I’m not joking; “759 Secrets for Beating Diabetes” is the actual title of a Reader’s Digest book. I saw it (on deep discount) in the vestibule of my local Barnes and Noble. I’m not surprised, really. Of course, the fact that it was published is proof that the “secrets” are no longer secret, whatever they were. I know, calling them “secrets” is a rhetorical trick publishers use to pique your interest. It is possible, though, that no one bought the book.
However, 759 is an awful lot of “secrets” to slog through to learn how to “beat diabetes.” And how would you decide which of 759 “secrets” to try? No one could try them all! Maybe that’s the reason it didn’t sell well.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t open the book. I’m just assuming an editor had the idea to amplify on one aspect of the frequently heard advice that “beating diabetes” requires a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. And lifestyles are multi-factorial. But 759 factors? Maybe the editor read somewhere that, since a “CALORIE IN = CALORIE OUT,” the way to beat diabetes was to “MOVE MORE AND EAT LESS” or “DIET AND EXERCISE” or “EAT HEALTHY.” These are all familiar, if erroneous, memes, and all lacking in specifics. So, the editor thinks, let’s tell the folks 759 ways to make a lifestyle change! Then, let the reader pick. But with so many, isn’t it likely that some will be contradictory?!!!
Okay, I’ve had enough fun with this BS. But the reason I had this reaction to the ridiculous title of that book is: There is just ONE secret to beating diabetes: “EAT SMART!” IF EATING CARBOHYDRATES, INCLUDING SIMPLE SUGARS, AND REFINED AND PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES, AND SUGARY DRINKS, AND FRUIT, MAKES YOUR BLOOD SUGAR RISE, THEN THE SECRET TO BEATING DIABETES IS TO NOT EAT CARBS. THAT’S EATING SMART!
Hey, I lost 170 pounds by just eating, strictly, Very Low Carb (VLC). I lost the first 60 on Atkins Induction (20g of carbs a day). Then, after a few years of maintaining that loss, I gained 12 pounds back over a summer. So, having just read Richard K. Bernstein’s “Diabetes Diet,” I lost another 100 over a year, and then another 20 later. Bernstein’s program is 30g a day. Today, 15 years later, I am still 150 pounds lighter than when I began.
Back in 2002 when I started to eat VLC, to avoid hypos in the first week I had to stop taking most of my oral antidiabetic medications. I was maxed out on two and had just started a third. Today, I only take Metformin. Along the way my HDL doubled, my triglycerides dropped by 2/3rds and my blood pressure improved on the same BP meds. My chronic systemic inflammation marker (hsCRP) is <1.0. My A1c’s are consistently in the 5s.
And the (other) good news is: I’m never hungry or tired. Eating VLC means my metabolism operates at a high level because after my body digests the low-carb foods I eat, to maintain energy balance (“homeostasis”), my body transitions from the “fed” state to breaking down and burning fat that is stored in my body (the “fasting” state). It can do this because, although as a type 2 diabetic I do have insulin resistance (IR), my serum insulin levels remain low because my serum glucose levels remain low because I abstain from eating carbs!
This enables my body to access the body fat for energy without slowing down my metabolism. Body fat is in the form of triglycerides. When a triglyceride molecule breaks down, it forms 3 fatty acid molecules (the main energy source of body fat), plus a glycerol molecule which can be combined with another to make glucose (via gluconeogenesis), and as a by-product, a ketone body. That is why this is called a ketogenic diet. The brain and the heart love ketones. I always feel pumped when my body is keto-adapted. That’s when I’m at my best.Imagine this. If our “natural” diet was 55% to 60% carbohydrates, as our government tells us it should be, and we ran out of carbs to eat and couldn’t access our fat stores because of an elevated serum insulin, we’d run out of fuel. Our metabolism would slow down. We’d be sluggish and sleepy and hungry all the time. How then would we be able to hunt in this state? Without being lean. Without using fatty acids and ketones for fuel. Eating Low Carb is how our forebears survived. They had to be functioning at their best to hunt. Think about it.