Tag Archives: The Law of Numbers

The Science Behind Type 1 Diabetes and Weight Gain

 

It’s understandable that any community would prefer to say, “To each his own” when it comes to personal choices like eating preferences.  So I frequently hear diabetics say that they can eat whatever they want and advocate for other diabetics being able to do the same-as long as each person is successfully able to manage their blood sugars.

And this makes sense to me.  It’s true that every person’s diabetes varies from the next. 

Something that also makes sense to me is what Dr. Bernstein calls “The Law of Small Numbers”.

It’s something I figured out before hearing about Dr. Bernstein.  Since a certain percentage of insulin going in us isn’t being absorbed each time, there is a varying error margin.  The more insulin we need to give, the higher the error margin. 

For example when I lost weight, my blood sugars improved, in part because my insulin resistance was lower and I then needed less insulin than before.  When I changed my eating to lower carb intake, I again noticed better blood sugars because I took less insulin and therefore saw a lower margin of error every time insulin was given.  This lower margin of error is nothing short of miraculous on blood sugars.

If I eat a bowl of pasta, I’m personally, going to give about 7 units of insulin.  A certain percentage of this insulin will inevitably not be absorbed efficiently.  This means that after eating, I will most likely have to correct blood sugar with insulin or some sugar. 

If I eat a steak, I give about 1/2 a unit of insulin.  Again, a certain percentage of this insulin will not be absorbed efficiently.  An “X” percentage of 1/2 a unit of insulin is surely to be less than the same “X” percentage of 7 units right?  This means that with the steak, my chances for having a low or high after eating are minimized AND it means that if I do get a low or a high, the low won’t be very low and the high won’t be very high.  So I’m more likely to stay within a better range. 

This is why I don’t feel that a pump necessarily equals better blood sugar control.  If someone is eating all the carbs they want and just correcting with boluses and sugar as needed, then the likelihood for a higher A1c goes up-because of “the law of small numbers”.   

My lowest A1c test result was over 2 years ago and was a 4.6.  My doctor automatically assumed I was having too many lows and should let my “blood sugars run higher”.  “Really? Higher than yours get to be?”, I thought.   I had to explain to him that I had fewer lows during the time reflected in that A1c test than I had during the time my A1c was a 6.8.  I just had more consistent numbers.

The months prior to that 4.6, I was experimenting with low carb eating to see how my A1c would turn out.  Not only did I lose weight, but the greatest thing was how my blood sugars stayed even keel.  The swinging blood sugars stopped, as did my swinging moods.  Of course, there are still plenty of things that affect blood sugars but, for me, eating low carb made post meal 40’s turn into 70’s and 250’s turn into 150’s. 

It’s so much easier to get a 150 down to 100 than it is to get a 250 down to a 100.  Plus, correcting for a 250 means again that because you’re giving more insulin than if you were 150, there is a higher margin of error and a high risk that in a few hours you’ll need more insulin or more sugar. 

This brings me to my next point.  For type 1 diabetics eating a lot of carbs, weight management becomes difficult.  Most of the thin type 1 diabetics I’ve known of are either adults eating low carb diets or children who are still growing. 

How many type 1 diabetic children don’t start struggling with some weight gain once they turn 18 or 21?  Of course there are exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, I’d say that a way to minimize weight gain in type 1 diabetic adults would be to eat fewer carbohydrates.  The yo-yo on blood sugars that a higher margin of error exacerbates translates to more insulin and more sugar correcting.  This directly translates into weight gain. 

I know it’s not what you want to hear.  After all, we diabetics can eat anything we like and just cover with insulin!  Sure…but, I don’t know about you, I like to be thin.  It means less insulin resistance and better glucose numbers and an easier time exercising.  It also means there is less stress on the body in general.  Such as our feet.  What about knees?  10 pounds of weight loss equals 40 pounds of pressure off of your knees.  So the benefits continue on and on.

I’m making a case here because I wish someone had made a case to me when I was in High School.  I was on the Varsity Soccer Team and so I exercised at least 2-3 hours a day.  I was heavier than all the other girls on the team even though I ate less.  Not fair!  I could have been spared a lot of heartache and frustration. 

Back to today.  Currently, major financial restraints have me eating more carbs than I’d like to (more brown rice, less meat) and my daughter being allergic to eggs means I can no longer rely on an egg’s cheap, low carb, and perfect nutrition.  It’s probably why I’m not losing weight right now.  I eat 40% more carbs than I did 2 years ago.

But before all this, here is what used to work great for me:

Breakfast:  One or two eggs

Lunch:  Chicken salad or tuna

Dinner:  chicken/beef/fish and a side of veggies

Snacks:  Beef jerky, raw veggies, nuts, dark chocolate

Several times a week:  small servings of lentils or beans, fruit, green vegetable juice, Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread.  (I try to make these my low correcting foods if I’m not too low)

Drinks:  Water, herbal teas, coffee (diet soda would work only it tends to make me really hungry)

I admit it isn’t easy or very cheap to eat this way (especially not cheap if buying all this in the organic section).  You get used to it though and dropping pounds and feeling healthier makes it more than worthwhile.  I’ll say it again.  It’s not easy.  You may feel something is missing from your diet.  Yet, if you are having trouble losing weight or if you are trying for a lower A1c, this is the best way I know of to do both.

I share this info because it proved invaluable to me and my health.  You take it or leave it or take a little of it, whatever you like. 

Salud!

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