Losing weight while type 1

Hi there! I don’t post very often, so I thought I’d ask a question that’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve been type 1 diabetic for 7 years and I’ve just recently (this past year) gained a lot of weight due to poor eating habits. As of now, I’m 5 ft. 5 and weigh 142lbs. My BMI is on the higher side, and I would love to lose a few. I realize that restricting calories by about 500 a day from your BMR is the way to do it, but I’m just curious : “Where does insulin play into this all?” For us diabetics, does it get easier for us to lose weight if we’re eating low carb? So what’s the scoop? Should I count calories, or should I focus on low carb? If excess insulin causes weight gain, should I aim for lowering that?

I’m so confused. Please help me
Thank you! Egirl

I am 5’7", and had topped out at about 220#. Now maintaining at about 160#, just over 3 years after beginning pumping. When my endo questions how (as I had set my goal to about 160 and had a few pounds to still go over about a 6 mo period before my endo noticed), my reply is “watching the carbs.” I just decreased portion sizes (slowly), still eat what I like (mostly, some things like cereal and grapes I just avoid like the plague now), and by doing that my insulin needs have decreased and my sugars are much more stable than MDI days. I am active, try for 30 min per day 7 days a week (treadmill or stationary bike), and most days (5 or more) I can exercise close to 1 hour split between morning and evening, in addition to yard/house/etc activities.

Reduced carbs, reduced insulin needs, and increased activity (to burn off more calories) are the only way to do it.

It’s hard, and you will probably notice the weight loss is less dramatic than what you see in your non-diabetic friends, but be persistent - you didn’t put the weight on overnight, and it will not come off overnight… it does take time.

Second to that, I assume your endo has checked your thyroid levels… I’d look into that just to be sure there isn’t an underlying thyroid condition, because trust me being hypothyroid and T1 makes losing weight almost impossible.

I would add here (although I think I hit your other thread too? :-P) that the Taubes book (“Why are we fat” or something like that?) seems to be aiming at carbs being the cause, rather than calories. To me, that’s an easy way to keep track. I’ve lost weight. I saw my uncle over the weekend, he’s probably 55-60ish and has slimmed down quite a bit and reported that he eats 1/2 what he used to. No insulin for him (yet, although like everyone related to me, he’s in danger…) but he’s doing well with that.

Taubes is in the minority in this opinion - it sure helps him sell books though. The overwhelming majority of researchers believe that it is total calories, not just carbs, that make you gain or lose weight.

Excess insulin certainly causes weight gain, since you are forced to eat to keep your BG from going low.

I am finding the “history of science” angle of the book very interesting. He doesn’t get defensive but he really situates the pro-carb perspective in the history of thought on the subject as a recent development, tracing scientists who’d observed the benefits of reducing carbs back in the 18th century? He also explains pretty clearly and metabolically why calories don’t matter and carbs do. I’m enjoying the “Why are we Fat?” book quite a bit.

I am not sure I’m ready to take the plunge but am not eating any carbs this AM (other than Total Available Glucose carbs in eggs, cheese and ham.???) as I stuck a new sensor in!

Insulin is a fat storing hormone. The less carbs eaten, the lower your doses will be. As you lose weight, your doses will also be lower, of course. Many use low carb to lose weight & to help with better control. Exercise, particularly activities that increase muscle mass, increases insulin sensitivity.

Hard to live on 500 calories for any length of time. Low carb isn’t low calorie or low fat & it is a successful route to losing pounds.

Dr. Bernstein’s book Diabetes Solution is wonderful. He’s the low carb diabetes guru & a T1 himself. Gary Taubes’ books are great.

Re this, I googled “concentration camp diet” for one of these conversations and found a couple of articles indicating 500-600 calories were provided the inmates in Nazi camps. Pre-insulin PWD prolonged their exisences w/ 400 calories/ day!

I lost a pants size in about 3 months by eating about 3/4 my regular diet and excercising at least 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. Not bad :wink:

For the most part study after study has demonstrated that low anything works if you have less total calories! Low Fat Vegan, Low carb - as long as you reduce calories. One thing that Insulin curses us with is correcting for low glucose; which causes us to ingest extra carbs to counter lows. So try and avoid the lows and reduce your consumption of calories (and Insulin) in whatever manner works for you.

The Taubes book presents the science pretty convincingly that more starchy carbs will cause more of a propensity to obesity than a similar number of calories from meat/fat. W/ diabetes the thing I noticed is that less carbs= less work which, as a slacker is always a good thing.

What a grim statistic.

I disagree that Taubes is convincing. I found his writing to be full of logical flaws. (I should say that I haven’t read the whole thing - only the large portion on the amazon.com preview. That was bad enough).

I’m not even sure I agree that less carbs=less work for a T1 (I do agree that it is less work for a T2). I assume you’re eating some carb and protein with your meal - in which case you’ll have to inject insulin to cover your meal. You’ll have to inject more if you eat more carbs - but how is that more work (unless you consider it “work” to count the carbs)?

I’ll weigh in here (pun intended!), after a little over one month of low-carb for weight loss and BG control purposes. I’ve been eating about 40-50 grams of carb per day, and my overall calorie intake and amount/level of exercise have not changed significantly — maybe a bit more of each. My daily insulin intake has dropped by about 5-8 units per day.

Things I’ve noticed so far:

•BG control has been better and easier to manage on low carb … not perfect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be.

•Hunger is less of a problem.

•Weight is exactly where it was at the start. I dropped a few pounds early on, but they have returned.

My new plan of action is to carry on with the low carb program for now (because of the BG improvement) and see if I can also start cutting some calories. For me anyway, simply cutting carbs and insulin doesn’t seem to be leading to weight loss. Darn.

One thing I’m wondering though – sometimes your bg levels go up because of things other than diet, for example hormonal fluctuations (mine are insane right now, I think it’s a middle age woman thing), and then you still have to up your insulin to handle what’s going on. In that case, during that period, I’m guessing the answer is exercise and not driving yourself nuts with diet if it’s already low carb?..

I was skeptical but intrigued by the book. It doesn’t focus on diabetes. It suprised me to learn the history of avoiding carbs in medicine and how quickly it was swept away which, in turn, reminded me of the “my country tis of thee, sweet land of subsidy” Doonesbury from when I was a kid.

Counting carbs is still part of the choreabetes w/ reducing carbs but, at least in my experience, when I eat less carbs, my bg seems to be much easier to predict and control. On the “back end” of the shot, w/ bigger meals and bigger shots, I perceive a higher variability which, in turn, means more work evaluating and adjusting things.

I started doing the South Beach diet and for the first two weeks it is low-carb. I am 5’5 and was like 140 lbs. The only carb source is low carb veggies and beans pretty much and 1) I lost 8 lbs in 2 weeks 2) my blood sugars were phenomenal 3) I had alot more energy and 4) I remained focused and alert throughout most of the day. The great thing about it is you literally do not have to count any calories at all which is GREAT!! I hate thinking all day about how many calories and carbs I’m eating so it was really nice to just eat all the lean meat and veggies I wanted. I’ve started the second phase of the diet where you are allowed to eat carbs again (1-3 servings of starches/grains and 1-3 servings of fruit per day) and have already seen an increase in both weight, bloat, and less blood sugar control. I’m feeling like it is really convincing that I will return to a lower carb lifestyle.

sometimes your bg levels go up because of things other than diet, for example hormonal fluctuations

Vigorous nodding over here!

Exactly! Good job!!!

I’ve had the same experience with low carb, but really appreciate the more stable BG-which also cuts down on the extra calories from treating/overtreating lows