Certainly a low carb approach doesn’t work with Type 1’s, right? What about the dangerous risks of hypoglycemia? Actually, this thinking is repeated over and over. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, those using a low carbohydrate high healthy fat (LCHF) approach have much more stable blood sugars, some nearly eliminating hypoglycemic episodes altogether. It really makes perfect sense. Why this reasoning is shunned, defies logic. Think about it…less (fast acting, blood-sugar-spiking) carbs, less insulin, less hypos.
Before we go further in this post, I’d like you to read this powerfully compelling account of Dr. Keith Runyan, MD, a Nephrologist, who is a Type 1, and who successfully uses a carb restricted approach to manage his diabetes. Please read his story (link below). There is no way I could do this story justice in fewer words. The entire article is needed to understand its full impact. Afterwards, I would recommend his accompanying video.
Read Dr. Runyan’s story HERE
Nutritional Ketosis vs Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Much of the backlash from mainstream beliefs regarding the use of carb restriction with Type 1’s stems from the lack of understanding about the difference between nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis. I’m going to quote directly from Diabetes Daily Website. Here is the content of their article entitled “Why DKA and Nutritional Ketosis Are Not The Same”…(read the full article HERE
“There’s a very common misconception and general misunderstanding around ketones. Specifically, the misunderstanding lie in the areas of:
- ketones that are produced in low-carb diets of generally less than 50g of carbs per day, which is low enough to put a person into a state of “nutritional ketosis.”
- ketones that are produced when a diabetic is in a state of “diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
- and lastly, there are “starvation ketones” and “illness-induced ketones.”
The fact is they are VERY different. DKA is a dangerous state of ketosis that can easily land a diabetic in the hospital, while nutritional ketosis is the result of a nutritional approach that both non-diabetics and diabetics can achieve in low-carb nutrition.”
“Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a very dangerous state where an individual with uncontrolled diabetes is effectively starving due to the lack of insulin. Insulin brings glucose into our cells and without it, the body switches to ketones. Out brains can function off either glucose or fat and ketones. Ketones are a breakdown of fat and amino acids that can travel through the blood to various tissues to be utilized for fuel. In normal individuals, or those with well controlled diabetes, insulin acts to cancel the feedback loop and slow and stop the OVERPRODUCTION of ketones. Without this feedback loop, DANGEROUS LEVELS OF KETONES BUILD UP, acidifying the body. This would register on a ketone meter at levels of 20 mmol/L. The levels can build up to a state that is highly toxic. If someone is in this state, they are usually accompanied with excessive thirst and urination, hyperglycemia, pain, nausea and deep labored gasping breathing. These individuals need to get to an emergency room and get medical treatment right away!”
“Nutritional ketosis, on the other hand, is a state where the body is using ketones as a fuel source efficiently and safely. In individuals without diabetes or in those with controlled diabetes, having insulin on board to maintain healthy blood sugar levels keeps ketone production in a safe range. This is achieved by reducing carbohydrate intake to below 50g, because when glucose from food is limited, but blood sugars are still in a healthy range and enough insulin is present, the body will begin to burn body fat for fuel instead, producing low levels of ketones in the blood stream.” Ketone levels may be in the 1-3 mmol/L range, which is not acidifying to the body. This often allows individuals to stay lean, because the body is burning more fat for fuel rather than just glucose. Energy levels are sustained much longer. Individuals often have better mental clarity. “As long as blood sugars are maintained in the normal safe range, someone with diabetes can safely be in nutritional ketosis. Due to very stable blood sugars, this may be the best state for diabetes management.”
When you’ve been in nutritional ketosis and not even known it
- “when you skip breakfast and don’t eat until lunch or later, your body is burning body fat for fuel and likely producing low levels of ketones.
- when babies are born, they are often in a state of nutritional ketosis for the first few days or week because they are consuming so little breast milk until the mother’s breast milk production ramps up.
- when you eat a low-carb meal (eggs and bacon) for breakfast and don’t eat again until late lunch or afternoon…or…when you eat a low carb breakfast followed by a low carb lunch, your body is producing a low level of ketones until you eat a more significant serving of carbohydrates at dinner, etc.”
So, nutritional ketosis is a perfectly natural state. Ketones, are not harmful. Type 1’s can safely be in a state of nutritional ketosis, with normal blood sugars, without the threat of ketoacidosis. For more information about using a low carb approach for Type 1 diabetes, please read the book “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.” (HERE)
Dr. Bernstein, himself a Type 1 diabetic for over 60 years, has been treating his patients with a carb restricted approach with great success for decades.
Are there others in the medical community who agree? Yes, many. And the list is growing every day. I think it is particularly compelling though when those healthcare professionals are not only using LCHF for their patients, but for the management of their own diabetes. Here is a series of video lecturers by Dr. Troy Stapleton, himself a Type 1, who manages his diabetes with a LCHF approach.
Article: LCHF for Type 1 HERE
Ok, so these physicians are adults. But surely LCHF is not appropriate for children. Children needs lots of carbs to thrive, right?
Kids will certainly miss out if they can’t eat like other kids right? No kids will stick to this diet, right? How about an answer from a mother of a Type 1…
And…the perspective of a young man, himself a type 1, on his experience with living LCHF…
In fact, here is this young man’s blood glucose readings on the standard ADA diet (top), where blood sugars are unstable and ranged from 50-350, versus LCHF (bottom), where blood sugars are stable and typically ranged from 65-100 (non-diabetic range.) Which graph do you think will lead to fewer diabetic related complications in his future? Which graph do you think helps him feel better right now, and thrive physically, academically, athletically, mentally, emotionally, socially etc..?
There is an exploding community of Type 1’s using LCHF to manage their diabetes and that of their children. These folks are living an extremely improved quality of life and are thriving and healthy. The group also includes many internationally recognized physicians who are leaders in the field, as well as researchers, scientists, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals who have come to understand the powerful, life changing benefits of LCHF.
For more information, find this amazing group HERE
More information on TypeOneGrit HERE
Need help transitioning to LCHF? For support, click HERE
Find more resources for Type 1’s HERE
Low Carb for Diabetics HERE
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