Stop Fighting Blood Sugar, Start Fixing Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is the underlying condition that is present in all forms of diabetes. Most people believe that insulin resistance is only present in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, however ample research shows that insulin resistance is also present in type 1 diabetes (1-3).

It is a common misconception that people with type 1 diabetes do not experience insulin resistance.  Even many doctors believe that insulin resistance only affects people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and that by nature of being “skinny” or “normoweight,” people with type 1 diabetes are insulin sensitive.

This information cannot be farther from the truth.  In my practice, more than 95% of my clients with type 1 diabetes are insulin resistant, and 100% of my clients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably have picked up on the fact that I’m a huge fan of maximizing insulin effectiveness over managing blood glucose. The reason for this is actually quite simple:

Trying to control blood glucose without addressing insulin resistance is akin to frequently washing your car and never fixing problems under the hood. Addressing the root cause of blood glucose  variability – insulin resistance – is the most successful method of controlling blood glucose. Period.

The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation before: you wake up in the morning, your blood glucose is 50 points over the normal range. You don’t know why. You eat a standard breakfast, bolus the same amount of insulin that you always give yourself for breakfast, and then continue on with your day.

Two hours later, when you check your blood glucose, and it is still high. This time it is 150 points above the normal range, and still you’re unsure why. At this point, you give yourself a large correction bolus, and before you know it your blood glucose is now on its way down to a dangerously low level. 45 minutes later, you find yourself unable to concentrate, confused, sweating, and extremely hungry.

You check your blood glucose, and it is now just below the hypoglycemic threshold. To counteract this, you eat some glucose tablets, snack on an apple with some peanut butter, then check your blood sugar 30 minutes later. Once again, you are back to a high blood glucose value, 50 points over the normal range.

If you’ve ever been here before, congratulations. You are human. 100% of all people with diabetes will experience this blood glucose roller coaster at some point in their experience. The blood glucose roller coaster is frustrating, it is confusing, it gets in the way of your normal life, and it is extremely dangerous.

blood-sugar-rollercoaster

The reason why the blood sugar roller coaster exists in the first place is because your muscle and liver are having a difficult time importing glucose from the bloodstream. Only when you provide your muscle and liver with the ability to easily import glucose from the bloodstream well this problem go away. Up until that point, simply trying to counteract or predict high blood glucose values will only perpetuate the blood glucose roller coaster and leave you feeling more frustrated, more confused, and more desperate.

The only way to officially counteract the blood sugar rollercoaster and simplify your experience with diabetes is to address the underlying problem of insulin resistance.

So how do you increase insulin sensitivity and reduce your level of insulin resistance? In this article I will share with you the single most effective dietary change that you can make to increase your insulin sensitivity. This change goes against everything that you’ve learned from mainstream diabetes education. It probably goes against the words of your diabetes endocrinologist, your certified diabetes educator, and your insulin pump representative. It is simple, it is effective, and the best part is that there are hundreds of scientific papers that back up this claim. Hundreds.

I’ve teamed up with Dr. Greger at Nutritionfacts.org, and he has graciously allowed me to share his content with you for free.  In this video, you will learn why fat blocks glucose movement, and the exact mechanism that explains why a high intake of dietary fat can cause a buildup of glucose in the blood.  I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to watch the video, it’s well worth it.  He does a great job of explaining why reducing fat intake can boost insulin sensitivity.

 

Want to See Real Data?

Take I’ll look at the graph below for an idea of how effective reducing fat intake can be on boosting your insulin sensitivity. The data shown below is actual data from one of my clients who has graciously allowed me to share his/her information with you.

Old Diet: High Fat Intake
old-diet

New Diet:  Low Fat Intake

new-diet

The Result of Reduced Fat Intake

change

low-fat-diet-improves-insulin-sensitivity

As you can see, simply by reducing fat consumption from an average of 54 grams per day to an average of 27 grams per day, my client was able to increase their carbohydrate:insulin ratio by 45%.  The interesting thing to understand is that although the total amount of carbohydrates didn’t change significantly, the ability of those carbohydrates to be used for energy increased by almost 50% in only 5 days. That’s fast.

Take Home Message

As we build your insulin resistance toolbox, there will be a number of items that will help you achieve exceptional improvements. Reducing your fat intake to less than 30 grams per day is the single most effective tool that you can arm yourself with when reducing your level of insulin resistance.  So the take home message is clear:

Your Insulin Resistance Toolbox: Tooltip #1

Reduce your intake of fat to less than 30 grams per day, and watch as your insulin effectiveness dramatically increases.

Regardless of how old you were when you were diagnosed with diabetes, regardless of your current bodyweight and regardless of your current level of athleticism, addressing insulin resistance head-on is the single most important thing that you can do to improve your overall blood glucose values, reduce your hemoglobin A1c, increase your energy levels and impress your doctor.

Give it a try and report back with your data, or contact me directly and I can provide step-by-step coaching to help you through the process.

 

References

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1. Bergman, B.C. et al. Features of hepatic and skeletal muscle insulin resistance unique to type 1 diabetes. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 97, 1663-1672 (2012)

2. Reinher, T. et al. Insulin resistance in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus: relation to obesity. Pediatric Diabetes. 6, 1, 5-12 (2005)

3. Szadkowska, A. et al. Insulin resistance in type 1 diabetic children and adolescents - a simplified method of estimation. Endokrynol. Diabettol. Chor. Przemiany. 12, 2, 109-115 (2006)

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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