I Love NovoLog

NovoLogI love NovoLog.  Why?  Well, it’s a bit of a story.  You see, I’ve been pumping since 2006, and all that time I’ve been using Humalog in my pump.  In the last year though, I’ve been having a really hard time controlling my blood sugars because it seems that my insulin wasn’t reacting as quickly as it had been in the past.  I’ve always been what they call a “brittle diabetic”, and so I’ve been struggling just to get my HbA1C below 8 for the first time.  Humalog is suppose to reach it’s peak in about 90 minutes, but it wasn’t doing that for me anymore.  The problem was that the insulin didn’t seem to peak until nearly 3 hours, and stayed in my system for 5 to 6 hours.  So my CDE at the time suggested I switch to Apidra, which was a new type of insulin that’s suppose to be even faster acting than Humalog.  Boy, what a fiasco that was!

I tried using Apidra for 6 months I think?  It was actually worse than Humalog as far as speed goes, plus it lasted 7 hours.  I kept troubleshooting “other causes” as to why it was not behaving per specs.  At one point, it seemed as though it wasn’t working at all, so I tried to get it replaced, and was never able to because both my Walgreens and Sanofi denied responsibility for it failing.  Then I finally got someone to take responsibility for it when I cornered a Sanofi rep at the ADA Scientific Sessions on the trade floor, with a line full of people behind me listening in.  A week later they sent me a return shipping container so they could “evaluate it”, before they decided what to do about it.  By that time though, I had already replaced it myself out of pocket since insurance wouldn’t help, and decided not to bother getting it replaced through Sanofi because I decided that after my current bottle was empty I would never use it again.  It’s ashame too, because I like the outreach that Sanofi does.  I’d love to use their product, but it just doesn’t work for me.  Anywho, in the past, when I lived in Chicagoland, I just walked into Walgreens, told them I had a dead bottle of insulin, and they replaced it without any questions.  That sure didn’t happen here in Iowa!

So anyway, in late August, I fired my endo for a nurse practitioner who is awesome, and she sent me home with 2 sample bottles of Humalog again.  Things were better than Apidra, but still having the same problems.  My new nurse practitioner tried adjusting my pump settings, but that didn’t help much either.

Then my insurance policy changed.  The cost of my Humalog copay was going to double in an effort by the insurance company to get me to use NovoLog.   Well, that’s enough to get me to try the NovoLog.  So I filled that prescription a couple weeks ago, and last week I filled my first reservior with NovoLog.  I’ve noticed that all week, my insulin is working the way it’s suppose to, and I’ve only had a few hours above 200 all week.  According to my Dexcom, as of today, my blood glucose average for the last 90 days is 178, but my blood glucose average for the last 7 days is 146!  I was happy with the 178 when I saw it, but when I saw the 146, I was ecstatic!  I know, I know, it’s only 7 days, but it’s still exciting.  So that’s why I love NovoLog.

Diabetic Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide

Michael Jackson ZombieWelcome to my diabetic zombie apocalypse survival guide!  There are many zombie apocalypse survival guides out there, but not very many that deal with the special needs of an insulin dependant diabetic. This article will review some of the special things you’ll need to think about in prepping for a zombie apocalypse, or any sort of doomsday scenario as a diabetic.  There are so many other things to consider in doomsday and zombie prep, but this article will only touch on the needs of a diabetic.

The first thing I’d like to say is that your survival as a diabetic in a zombie or doomsday scenario is dependent on many things, but first and foremost, you should be prepared for the idea that your chances of survival are slim compared to a non-diabetic. You can however, improve your chances of survival by prepping properly.  Much of your survival will depend on exactly what kind of doomsday or zombie apocalypse we are struck by.

Many people will say they’re going to grab all the guns and ammo they can carry, and go break into the local pharmacy to steal all the insulin, then they’ll go to the grocery store to steal all the food they can, stock up their truck, and drive to the local police department to break in and hold up there.  Really?  *shakes head*  I’m going to try to be more realistic, and provide some things to think about for the average person that doesn’t think they’re Rambo.

If you’re at home when said apocalypse occurs, then you’ll be much better off, because you’ll have your stored supplies available to you. If you’re not at home, try to get home of course.  Some of the things to think about for your diabetes survival, is to have a large supply of batteries for your diabetic devices. If you have rechargable devices, you should have backups that are battery operated. You may not have power to charge your diabetic devices, such as in the blackout of over 50 million people in the northeastern United States of 2003.

Baron SamediYou’ll also of course need a store of insulin and test strips.  Insulin is not easy to stock up on, because it has an expiration date, and most pumpers require insulin that needs a prescription.  However, Regular insulin DOES NOT require a prescription in most states, so you could stock up on that, for survivals sake.  It’ll make your control a little challenging at first, but will keep you alive for a while.  Also, when you’re pump supplies run out, you’ll need a store of syringes.  Syringes you can get without a prescription in small quantities in most states, but boxes of 100 often do require prescription.  Ask your local pharmacy.  If you’re a CGM user, and you have the ability to keep a store of those supplies, awesome, but as we all know, these aren’t easily found at the local pharmacy, so you’ll need to revert back to finger sticks.  So you’ll also need a store of test strips, but remember that test strips also have expiration dates.  When you run out of test strips what do you do?!  Well, watch the color of your pee.  When your pee is dark or brown in color, it means your kidneys are filtering out glucose, which means your blood sugar is high.  Hard to dose insulin based on that, but it might keep you out of DKA?  Most of us already have a supply of lancets that will last us a lifetime, so no need to get all worried there.  (Since none of us changes our lancets for weeks or months at a time.)

Another thing most people probably don’t think about, is water.  If you become dehydrated in the apocalypse, you’ll develop insulin resistance, making your blood sugar control difficult.  In an apocalypse, the water supply may become infected, or tainted, so you’ll want to get your water from rain, lakes, streams, rivers, or other natural means.  Regardless of whether you get your water from a faucet or a natural source, you’ll need a store of water purification tablets, and a canteen or water jug.  If you’re in the wild, water is heavy, so you can’t carry a lot at once.  That canteen will literally be as important as your insulin.

Night of the CometYour diet will suddenly change if said apocalypse or doomsday occurs too.  If you have foodstores of non-perishables, that’s great.  You should choose foods low in carbs of course, and try to have foods higher in protein in your store, although that’s not easy with non-perishables.  Now if you don’t have a supply of non-perishable food, you’ll need to know how to hunt, forage, or both.  You’ll want some sort of wilderness survival guide, or a basic Boy Scout Handbook.  If you don’t own a bow or a gun for hunting, just having a frog spear in your survival stash will help.  You attach it to a broom stick and you have a hunting spear.  You’ll want a number of good knives of varying sizes to fashion hunting tools from, to clean the animals you hunt, and a multitude of other things.  If you’re against eating animals, then you’ll need to know how to forage, and know what wild foods are ok, and which are poisonous, not to mention how many carbs are in wild foods.  Hunted animals as food is of course lower in carbs than foraged food, making your blood sugar control easier.

I hope this gives you some ideas that you hadn’t thought of before so when the inevitable zombie outbreak occurs, you’ll be able to survive for a little longer.  If you like this article, please retweet and share it with your friends!  For my article on diabetic vampires, click here:  Diabetic Vampires.

 

Creatine and Blood Sugar for Diabetics

Bodybeast CreatineFirst, if you’re type 1 diabetic and subject to hypoglycemia, let me say BE CAREFUL with creatine and blood sugar because it will probably cause hypoglycemia.  This is something I didn’t know until today.  So yesterday I decided to try creatine for the first time in my workout.  I’ve been doing Beachbody’s Bodybeast workout, and I’ve seen some great changes in my body, and I wanted to see if supplementing creatine for the last 30 days would help with my strength.  I’ve known about creatine for years.  The benefits, the concerns, what it does, etc.  I’ve just never actually used it.  Yeah, um, . . . I was in for a shock.

So I take the standard dose of 5g of creatine monohydrate before my workout. I do my chest workout.  Then I take my standard recovery shake which consists of 50g of pure dextrose, and about 30g of protein.  It’s actually a mix of 2 Beachbody recovery products.  Then I realize my insulin pump is empty, so I go about changing my pump site before trying to bolus.  While removing my existing pump site, I get rather distracted because it created the biggest gusher of blood I’ve ever had from a pump site removal, and I kinda panic’d for a bit.  With lots of pressure and multiple wads of toilet paper, I finally got the blood to stop gushing after a few minutes.  Got my new site inserted, and then went to bed.

See what I did there?  I forgot to bolus because of the stress of the moment.  So as I was waking up I realized this, and looked at my Dexcom (continuous glucose monitor) with that nervous feeling we all get when we don’t want to know what our blood sugar is, and it said my blood sugar was 109.  WTH?!?!  I checked with my OneTouch just to make sure.  It’s reading was 101.  I was completely dumbfounded.   How is this possible?  My blood sugar should be 600?!!

On my way to work I remembered that I took creatine last night.  Could that be what caused this?  I started my research on my lunch hour at work, and then sat down in front of the computer right away when I got home from work to find out more.  So it seems that creatine monohydrate DOES lower blood sugar.  There aren’t many studies about creatine, and there are lot of scary claims about how it can harm you, but there’s no PROOF it can harm you.  (Remember the lack of studies?)  But you know what kind of study I “did” find?  One on blood sugar.  Here is a short video to watch, and then the link to the study underneath it.

 

pubmed.gov: creatine in type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Isn’t that interesting?  Now this doesn’t mean you should run out and buy creatine monohydrate.  In fact, I intend this blog to be a warning for you to treat creatine with caution.  Fate blessed me last night, because if I bolused the way I should have, I’d have had the worlds most dangerous hypo while sleeping.  I live with my diabetes on the edge though, so I’m gonna try to use creatine as a tool in improving both my muscle and strength gains, as well as my diabetes control with my workouts.

Insulin Is The Secret To Weight Loss

InsulinIn this article I’ll explain why insulin is the secret to weight loss, and how using a post workout recovery shake will greatly improve your weight loss results. This applies to type 0′s, type-1′s, type-2′s, and type-3′s.  Translation = It applies to everyone, and has nothing to do with diabetes.

What makes you gain weight, . . . is insulin.  (Don’t even get me started about a low fat diet to lose weight.  What an evil joke!)  Without insulin, fat cannot be stored, and muscle cannot be built.  Insulin is anabolic, meaning it’s a growth hormone.  Insulin has a sister hormone called glucagon.  Glucagon is catabolic, meaning it’s a release hormone.  Insulin stores fat, glucagon releases it.  Only 1 can exist in the blood stream at a time.  If insulin is present, glucagon is not.  Both hormones do much more that store and release fat, but for now, we’ll focus on that.

Everybody has heard of aerobic exercise, but do you know what it means?  It means “with oxygen”.  It’s when you exercise, but you’re not out of breath.  Your muscles have ample oxygen.  To burn fat, your body must have oxygen.  If you’re workout leaves you out of breath, and your muscles do not have oxygen, then you burn glycogen from within the muscle cells, instead of fat.  This is called anaerobic exercise.  It means “without oxygen”.  So, to translate, walking, running, or eliptical, will burn fat.  Programs like Les Mills Combat, Insanity, P90X, or any form of strength training or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), will burn glycogen, leaving the gas tank in the muscle empty.  Now it’s not exactly that clear and simple, but with aerobic you’ll burn more fat than glycogen, and with anaerobic you’ll burn more glycogen than fat.  Plus there’s no defined percentage of how much of each is burned, but in general, this is how it works.

Anaerobic exercise produces the best results for weight loss.  So that means exercise that leaves you out of breath.  Here’s why.  Anaerobic exercise causes a metabolic change in your body that reduces your need for insulin for hours.  Aerobic exercise does not do this.  When insulin isn’t present, glucagon is.  Glucagon is what releases fat, so it can be used as fuel.

Results and RecoveryNow to tie it all together, and show you the secret to using insulin for weight loss.  If you wanna burn the most fat DURING your workout, then make sure your blood stream is full of glucagon when you start.  How do you do this?  Don’t eat carbs for at least 3 hours before your workout.  No carbs = no insulin.  You may run out of energy, but you’ll be burning fat like crazy.  Just keep pushing.  T H E N . . . after your workout, when you don’t need as much insulin to absorb carbs (remember, less insulin is good for fat loss), suck down a post workout recovery shake that includes both fast acting carbs and protein.  You want it to be in liquid form so it will digest faster.  The faster you consume it, the better.  General consensus is within 45 minutes of finishing your workout.  The carbs produce an insulin spike, but one that’s not as big because you did an anaerobic workout.  The insulin spike shuttles the carbs and the protein into the muscle cells.  The carbs fill up the empty gas tank, and in this state, they even make the gas tank grow, so it can hold more glycogen.  The protein is used to rebuild muscle, and the insulin helps get into the muscle faster.  This is one reason that having more muscle means you store less fat.  If you can store more in muscle, you won’t store as much in fat.  You fed your hungry muscles with less insulin, and your muscles continue to need less insulin for hours.  You have more glucagon in your body, so you’re burning fat longer throughout the day, or while you sleep depending on when you workout.

On Bodybuilding.com they recommend a recovery shake that has a carb to protein ratio of 2/1, however, if you’re just trying to lose weight, and not sculpt a physique, a ratio of 4/1 would be fine.  The shake I drink mixes 2 products.  Beachbody’s P90X Results and Recovery Formula, with 40g dextrose and 10g protein, and their Body Beast Hardcore Base Shake with 10g dextrose and 18g protein.  After a workout, it’s like drinking candy crack juice.  It’s makes me feel like a bad diabetic.

Protein Base ShakeNow, if you’re a type 1 diabetic reading this, it’s not quite as easy for us, for obvious reasons.  Here are some tips for type 1 diabetics.  We can still “try” to do the no carbs for 3 hours before a workout to limit insulin in the blood stream, as long as we don’t go hypoglycemic.  When “I” do this, my blood sugar is usually within range of 80 – 120 before sweatabetes.  My workout causes a hypo, so I actually sip my shake throughout my workout, without insulin, and then bolus after my workout.  This prevents my hypo during the workout.  Anyway, this little trick works for me.  After the workout, you may have to reduce how much bolus you use for your shake, compared to normal.  I know I do.  You may also need to reduce your basal for hours after your workout.  I have different basal profiles in my pump.  After my workout I switch it, and when I wake up, I switch it back.  As type 1′s we have to experiment to see what works.

So . . . . . clear as mud?  Well, I hope it’s clearer than mud at least.  If you need to, bookmark this page, so you can come back and re-read it.  So you can Google more info about what I said.  If you’d like to try the products I use, just click the links above.  You’ll help me out if you do.  Thanks!

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

Have you ever had a diabetic seizure?

diabetic seizureI’ve been diabetic for 42 years.  I left home for college at 17.  I haven’t owned a glucagon shot since then.  I see a lot of people post blogs, videos, tweets, about having a glucagon shot in their diabetes bag, but I’ve never had one as an adult.  My parents kept them when I was a kid, and used them a few times, but I’ve never kept one as an adult.  I wondered if I was the only one who didn’t keep one, so I tweeted about it, and got tons of responses immediately from other type 1′s who don’t have them either.  So I guess I’m not alone.

What is glucagon?  Why does a diabetic keep a shot of it?  What does it do?  Well it comes in a shot because it’s for those times when you’re blood sugar is so low that you’re unconscious, or sleepy, or otherwise unable to eat carbs.  So it kinda needs someone else around to give you the shot.  If you live alone like me, what’s the point, right?  So back to what it does.  I’ll bet you know what insulin is?  Glucagon is the opposite of insulin.  It’s insulin’s sister hormone.  Insulin is a builder, and glucagon breaks things down.  The 2 can’t co-exist in the blood stream at the same time.  What glucagon does for a diabetic when it’s injected, is it places a high concentration of glucagon into the blood stream which quickly forces the liver to start converting (breaking down) glycogen into glucose, or converting protein (amino acids) into glucose via gluconeogenesis.    This quickly raises blood sugar so you can recover from your hypoglycemia.  So glucagon is for when you’re unable to help yourself out of hypoglycemia.

I can remember regularly. . . VIVIDLY . . . when I was a kid, having a diabetic seizure in my sleep from low blood sugar, and mom and dad trying to force different forms of sugar down my throat while I was seizing.  When I say vividly, I mean I can still see mom and dads faces hovering over me while seizing and I can see the bright light of the hallway behind them, shadowing their heads.  I can hear them yelling, urging me to eat what they were trying to force down my throat.  Honey, sugar cubes, juice, etc.  They didn’t believe me, but I was FULLY CONSCIOUS while I was seizing, and I always got furiously mad at them for trying to force that food my throat instead of letting me try to eat it myself.  A few times they used a glucagon shot to bring me out of those seizures, but when I saw them coming with that shot, I’d get the strength of bigfoot and I’d fight them.  (I used to have nightmares of bigfoot as a kid.)  They never believed I’d be ok, unless they did these things.  It’s ok mom and dad, I understand, BUT I WAS RIGHT!!!  LOL!!!

When I went away to college, I was lucky that I never had a seizure with roommates in the apartment.  Or did I?  Crap!  I don’t remember now.  John, Mike, do you remember if I did?  Anyway, after college, living alone, I did have seizures now and then.  Mom and dad never understood until I moved away, that I would come out of those seizures on my own, and I could then get glucose into my system on my own.  I was always 100% conscious, and aware of what was wrong, and what I needed, while seizing.  There’s one night in particular that I remember like it was yesterday.  It was probably 18 or so years ago.  I was seizing in my waterbed, which is a horrifying experience by the way, because as you’re seizing you’re arms and legs are outstretched trying to stop you from falling every couple of seconds, even though you’re not falling, and the bed moves.  *shivers*  Yeah, horrifying.  Anyway, as I was seizing, I was able to roll myself out of bed and onto the floor after many minutes.  I then seized my way about 20 feet into my kitchen over who knows how many minutes.  I knew I needed to get to the kitchen where the sugar was.  When the seizure stopped.  I calmly stood up, stepped over to the sugar container, took out the 1 cup scoop and started swallowing raw sugar.  I knew I’d be fine, but the experience was definitely not fun.  Now I keep glucose tabs on my nightstand.

Now, here’s the kicker.  When I went on the pump, the seizures stopped.  Haven’t had a seizure in over 6 years.  It’s that damn long acting insulin dumping in the bloodstream all at once!  All my life I had been on either NPH or Lantus, along with Regular, until I went on the pump when I changed to Humalog.  I still have low blood sugars in my sleep, but they come on so slow, that I ALWAYS wake up.  When I get any low blood sugar, it comes on way slower on fast acting insulin.  Explain that?!   I think I’m hypo right now actually, so I’m gonna sign off and get some glucose tabs.

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

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What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

300Diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetics everywhere know this term, . . . I hope.  What is diabetic ketoacidosis?  How is it different than ketosis?

I’ll start by explaining ketosis, and try to keep the sciencey (Yes it’s a word.  It’s MY word.) stuff to a minimum.  Ketosis is a natural body process that occurs when your muscles require fuel, but there’s none in your system.  That fuel starts out as carbs.  If you don’t get enough carbs, your body will naturally enter ketosis when your body starts to break down your fat, thus producing ketone bodies which it can use as fuel.  Your brain and your heart actually run more efficiently on ketones, than they do on glucose.  Our bodies were built to do this, to survive when there was no game to hunt, no plants to forage, no food nearby.  This is NOT dangerous, . . . it’s natural, unless you’re diabetic.  Why is it only dangerous for diabetics?

Because ketone bodies are acidic, and when they reach a certain level, a non-diabetic will secrete insulin, which reduces the ketones just like it does blood glucose.  We of course don’t have this mechanism.  When a diabetic gets ketones, and their blood glucose is above 250, this is the formula for diabetic ketoacidosis.  I know what you’re thinking.  I still haven’t told you what causes it.  Well, here we go.

What causes it is simply a lack of insulin or fuel.  A lack of insulin caused by a faulty infusion set, simply not taking your insulin, being sick and dehydrated, or not eating enough carbs.  The reason your body would enter ketosis is that it doesn’t have enough fuel in the form of carbs, OR . . . it has plenty of fuel, but not enough insulin to get it into the muscle cells.  If the body cannot process or does not have fuel, it will create it by breaking down fat.  This is ketosis.  NOW, your body can’t use the carbs you’ve eaten due to lack of insulin, AND ketones are rising because of lack of insulin.  Rising ketones turn your blood acidic.  This is what can kill you.  If you’re sick and you’re vomiting or have diarrhea, it’s even worse because that creates dehydration which causes insulin resistance!  Ever had ketones while you’re sick, and wonder why in the heck you have to take 3 times the insulin to bring down your blood sugar and ketones?  You need insulin for the blood sugar, for the ketones, and to compensate for the insulin resistance.  Now I can see the wheels turning in your head.

When you go to the hospital, they’re going to treat you with a saline IV, an insulin drip, and electrolytes.  These treat all of the symptoms of DKA all at once, and bring you back to normal.  Your dehydration, your high blood sugar, your high ketones, and your low electrolytes.  So . . . clear as mud now?  Well, I hope it’s clearer than mud for you.

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

Dehydration and Diabetes

Do you know that dehydration and diabetes go hand in hand?  Did you know that if you have diabetes and a high blood sugar, it can cause dehydration, which causes a high blood sugar AND temporary insulin resistance, causing an even higher blood sugar?  Yeah, neither did I for the longest time.  When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that dark urine meant my sugar was high.  That’s true.  The urine is dark because my kidneys are trying to reduce my blood sugar by filtering it out in the urine, which can lead to dehydration.

When you have a high blood sugar, the body tries to correct this naturally, by removing the  glucose from the blood stream, filtering it through the kidneys, and out of the body when you urinate.  This is what causes your urine to become dark.  If you become dehydrated as a result of this, your network of blood vessels can’t deliver nutrients or INSULIN as well, so your insulin won’t work the way it should (temporary insulin resistance).  Now you bolus, but your blood sugar won’t go down.  Sound familiar?

Have you ever noticed that when your blood sugar is high, you have to pee a lot?  When you’re peeing, you’re helping, and making it worse at the same time.  You’re getting the glucose out of your system, and you’re making the insulin resistance worse.  It’s a catch 22, right?  Wait, it gets worse!

The next thing the frequent urination causes, is an electrolyte imbalance.  Some common symptoms of the imbalance are muscle cramps, trembling, mental confusion, and many more.   Do these symptoms sound familiar?  Common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride.  I use Real Salt and Himalayan Salt in my house, and eat avocados almost every day to keep my electrolyte levels up all the time.  Electrolytes are needed for most of your bodies functions, including the beating of the heart and other muscle action.  Without them, we die.  (Check out my guest blog about the diabetic superfood, the avocado on Diabetes Daily.)

So now we have a recipe that causes that dreaded 3 letter abbreviation we all know.  DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis)  DKA happens because the body can’t utilize the insulin you’re injecting, so it turns to burning fatty acids which don’t require insulin.  The body starts to break down fat cells into fatty acids, which releases ketone bodies, both of which can be used for fuel.  Insulin is what brings down the level of ketone bodies in your blood, just like glucose.  Since insulin isn’t working at this point, your ketones rise to dangerous levels, making your blood pH acidic, and you can end up in the emergency room.

When you go to the hospital, they treat you with an IV of saline (salt water), insulin, and electrolytes.  This is the combination to correct dehydration, and thus DKA.  To prevent dehydration, and DKA, my advice is to always drink lots of water, eat avocados, and use a good quality sea or himalayan salt.  When your blood sugar is a little high, put a pinch of salt in a bottle or glass of water and drink up.  Problem averted.

Symptoms of dehydration include frequent urination, dry mouth, weakness, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, sweating stops, and more.  Easy ways to check for dehydration are the color of the urine, and the skin test in the picture to the right ———->

Oh, by the way, caffeine makes dehydration worse because it makes you pee.  So don’t think your soda, coffee, or tea will help in preventing dehydration.    Drink water, . . . just plain water, in a dehydration scenario.

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

Weight Gain With Insulin Pump Therapy

A couple of days ago, a young diabetic Twitter friend from Baghdad asked me if insulin can cause weight gain.  The quick answer is yes, absolutely.  I thought that would make a good blog article, so here goes.

I don’t remember exactly when I started my insulin pump therapy, but I think it was 6 or 7 years ago.  When I started asking around about it before getting my first pump, everybody told me that I should expect to gain about 20lbs.  I said “WHAT?!!!”  There was no way I was going to get a pump if that was a side effect.  Well, when I checked into it, many people do gain weight, but it’s because using a pump is so much easier than shots, that people just start gorging their pie holes with carbs like they’re no longer diabetic.  More carbs + more insulin = more fat.  I was working out like a bodybuilder at the time, in the gym 4 days a week, lifting seriously, and I knew I could avoid this pitfall.  So I went ahead and got my pump, . . . and never gained a pound.

You see insulin is an anabolic hormone.  That’s a fancy scientific word that means it’s a growth hormone.  When you eat carbs, first they are turned to glucose for transport in the bloodstream, and then they are stored in your muscle cells and liver as glycogen.  When the muscle cells and liver are full, the rest of the glucose is stored as fat.  Insulin is the key to this process.  Without insulin, muscles won’t grow, and neither will fat cells.  So if you’re body can only store 20 carbs per meal (just as an example) in muscle and liver, but you’re eating 60 carbs per meal, and you’re bolusing for 60, then 40 carbs per meal will be stored as fat.  That ratio of what you store in muscle vs. what you store as fat, is different for everyone.  So I’m afraid I can’t give you a magic formula to help you lose weight.  What I can tell you, is that when you start insulin pump therapy, don’t go crazy eating whatever you want just because you don’t have to take shots anymore, and you should do fine.

If you’ve recently become diabetic, and you’re not on a pump yet, like my friend from Baghdad, a different scenario applies.  You see, if you’ve recently been diagnosed as type 1 diabetic, then you’ve not had the right amounts of insulin for a while.  This means limited muscle growth, and limited fat storage.  This is what causes the symptom of sudden, un-explainable, and rapid weight loss before you’re diagnosis, which is a telltale marker of un-diagnosed type 1 diabetes.  So now you get diagnosed, you start taking insulin, and now your body has what it needs to store the glycogen and fat properly.  So you start to gain weight again.

The key for everyone, diabetic or not, is that to control your weight, you have to control your insulin.  To control your insulin, you have to control your carbs.  Low fat diets won’t make you lose weight, and they won’t reduce your cholesterol.  A lower carb diet will (not necessarily low carb, just less carbs), and there’s science to explain why it will.  It’s not calories in, calories out, like so many trainers, doctors, nurses, and dieticians will tell you.  Insulin control is the key to weight loss.  For an amazing book that can teach you about insulin, that’s disguised as a simple diet book, read “Protien Power“.

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

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I Support The Big Blue Test

Big Blue TestI’ve been seeing posts on Twitter and Instagram with hashtags (#) for the Big Blue Test (#bigbluetest) ever since I started using Twitter at the beginning of the year.  The posts never really describe what it is, and I didn’t get curious enough to click on it until now.  I love the goal, and the idea of the Big Blue Test.  What’s the Big Blue Test?  It’s something designed to motivate people to get active, and improve their diabetes, while teaching them responsible habits about diabetes and exercise.  Watch the video below to see exactly what the Big Blue Test is trying to accomplish.

So you can see that the Big Blue Test is:

  1. Raising funds for people with diabetes who otherwise wouldn’t receive proper care.
  2. Teaching diabetics about the importance of exercise in your treatment plan.
  3. Teaching diabetics the importance of testing both before and after exercise.
  4. Motivating diabetics to get active, while building community and support around it.
  5. Raising awareness for both type 1, and type 2 diabetes.
  6. Promoting World Diabetes Day, which is November 14th.

What the video doesn’t have time to explain is exactly “why” your blood sugar drops after exercise, and how it helps control your diabetes.  It does this same thing for everyone, not just diabetics.  I’ll try to explain this for you now, from the perspective of a diabetic first, and then explain why it helps a non-diabetic.

First, I need to explain a little science.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt.  I promise.  You see, when you exercise, depending on what kind of exercise you do, you’ll burn either glucose or fatty acids.  Aerobic exercise (running, biking, cardio) burns mostly fatty acids, because it provides the body with oxygen, a necessary component for burning fat.  Anaerobic exercise (weight lifting, HIIT training), burns mostly glucose, because there’s little oxygen available.

Now for insulin’s role here.  More science, I’m sorry.  I just a geek at heart I guess.  So insulin is an anabolic hormone, which means it’s kinda like a carpenter, because it builds things.  Muscle, fat, cholesterol, and much more.  There are also catabolic hormones like glucagon that are like demolition experts, who’s job is to burn fat.   They don’t co-exist well.  If insulin is present, glucagon won’t be, and vise versa.  Remember this for later.

When you eat carbs, they’re turned into fuel (glucose) and then insulin is like a key to the muscle cell so that fuel can get inside, providing the muscle what it needs to operate and grow.  Type 1 diabetics have no insulin, so we inject it.  Type 2 diabetics have worn out their natural insulin pump, or plugged up that key hole in the muscle cell from overuse, and they’re insulin is low, or doesn’t work very well anymore.  Non diabetics have a perfectly functioning checks and balances system for insulin, that keeps them supplied with just the right amount of insulin for what they eat.

I know, I know.  What does all this have to do with the Big Blue Test?  Here’s the secret behind the importance of the Big Blue Test.  When you exercise strenuously (remember what I said about anaerobic exercise), your body doesn’t need insulin to get glucose into the muscle cell.  This . . . is . . .  huge.  For EVERYONE.  Here’s why.

You do some HIIT training like Insanity or maybe some strenuous weight lifting, leaving you out of breath.  You do this for 20 – 40 or so minutes.  After your workout, diabetic or not, your blood sugar’s gonna drop . . . . . and it can keep dropping for up to 8 hours.  (A great time for P90X Results and Recovery formula with 40 grams of dextrose)  Your need for insulin is reduced because that strenuous exercise can allow your muscles to utilize glucose without insulin for up to 8 hours after your workout.  Sounds good right?  But why?  Because reduced insulin for up to 8 hours means you have improved insulin resistance (type 2 diabetics might reverse their diabetes), you burn more fat because insulin is low (remember what I told you about glucagon), you can’t store fat because insulin is required to store it (remember what I said about insulin), less daily insulin means less money spent on diabetic supplies, and the almighty blood sugar will be lower leading to a better A1C score.  Reducing insulin levels in your blood stream improves your health in to many ways to list in this article.

How do you optimize this for fitness and diabetes?  Don’t eat carbs for 3 hours before your workout, diabetic or not.  That leaves low insulin amounts in your blood stream.  If you’re type 1, of course you may not have a choice sometimes if you go low in that 3 hour window.  Such is life.  Anyway, you’ll burn fat like crazy during your workout with low insulin levels.  After your workout, take a good protein recovery shake with a 2/1 ratio of carbs/protein for serious athletes, or 4/1 for everyone else.  This is the only time of day a diabetic will want to eat high glycemic carbs.  Everybody will want that in your blood stream ASAP.  This will help a diabetic recover from the ensuing low blood sugar, and it just plain makes everyone heal and feel better.  It’s also important for non-diabetics to do this.  This will help in your weight loss results, but the reason why is another whole blog article.

So the Big Blue Test is doing a great deal more for you than they are able to tell you in a short 1 minute video.  I hope this article has helped you understand what’s going on behind the scenes in the Big Blue Test.

If you have any questions about what I’ve explained here,
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Type 1 Diabetic: Insulin vs Glucagon

So I’ve been studying the role of glucagon in metabolism.  I wanted to know the difference between insulin vs glucagon.  I’ve never really known anything about glucagon, except that when I was a juvenile diabetic, I’d have seizures from low blood sugar, and when I saw my parents coming at me with that weird syringe, I knew it was glucagon.  They never understood that I was totally conscious during my seizures.  So anyway, I always thought glucagon was a form of ultra pure glucose or something, until I read Robb Wolf’s book “The Paleo Solution” back in March of this year.  He barely touched on glucagon, but did mention that it was a hormone, so I knew it wasn’t a form of sugar.

Well now I understand a great deal more about glucagon.  Been studying like a madman.  I understand that it’s insulin’s sister hormone, that they both come from Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  Glucagon comes from alpha cells, and insulin from beta cells.  That together, they are the core of metabolism.  A perfect feedback system that regulates energy in your body.  Glucagon is the yin, to insulin’s yang.  Glucagon releases fat to be burned, where insulin stores it for energy later.  Glucagon raises low blood sugar by signalling the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose via glyconeogenesis.  When blood sugar rises to high, insulin is secreted to store that glucose as glycogen in muscle tissue, or as fat.  When there’s insulin, you can’t burn fat.  When there’s glycogen, you can’t store fat.  Insulin is secreted when you eat carbohydrates.  Glycogen is secreted when you eat protein.

Ok, so I have the basic understanding I think?  Now, as a T1D how does glucagon work inside me, since it doesn’t work at all inside me?  I can’t find these answers yet?  I’m dying to figure this out.  I know how insulin works in a T1D.  I just take it externally.  T1D’s don’t take glucagon externally except in emergencies though, to raise blood sugar quickly.  In a T1D, those Islets of Langerhans are broken, so neither insulin nor glucagon is secreted.  When a T1D’s blood sugar falls, glucagon doesn’t bring us back up like it does in a normal person.  Haven’t you ever seen a diabetic that’s hypoglycemic?  We don’t know our own name or where we are sometimes!  So if our bodies don’t secrete glucagon, how do we burn fat?  I know we as T1D’s need to take external glucose to raise blood sugar.  Does epinepherine work in a T1D for releasing fat to be burned?  If I understand epinepherine (it’s totally possible that I don’t understand anything about all this), it can function similarly to glucagon in the release of fat for energy.  I know that T1D’s can burn fat, because I’ve done it,  but how if glucagon doesn’t work?

If anyone reading this, can explain how a T1D burns fat for energy without a working glucagon system, I would be eternally grateful.  I know I’m trying to understand something  that’s probably a whole course of material, but I’d really like to understand this.  I’m such a health nerd.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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