Is Low Carb Really Necessary?

I am a Type 2 diabetic that started insulin a few months ago. My daughter (6 years old) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 3.5 years ago. I am wondering if there is a downside to treating my type 2 diabetes the same as we treat her type 1 diabetes when it comes to just giving myself insulin for the amount of carbs that I eat. I check my blood sugars often and there are certain foods that I just do not eat (like sugary drinks, juice, rice), because they raise my blood sugar too quickly. I do not understand why I need to eat low carb on a daily basis just because I am a type 2 diabetic if I am able to take enough insulin to keep my blood sugars in check? I must admit that I take A LOT of insulin when I eat a large amount of carbs (sometimes up to 200 units of Novolog in a day), but I am not aware of any scary side effects of insulin. If I am really on the wrong track and should be following a low carb diet, please educate me.

There are many benefits to eating low carb for T1s & T2s. Less carbs=less insulin, of course. One downside of taking large doses is weight gain which increases insulin resistance which results in even higher doses of insulin, a vicious cycle. The other drawback of large doses is the inability to keep BG level without highs/lows because large doses don’t absorb as predictably as small doses. The margin of error for huge doses is great & the mistakes are harder to correct. 200 units a day is quite a lot. Using insulin for either type isn’t a license to eat whatever we want & mega doses don’t help with resistance. It’s even more difficult for T2s because of their insulin resistance. Some T1s also develop insulin resistance.

A great site to check out is Dr. Richard Bernstein’s book Diabetes Solution is wonderful.

Hi Aimee,

Please read Dr. Richard Bernstein’s book asap. It’s called “The Diabetes Solution” and goes into great detail about the benefits of a low-carb diet for all types of diabetics. He specifically discusses both Type 1 and Type 2 - it will answer all the questions you need.

Going low-carb (specifically, NO GRAIN/LEGUMES), is also an ideal diet for every person - diabetic or not. There are so many health benefits, I don’t even know where to begin (okay… energy, allergy control, acne control, weight loss, possible avoidance of the many “syndrom x” diseases long-term in life)… the list goes one. To learn about the benefits, I highly recommend two books:

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

Also google “Paleo 2.0” and read a few articles. I have some healthy recipes on my blog which is listed on my profile here.

Your daughter is so young, and you have a long life ahead too, and deserve to know the many, many benefits of eating animal meats, fats, and non-starchy veggies.

My husband and I have been eating this way for over two years now, and will never go back - it feels so fantastic! We’re off our allergy meds and acne meds, lost weight, gained strength, sleep better, and more. My parents have been eating this way over a year, and my mom’s arthritis is completely gone. They both lost weight and feel better than they have in years.

I’m type 1 myself and find my diabetes is worlds easier to control eating this way. It makes life less stressful having good sugar levels :slight_smile:

Please tell me you’ll read the books, all the info is in there waiting for you!

You’re far from alone. We all have those mischevious little devils. Aw, c’mon, one piece of cake won’t hurt:) A great thing about low carb is that the carb cravings go away & temptation becomes less tempting. It tames those shoulder demons & poof they go away forever.

In addition to weight gain, high levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) can cause cause high blood pressure weight gain, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and may increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. This is a concern for all diabetics. It is always a good idea to minimize your use of insulin. Lowering your carb intake is one obvious approach, but you should also be taking insulin sensitizers (like metformin) and exercising. Weight lifting is a good exercise to help increase your insulin sensitivity. Beyond these issues, taking large doses of insulin becomes a logistical problem, the large injections don’t absorb well, they absorb slowly and you can’t tightly control your blood sugar no matter how well you count your carbs.

I usually take the side of the argument for less carbs when others are saying “what’s the harm in eating whatever I like and bolusing for it?” But the posts above list very well the reasons not to do that, so I’ll jump on the side of moderation and choices.

I think we all make different choices in how we manage our blood sugar including carb intake due to many many factors. One of those factors, obviously is how well our management works. Some people for whatever reason have a fairly easy time keeping their blood sugar in target range and others struggle no matter what. So obviously the latter would be looking for as many tools in their diabetes management toolbox as they can find. Also we all choose different blood sugar targets. Finally there are many other factors we look at in deciding how to manage our blood sugar such as lifestyle, dietary choices, money, time, etc. My own choice is that I am a vegetarian and a foodie and both contribute greatly to my enjoyment of life, though I wouldn’t risk my health for either. I also am semi-retired so have lots of time to cook and access to specialty stores for ingredients. So my choice has been to eat moderate or moderate/low carb, between about 70 and 105 a day. My A1C’s are ok but not spectacular, my weight is stable and I’m happy. I’m working on spending less time thinking about my diabetes while maintaining my current level of targets. (my goal is under 100 fasting and under 140 post prandial, my last A1C was 6.4. YMMV.

You might check out 2 groups here on TuD. The Bernstein Group and the Primal/Paleo Group. Perhaps reading of others success will help and both are full of helpful people who can answer your questions based on their own experience.The Bernstein Group in particular is a source of many great tasting recipes. There are also several low carb recipe groups here. You have to come up with a plan you can stick to for the long term and good tasting food certainly helps.

One thing for certain, as Gerri says, the cravings soon disappear which helps long term. Although I'm not on insulin, good meter readings are certainly a great motivator for me.

For me, it’s not so much willpower as fear of the consequences. No food is worth it. It’s not like being on a diet where you can indulge one day & make up for it the next. High BG is damaging & the effects are cumulative. Caffeine raises BG, if you can go decaf.

No need to feel deprived eating low carb. Here are a few recipe sites & there are lots more. Check out Healthy Indulgences below for a good way to satisfy your sweet tooth. With an ice cream maker you can make low carb ice cream. It’s just a matter of subbing out the sweetener, but you still have to have portion control. Takes a bit of playing around to get texture right because sugar prevents ice crystals from forming, but you get to eat the mistakes:) (the most decadent low carb desserts!) (you can search their site for low carb recipes)

I sort of think that it’s like a diet and go “on” and “off”. I have lost a bunch of weight but still eat a lot more carbs than “low” carb although perhaps still a bit on the light side compared to some people? It is definitely less work but, particularly in the evenings when I don’t do that much and have often just worked out, I’ll take a tasty bolus and eat. Although not nearly as much as I did before I started losing weight. It’s mostly the work? I figure if I can run really flat 3/4 of most days, the “wild rumpus” hours are ok?

It also does NOT help that all doctors and diabetes educators tell us we can eat anything (and then berate when our A1c is high). I as a Type 1 wish I had never been told that when I started on the pump. Far easier as a kid when I was told I couldn’t eat many things (in the R and NPH days) and just didn’t, than now when I’m told I can eat anything and just count the carbohydrates and bolus for it …

That’s a very good point! I had lost some weight and wanted to keep losing weight but went ahead and made an appointment with a dietician and CDE before I got my pump. The CDE was ok although she was sort of like “I think it will be a lot easier w/ a pump” when she saw my abomination of a log. I pretty much told the dietician “I have lost weight and would like to keep losing weight” and she was pretty much like “eat twice as many carbs as you are eating all the time” which is exactly the opposite of what I was doing. Once I got the pump, I definitely used it to shave stuff here and there. I’ve cut waaay back on snacks and don’t eat nearly as many big meals as I used to and find it a lot easier to manage things. I still like to challenge myself with occasional heaps of food though. It’s very hard to resist. I think that it would be great if the medical community could work to engage in more productive dialogue about dietary diversity and managing it with diabetes but I don’t see that happening. It’s sort of like they want to shoot free throws, standing on a line, no changes to your diet and no changes to your activity level but that’s utterly impractical for a lot of people.

I think Gerri and the others said it all and gave excellent recommendations.
One of the convincing points to me when I was considering low carb was that greater than 7 units at a time in one spot has a tough time getting absorbed well, on time, etc. I knew what 7 units would cover - not much.
A second convincing point was when I wore the CGM to see exactly what small amounts of certain food did.
I could see what each part of a meal contributed when I divided up the meal and only ate 10 or so grams. What a shock to see that insulin was not “covering” - my blood glucose went spiking away. Sure, two hours later, it came down to 140. But who wants the two hour period three times daily when it’s high? 1/4 of the day spent high was not for me.
After being on low carb, insulin resistance disappeared. I was a type 1 who had to deal with it until I decreased my carbs. the small numbers are easy to deal with. Protein keeps one from being hungry. And the energy is great.

Jen - I completely agree! I did everything they told me to when I was 10 years old and diagnosed. We followed the prescribed “diet” to a T… when I finally read Dr. Bernstein’s book 2 years ago, I was so sad and so angry that I had been so misinformed. I remember once, long ago, asking my doctor how I was supposed to bolus for a breakfast of bacon and eggs, and she told me to add some fruit and count that. I should have put two and two together back then! But, we can only move forward. I so badly want to convince my doctor about this, as I know she’s the first point of contact for so many newly diagnosed patients.

I don’t disagree with sort of general low carbing but I can have ok results (120 for like an hour?) with pretty large (105-115G, Italian Beef, fries and a large schooner of admittedly light beer…) as long as I count them. I hate saying “I can only do _________” about anything. Sometimes the low carb people seem a bit too dedicated for my tastes and it concerns me that people are so comfortable “punting” carbs.

I think there’s a big difference between low carb and moderate low carb. I eat what I feel is a moderate low carb diet (less than 100 carbs per day). Considering the RDA is 200g/day and most people probably eat around 300g/day, I feel like I do pretty well! I have T1 and definitely saw an improvement in my BSLs by cutting out carbs. I pretty much avoid white flour foods of any kind, although I do treat myself here and there. They definitely cause significant spikes that are hard to control. I made the mistake of eating pasta a few weeks ago and my BSL went up over 250 and just stayed there for awhile. If I can stay away from those kinds of things, I stay in much better control.

?? I don’t get why it’s a bad thing to say “I can only do” and then be reasonable about what you can do. I can only eat one slice of pizza. If I eat more than one slice, my BG goes up and stays there for hours, and I don’t have insulin to be able to counterbalance it.

Your focus ought to be on the things that, while they might be “healthy” for someone who is non-diabetic, are not “healthy” for a diabetic. Fruit really needs to be in moderation, whereas we are all led to believe, the more the better. Grains really are not “healthy” for you if you have an inability to metabolize carbohydrates properly. I eat moderate carbs – try to stay between 100gm and 120 gm a day–and I too have ice cream on a fairly frequent basis (1/2 cup has only 18 gm carb, it’s not a big deal). But I do NOT have ice cream and also have bread.

Hi Aimee,

I love my parents, they raised me the best way they knew how. Unfortunately, diet wasn’t a concern… I grew up eating sugary cereals, pop tarts, candy, cookies, not to mention tons of pasta, bread, and pizza (we’re Italian). I wish my parents had known then what we know now… as a kid, you’re so adaptable to change. If I could have had a childhood filled with energy, teenage years free from acne and headaches, and a college life free from the many ups and downs and highs and lows of a high-grain diet, that would have been a great upbringing, in my opinion.

I see that you want her to have a “normal childhood” and just want to say that you can both adapt. Unhealthy food doesn’t have to be the “fun” in life. Feeling fantastic is fun, having energy is fun, easier to control diabetes is even fun… friends are fun… music, dancing, books, learning, sports, not worrying about my parents getting cancer or suffering from arthritis is fun. I never felt great until I changed my eating. Food is simply fuel, and eating this way tastes great and is really incredibly satisfying.

You might be interested to check out a website called Everyday Paleo, featuring a mom of 3 boys (aged kids-teen), and the whole family eats paleo. It might give you some motivation hearing it from another mom :slight_smile: Best of luck. I’ll get off my soapbox now :slight_smile:

To me, food/ insulin is an input/input thing and I don’t like saying “I can’t eat ________ because of my BG”. Several of the “usual suspects” are challenging to work with but I do it anyway, I sort of enjoy the challenge and the testing and results and variety in my routine.

Aimee - i just posted an article that talks about this topic:

on the bottom of page 8, the article talks about how high amounts of insulin may help fuel development of cancer.