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Ketogenic Diet and Type 1 Diabetes

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I am Type 1 diabetic and was wondering if any other Type 1's have tried a ketogenic diet to lose weight. What challenges have you had to overcome?

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@Catherine0813 - Welcome!  While I am not a Type 1, I would share the challenges I experienced.  I think, if you look around the forums, that the challenges are similar as to the diet no matter what type of diabetes we have.  I lost 100 pounds on a roughly ketogenic diet.  I went from not being able to go up stairs without being winded to being able to ride a bicycle 30+ miles a day.  Diabetes put me into the best shape of my life because of the adaptations I had to make to it.


Early challenges were accepting that I had to make changes to get my diabetes under control and lose weight.  I concentrated on doing things that would help keep my glucose down and everything else fell into place.  Type 1's would also suggest low carb high fat and have posted they use less insulin and don't swing wildly high or low.


This is a long game.  It is more mental than physical.  Count your carbs.  Many here, me included, try to stay under 50g of carbs a day.  Those carbs are primarily from nuts, non root vegetables, cheese, cream, butter, and many good things "they" tell you to stay away from.  If you are used to eating a lot of carbs, start with a goal of 100 g per day and then work down from there.  It will soon become a habit and there are many ways to repurpose new foods to sub old favorites.  Tonight, for example, I had a salad with dinner.  Always loved croutons.  Croutons, being starchy, are not so good for me.  I throw in a handful of macadamia nuts (any nuts will do for me) and problem solved.  


Again, mental, don't try a substitute expecting it to be a substitute.  In the example above, nuts are nothing like croutons.  I like salad and I like nuts.  So my salad has nuts.  When I first tried mashed cauliflower, it was a disaster because I expected it to substitute mashed potatoes.  It doesn't.  A brilliant poster here said it straight up.  Asked if I like cauliflower.  I do.  Next time, it was suggested I make mashed cauliflower and expect it to be mashed cauliflower.  Worked out much better.  80% mental and 20% physical for me.


Exercise was also instrumental.  At first, all I could really do was walk.  I was too out of shape to do anything else.  I did 10,000 steps a day.  Looked and felt like I would drop dead on the spot.  Everything hurt.  Would walk 2 days, rest 1.  Started toning up pretty quickly.  Walked my first 5K about 3 months after starting this journey.  Within 6 months, I ran a 5K.  Always hated running, and still do.  Tried swimming and it is simply not enjoyable for me to swim laps in a pool.  Rediscovered my joy of riding a bicycle from my youth.  Still have it.  Truth be told, every day, I don't feel like exercise.  I then start kitting up and, like Pavlov's dog, I mentally get my game on.


Look around the forums and you will find great recipes, ideas, and true life advice from people that live with diabetes every day. ~ Mike

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Mike has said it all but every diabetic is different.  I too am a type 2 and lost 40 pounds in 2 months just by  going to a  low carb high fat diet. Never think of it as a "diet" though think of it as a lifestyle change. I jumped in with both feet and went immediately to 30 carbs a day but for me that was to drastic and not sustainable over the long term. I gradually increased my carbs to a level that kept my blood glucose at my desired level of under 6 yet gave me more food options. That didn't mean that every carby food was on my can eat list. Certain carbs raise my BG even if eaten in small portions.


I'm almost 80 so my exercise is limited. I garden in summer and shovel snow off my decks in winter. When those options are not doable I go for a walk.


As mike said type 1 does benefit from diet and exercise too. Read Dr. Richard Bernstein's book "The Diabetes Solution". He is a type 1 who developed Diabetes in childhood. His book tells you about his journey with Diabetes and how a low carb diet let him lead a normal life as a DR. Last I heard he was in his 80's and had had no complications from Diabetes

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I am type 1 for 13 years. I started keto 8 months ago and have followed it very strongly. I've lost about 25 lbs, my energy has returned, and I started running again, and have greater endurance, muscles tire less quickly. My mood, focus and patience has greatly improved, likely because my daily blood glucose level is stable, I used to experience swings which would cause me to binge eat and dose and left feeling exhausted and irritable. Another added bonus I've found is lows are less likely, and I no longer have to worry during endurance activities or while working out. While I was windsurfing it seemed like after 20 or 30mins I would be low and need a juice box, or I would feel drained, now even though I windsurf less, I sail harder for 3 hours with no lows, and don't have to skip a dose before exercise which often led to a spike. My A1C also improved and I no longer get crazy food craving.


Some of the challenges I noticed is I had to adjust my basal insulin relatively quickly, lower it. As well after a week or 2 I had to start dosing my novorapid for protein. For about 2 weeks I was at 0 units of novo rapid as I started, now I'm taking about 5 units at each meal. Your experience will be different and talk to your endo. The biggest issue I've noticed is when I slip up and don't follow keto one night, my blood sugar is high for days after, like 3-4 after eating a pizza or piece of cheese cake, even using an insulin to carb ratio that bring me to normal with in 2 or 3 hours, but the following 3-4 days, i'll be 11-12 mmol/L almost no matter what. My endo thought this was likely due to how fat can alter the metabolism of glucose. My advice is stick to the keto rigorously, my fiance was doing it for awhile with me and that made it a lot easier.


Stay away from buying keto snacks. At least if you're like me and have little self control, and also make sure you still watch labels, some of the added fibers that reduce the carb count don't always seem to work, and can cause glucose spikes. I've also experience some unexplained highs from monk fruit and erythritol sweeteners, I've yet to figure out what's going on, but now I'm really trying to stay away from even the keto junk foods.


Eating bacon and eggs every morning takes a little more time, but it's yummy! Eating out is a bit harder, but I've always loved steak, so skipping the potatoes on the side isn't too bad. I've had to cut out ribs because the bbq sauces are full of sugar. 


Overall it's been a big improvement! I've tried to stay under 20g of carbs/day right from the get go. My biggest advice, if possible do it with everyone in your household, I wish my fiance still was. 

Edited by winddude

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