Reversing Diabetes with Weight Loss: Stronger Evidence, Bigger Payoff

In an article I read today in Endocrine Web, by Kathleen Doheny

Every year, about 1.5 million Americans learn they have diabetes. However, there are more than 7 million adults who have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. This matters since we are learning that the best chance of reversing diabetes seems to occur very early in the onset of the disease. Finding from several recent studies indicate that the timing of diagnosis matters a lot.

If you have diabetes, your doctor may have encouraged you to consider making lifestyle changes; for many, that may include losing weight. While that same message has been discussed for years, recent evidence suggests that achieving about a 10% weight loss may be even more important than experts thought—with a payoff that is greater than previously imagined.

Endocrine Web, by Kathleen Doheny

So you don’t have to lose all your excess weight to get a benefit from weight loss. As noted above, even a weight loss of 10% has a powerful effect on your A1C levels. This should be a great incentive for diabetics who, like me, have been identified as obese, or even merely fat or overweight.

After nearly three months I can say that fasting is making my health a little better, including reductions in A1C but also including things like mobility. I can actually reach down and touch my toes for the first time in a long time. Fungal infections have been radically reduced already. And my sense of hope for the future is significantly better.

What some authors have written about is the profound effect that fasting and weight loss have on the emotional health of a person. This may be something I’m prepared to write about in the future, but right now I feel like I’m on a roller coaster emotionally, really happy with my results one moment, and anxious about further progress the next.

My wife was diagnosed with Type two diabetes about the same time as I started my fasting program. She tried fasting the same amount as did I, but found that she simply couldn’t sustain a fast for so many hours, so she reduced the fasting to 16 hours and also continued to cut carbs and sugar in the rest of the day. Barely two months into her lifestyle change, including the reductions in carbs and sugar, she managed to reduce her A1C from 11+ down to 7.4.

She also lost some weight but not really that much. The thing is that her BMI is a healthy 24 so she really didn’t need to lose weight, as much as she needed to reduce carbs. A ten pound weight loss translated into a radical change in her blood sugars, and indeed in her medication requirements after the test.

I’m really proud of her accomplishment is such a short time, and firmly believe that if she continues in this direction that she will effectively a “non-diabetic” by spring, if not sooner.

I still hover around 215 pounds, but my blood sugars came down to 7.0 from 8.1 two months ago. My family doctor was pretty surprised and pleased with my progress. The biggest thing I keep reminding myself is that Rome wasn’t built in a day. My obesity is the result of 25 or 30 years of overindulging carbs and sugars, and it’s taking me some time to get the weight off. So be it. I already notice and now so are some of friends and family.


Counting Carbs

Dietician working on diet plan for weight loss and right nutrition concept. Source: BS

Canada urgently needs a diabetes strategy – just not necessarily the one that Diabetes Canada would have us believe is the right path

The following information is from Diabetes Canada – Basic carbohydrate counting for diabetes management. The charts and recommendations are EXACTLY as outlined in their PDF file available from the Diabetes Canada website

Following the information provided by Diabetes Canada, I will discuss briefly my own take on what this actually means, in the context of intermittent fasting and the low carb lifestyles recommended by Dr. Fung in his Diabetes Code.

STEP 1 Make healthy food choices

  • Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.
  • Use added fats in small amounts. This helps to control your weight and blood cholesterol.
  • Choose portion sizes to help you to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

STEP 2 Focus on carbohydrate

  • Your body breaks down carbohydrate into sugar (glucose). This raises your blood sugar levels.
  • Carbohydrate is found in many foods including grains and starches, fruits, some vegetables, legumes, milk and milk alternatives, sugary foods and many prepared foods.
  • Meat and alternatives, most vegetables and fats contain little carbohydrate. Moderate servings will not have a big effect on blood sugar levels.

STEP 3 Set carbohydrate goals

  • Your dietitian will help you set a goal for grams of carbohydrate at each meal and snack. This may be the same from day to day or may be flexible, depending on your needs.
  • Aim to meet your target within 5 grams per meal or snack.

STEP 4 Determine carbohydrate content

  • Write down what you eat and drink throughout the day.
  • Be sure to note the portion sizes. You may need to use measuring cups and food scales to be accurate.
  • Record the grams of carbohydrate in these foods and drinks.
  • For carbohydrate content of foods, check the Beyond the Basics resources, food packages, food composition books, restaurant fact sheets and websites.

STEP 5 Monitor effect on blood sugar level

  • Work with your health-care team to correct blood sugar levels that are too high or too low.

My take on the information provided above by Diabetes Canada is that it is great information, as far as it goes… Which means that I think that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Trust is a dangerous game.
—via Quotes ‘nd Notes

VARIATION 1 Make healthy food choices – just not the ones implied

Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.

Diabetes Canada

This is only one point of view, and one that isn’t necessarily all that helpful, especially since built into the advice are prejudices about the virtues of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat. From my reading in the recent past I am now vitally convinced that the international obsession with starch and sugar based foods (ie: vegetables, fruit, and whole grains) is the fundamental CAUSE of the current epidemic of diabetes. Included in this obsession is the unproven argument against fat and meat.

Recent articles and books on the subject suggest strongly that the prejudice against fat has directly led the world’s health practitioners and public health authorities to make recommendations that have strongly affected whole populations into wrong minded and dangerous eating habits.

So the first point is almost right. Just totally wrong about low fat, oh, and about having a healthy mixture of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Generally one considers that the first items listed in a list of recommended items should be the items encouraged and supported as the primary source of dietary energy. And this would be WRONG! Sugars and starches should never constitute more than about 10%, maybe 15% of your daily calories. The rest should be made up of proteins and fats, as your primary source of dietary energy for life.

And portion sizes are really important – mostly to keep the amount of starches and sugars to the lowest possible levels, to allow the body to use fat as a primary sources of energy, leaving dietary sugar and starches to supplementary roles.

VARIATION 2 – Don’t trust traditional dieticians or doctors to give you good dietary or lifestyle advice.

Don’t trust you dietician to set goals for you, especially regarding carbs, sugars, fats and protein. Most dieticians today have been trained in a world where fat and protein (especially from red meat) have demonized and starches and sugars elevated to saintly status. Most cook books, dietician training materials, and schools are teaching the same poisoned information that has led us into the diabetic disaster that is underscoring modern lifestyles.

If you want to continue to fight with obesity and diabetes, then follow the Canada or US National Health Strategies, because doing so with take you down the same path as millions of us who are now suffering from severe diabetes, and other side effects of this advice and governmentally supported policy.

On the other hand, if you want to get off the Merry Go Round, and start to live a healthy, happy life, start to adopt what is considered to be a radically reduced diet of sugars and starches. Take your primary sustenance from meat, butter, eggs and fat, or even from vegetables rich in fat. Sugars and starches should be considered as purely luxury items, to be consumed sparsely, and in consideration of their potential for causing harm

Fast Changes

At the end of another week of three 36 hour fasts, I’m contemplating how much my life has already changed, and how much it may still change, as I continue my fasting and attack on diabetes.

Changing your lifestyle is the first key to beating diabetes

First of all, I currently weigh about 30 pounds less than when I started on the low carb high fat program. Fasting started about two weeks later, after I took the time to consult with my endocrinologist about how to manage my blood sugars during my fasting. We had already switched to two different types of insulin, long acting and fast acting, and I’m using the new meter that tests all day long, so he felt that the risk of a dangerous low could be managed.

Secondly, I now know that fasting isn’t really all that hard, for me. I suspect that motivation is a huge part of this, but fasting seems pretty straightforward to me now. Take care of my insulin and blood glucose levels, otherwise just don’t eat. Anything. Instead of it being hard, it’s been pretty easy, and the results so far are gratifying.

Weighing myself every day has become a lifetime habit. Getting my weight to a better levels is one of the keys to improving my diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, and many other inflammatory problems and diseases.

I made the change to my lifestyle on July 10, and began fasting near the end of the month. It’s now the end of the first week of September so I’m approach two months into the program. My insulin levels are lower than ever as are my glucose readings. I take half of the prescribed dose of long acting insulin these days, and no fast acting insulin at all on my fasting days, and about three quarters of the previous prescibed dose on my non fasting days.

The biggest concern is keeping my blood sugars high enough not to end up in a coma from hypoglycemia from having too much insulin in my system and lowering my blood sugar too much. In more than 20 years of trying to manage my diabetes low blood sugar was never ever a remote possibility, even after being on insulin, as my blood sugars were always higher than desireable.

I recently made two new holes in my belt to keep my pants from falling down, after moving from the last belt hole at the other extreme. I didn’t measure my waist when I started because I was too embarrassed to admit how big I had become. Now I wish that I had because I’m shrinking fast.

When I started this fast, I told myself that I would stay the course for three months, and then re-evaluate where I’m at then, from a health perspective as well as general feeling perspective. I also said that I would be happy if I were to get my weight under 200 lbs or 90 KG by the end of the 90 days of fasting. Today I weigh 217 lbs, down from 244 lbs on July 10th. I believe that I will achieve both goals, at which time I will commit to the next phase of this program.

I wish I could say that there have been no negative effects of fasting. It’s a little early to make that statement. What I can say is that there haven’t been any, so far.

Children and diabetes

I’m current working through the discovery that diabetes and obesity are the evil twins of post-second war American policy in health care and diets. If you read about the history of high carb, low fat diets you soon discover that the United States, and the rest of the world, were conned years ago, about the benefits of high carbs and the dangers of fat, any fat, but especially fat from animal sources. These policies were initiated by the National Health authorities to try to reduce heart disease but instead have led to several generations of increasingly unhealthy populations.

We are taught all the wrong things, for good reasons but terrible outcomes.

Children don’t eat too much. But their choices are influenced by what they are taught by their parents as well as what they see in the media, and on social media. All of the sources of information are tainted by misinformation pumped out by a combination of well meaning but uninformed dieticians, medical doctors, school authorities, health boards and urged on by corporate interests who make money selling foods based on this advice. Eating foods that inevitably bring on obesity, as surely as clouds bring on the rain, is dangerous. Childhood habits encourage the eating of carbs and sugar, rather than healthier alternatives.

Our generation is perhaps the last generation that needs to be poisoned by the demonization of fats and the promotion of carbs and sugars. The recent book by Dr. Jason Fung, the Diabetes Code, should be must reading for everyone responsible for feeding themselves, but especially for anyone responsible for giving advice on healthy eating and living.

Reviews for the Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung

I am currently on a fasting program outlined in the Diabetic Code by Dr. Fung. Here are some reviews by other, professional doctors and experts, who might be better qualified to give a review. From my point of view what Dr. Fung does extremely well is combine recently discovered truths, and rediscovered nutritional wisdom from the past, in a readable and applicable book. It inspired me to change my life.

DONALD B. WILSON BA MAOM, author of the Rain Coast Review, a recent blogger on diabetes and health.

“By understanding the underlying cause of the disease, Dr. Fung reveals how [type 2 diabetes] can be prevented and also reversed using natural dietary methods instead of medications. This is an important and timely book. Highly recommended.”

MARK HYMAN, MD, author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

“With rich scientific support, Dr. Jason Fung has sounded a clarion call to re-evaluate how we view and treat diabetes. Considering that roughly half of all adults worldwide are diabetic or on their way (pre-diabetes), The Diabetes Code is essential reading.”

DR. BENJAMIN BIKMAN, Associate Professor of Physiology, Brigham Young University

“In The Diabetes Code, Dr. Fung lays out the case for eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates and replacing them with whole foods with healthy fats. Dr. Fung gives an easy-to-follow solution to reversing type 2 diabetes by addressing the root cause, diet.”

MARIA EMMERICH, author of The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse

“In this terrific and hopeful book, Dr. Fung teaches you everything you need to know about how to reverse type 2 diabetes. It could change the world.”

DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT, author of Low Carb, High Fat Food Revolution

The Diabetes Code should be on the bookshelf of every physician and any patient struggling with blood sugar control.”

CARRIE DIULUS, MD, medical director of the Crystal Clinic Spine Wellness Center

The Diabetes Code is unabashedly provocative yet practical . . . a clear blueprint for everyone to take control of their blood sugar, their health, and their lives.”

DR. WILL COLE, leading functional medicine practitioner and educator at drwillcole.com

“With his trademark humor, Jason Fung exposes the secret that type 2 diabetes can be reversed with the right combination of diet and lifestyle—you can reclaim your health and vitality. Dr. Fung will teach you how.”

AMY BERGER, MS, CNS, author of The Alzheimer’s Antidote

The Diabetes Code clears the fog around type 2 diabetes and underscores that for most people, it is preventable or reversible.”

DR. KARIM KHAN, MD, British Journal of Sports Medicine

Fasting for my life

I’m current engaged in intermittent fasting. That is I fast three days a week for 36 hours each day of fasting. I thought it would be hell. I was wrong.

I’ve previously blogged about why I’m fasting. It’s a part of getting rid of diabetes from my life, in as much as that is possible. It’s a part of a change in eating habits that started in my childhood and led me to becoming a Type 2 Diabetic before I was 40 years old.

Prior to starting the change, on July 10, 2019, I weighed in at 244 pounds (111.13 kilograms), about 80 (36 kg) pounds above my ideal recommended weight of 165 (75 kg) pounds. Even that is more than the Canada Health Guide suggests would be my healthiest weight. The guide suggests that I should weigh between 145 (65lg) and 165 (75 kg) another 20 pounds (9 kg) less.

Whichever weight guide I use the real point of this fast is not really about weight, or even the Body Mass Index. (I was at 45 BMI when I started this.) It is about my diabetes and my obesity. Losing fat is precisely the point of this exercise, in that it is fat, particularly around the waist and in the internal organs that is the source of insulin resistance itself, the precursor and the cause of Type 2 Diabetes.

According to Dr. Jason Fung, in the Diabetic Code, one of the most effective ways to reduce and eventually eliminate diabetes is to fast on an intermittent basis for sufficiently long enough for the body to attack and consume the fat in the liver, the pancreas, and the other internal organs responsible for regulating insulin production and diabetes. My 36 hour fasting periods are recommended by Dr. Fung, along with a much reduced carbohydrate load on the days I do eat. By doing the fast it is suggeted I will cause my body to start using the fat accumulated in my internal organs, even before I lose significant weight from elsewhere in my body.

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. Ezra Taft Benson

Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ezra_taft_benson_556127?src=t_fasting

So what is it like? Fasting three days a week for about a day and a half each time? It’s not hell! That much I can say. I have found that I don’t really miss eating on my fasting days, although food is very much still top of mind. I’m constantly reminded of the fact I’m fasting by the smells and sights of food being consumed and promoted.

Truthfully, on my non-fasting days I have more problems with food than on the days I don’t eat at all. It is hard to make the adjustment to eating meals with substantially less carbs and sugars than I am used to. There are whole types of foods that used to be my main diet that I no longer eat, including things like pasta, potatoes in the form of french fries or chips, bread served at every meals, desserts like donuts which I used to eat at lunch every day.

And even at that, I don’t really miss the high calorie carb and sugar foods like pop and cookies. I quickly figured out that the low carb diet didn’t mean that I have to go hungry, but simply means that I fill up on other things that don’t cause my liver to produce more insulin and convert more sugars and carbs in more and more fat. I’m eating more fish, meat and fatty foods like avocados. Until now I have never thought of eggs as healthy, or as a main source of protein and fat, in a good way.

I’m having to unlearn bad food habits, both in the sense of things I now avoid, as well as things I eat more. My diet is getting more interesting and diverse, because no longer do I use sugar in food to make it palatable. Sugar is fine is small doses. Really small doses!

I still eat potatoes. Really small potatoes, and not deep fried. And only a small amount of potatoes with my dinner meals, if any at all. Same with rice and pasta. Same with really sugary fruits, like my standard apples and bananas. Now I eat a lot of salads, with my meat or eggs or fish or vegetable proteins.

This is my fourth week of fasting three times a week, for 36 hours each time. Oh, and by the way, I am losing weight and fat around my belly. So far my belt is now on the smallest hole setting. I’ll need a new belt soon, as I keep going.

The first couple of weeks on my changed diet, even before I started the fasting part, I lost 10 pounds, and I immediately lost another ten pounds in the first three weeks of fasting, But my weight has been static for a few days after that initial success. For the past five days my weight has been going up and down about five pounds. Hopefully I’ll break through to a new low soon and quit cycling. But whether or not I’m losing weight quickly or slowly I know that I’m pushing my body to clean up the fat in my liver, and that’s the whole point of this.

I’ll be touch, as I continue this journey where I’ve never gone before.


Fasting: For my health’s sake

I started an intermittent fast a little over a week ago. By this I mean that three times a week, for 36 hours in the row, I don’t eat anything.

Nothing.

Nada.

On the days between my fasting, I eat less than 150 carbs including sugars, but mostly avoid anything with added sugars. I do eat some fruit in the form of berries, apples, bananas, and other fruits, but no more than two servings (basically half an apple is one serving).

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My plan is to do this for at least three months, or until I don’t need to do it to get rid of my diabetes. I’ve had diabetes for a long time, and have been on insulin for about 10 years or so. I’ve been told all of my life that diabetes is incurable, but treatable with diet and exercise. My doctors have always told me that it is a progressive disease. Over time it gets worse and worse. Which it has in my case. That is, gotten worse and worse.

My doctor and I decided to try the new patch and Free Style Meter, along with long lasting insulin and fast acting insulin. Basically my previous insulin regime had caused me to increase my weight to 245 pounds. I’d already been diagnosed as obese by my family doctor for more than twenty years, and I’d never weighed more that 220 prior to going on insulin. This new meter and new type of insulin is supposed to be an improvement over the previous mixed insulin (Humulin 30/70). The doctor said that he hoped that it would lower my AIC by reducing my base blood sugar to 7, and cause my blood sugar to fall to 10mml within two hours of eating, after taking fast acting insulin.

He felt that the change in metering by blood sugars and changing to two different types of insulin, might result in better A1C after ninety days.

Wow! Was he surprised when he saw me after 90 days, during which I’d only had the meter and new meds for about three weeks. My AIC was down from 9.9 to 8.1. My weight was down to 234 pounds from 244. My blood pressure was stable. This represented a major change in direction. For the first time in 20 years of having diabetes my weight was going in the right direction without me having to spend a month in the hospital. My blood sugars had also dropped so that my every day blood sugar range was then 5-8 mmls routinely, with only periodic spikes up to 9 or higher.

In the past I would have been ecstatic with these results, but reading Dr. Jason Fung’s “Diabetic Code” has taught me that not only can diabetes be controlled, it can be beaten altogether. But only by following a regime that allows the liver and internal organs to cleanse themselves of internal fat, will I get rid of diabetes for myself. And that regime is intermittent fasting. As the doctor indicates in his book there are many ways to achieve the results desired by different fasts but he recommends the fasting schedule and routing I’m following.

Close-up of female nurse showing heart shape with hands isolated on white background

Starting eleven days ago, I have been fasting, and following Dr. Fung’s advice. And yes, it’s been a bit of a challenge. But mostly convincing my family and friends that I’m not out of my mind and am endangering my life with such a radical change, and so quickly.

This is my fifth day of fasting, and I couldn’t be happier with my results, even after such a short period. My blood sugars have gone down and down, now typically in the target range of 5.8 to 7.8 every day. I now control my insulin, reducing the amount given to the amount needed to maintain my blood sugars in the optimal zone. On fasting days I take a 20 unit shot at midnight, and during the day watch my blood sugar coast along at 4.5. I’m almost ready to cut it again. But before I do that I think I will cut out one of my oral medications first, and set what effect this has on my sugars.

Diabetes is controllable and probably to a degree that it is no longer evident at all. But even if all I could hope to achieve was my current results, I would have been very satisfied with myself.

But I’ve just started.

So, my faithful reader, keep reading. I keep shrinking, and getting healthier.