No joke! “759 Secrets for Beating Diabetes” is the actual title of a Reader’s Digest book. I saw it (on deep discount) while passing through the vestibule of my local Barnes and Noble. Of course, since they were published, the “secrets,” whatever they were, are no longer secret – unless, of course, nobody bought the book! That too is possible.
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 the book didn’t sell well.
To tell you the truth, the book did not pique my interest. I’m just assuming an editor had the idea to amplify on one aspect of the frequently heard advice that “beating diabetes” requires 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 specificity. So, the editor thinks, let’s tell the folks 759 lifestyle changes! Let the reader pick and choose.
Okay, I’ve had enough fun with this ridiculous book title. But the reason I had this reaction to the title is: There is just ONE secret to beating diabetes: “EAT LOW CARB!” IF EATING CARBOHYDRATES, INCLUDING SIMPLE SUGARS AND REFINED AND PROCESSED “COMPLEX” CARBOHYDRATES, AND SUGARY DRINKS, AND FRUIT, MAKES YOUR BLOOD SUGAR RISE, THEN THE SECRET TO BEATING DIABETES IS TO AVOID CARBOHYDRATES. 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 (20 grams 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 about Bernstein’s 6-12-12 program, in 50 weeks I lost another 100, and then another 20 pounds later. Bernstein’s program is 30 carb grams a day. Today, 18 years later, at 225 pounds, I am still 150 pounds lighter than when I began.
Back in 2002 when I started to eat Very Low Carb, 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 a low dose of Metformin. Along the way my HDL doubled, my triglycerides dropped by 2/3rds and my blood pressure improved on fewer BP meds. My chronic systemic inflammation marker (hsCRP) is <1.0. My A1c’s are consistently in the low 5s.
And the (other) good news is: I’m never hungry or tired. Eating Very Low Carb means my metabolism operates at a high level because, after my body digests the carbs I eat, to maintain energy balance (“homeostasis”), my body transitions to the “fasting” state from the “fed” state and starts breaking down and burning fat that is stored on my body. It can do this because, even though 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 eat VERY LOW CARB!
This enables my body to access body fat for energy without slowing down my metabolism. Body fat is stored as triglycerides. A triglyceride molecule breaks down to 3 fatty acid molecules (the main energy source of body fat), plus a glycerol molecule “backbone” which combines with another to make glucose (via gluconeogenesis), and as a by-product, a ketone body. That is why Very Low Carb is called a ketogenic diet. The brain and heart love ketones. I always feel pumped when my body is keto-adapted. I’m at my best. I have all the energy needed “to hunt.”
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, for glucose, and couldn’t access fatty acids from our fat stores because of an elevated serum insulin (especially a chronically elevated serum insulin due to “Insulin Resistance”), we’d run out of fuel. Our body’s only fuel sources are glucose (from carbs) or fatty acids (from triglycerides), period.Our metabolism would then slow down. We’d be sluggish and sleepy and hungry all the time. How then would we be able to hunt in this condition? Not 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 “bring home the bacon” (to hunt). Think about it.