My crazy blood sugar diet experiment

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My crazy blood sugar diet experiment


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Old 05-15-2016, 04:57   #1
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Default My crazy blood sugar diet experiment

I'm not normally one for fad diets, or very low calorie diets, but the miniscule (but strong) data behind the Blood Sugar Diet intrigued me. So I decided that I could try an experiment for up to 8 weeks, expecting to prove it wrong - but hoping I would not.

My 8 weeks have been interrupted by breast cancer - and the need to eat enough calories to sustain and heal me. For now I am back to pure low carb-moderate protein. But at 6 weeks (where I stopped) my personal data is intriguing enough that it's worth sharing my n=1 experiment.

For the last 6 weeks I've been eating 800 calories a day, relatively evenly balanced between carbs, proteins, and fats, combined with fasting 14-16 hours daily to give my liver a chance to clear out its glycogen stores. The first part mimics the post-bariatric surgery diet that has been linked with diabetic remission in a very high percentage of people who have the surgery (whether it is the diet or the surgery is not yet scientifically proven). The fasting is an add-on, because it fits how my body is happy and makes sense to me. (I've seen others here say the same thing about fasting until BG dips below 100 or so before they start eating the next day).

In the first week, my average BG went from ~107 average (steady since October) to 96 (95 - 97 average for each of the 6 weeks).

By the second week I was able to tolerate about a 50% increase in at least some carbs (primarily pulses). On pure LC-moderate protein, I'd only been able to eat 20 grams in a 3 hour period without my BG exceeding 140. By the second week I could eat 30+ carbs (primarily pulses) and not exceed a BG of ~120 (checked repeatedly over a 3-5 hour period to be sure I wasn't missing a delayed spike).

This sustained improvement in BG, coupled with a higher carb tolerance is particularly impressive to me, since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in week 3 - and the lower averages included several stress spikes in weeks 3-6.

I just completed a DIY Oral Glucose Tolerance test. 75 grams of sugar (juice) consumed in under 5 minutes, followed by BG tests every 30 minutes for 3 hours.

The cutoff for diabetes is 200 mg/dl at 2 hours. I was at 184 at 2 hours, and by 3 hours was back at 105. (If you look at typical diabetes curves they stay high closer to 6 hours.)

Under a low carb moderate protein diet, I have very good control. My last A1c was 5.7, with an average tested B of ~107, and I can count on 2 hands (other than the test today) the number of tests outside the normal range I have had. I'll get another A1c back on Monday - I'm expecting it to be low 5/high 4. Dietary management is nothing to sneeze at - considering the typical prognosis is that diabetes is chronic and progressive, and there's nothing you can do about it.

But the blood sugar diet + fasting appears to have gotten me a bit more - an actual improvement in glucose tolerance. (Under standard thinking - this would be attributed to weight loss - since I am down 30% of my weight since diagnosis, but that does't explain the dramatic change in average BG that coincided with starting the blood sugar diet.)

I'm not advocating everyone rush out and try this, or suggesting that it is a miracle cure. But it seems to have allowed me to take at least a small step back in time - so for me the experiment was worth it. I'll likely give it one more 8-week go, once I am fully recovered from surgery, since I had to stop at 6 weeks this time.

Regardless of whether I ever achieve what I consider remission (the ability to eat an isocaloric, maintenance diet without elevating my blood glucose out of the non-diabetic normal ranges), I expect to be eating a low (or at least lower) carb diet the rest of my life - since I don't want to risk creeping back into the 7.2 A1C range where I was diagnosed.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

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Old 05-15-2016, 05:49   #2
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Bummer - word of caution about my DIY OGTT. I searched ahead of time for the right fast-acting carb to consume - and picked juice as the easiest to accurately measure of all of the suggestions. It appears that, despite the fact that many of us can't tolerate much (if any) fruit at all - some people have little to no serum glucose response at all to fructose. I think I respond to it equivalently to starchy carbohydrates - but I have not extensively tested it.

Oh well. Not going to repeat the test for a while - so for now the other indicia of change are more persuasive.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

500 mg Metformin ER
50 mcg levothyroxine
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Diet: Max 20 net carbs/3 hours - 50 net carbs/day; protein target 60 g/day; calorie cap 1200
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Old 05-15-2016, 15:06   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neohdiver View Post
Bummer - word of caution about my DIY OGTT. I searched ahead of time for the right fast-acting carb to consume - and picked juice as the easiest to accurately measure of all of the suggestions. It appears that, despite the fact that many of us can't tolerate much (if any) fruit at all - some people have little to no serum glucose response at all to fructose. I think I respond to it equivalently to starchy carbohydrates - but I have not extensively tested it.

Oh well. Not going to repeat the test for a while - so for now the other indicia of change are more persuasive.
To actually make comparisons to the clinical standards, you need to use pure glucose or dextrose. Some labs use a few grams more if it's dextrose but many just use 75g regardless. They're almost identical. But SUGAR (glucose:fructose) does not an OGTT make. It's very easy to come by on the internet and you can get a little very accurate grams scale for $10 or less.

That's what I do every 5 - 12 months.

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Old 05-15-2016, 15:39   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smorgan View Post
To actually make comparisons to the clinical standards, you need to use pure glucose or dextrose. Some labs use a few grams more if it's dextrose but many just use 75g regardless. They're almost identical. But SUGAR (glucose:fructose) does not an OGTT make. It's very easy to come by on the internet and you can get a little very accurate grams scale for $10 or less.

That's what I do every 5 - 12 months.
I have a scale - I've been generally tracking everything I eat since October, and very precisely tracking since December (aside from occasional outside prepared sources). It's how I'm very certain about what I can tolerate and what I can't - and that there was an actual change when I started the blood sugar diet.

I'm not terribly concerned about precise clinical standards - there's enough meter variation to make that impossible in a home test. But I do want to get close enough to have confirmation, from a second source, that I actually have improved. So for now I may repeat with jelly beans (two peer reviewed experiments demonstrated them to generate equivalent serum blood glucose responses to a glucose beverage). I might as well have fun with the rare sugar treat.

(Once I finish round w - perhaps 6 months from now - I'll do a more formal test with pure glucose from a reputable source.)

Just out of curiosity - why do you do an OGTT so frequently? I had the impression that most folks around here would sooner eat bullets than voluntarily consume that many carbs.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

500 mg Metformin ER
50 mcg levothyroxine
5 mcg liothyronine

Diet: Max 20 net carbs/3 hours - 50 net carbs/day; protein target 60 g/day; calorie cap 1200
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Old 05-15-2016, 16:16   #5
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neodiver....Sorry I did not go back and read all of your prior posts, so if my comment is 'off base' I apologize in advance, but I have to ask the question have you tried to follow the model of LCHF that most of us advocate?

And if you have tried it, why did you feel the need to try this experiment? I just want to have a bigger understanding of what lead you to this?

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Old 05-15-2016, 20:22   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by div2live View Post
neodiver....Sorry I did not go back and read all of your prior posts, so if my comment is 'off base' I apologize in advance, but I have to ask the question have you tried to follow the model of LCHF that most of us advocate?

And if you have tried it, why did you feel the need to try this experiment? I just want to have a bigger understanding of what lead you to this?
Absolutely. Although I describe it differently - I have a carb cap (it has been 20 grams of carb within a 3 hour period, based on what my meter tolerates), a protein target (60 grams), and a calorie cap. Calories remaining above the carb and protein come from fat - so that means I tend to eat 60-80 grams of fat a day. But I don't treat fat as a goal.

It is an extremely effective management tool for me. I've been following it since the day I was diagnosed - before I even found this forum. The calorie cap is not essential to maintaining control over my glucose (I had control before I lost my first pound). The calorie cap is because I prefer to be within "normal" weight ranges for my height - and I'm taking advantage of the momentum I currently have with respect to being attentive to what I'm eating to address my weight, as well. Within 3 days of diagnosis (again, before I found this forum) my blood glucose was within normal limits - and has stayed there since last October with fewer above normal readings than I need two hands to count. (My cholesterol dropped to normal, as well.)

That said, I don't enjoy eating as much fat as I am eating at 1200 calories - and since any calories I will have to add once I reach my weight goal have to come from fat, the prospect of increasing my fat intake by ~300 calories isn't something I look forward to.

I'll do it if I have to, because the consequences of out of control blood glucose are worse than any damage eating that much fat long term might do (that I am aware of so far). Aside from personal taste preferences, there are good solid short-term studies of LCHF diets (in the range of 1-3 years) but little long-term research that is specific to very low carb combined with high fat. Most of the longer studies don't define low carb comparably to each other, don't control for fat, don't control for calories, etc. So, from my personal tolerance for risk, I was comfortable committing to eating the "top-off" calories from fat for as long as it took to get to the weight I wanted - with the expectation that I would do more research this summer, before I committed to it forever. (That was before breast cancer came along - cancer has my research attention for the foreseeable future.)

That said - the qualifier for staying on a LC-moderate protein diet is "if I have to." If there is a way to actually put diabetes in remission, remission of any disease is always preferable to management. Dr. Roy Taylor's research on diets that mimic the post-bariatric surgery diets, while small - is extremely thorough and compelling, particularly combined with the post-surgical remission studies. At least compelling enough for me to give it a try. From my own personal risk tolerance - 8 weeks is not long enough to ruin my health - and if I don't attain remission, I haven't lost anything and still have a good management tool - the low carb diet.

Even if I achieve remission, carb indulgences will be a treat rather than am every cay occurrence. But I will increase pulses (which some studies suggest are helpful to maintaining good control - but eating them was mostly an impossibility prior to trying the blood sugar diet). Perhaps I'll add some some grains, and multi-color root vegetables on an occasional basis, meter permitting.

(Personally - the calorie limit has been a non-issue. It hasn't been any more difficult than counting calories ever is - Once I set my mind to counting something - whether carbs or calories or both, I can maintain it for around 3 years before I get bored. I don't seem to have the normal hunger cues - I get cravings (including from some fats and the absence of grain-based carbs), but I just don't get hungry - so the fat-satiation of LCHF is not a benefit for me personally.)

TLDR: Remission, if it is possible, is a better personal outcome than management. I did the research, and (for me personally) it was worth a try.

My rationale is similar trying LCHF rather than the standard medical recommendation. The outcome, if it can be achieved, is more desirable. I did enough research to be convinced it was safe for the limited time I intended to try it. And - relevant as well - once it became not safe because of my cancer diagnosis I stopped it. Ultimately left all my good options still open if the experiment failed.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

500 mg Metformin ER
50 mcg levothyroxine
5 mcg liothyronine

Diet: Max 20 net carbs/3 hours - 50 net carbs/day; protein target 60 g/day; calorie cap 1200
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Old 05-15-2016, 20:30   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smorgan View Post
To actually make comparisons to the clinical standards, you need to use pure glucose or dextrose. Some labs use a few grams more if it's dextrose but many just use 75g regardless. They're almost identical. But SUGAR (glucose:fructose) does not an OGTT make. It's very easy to come by on the internet and you can get a little very accurate grams scale for $10 or less.

That's what I do every 5 - 12 months.
So now I've repeated it with a glucose source that has profiled in a way that is statistically similar to pure glucose. The results are even better (in a way that makes sense compared to the profiles I've found for fructose).

Slightly higher peak, slightly earlier, sharper drop-off.

At 2 hours, BG was 161. Back to the starting level at 2.5 hours.

Next time (at least 6 months from now) I'll acquire the glucose from a reputable source. For now, my curiosity is satisfied.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

500 mg Metformin ER
50 mcg levothyroxine
5 mcg liothyronine

Diet: Max 20 net carbs/3 hours - 50 net carbs/day; protein target 60 g/day; calorie cap 1200
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Old 05-15-2016, 22:00   #8
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First, so sorry that you were diagnosed with cancer. It's a road none of us want to travel.

My own non-voluntary experiment indicates that it is the 800 calorie/day diet and weight loss and not the fasting. I was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago this month and was at a slightly less than 800 calorie diet due to total lack of appetite and nausea for 3 months (lost 30 pounds). I too had MUCH lower BG overall during this period and it continued for a good 6-8 months afterwards according to my A1C tests.

Now, my diet wasn't as balanced as yours. I could eat NO vegetables without pain. I could not eat poultry, beef or pork, or bread, but could eat eggs, dairy products and fish. Bananas were the only fruit I could stand. Unfortunately, this very low calorie (and low fat) diet mucked up my gall bladder and that had to be removed about 6 months later. I was able to eat vegetables again after that.

If you keep the fat up some (to avoid gall bladder issues), your diet does seem a good way to get uncontrolled BG down if you have weight to lose. I'll have to take a look at that.

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Old 05-15-2016, 22:23   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunjee View Post
First, so sorry that you were diagnosed with cancer. It's a road none of us want to travel.

My own non-voluntary experiment indicates that it is the 800 calorie/day diet and weight loss and not the fasting. I was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago this month and was at a slightly less than 800 calorie diet due to total lack of appetite and nausea for 3 months (lost 30 pounds). I too had MUCH lower BG overall during this period and it continued for a good 6-8 months afterwards according to my A1C tests.

Now, my diet wasn't as balanced as yours. I could eat NO vegetables without pain. I could not eat poultry, beef or pork, or bread, but could eat eggs, dairy products and fish. Bananas were the only fruit I could stand. Unfortunately, this very low calorie (and low fat) diet mucked up my gall bladder and that had to be removed about 6 months later. I was able to eat vegetables again after that.

If you keep the fat up some (to avoid gall bladder issues), your diet does seem a good way to get uncontrolled BG down if you have weight to lose. I'll have to take a look at that.
Sorry to hear about your health issues - it sounds as if you are better now?

The balance is one of the things I like about the blood sugar diet. At 800 calories, I'm eating a roughly equal balance between fat, protein, and carbohydrates. That is an increase in carbohydrates (including more fruit on a regular basis), and a decrease in fats. Down the road - if it is successful - I would expect to be eating around 1500 calories a day, probably slightly higher in fats than carbohydrates, but not as lopsided as it needs to be if all I'm doing is dietary management.

As between weight loss and daily calories, there was no change in glucose tolerance that I could detect for the first 49 lbs, on a low carb diet. There was a nearly instantaneous change (from an average BG of 107 to an average of 96) in the first week of the blood sugar diet. That remained steady throughout (range 95-97), after 6 months of stabilization between 107 and 108. So either I hit the magic weight number coincidentally at the same time as I started the new diet, or it is the 800 calories.

I'm actually having a slow debate email debate about which it is with Dr. Taylor - since his current public stance is that 800 calories (very low calorie diet) has nothing to do with it. It is all weight loss. Despite the fact that he modeled his research on post-bariatric surgery diets, and the two completed and one ongoing study he is running ALL use 600-800 calories as part of the study. I have not seen any data (other than data unscientifically and voluntarily reported to him) of remission solely based on weight loss. I'm disappointed that he has been so quick to extrapolate his data to conclusions that I don't believe his data supports.

I'm just at the top of the normal range - so I can afford another 8 weeks at 800 calories, once this cancer thing is put to bed.

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2 October 2015 (diagnosis) - HbA1c 7.2% - weight 197.3 lbs :: 7 March 2016 - First post-diagnosis check-up: Down 44 lbs, HbA1c 5.7%; all cholesterol values within normal ranges:: 20 March 2016 current weight 148.4 lbs

500 mg Metformin ER
50 mcg levothyroxine
5 mcg liothyronine

Diet: Max 20 net carbs/3 hours - 50 net carbs/day; protein target 60 g/day; calorie cap 1200
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Old 05-16-2016, 00:28   #10
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Very interested in following your experiment, though admit to doing it with considerable envy that you don't get hunger cues.

Some years ago I went on an ill-conceived diet that involved 600-800 calories/day. Lost weight, but the desire to gnaw my arm off was my constant companion. More importantly, there was nothing interesting, experimental or noble in the effort.

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