I would like to help raise awareness of the benefits of ketogenic diets for patients with type 1 diabetes. I have a special reason for writing this today: today marks my 6 months of being on a ketogenic diet and for the first time after 12 years of diabetes I celebrate! 🙂
So what’s the ballyhoo about?
Well, for anyone with type 1 diabetes like me it’s a big deal: I had straight glucose line for 24 hours – it’s as if I wasn’t a diabetic at all. I’m very much excited and my doctor shares the feeling. After seeing my results, she wrote: “Wonderful, Jure, you moved me to tears. Keep on going, and I believe you have the feeling as if your disease disappeared.”
So how do type 1 diabetes and a ketogenic diet go together? The first thing you notice after adopting very low carb very high fat diet, is the significant drop in the amount of insulin needed to control the sugar levels. It makes all the sense: insulin is needed to help with carbs, but on a ketogenic diet, you hardly eat any. Unfortunately, with type 1 diabetes it’s not easy, this is the first step in a lengthy adaptation to burning fat for energy.
With healthy individuals, this adaptation takes time, with type 1 diabetics, it takes much much longer. In the beginning there can be quite a few hypoglycemias as the body starts adapting to running on low glucose – pushing it into rechecking all potential sources of it. So there might be some glucose swings. At this point, I have to stress that it’s really important to know how diabetes work, how to approach its symptoms and what you are doing. There should be a lot of knowledge: I had that, as I’m not very new to nutrition, sports and such.
When on “normal” nutrition (meaning nutrition with carbs) my dose was 5 units after lunch. After six months of keto, 1 unit seems a lot. Some might argue that 1 unit after lunch on keto diet is a lot, but of course things are more complex. Let me explain: before keto my basal insulin levels* were so high that they help covering a part or even whole meals, so no bolus insulin was needed. After keto, my basal insulin levels are so low that I do need extra bolus. For example: prior to keto I used 1 unit for 15 grams of carbs, now 1 unit is needed for 5 grams. It might sound harsh, but it makes perfect sense and I am quite happy about it.
Other than that I can say I find carbs burdensome. I like veggies, so I do indulge with a small portion with every meal. My daily carb count rarely exceeds 20 grams, except if I work out. The combo of 50 grams of carbs and a longer run doesn’t mean higher extra insulin – the work-out “burns” the carbs.
With keto I also decided to add more omega-3 in supplements, and this also turned out as beneficial.
To conclude: after 12 years I consider myself a type 1 diabetes machine – combined with keto, I’m a winner. The only thing left for me is fixing my HDL and LDL cholesterol.
Thanks for all the work you do, the experiences you share and help you offer to people helping them open their minds to a better nutrition.