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? Especially in the mid-afternoon?
  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? Did you gain weight easily even as a child?
  12. Do any of the following diseases run in your immediate family?
    • Obesity?
    • High cholesterol?
    • Type 2 Diabetes?
    • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
  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, 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.

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, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

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 ability to process carbohydrates, you can ask your doctor for special tests. Your doctor may want to consider a glucose tolerance test, a fasting insulin level, or a hemoglobin A1C test. These tests can help determine whether or not you are already on the road to diabetes and related health problems.

There are also other medical conditions which can cause some of these symptoms. So, first and foremost, see your health care professional for an evaluation to make sure that your symptoms are not due to an important medical 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 the average body does, and you may be at lower risk for carbohydrate-related diseases. However, we do not know whether your risk is zero, because there isn’t enough scientific research available to answer this question.

Also, our ability to process carbohydrates tends to worsen as we get older. Some people do fine with carbohydrates until they reach a certain age or stage of life—puberty, or pregnancy, or middle-age, or menopause. This is partly due to natural hormonal changes, but also may be affected 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 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 patients who have high scores do just fine if they simply avoid “high glycemic index” carbohydrates—these are carbohydrates like sugar and flour that raise blood sugar and insulin levels very quickly.

Are some carbohydrates healthier than others?

There is a big debate among experts about carbohydrates—are they all bad? Are only some of them bad? We know for a fact that carbohydrates are completely unnecessary foods, but if you choose to include them in your diet, which ones are best?

My opinion is that modern sweets and refined starches (sugars and flours, for example) are not healthy for any of us, but that some of us simply handle them better than others. We all know people who can eat sugar all day long, seem completely healthy, and never gain an ounce. Most of us can’t get away with that.

Fruits and root vegetables (like carrots and sweet potatoes) are “older” forms of carbohydrates—the types our ancestors have been eating for hundreds of thousands of years. Because humans have been eating these types of foods for so long, we may have developed the ability to process these whole food sources of carbohydrate better than “modern” sources, such as sugar and flour.  Most fruit and vegetable sources tend to be more slowly digested and therefore do not cause dramatic spikes in our insulin levels, which is what we’re really trying to avoid when we talk about “bad” carbohydrates.

Is a carbohydrate-free diet the healthiest diet?

Maybe. Unfortunately the scientific research available can’t answer this question, mostly because scientists don’t ask this question. Current scientific studies do not compare the health effects of carbohydrate-free whole foods diets to the health effects of whole foods diets that contain natural sugars and starches.

We do know that humans who ate an extremely low-carbohydrate diet for centuries, such as the Eskimos, were virtually cancer-free and appeared healthy, but these observations were made a hundred years ago or more, before we had the ability to do the kinds of sophisticated medical testing we can do now.

We also know that traditional hunter-gatherers who ate lots of carbohydrate from whole foods, such as fruits and roots, were much healthier than the average American is today. However, we don’t what would happen if you could compare the health of the traditional Eskimos in the 1800’s to the health of the starch-eating hunter-gatherers; we don’t know which group would have won that health contest.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for scientists to do these experiments. We do know that carbohydrate-free diets are safe, so if you’d like, you can do your own experiment and remove all carbohydrates from your own diet to see if that makes you healthier.

I’m ready to experiment with carbohydrates in my diet—what next?

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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.

Last Modified: Dec 8, 2012 at 3:06pm