Tag Archives: type 1 diabetes and low carb

The Case for Lowering Carbs, Part 1

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My brain is scrambled.

With much reluctance, I often ask myself this question:

What’s more damaging to one’s health?  A low carb diet or blood sugars higher than that of a non-diabetic?

The answer to this question is complicated because there are different things to consider:

  • Is a low A1c the healthiest A1c?  For example, is a 4.8 A1c better than a 6.2 providing there is a low standard deviation?  (it seems up for debate?)
  • Do I want to risk having a heart attack or stroke in 30 years and enjoy eating what I like in the meantime?
  • Do I want to endure a strict and limited diet in favor of more easily managed blood sugars?
  • What health issues can arise from low carb?  What health issues can arise from decades of higher than normal blood sugars?
  • Personally, heart disease and metabolic syndrome runs on both sides of my family.
  • I’m Hispanic, so a minority, and more susceptible to heart disease and stroke.

If you’re thinking, “low carb doesn’t mean well managed blood sugars”, well that is true.  However,  assuming you’re not struggling with the basics like the ins and outs of testing, giving insulin, and carb counting, in my experience is does mean well managed blood sugars.  (Key words: my experience)Because of The Law of Small Numbers, low carb really helps me avoid sharp blood sugar peaks and valleys.  The time I tried low carb, my A1c was a 4.6 and 4.7 and I’ve never felt so healthy in my entire life.  Right after that I got pregnant with twins so obviously I had to up my carbs for that.  Though, I still didn’t consume more than 120 carbs per day, even at 8 months pregnant.

But what about too many lows when striving for such a low A1c?  The thing is, if you have type 1 diabetes, low blood sugars occur from too much insulin and low carb means giving very little amounts of insulin, which typically makes it to where one doesn’t experience many lows or at least not many harsh lows.  (Again, assuming everything else is in place)  Low or lower carb helps me avoid more instances where I might get close to passing out from a quickly moving low and for me that’s like buckling up every time I get in my car to drive.

The danger with lows is always explained like this:  “The lower your average blood sugar, the increased likelihood that you will suffer from dangerous lows.”  This statement leaves out an important variable, which is the quantity of insulin given.  I’m not going to drop super low all the time if I’m giving a unit or two of insulin for a meal and have the correct basal rate.  And if I do go low, it won’t often be the type of low that requires assistance.  The times I’ve had wicked lows are the times I’ve had to give a lot of insulin to cover a high carb meal or to bring down a major high blood sugar.

If you’re striving for a low A1c and eat a diet relatively high in carbs, well then yes, you are risking too many dangerous lows.  My diet has lately consisted of more carbs and the extra amount of insulin I have to give is driving me nuts and driving me to eat less carbs.  I don’t want to just give more insulin because then I gain weight and deal with more ups and downs.  Right now, I’m a full time mom of twin toddlers, full time house wife, three meal a day chef, and a part time writer and blogger.  I don’t have the time or energy to tackle these blood sugars.  It’s overwhelming me.  But I also can’t use my current lifestyle as an excuse to have higher blood sugars.  That won’t make me feel better later when I’m dealing with the consequences.

By the way, my last A1c was 5.4 but my hematocrit was 39.7, slightly below 40 which I’ve understood lowers one’s A1c somewhat.  My meter tells me my A1c is more of a 6%.  I thought that was important to clarify at some point.

Anyway, as you see, I’m quite torn.  Torn indeed.  I know it’s not the right decision for everyone considering the multitude of variables involved but in this post I’m simply wondering if it’s the right thing for me, personally.  I will keep thinking on this…

Help me out.  What do you think?  Do you eat low carb or lower carb?  Why or why not?