Learn How Lauren Increased Her Insulin Sensitivity by 314% in 7 Days

 

Meet Lauren.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 7, Lauren has been living with diabetes for 15 years. Over the past few years, Lauren has noticed that despite valiant attempts at controlling blood glucose, she was growing increasingly lethargic from her active lifestyle.
An active yogi, yoga teacher, personal trainer, boot camp instructor and sport enthusiast, on a daily basis Lauren moves more than the average cat. On an average week, Lauren performs a minimum of 6 workouts, split between 3 high intensity interval training (HIIT) strength workouts and 3 cardiovascular workouts. She practices either power yoga or restorative yoga on a daily basis.
I had the pleasure of working with Lauren at the Conquering Diabetes Retreat in the middle of September 2015, and was able to learn from her situation and guide her towards improved insulin sensitivity and improved blood glucose control. Why did Lauren come to the retreat? Because she wanted to learn more about living a fully raw vegan diet, for improved diabetes health.

While before the retreat I had pretty good control of my blood glucose, my joints were inflamed, I was lethargic from constantly working out, and I would often experience high blood glucose in the middle of the night after satisfying my cravings for chocolate. Seriously, my after dinner cravings were out of control.

Like many people living with diabetes, Lauren’s sweet tooth created trouble, and signaled to her that some element of her nutrition regimen needed adjusting.

Before the Conquering Diabetes Retreat

Problems

Variable blood glucose, lethargy, poor digestion, intense chocolate cravings.

What Foods Did Lauren Eat?

For breakfast, Lauren usually drank a green juice with eggs, whole grain bread and an avocado. For lunch she usually ate tuna fish made with greek yogurt, lettuce and tomato, inside a whole wheat wrap. For dinner, she usually ate either sushi, eggplant parmesan, whole wheat pesto pasta, grilled tuna or grilled vegetables. In the middle of the day she would often snack on a piece of fruit with almond butter. Finally, for dessert she gravitated towards dark chocolate or popcorn.

Lauren’s Insulin Sensitivity

In order to determine Lauren’s insulin sensitivity, we simply divide the total number of grams of carbohydrate by the total number of units of insulin, over a 24 hour period. Before the retreat, her insulin sensitivity was as follows:

24-Hour Carbohydrate Intake: 225 grams per day

24-Hour Fat Intake: 130 grams per day

24-Hour Insulin Usage: 40 units per day

 

After the Conquering Diabetes Retreat

Results

Significantly improved blood glucose, more energy, improved digestion, zero sweet cravings.

I have no sweet cravings at night because I eat way more fruits during the day.

What Foods Did Lauren Eat?

During the retreat, Lauren ate nothing but uncooked fruits and vegetables. In a closely monitored environment, her fat intake was decreased to below 20 grams per day.

When she returned home to New York, Lauren tried adding fish, eggs and dairy into her diet, and quickly learned that these foods caused noticeable and measurable joint inflammation.

She now opts for more plant-based protein options like beans, lentils, brown rice protein powder, peas, tofu and hemp seeds. These foods have substituted for fish, greek yogurt and eggs almost entirely.

Lauren’s Insulin Sensitivity

In the span of 7 days, Lauren almost tripled her carbohydrate intake – from 250 grams per day to 650 grams per day – derived from 100% whole fruits and vegetables. She eliminated all grain sources and refined carbohydrate products. On paper, one would expect that her insulin usage would also triple, because as people with diabetes, we are taught to believe that your carbohydrate intake is the most important determinant of your insulin usage.

Lauren’s insulin intake did not triple. It did not even double. In fact, her insulin usage did not increase at all. Instead, Lauren’s insulin usage decreased from 40 units per day to 34 units per day, contrary to what we may have predicted. Her carbohydrate intake and insulin usage were as follows:

24-Hour Carbohydrate Intake: 650 grams per day

24-Hour Fat Intake: 20 grams per day

Predicted 24-Hour Insulin Usage: 120 units per day

Actual 24-Hour Insulin Usage: 34 units per day

Lauren-Bongiorno-Results

Change-in-SI

The Best and Worst Parts

We all know that making lifestyle changes can be difficult, and without the support and guidance of others the transition can often be overwhelming. I asked Lauren to recount the best and worst parts of the transition, and she commented:

I feel as though I have transformed mentally. I know it sounds crazy that food can have such a big impact on how you feel, but I can tell you that it does 100%. They say ‘you are what you eat,’ and that could not be more true. I feel lighter, happier, and more free! I also notice on days that I eat less raw vegetables and fruit that I crave bread and chocolate.

And when I asked her to recount the worst part of the process, she said:

The worst part of this process was having to go home and tell my family that I’m probably turning into a monkey. That will be difficult for them for sure.

 

Follow Lauren’s Journey

If you would like to follow Lauren’s journey as a yoga teacher, fitness instructor and person with type 1 diabetes, simply follow @lauren_bongiorno or visit her website One Mind One Body One Chance.

Lauren-Instagram


Video Transcript

Robby: Alright guys, how are you doing? So today we are at the Conquering Diabetes 2015 Retreat in Sedro-Woolley, WA. I've got Lauren here, and of course Dr. Khambatta.

Cyrus: How are we doing kids?

Robby: It's been a great week. Lauren, what has the food been like for you?

Lauren: Amazing, I get to eat fruit all day.

Robby: And what did you eat before you came here?

Lauren: So, I'm very into fitness. I'm a yoga instructor, boot camp instructor, personal trainer, and I work out a ton. So my understanding has always been, for muscle growth and definition, you know protein. I've been a pescatarian since I was 16. So I used to have fish for dinner, either tuna fish or eggs for lunch, some kind of Greek yogurt or eggs for breakfast, protein bars and shakes in between... A lot of protein.

Cyrus: On the carbohydrate side of things, were you trying to limit your carbohydrate intake? Or did you not really care about that?

Lauren: I think I understood that I needed carbohydrates, but my understanding was that I needed whole grain carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, Ezekiel bread... Those are the kind of carbohydrates I was eating.

Cyrus: Got it. So do you know how many grams of carbohydrates you were eating per day?

Lauren: I would stay about 200 to 250.

Cyrus: Great. So you come to conquering diabetes week. We change your diet (you change your diet), and you're eating predominantly fruits all throughout the day with some vegetable sources at the end of the day. So tell us what happened to your carbohydrate intake?

Lauren: So I went from eating 200 to 250 carbohydrates pre conquering diabetes week, to 650 - 700 carbohydrates.

Robby: And you're an active individual. And we've been active here!

Lauren: Yeah and we were working out up to three times per day. So a lot of activity going on and a lot of carbohydrates, but nowhere near what I would have ever considered a normal human's carbohyrdate consumption could be.

Cyrus: Yeah, you wouldn't think that was possible. Okay, so you almost tripled your carbohydrate intake. What happened to your insulin usage?!

Lauren: So I would think that I would go from using 40 units per day to maybe 100 units per day. But I went from using 40 units per day to using 34 units per day.

Cyrus: So you dropped your insulin usage.

Lauren: Yeah.

Robby: And you're on a pump.

Lauren: Yes. I'm on an insulin pump, right here.

Robby: Let's do some math for your insulin sensitivity.

Cyrus: In terms of carbohydrate to insulin ratio, you were at 250 divided by 40 so that's a 6:1 ratio. And now you went to 600 grams of carbohydrates on 34 units. Robby do the math on that.

Robby: We are talking about 18.

Cyrus: So she went from a 6:1 to an 18:1, that's triple. You tripled your insulin sensitivity. In how many days?

Lauren: 6

Cyrus: Wow! That's a big deal. Okay, so you're about to go home back to New York. You're going to get back into your normal life... Are you nervous about anything? Are you apprehensive about what life is going to be like back on your own turf?

Lauren: To be honest a little bit. Just because about 2 years ago I tried this eating lifestyle out. But I didn't do it the right way. I was under eating calories and carbohydrates. I didn't have enough energy. I wasn't really happy and it was stressful for me. So I associated this with stress and kind of having to plan everything out. It was just more stress than it felt good. After that I kind of wanted more balance in my life. So that led me to my lifestyle now which is protein. You know everything is healthy, but it's just not so much fruit... But after this week I feel amazing, because I'm not deprived. And I think that's the difference to how I was before. So I think the only thing that I'm nervous about is becoming stressed in social situations. I have a big Italian family, we love going out to eat, and holidays are huge. So I'm nervous about that.

Cyrus: Sure. And the holidays are also coming up, so we have Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon. Those situations can be a little stressful, but here's the best part. Those are two days out of 365. So we can develop some simple strategies to go through that, and the other 363 are going to be not that big of a deal.

Lauren: True.

Cyrus: So one other thing we want to ask you... You're an athlete. You're a yoga instructor. What other athletics do you do?

Lauren: I love anything. Anything that challenges my body. I was an athlete in college where I played soccer. So I love the challenge, like yoga, hiking... I like HIIT style things like boot camp, and basically anything that makes me sweat.

Robby: And this week you already noticed a difference in athletic performance.

Lauren: Yeah, 100 %. I was less lethargic afterwards. I had energy throughout the entire day. And I didn't get that feeling like I get home where I have to push through and now I can lay in my sweats the rest of the day kind of thing. Now it's like alright I pushed through let's go get some fruit and do it again type of thing.

Cyrus: Yeah it's almost like you're done with it and then you're like oh but I want to do it again, give me another one! So athletic recovery is really what I think you're trying to get at here, which is that the amount of time from when you end a workout to the amount of time when you start another workout... That just starts to shrink, and then all the sudden you're like am I super human? I just want to work out like 4 times a day. What is going on with this thing (my body) right here?

Lauren: Pretty much.

Cyrus: That's awesome. I'm loving it.

Robby: And you have a website Lauren. So if people want to follow your journey, see what you're doing, see what you're up to... where can they find you?

Lauren: I'm also a diabetic holistic health coach. So my contact information is:

  • Website: www.laurenbongiorno.com.
  • Instagram: @lauren_bongiorno
  • Snapchat: lobongo

Robby: It's been great having you here Lauren. You have a lot of great energy.

Lauren: Thank you, I appreciate that. You guys both have great energy too.

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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