Paleo is helping my diabetes!

I’m happy to report that the paleo lifestyle has helped me to improve my hemoglobin A1C by 2.5 points in 6 months!  This is huge for me!  Just like many type 1 diabetics I ride the blood sugar rollercoaster, and even though I try to help diabetics by blogging, YouTubing, posting daily motivation and tips, I struggle just like you all do.  I’m going to admit now, for the first time, what my A1C was back in March when I started on my paleo journey.  My A1C was 11.4.  Shocking right?  Now it’s 8.9.  The lowest I can remember actually.  For those who are not diabetic, that number is suppose to be under 7 for good control of diabetes.  Being diabetic for 42 years makes it really challenging to get that darn number down where it belongs, but getting it this low, that quick, has me motivated to get it down to 7.5 by years end!

The only thing I changed back in March, was starting to live paleo.  I’ve always worked out regularly, so I’m not really accounting my exercise in this improvement.  I’m probably about 70% paleo overall, but at home I’m 100% paleo.  My home no longer has any processed foods that come in a box, can, or sack.  I buy whole foods (fruits and lots of veggies), a little frozen veggies for convenience and storage time, lots of meat, no dairy, and lots of olive and coconut oil.  I cook a lot now, which means I do a lot more dishes than I want to, but it’s been worth it.  If I only had a garbage disposal and dishwasher!  I have a friend that does house cleaning.  I wonder what her rates are?  :)  Anyway, back on track, I started doing something where each time I’d go to the grocery store, I’d buy a fruit or vegetable I’ve never tried before.  I discovered I like a lot of things I’ve never tried before!  Like . . . OMG . . . KALE!!!  Kale fried in coconut oil is like health candy, and I think I might overdo it sometimes?  LOL!  I’d never tried kale until I started paleo.

I used to live on cereals, tv dinners, potato chips, cookies, microwavable meals, fast food, pizza, etc.  Then I discovered paleo.  Now I call myself a paleobetic, because I’ll be paleo for life.

What is paleo and why has it helped?  Paleo is a lifestyle.  It’s pretty simple, eat like our hunter gatherer ancestors, exercise like them, get outdoors, and reduce your carbs.  Most people these days eat anywhere between 200-300 carbs a day, and a some eat even more!  On paleo I’ve been averaging around 100 carbs a day.  I tried the low carb (30<) thing, but that led to some diabetic challenges.  Be very careful doing low carb as a type 1 diabetic.

You can find my favorite blogs, websites, and YouTube channels, about paleo and primal living in the column to the right.  What got me started down this path was a movie called Fat Head.  Seeing that movie caused me to go out and buy “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf, and “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson.  I read those faster than I’ve ever read a book before.  Then I started doing research online and found the online paleo community.

I’d like to take this moment to personally thank Robb Wolf, for answering questions for me in your podcast, replying to my Facebook messages, and for your leadership in the paleo community.  Robb, your accessibility to an average guy like me is  . . . well, awesome.  Thanks man.

Please join me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads by clicking the socialize links to the right of this article ———————->

More Paleo and Ketosis for Diabetes Observations

I haven’t been working out for about a month now, as I was trying to ease into a ketosis lifestyle.  I stopped my workouts because I was already stressing my body with the ketosis.  In the past when I tried this lifestyle, I found that when I did try to exercise, I had zero energy, and usually couldn’t complete my workouts.  So I’ve realized the same thing again.  Plus, when I workout on the ketosis diet, my blood sugar spikes like crazy.  It doesn’t do that if I’m not in ketosis, and it actually falls like it should.  My guess is that my liver is either entering gluconeogenesis (converting protein to glucose), or it’s just dumping whatever glucose it has left, so that my muscles can operate to the best of their ability.  I’ve just decided that ketosis for diabetes is not my thing.

The other thing that happened to me again, is that after about 10 or 12 days, just like the last time I tried this, I had a bout of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), where my ketones went off the scale, my blood sugar spiked, and I had to literally OD on insulin to bring it down, then I had to scarf down gobs of carbs (yeah, I don’t care about grammar right now) to keep me from seriously crashing.  This is a process that can take anywhere from 6 to 18 hours to treat, so you can’t sleep if it’s happening to you.  Don’t worry, I know how to treat DKA.  I do the same thing they’d do at the hospital.  I’ve been doing this for 42 years, so I know how this works.  Those are scary days even so.  Both times I’ve tried ketosis, after 10 or 12 days, I have this DKA fight.  Then I go high carb for a few days because I get paranoid.  Then I come back to at least eating normal paleo.

So I’ve decided that ketosis is not for me.  I’m going to stick with paleo for sure, and I’ll keep my carbs to under 100, but not under 50 which causes ketosis.  I’m a Beachbody coach, and I get paid to workout, so I have to workout.  My income depends on it!  Besides, working out to Les Mills Pump is fun, and those female trainers are hott!  What really sucks though, is that on ketosis my blood sugars were almost normal.  My 30 day average blood glucose dropped by 100 points from 265 to 166.  I’m still kind of eager to get my A1C done at the end of the summer though.

If you’re a type 1 diabetic that’s on a ketosis lifestyle, please comment below with your experience.  I wish I could find a community of T1D’s that live in ketosis?

Paleo and Ketosis for a Type 1 Diabetic

ketosis-ketostix-ketoacidosisjpgKetosis and diabetes are 2 words that instill fear in the hearts of most diabetics.  It used to instill fear into me as well, until I started reading about paleo and primal living, and how ketosis doesn’t always mean you’re gonna die.  When I started to read about ketosis, and how some diabetics have taken control of their diabetes with it, I began to get excited.  I studied and studied for weeks.  Trying to understand everything I could about paleo and ketosis, and I was slowly starting to believe that there’s a way to be in ketosis as a type 1 diabetic, without it killing you.  I have a lifetime of beliefs, drilled into me by my doctors,  that ketosis means death.  It does, “IF” you’re in ketosis and you’re blood sugar is over 250 mg/dl.  Most diabetics know this as DKA, or Diabetic KetoAcidosis.  Your blood literally becomes toxic with acid created by the lack of insulin in your body.  This is a life threatening condition, and must be avoided at all costs, by all diabetics.

So why on earth would a type 1 diabetic want to intentionally enter ketosis? What is ketosis?

Let me start by answering the second question.  Ketosis occurs when you’re body doesn’t have enough fuel.  Your bodies primary fuel comes from carbohydrates that the body turns into glucose to feed the muscle cells and the brain.  If you’re body doesn’t have enough glucose, it has to get fuel from somewhere so it starts to burn or break down fat.  When a fat cell is broken down, that creates ketone bodies.  3 types to be exact.  2 are used for fuel, and the 3rd is just waste.  (Which you can smell on the breath.  It’s called Acetone.)  The brain and the muscles can run on ketone bodies.  Actually, the heart runs close to 30% more efficiently on ketone bodies.  When ketone body levels get to high, the body produces insulin, and they are reduced.  If no insulin is sent into the bloodstream, the ketone bodies rise, and so does the blood glucose.  Since the 2 ketone bodies that are used as fuel are acidid, this combination causes the blood pH to become acidic, and toxic, causing Diabetic Ketoacidosis, or DKA.

I wanted to go on a ketosis diet, because I read story after story of type 1 diabetics that got off the rollercoaster by going low carb (which naturally causes ketosis).  By low carb, I mean around 50g or less per day.  Low carbs = steady bloodsugar.  This means you eat mostly fat and protein.  (Hello butter and bacon!)  I know, I know, you think I’m going to clog my arteries.  Well I’m not, but that’s another story.  Anyway, I tried this for a week back in March as an experiment, and it worked great after about 7 days, but for those first 5 days something weird happened.  I wasn’t in ketosis continuously.  I kept jumping in and out of it.  Whenever I’d be in ketosis, my blood sugar would spike, dangerously high, over 250!  When I’d bolus, it wouldn’t go down!  (I had never been in ketoacidosis in my entire life, so I didn’t know how to treat this.)  Tons more research about treating ketoacidosis, and I got it under control.  I discovered that if I bolused, AND did a 4 hour temporary basal with my pump, everything worked great and the blood sugar would come down.  Perfect!  Nothing had I read warned me about this, and when I went looking for answers, I didn’t find any on the big name blogs.  Where I found answers was in the forum at Marks Daily Apple.  Other T1D’s told me this happens to a select few type 1’s when they start a ketogenic diet (lucky me) and it will go away in a few days.  It’s caused by the body being stressed due to what I’m doing to it, and that stress creates cortisol, which tells the liver to dump what little glucose it’s storing, or to convert protein into glucose (called gluconeogenesis).  After 5 days, everything was running smoothly.

But then I tried to come out of ketosis.  To end the experiment.  I increased my carbs back to around 100c per day.  Well, that didn’t go so well.  If I went for more than 3 hours without carbs, I’d get ketones, and my blood sugar would spike, and I developed dawn syndrome.  (Ketones early in the morning because you’ve been without carbs for hours.)   So I did a lot of fighting my blood sugar for a while.  Adjusted my basal rates, and my carb ratio, and got back to normal (the normal highs and lows I mean), but still had dawn syndrome.

Then I got a Metronic continuous glucose monitor (CGM).  I had become even more paleo over the last few months, and even more strict with my food choices.  Loving my bacon and butter, and all the steak, burgers, etc.  So I decided to do this again, but go even more hardcore into it, and NEVER COME OUT OF IT.  The CGM sure makes it easier to do this that’s for sure, because you can see your blood sugar change in almost real time.  I went with no carbs for 3 days at the suggestion of 1 particular blog, to effect the conversion from carbs to ketones more quickly.  It worked!  Smooth transition with no spikes, and my blood sugar hasn’t climbed above 150 for 7 days straight.  Most of the week my blood sugar has been around 80-90 mg/dl.  I used to be afraid of that low of a number!  I’d start eating glucose tabs, afraid of a crash.  Now I’m annoyed if it goes above 125!  I’ve been in ketosis 100% of the time all week now.  It’s been emotionally uplifting too.  Not that I have any kind of depression problems, but it just feels good that I’ve found a way to control my diabetes that’s actually working.  I keep seeing carbs everywhere, and thinking “No Rich, that will make your blood sugar spike, today, AND tomorrow, and the next day.”  Then I just walk away happy that my blood sugars are normal now.

Now, I feel the need to say this . . . . . DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.  There’s a lot of things about starting a ketosis diet that you need to learn, and it can be really dangerous if you don’t do insane amounts of research.  I’m a little crazy, and don’t believe mainstream medicine, and this is MY LIFE, but I definitely don’t want you to try this just on a whim because you read my blog.  I wanted to tell you my story, so you can see what happens, because I didn’t see this in any of my research, and had no idea that it might happen with all of the hours of research I did before I tried (maybe 50 hours I think).

I hope this article was helpful to you.

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