was cautious at first, but later started eating quite a bit of fruit and sugar. My blood sugars, for the most part, stay lower than they did on low carb. I did notice that when I tried eating some buffalo mozzarella my blood sugar did go up pretty good eating that and some sweetened coffee. The sweetened coffee normally doesn’t cause this unless I’ve been eating starch. There were some hypothyroid like symptoms that have improved on this high carb no starch diet. There are some other aspects to the diet, too, such as avoiding polyunsaturated fats.
    This diet appears to control my mild diabetes very well, but I still struggle with depressed moods, which I think may have something to do with the histamine in a lot of the meat from the grocery store. It seems to help a lot to avoid any regular starch what so ever in my diet.

  • Sarah

    Sorry, I just wanted to add that I wondered if you had any thoughts on my experience. I’m not saying I have my health all figured out, because those depressed moods, which I have been having for years make life difficult. I seem to have an extreme problem with histamine intolerance. (I have a history of major depression.) Since there seems to be no further help coming from any doctors I’ve been to, I started trying to do something for myself with diet and some supplements.

  • Charlotte Manow

    I have stopped eating carbs for the last 4 days…Im eating fruits veggies nuts plenty of beans and lots of water…I feel great and my swollen feet are no problem an issue…Im definetly keeping this up. I dont eat meat on a daily basis but am keeping my protein with beans eggs or veggie patties…Im super satisfied sometimes crave icecream but I think of how great Im feeling and sleeping and those cravings vanish!

    • Ember

      I had wicked horrid swollen feet, hands and my knees were on fire.
      I cut carbs completely, but everything I have wrong points to gluten

      Could this be an issue for you as well? one of the symptoms is swollen feet

      • Charlotte Manow

        Will test gluten out of my diet too…see how that works for me

    • Bill N Joyce Treat

      I am in the Red Zone. I am a dietetic. Was on the pump but is has been a week now and I am having to give my own shots. Not fun. But my sugars are staying down. I am going to try to put more veggies and fruits in my diet. I cannot eat a lot of nuts due to stomach problems. And I have been doing water for a while. What kind of beans do you do?

    • Sean1978

      4 days on a diet is too early to tell how you will do long term without carbs. I felt great for about 4 or 5 months and then got really depressed and it really hit me, the honeymoon of low carbs was over and it was time to add some back in. I got confused, muscles were weak and would wear out easily, knew I was missing something key. I felt great at first as you did, but later down the road like I said it hit me, 4 days is way too soon to determine on a diet on how good it will go. Did you keep it up? I see this was a year ago, around the same time I started the gluten free and low carb (Very low, sometimes zero) diet.

  • Peter6626

    Thanks for a most informative article. From personal experience my advice would be to keep up the low (or even better, zero) carb diet until your body completes the switch from burning carbs to burning fats. For me it took around 10 weeks. Once this happens you will truly benefit and never look back.The only caveat I would post is that this is only for the healthy (assuming that anyone can be truly healthy on a high carb diet), and in particular should not be attempted if diabetes is ruling your life. I have heard that diabetes may respond to carb reduction but clearly anyone with diabetes would need to consult an enlightened physician first.

  • Ruth Martin Switzer

    The quiz was very helpful for me! I was told I had this in 2002. My sugar levels would drop as low as 37. I would have nausea and break out in a sweat. Finally got it under control! Now at 66years old the symptoms have come back! I have a DRs appointment in two weeks to review my blood Work. I will tell him about this. In the mean time I thought about getting a blood sugar monitor to check my levels! I am very active. I exercise faithfully!

  • shirlee

    i’m 55years old and have struggled with extreme weight gain and extreme weight loss my entire life (since 8years old). Why? Have learned low/no carbs is the answer, but the beast refuses to be tamed. Have found a-typical depression playes a part. Thanks for the quiz, looking for a diagnosis/answer…

    • Sean1978

      I also get depressed if I go low carb too long, the mood swings get awful for me and I have to add more back in to level that out and sometimes still can’t get enough from whole foods. I added in Sweet Potatoes and want to add in some fruits as well to add more carbs. I lost too much weight on the low carb diet, skinny as I was before I got even worse. I can’t handle certain carbs well though or high sugar fruits, so it gets dicey. Our bodies are very tricky.

  • Izard

    But why am allergic with all type of sugar, is there a cure

  • Sabrina

    Thank you for this quiz and website. My son obsesses over sugar more than the average child and I know I get VERY tired after a large meal that contains a lot of carbs. However, yesterday my friend treated me to a Mexican Food restaurant. Afterwords, I didn’t just feel tired. I felt dizzy, tired, my heart was racing, my body was sweating and shaking. It was the first time I felt these symptoms at this level of severity. It’s time to change how my son and I are eating. From this site, I gather that we should eat more proteins and eliminate refined sugars and “white” foods such as bread and pastas. The market these days offer plenty of alternatives such as wheat and whole grain. This will be the first step. Again, thanks so much!

    • Sean1978

      That happened to me too years ago from eating Mcdonalds after taking a while off of it! I got foggy mind and my heart racing etc., scared me and I cut it out soon after that. This was the first time it happened, been there where you are and it sucks. Gluten Intolerance maybe? IDK exactly but it did not feel good at all when I ate that fast food that day.

  • Mrhappy

    I found out I was carb a sensitive by seing a specialist , after a period of time I Was doing ketosis diet and had a carb load after 3 weeks and for the next week until glycogen stores depleted , I had dry skin dry eyes nasal allergys tired and moody and theses symptoms cleared up when I depleted all the carbs from my body and switched to fat happens every time I switch diets.

    • Sean1978

      I did that too but started to get really dry skin and eyes and depressed after months on the low carb diet for some reason? I was the opposite. If I Deplete all my carbs I get moody and depressed over time, at first though it feels great.

  • MikeS

    Very interesting and useful post, as always. Thank you.

    I just had a Chem 7 test last week. Glucose 90, Triglycerides, 95. Therefore, 8.36. I received a two on your sensitivity test. Obesity exists in my family, although I wouldn’t say “runs,” as does high cholesterol.

    Pretty, good, but on that same test, my LDL was 170, HDL, 54.TC, 243. I’m being pressured to take statins, of course.

    I’m a 73-year-old poster child for all you recommend: no sugar, no wheat, very little fruit and starchy vegetables, almost no grains, no sugary drinks, moderate protein, etc. I’m in good shape, not overweight, with no apparent central obesity. I walk a brisk mile daily and swim. I’ve experimented with probiotics, and feel my microbiome is functioning well.

    My achilles heel is raging high blood pressure, controlled for fifteen years to about 130 with a massive dose of a beta blocker, a calcium channel blocker, and anARB. I’ve been called a hot reactor, and indeed, I had high stress jobs in journalism for many years.

    As you’ve already pointed out, other factors promoting insulin resistance are at play besides diet. After reading Robert Sopolsky’s book, “Why Zebra’s Don’t get Ulcers,” I have the feeling the cortisol might be my problem, but no one has ever even suggested that I have my insulin measured, nor cortisol.

    I’ll lobby with my mainstream physcian, but are there dietary and supplement regimes that might ameloriate non-prandial insulin resistance? Frankly, my feeling is that reducing insulin is more important than dropping LDL.

    • Dr. Ede

      Dear Mike

      Very interesting and challenging question. I should clarify that while insulin resistance caused by poor diet is probably the number one cause of hypertension, there are many other (far less common) causes of hypertension, some of which are dietary and some not, so you may want to consult with a specialist if you haven’t already done so. That having been said:

      If you’ve never tried a low-carbohydrate diet, that’s one option that is worth a try, and certainly having additional testing such as cortisol and fasting insulin are good thoughts as well. Other potential dietary culprits that have nothing to do with insulin are biogenic amines: , nightshade sensitivity: , alcohol, caffeine, and electrolyte imbalances (sodium, magnesium, potassium). Feel free to keep us posted!

  • jane

    I sent the quiz to my niece who seems to be addicted to carbs. The result of the test showed that she was moderately sensitive. She is thinking that “moderate” means no problems. My thinking is that anything over 0 is not good. What should be the interpretation?

    • Dr. Ede

      Dear Jane

      Good question! The quiz gives clues about carbohydrate sensitivity but is not a foolproof test. If she has some signs of sensitivity but not all, the next step would be to have blood testing done to see where she stands. I created a downloadable PDF of simple blood tests she can request from her doctor to test for insulin resistance and pre-diabetes that will give her much more accurate information. The PDF includes healthy target goals for each of the tests and is located in my post . Hope this helps!

  • Rab

    Dr.Ede, I am a Vegetarian. What options do I have for a low carb high protein/fat diet. Pl suggest.

    • Dr. Ede

      Hi Rab

      Assuming you eat dairy and eggs, you have many good options! Fat sources can include cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, butter/ghee, avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut, nuts (especially macadamia nuts!), and nut butters. Protein sources include eggs, high-fat yogurt, cheese and nuts. High protein isn’t necessary, just adequate protein: What’s most important is to replace carbs in the diet with delicious fats. Hope that helps!

Last Modified: Nov 23, 2015 at 2:47pm