Earlier this year, I was sent a box of Extend Nutrition Bars from IBD Medical to try. I can’t say that I could muster too much enthusiasm for these, given that nutrition and exercise aren’t really my thing. However the folks at IBD Medical were still happy for me to give them a go and provide my own honest opinions.
Extend Nutrition bars claim to “control” blood sugars for up to 9 hours when eaten at bedtime. Their blend of carbohydrates convert to glucose extremely slowly and therefore do not need an insulin bolus. They have been proven to reduce overnight hypoglycemia by up to 75% when eaten as a bedtime snack, and are also ideal as a snack inbetween meals.
It’s safe to say that I was pretty skeptical of these claims. I struggled to bring myself to actually put carbs into my mouth before bedtime and not bolus for them. Especially 22 whole grams of them. I rely on my basal rates to keep my blood glucose steady overnight, so I couldn’t really see any value in bedtime snacking.
I will preface my experiments by saying that bedtime blood sugars are extremely tricky to read. Evening meals tend to be the most variable, and can sometimes be difficult to carb count and accurately give insulin for. Often there might be delayed effects of afternoon snacks or evening meals that may require a follow up correction later on. However, I’m fairly confident in these observations.
When eaten before bed, the bars spiked my blood sugars by at least 6mmol within 2-3 hours of going into my mouth. If I hadn’t of set an alarm to check my blood sugar levels post-bars, I would have been in for a rude shock the next morning!
I also tried using one of the bars as a pre-walk snack. Usually walking will send my blood glucose low if I don’t make any adjustments to my basal rates or consume carbs. The yoghurt and berry bar sent me from a starting blood sugar of 7.7mmol to 11.6mmol within an hour of consumption.
I do genuinely believe that my experience with Extend Nutrition won’t be reflective of yours. I have learned from friends in the diabetes community that Malitol and other “non factor” carbs can have an impact on some people’s blood sugar levels. However I have also spoken with other type 1s who have tried these bars and experienced minimal impact on their blood sugars. Tammy over at Diabetes: Forever and Always also didn’t seem to experience a noticeable impact on her blood sugar levels in her review of the bars here.
The bars definitely had a slow effect on my blood glucose levels, meaning that they would be an ideal low glycemic index snack for someone with diabetes. It just wasn’t a 9 hour release of energy for me as the packet stated.
My initial verdict was that these bars would likely be great for people with type 2 diabetes who are still producing some insulin to cover the effect of the bars. However after watching this video explaining the science behind the bars, it seems that they were designed for someone taking insulin. Apparently, the non factor carbs in the bars convert to glucose so slowly that basal insulin would cover them.
I did put to IBD Medical questions about the claims of the bars. I was told that in the US, Extend Nutrition conducted a series of trials to underpin each claim for the bars. Meanwhile in Australia, the claims on the packaging have been registered as a general health claim with the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.
While I don’t doubt the claims, everyone will respond differently to the ingredients in the bars. In my case, Extend Nutrition bars were unable to live up to their claims and control my blood sugars.
The most important deciding factor for me, however, would be the taste. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan. They tasted too artificially sweetened and gunky for me to want to buy them again. I’d much rather bolus insulin for a bar with oats, seeds, nuts, or even a drizzle of honey.
Extend Nutrition Bars were sold in Australia by IBD Medical, but since it’s taken me so long to write this blog, the link I was given no longer seems to be working. You can find out more about Extend Nutrition on their US website here.
Disclosure: IBD Medical sent me a box of Extend Nutrition Bars to try. There was no expectation that I would blog about them, and all opinions expressed here are my own.