Another  experiment in recovering from a blood donation. On my previous two experiments (here and here) I had ingested a lot of sugar (as part of milk chocolate). I had also eaten the usual snacks that they offer at the clinic to help people recover. This time I skipped all that. I wanted to try a low carbohydrate recovery meal and see how I felt. So on the way home from the clinic I picked up a BBQ duck (a whole one) and just ate that along with four bottles of beer (341 ml Unibroue Trois Pistoles – 9% abv ~ works out to about 123 ml of alcohol in total).

The USDA Nutrient Database has the following for half a duck:

Duck, domesticated, meat and skin, cooked, roasted – 1,287 kcal.

So my caloric intake would have been pretty high, somewhere around 2,500 to 2,600 kcal (though I imagine it could easily vary by at a few hundred calories). The database also shows the carbohydrate content of duck to be zero.

Blood glucose in this case hit its maximum at 6.4 mmol/L (or 115.2 mg/dL), but this was after  the beer, not the duck. In the two previous cases, blood glucose had maxed out at 10.0 and 8.3 mmol/L. Note that an hour after eating the duck, the reading was only 5.4 mmol/L, the remaining one point increase can probably be attributed to the carbohydrate/alcohol consumed as part of the beer.

My original plan was to have some vegetables along with the duck, but after finishing the duck I felt so full I didn’t want to do anything further. A better idea would have been to have half a duck along with a plate/bowl of vegetables or something like that.

My subjective feeling that evening was that I felt fine. No worse than after any other blood donation.

The main point I was trying to look at was if typical recovery foods like cookies, fruit juice etc are really necessary. My previous experiments seem to indicate that the body metabolizes sugars better after a blood donation than it otherwise would, but I’m not sure this means that the sugary foods are necessarily a good idea.

One day, of course, is not a recovery. It’s something that happens over an extended period of time (something like two weeks for a blood donation). And the most important indicators of recovery I cannot directly measure myself, like my blood volume and the makeup of my blood.

Here’s a table showing the time and the measurements I took. Note that there was basically no physical activity for the evening, other than walking to and from the clinic half hour each way).

On waking the next day (today) I did feel slightly light in the head. I’m not sure if I should attribute that to what I ate or to what I drank. I made breakfast consisting of: potato, sweet potato, onion, amaranth, quinoa, dried sea vegetables & chicken broth. I felt perfectly back to normal after that.

So what would I conclude from this little experiment? Consumption of sweetened foods is probably not necessary for recovery. It would have been better if I had eaten something more balanced (like having what I had for breakfast along with the duck), but still avoiding sugar altogether worked out quite well.