Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the BGs Bite

The trick to a bedtime snack is to eat just enough to sustain blood sugar while not overeating.

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?” asks Stacie Bell, a doctor of science in nutrition at Harvard Medical School who worked on the NiteBite snack bar. “Given the opportunity to eat, people will overindulge. With a snack bar, you know exactly how much you’re getting every time.”


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

NiteBite has 100 calories, 3 grams of protein and 10 grams of sucrose.

Francine Kaufman, MD, director of the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetic Center at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, presented an abstract at the 1996 American Diabetes Association 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. Only 3 percent of the volunteers who ate the cornstarch bar experienced hypoglycemia, while 15 percent of volunteers who ate a control bar went low.

“From the research out there, we’ve seen that uncooked cornstarch works as an extended carbohydrate,” says Bell. “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.”

For more information on NiteBite call (800) 795-1880.


Another bar on the market designed for people with diabetes is the Gluc-O-Bar, from Apic USA. Like the NiteBite bar, it is designed to prevent hypoglycemia.

Gluc-O-Bar contains several ingredients, each with a different glycemic index. This design enables the bar to stagger glucose release into the blood over a period of six to nine hours.

In the first phase of glucose release, Gluc-O-Bar’s simple carbohydrate components produce a quick BG peak that usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Gluc-O-Bar’s protein components are converted into glucose in the liver. This accounts for its second phase of glucose release, raising BGs two to three hours after eating. Finally, Gluc-O-Bar makes use of the uncooked cornstarch. According to Apic, the unusual make-up of this starch allows for a slow release of glucose for up to nine hours.

For more information on Gluc-O-Bar call (888) 466-3463.

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