Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes

Has anybody read this book and tried the program?

It's about being a vegan. Not only that, but limiting all fat as much as possible.

His research indicates that cells contain too much fat and block insulin. He shows that his method is scientifically proven. I'm on my third day.

I'd surely like some feedback.


I have a better idea: why don’t you give us the feedback, since you are the one experimenting on yourself? What was your A1C before you started? Then tell us what your A1C is three months from now. You could, in the meantime, tell us how your blood sugars are running. I for one would be quite interested to hear the results.

It’s obvious that you don’t have any information to share.


Barnard is a founding member of PCRM and an active animal rights activist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_D._Barnard). I find his authority on diabetes highly questionable given his demonstrated competence, background and motives. I think a vegan or vegatarian diet is a personal choice and you can (with work) be a healthy diabetic on these diets. But I would not turn to this book as foundation for making that decision and certainly not as appropriate guidance on how to select an appropriate vegan/vegetarian diabetic diet

Neal Barnard was also behind the movie “Simply Raw” which argues that you can “cure” T1 diabetes. This movie was truly “scary.”

For more information on Neal Barnard, peruse http://www.ncahf.org/articles/o-r/pcrm.html and http://www.animalscam.com/sources.cfm

And for your information, I’ve read the book. There are some provocative throughts in the book and “some” useful advice. But for the most part, the “science” is highly biased, not supported, out of context and in direct conflict with most of what is really understood about diabetes.

Feel free to give it a try, but measure your progress by what your meter says and how your health progresses. Most of us in this community believe that carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to rise, this is not really Dr. Barnards position.

Just from what you have described I am skeptical. Everyting I read says that fat in a your body comes from insulin storing up fat reserves from unused blood glucose, that comes mostly from eating carbs. I don’t think you can reduce any fat in your body simply by eating less fat.

I have no idea about being a vegan, but just that it appears the science is wong.

The other thing I have learned is that anyone who tells me diabetes can be reversed through anything but a transplant is misinformed or lying.

Thank you, Jeff

I was able to catch some of his infomercial on WVIZ last night and I tweeted about it…If you are on twitter…ask Richard Johnston, his twitter handle is @Diabetesnotfun…he told me he was in the study maybe he can help you out…

Thanks, John

Interesting-- thank you.


I’m a vegetarian-not a vegan-and I find that eating varied and enjoyable dishes while keeping my carb intake moderately low (100 or lower) takes a lot of time and effort. I’m retired (mostly anyway…lol) and live walking distance to one of the most varied and wonderful grocery stores in the country (Berkeley Bowl) and it takes work. I definitely wouldn’t advise anyone to eat a vegetarian diet for the sake of their diabetes, let alone vegan. But if a person is already committed to those diets/lifestyles than it is possible to continue and manage blood sugar-with time, effort, and expense.

I am a vegan and I was one before diagnosis. It is an ethical choice for me and permanent lifestyle for me. That said, after i was diagnosed I saw an infomericaly type thing on cable about him and saw the book. I went to Borders to check it out first. I was already doing low carb but since I was already a vegan I wanted to check out his book (maybe for recipes and such) and his book recommends a higher carb diet than I was already eating which is why I didn’t buy the book. A vegan diet can have tons of fat in it depending on your foods choices. I was also already eating less fat or the same amount of fat that was in the recipes in his book.

The theory that there is too much fat on the cells is one I have heard before. I naturally do not eat a lot of fat becuase I have not eaten much saturated fat (meaning animal fat) for 20 years. There is also saturated fats in coconut and choclate btw.

I guess I have a different perspective on this considering my background. I know many on this site do not like any vegan diet. Here is what I think: You should avoid all the processed foods you can. Things like bread, pasta and also high carb white foods like potatoes and rice. Before I was diagnosed, my vegan diet was full of a lot of that stuff (and not much fat at all!) All those extra carbs turn into sugar and turn into fat. I stopped eating them after i was diagnosed (I eat one piece of low carb toast a day) and I lost 25 pounds - I was NOT overweight, btw 5’4" and I weighted 130 - and I dropped my diagnosis A1C of 9.2 to 4.9 in three months and I think it was all because I gave up those four things. Also I have increased fresh foods - lke greens, veggies etc. Oh, no more real sugar too but that is obvious - I didn’t eat a lot of sweets prior anyhow.

So, what do I think about the fatty cell theory? Well, it is a difficult one for me. It makes sense - I mean, if your cells are all covered with fat how could they work properly right? But the question for me is: where does that fat really come from? Is it strictly fat that is consumed from a diet high in animal saturated fat? Or is it fat that is created from too many high carb food like processed breads, sugary pops etc. that turn all those excess carbs into sugar than into stored fat (because we know most people don’t exercise enough to burn that stuff off)? For me, it would be the latter because the first doesn’t apply.

For me, my D is definatley genetic and defiantely age-related. A vegan diet will NOT STOP you from getting D if you are already genetically predisposed to it (I am living proof of that). But can it improve your insulin sensitivity - I think maybe yes IF you give up all those white carbs. A vegan diet (if it is a healthy one - yes, vegans can have crappy diets!) can be low in fat but there is a lot to give up and it requires a lot of will power. If you do it, you can’t replace all the meat you were eating with a bunch of high carb stuff if you are diabetic - best to do is to put in more greens, veggies etc.

Anyhow, this is just my viewpoint based on my experience. This all said, if you decide you want to be a vegan, I thought his book was a decent starter for new vegs. Me, I am an expert at this diet so his book was very beginnerish for me! :slight_smile: But if you do the diet right and exercise, it should help you lose weight (and fat!) if that is what you are also needing to do.

If you need advice on the diet, you can email me.

A vegan diet is supposed to be very healthy. And I would suppose with a little tweaking can be very diabetes friendly. The vegans I know are very healthy, though part of that can be attributed to their overall attention to healthy eathing, healthy suppliments, healthy activities, all of that stuff that often goes with a vegan lifestyle.

So I would be the last to knock a vegan diet.

Its the part about the fat. My understanding is that body fat has nothing to do with dietary fat.

Well stated, Kimberly. It is good info. You’ve done well. I’m a 6.2 A1C at 5’6" at148 lbs., age 68 and a gym rat. I can see that we are all looking for solutions. Thanks, and I just may write you for advice. Mel, OK City

Zoe, thank you. If I dont’t get anything from this book, it did awaken me to my fat consumption-- cheese and eggs. I’ve cut them for now, along with some other fatty stuff. Regards, Mel

Hi JeffD,

Believe it or not, there are tons of vegans who eat a super crappy diet. They are basically vegans for ethical reasons but not for health ones (You will meet more ethical vegans than health-reason ones. But some do both. Some for even environmental reasons). I mean, potatoe chips and Coke are vegan! As long as it is vegan, they will eat it. So you can easily end up with a vegan diet full of basically junk food and nothing healthy - not even any veggies! I have been there. :slight_smile:

I have tweaked my vegan diet to be diabetes friendly. It involves a lot of restriction because most vegans live off of the high carb foods. I can’t eat dairy anymore even if I wanted too - I notice I get ear problems and very phlemy if I do. You just have to find creative ways to replace those carbs foods with other things that are low carb and also healthy. In the long run, I am eating better now as a diabetic vegan than I was as a non-diabetic vegan. So in a way, this is the only good thing that has come out of this for me (so far!)

I will admit I am not sure about the fat. Although, I think it is basically true that too much dietary fat leads to too much fat on the body (and IN the body). Obviously, being overweight slows our systems down (and us!).

I bought this book back in mid 2009 after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I didn't want to use drugs. I knew there had to be a natural way to reverse or slow the effects of diabetes. I did research and came across Neal Barnard's book on Amazon. I bought it and followed it religiously. I still have the calendar I used. My start weight was 190 and I am 5'9 and my BLS was 280.( I ran regularly, did kickboxing, cycled, and walked everywhere prior to the diagnosis. this left the my doctor confused. he wanted to know how an active person could get diabetes). Anyway, I started the vegan plan, outlined by Neal Barnard, in mid June of 2009. By September of 2009 I went from 190lbs to 170 lbs with no exercise. My BLS went from 280 to 120. My morning readings ranged from 115-120. My highest mid day was 175. I was on the program for 22 weeks. I logged everything in a calendar. I showed my doctor and he called me a liar.(I have come to realize most doctors are idiots). I added exercise to the program about late september (running, kickboxing, caveman workouts). I dropped to 160 by November of 2009. everything was going good until I had a kidney stone. The doctor was did the operation messed up my kidney. A month before the kidney stone problem began I had a clean bill of health, which included bloodwork. My fasting blood sugar was 130, blood pressure normal, kidney function normal, liver function normal, and on and on. After the doctor messed up my kidney I gained a few pounds, which I can't lose, and I have lost kidney function. All I got for it was a sorry from the doctor.
Neal Barnard is on the right track. The program he advocates works and I can swear to that. It's not easy being vegan, but my motivation was to live healthy and not lose any limbs, or have a stroke or something. It worked. Just be careful with these doctors. I have a friend who is diabetic and he has had three doctors refuse to prescribe him insulin. It's a racket.

Interesting! It sounds like this diet was good for weight loss--dramatic for that, even. I'm sorry you got the kidney stone and then had such a bad experience and outcome getting rid of it. I'm concerned about your blood glucose numbers. Even though you lost weight, your BG seems to have been running much higher than I would accept. To me, a program that "reverses" diabetes should at least lower and keep BG around 100 most of the time, 80-90ish for overnight fasting. I don't know what your goal was, though, or what you were doing to try to regulate it. Were you also counting carbohydrate?

Depending on ones age and the smount of offset on liver glucose release and pancreas output, while getting back to ideal numbers would be great but in fact one probably gets pancreas back up running and then needs a small boost on insulin to assist the effort.

My guess is that these diets, starvation, tight diets help unload the saturation in the tenporary storage sites of the skeletal muscles and fat cells and help enable the pancreas to go back to work. Unfortuantely while not cure, body is now slightly off and cannot get back to absolute norms.

I believe that the saturation of the skeletal muscle cells temporary glucose storage sites is what turns off the insulin response as a defense against too much glucose floating around in BG overloading muscle cells. Draw it - glucose down by tight diet and carbs control and decent exercise and see interesting fun. Vegan and vege diets should in principle dramatically reduce the glucose generation and input to body.

the tricky part here is if you are on external insulin/oral meds and manage to get pancreas back on job and insulin resistance stoppped; one will have some nasty lows and need to monitor carefully to be sure to yard the external insulin adds off/reduce when pancreas back on job doubling everything.

cgms time for safety.

In my short time learning about this disease, I have learned to become wary of any absolutistic pronouncements made by ANYONE regarding how foods will affect any one person. Being a vegan is an extreme lifestyle, as would be someone who attempts to subsist purely on protein. I have learned that the exact same food in identical quantities may have significantly different effects on two different T2 diabetics. There are a LARGE number of variables that make up our lives and our bodies. Sometimes things you read in forums, even legit ones like tudiabetes, can lead you down the wrong path, cause you to worry unnecessarily, or to disregard things that ARE concerns for YOU. When my doctor told me that he was putting me on Byetta, I was really terrified about being nauseous and getting Pancreatitis. My personal experience was that I had very few side effects.

The "science" in medicine is often hard to wade through. Sites like WebMD, for legal reasons and because it is run by the American medical "establishment," are often too conservative and do not tell you enough about new research and cutting-edge/alternative treatment options. Other sites, some of which look very professional, are filled with "research" that is either blatantly false or based on poor studies. "Research" is put out by legitimate institutions, but often they are funded by the drug companies and thus may also be biased.

When we are desperate, we tend to reach out to anything we think might help - even if it is extreme and poorly supported. It's understandable, but not healthy.

The best advice I have received on diabetes (mostly from the people here) is to test OFTEN. The meter doesn't lie and you can determine the impact of this or any other diet or lifestyle on your blood sugar by using it. I don't like to nail my fingers any more than you do - but it is teaching me quite a bit.

Let me add to that advice by saying that you should share ANY significant dietary or lifestyle changes with your doctors. Even if they think the changes are silly, your blood and other vital things may need to be monitored more closely.

All that said, we should all be open to new information and techniques for dealing with our medical conditions. We should also use our technology to share our findings with others. This is a very good place to do it.

I really didn't mean to go on a tangent like this. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Let your doctors know you are doing it and keep us posted!

My BLS jumped around, but I read it was due to the body normalizing itself. Dr Barnard mentions it in his book in reference to the morning effect, "somgyi effect" is what it was called and it is supposed to be normal. I was in Morocco for three weeks at the beginning of 2010. I didn't take the metformin I was prescribed. I ate food I normally wouldn't eat and my BLS averaged at 99 in the morning and 125 before I went to bed. the highest reading while in Morocco was 150, after meal. I have my conclusions about that but I won't go into it.
According to Dr. Neal Barnard's book Carbs are no problem. I was eating alot of pasta, brown rice, and Quinoa. I would eat my carbs no later than 5pm. My last meal being at 8pm. I would not eat after 8pm. Sometimes my last meal would be a big green salad with chopped veggies. I also ate salad for breakfast four times a week.( try this because it is amazing. the effect on the body. My energy was great throughout the day) And I dropped weight no problem. I lost alot of muscle mass and strength. I wasn't an obese 190 lbs.
I am still vegan. I try to eat alot of greens, Kale is great. I usually start my day with warm lemon water, which cleans the liver and just makes me feel good all day. If I do have to occasional sweet treat I use coconut flour and agave to make something. Coconut flour doesn't spike the blood sugar.
My first physician prescribed metformin only. I cycled on and off of it because it damages the liver over time and the body builds up a resistance to it. I would take it for a month or two then stop and cycle back on it at a later time. The body needs recovery from all that medication contrary to what the good doctors say. I know I sound cynical but they come off as salesmen to me.
The vegan diet is a process. the body is cleaning itself of all the years of junk. My energy levels went up, and no joke about this, my libido skyrocketed.. All that sugar flushed out of my system and all I will say was that I was very surprised at the libido energy levels I was experiencing (sea vegetables does the trick I have found).
My BLS was dropped from 280 at diagnosis to 120 the highest while on the vegan diet. Maybe I wasn't clear about that. While following Barnard's plan my BLS dropped from 280 to 120. My morning readings after about a month were 105-120. Every person's body responds differently.