How I Reversed Type 2 Diabetes, Cleared Brain Fog, and Got My Life Back!
So all the crying, the hair-pulling, the gnashing of teeth had been over a few months. I had sat outside my doctor’s office, crying in the front seat of the car, utterly defeated, thinking about what life would be like with mysterious infections and amputations and loss of eyesight.
The doctor had given me a death sentence: Diabetes Two.
“Lose weight,” he had been telling me for a few years. “You’re pre-diabetic,” he said.
And I had tried everything I knew to lose that weight, having had lots of experience with weight loss schemes throughout my life. I estimate that, with all the yo-yo dieting I’ve done, I’ve probably gained and lost about a ton–literally–of weight.
But now, all the tricks I knew, some of them healthy, some of them not, couldn’t get the scale to budge…not at all!
So I started doing my own research, and found that I was suffering the effects of insulin resistance (IR). Type Two Diabetes (t2d) is merely a dramatic form of insulin resistance. IR was the reason that I couldn’t lose weight: The human body needs insulin to be reacting with the cells properly in order to access the fat that the insulin helped put there in the first place.
NOTE: I am not going to go too deeply into the science here, because there are many places for you to find that where experts do a much better job of explaining it. I will provide some of those resources at the end.
The next step for me was to find out whether any methods existed for reversing IR. And the ketogenic diet–keto, for short–seemed like a sure bet.
And The (Keto) Livin' Ain't Easy
My t2d diagnoses was in July 2017. I tried like heck to lose weight for the next several months, all to no avail. Going keto gave me new hope.
And it was not easy!
First of all, I love to cook. I learned much of my cooking skills from my Italian next-door neighbor growing up, a woman who I regarded as “my other mother.” Pasta was a part of every meal, unless it was just some delicious bread (pepper & egg sandwich, anyone?) or, more likely, both (who ever heard of a pasta dinner without bread?).
I had also been a victim of all the low-fat diet fads that have been responsible for making Americas so gosh-darned fat!
So I needed to learn a whole new way to cook.
Second, I am a food addict. Make that a sugar addict. Most of the foods I craved were either heavily laden with sugar, or they turned to sugar once in the digestive tract and bloodstream.
Today I consider sugar to be a toxin, and I would no more put it in my body than I would ingest rat poison. Knowing that processed foods, flours primary among them, turn into sugar in the bloodstream, I view those in much the same way.
I know, I know! What is life like if I can’t “treat” myself to a piece of candy, or a cookie, or a piece of cake or pie? And here’s what I tell myself: Does the momentary thrill of the taste of that make losing my toes, or my leg, or my eyesight worthwhile?
If I need to tell you the answer to that, then you have some serious soul-searching to do!
I won’t go into great detail about the particulars of the ketogenic diet. Again, there are sources far superior to what I can tell you–and I will share my resources with you in this post.
I purchased a couple of books to help me understand the science of this way of eating, and one of the best is called, Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet, by Jimmy Moore. Moore also does a podcast called The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show, and I got, and get, a lot of help out of both the book and the podcast.
The whole point of the ketogenic diet is to put the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is the state by which the body is powered by ketones rather than glucose.
The most important part of eating the ketogenic way is to balance the so-called macros. When eating a proper balance of macros, the body goes into a state of ketosis, meaning that it is burning ketones for fuel–rather than glucose. There are three of them: Fats, proteins, and carbs.
You’ll find a number of recommendations for balancing your macros, which should be done according to your own goals, tastes, and capabilities.
Because I live by the maxim, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” I go to the far end of the spectrum: 75% fats, 20% proteins, and 5% carbs. Although it’s not recommended to start out this way, that’s exactly what I did. You will find exhaustive information about macros and how to balance them in the resources below, as well as in Jimmy Moore’s excellent book shown above.
I went shopping for just about everything that I’d avoided over the past two decades at least–anything fatty, especially.
I bought chicken thighs instead of skinless chicken breast. I bought cream cheese, and full-fat yogurt, as well as fatty cheeses instead of the low-fat varieties. I felt absolutely sinful!
This list of foods is not exhaustive, but it will help a great deal to get started:
One of the frustrations I had was finding ready-made snacks that could keep me in keto mode (called ketosis–we’ll get to that a little later). Back then, I had to fend for myself. I found a lot of recipes for what are called “fat-bombs,” but they took time to shop for the ingredients, time to prepare, and they didn’t hold up very well, particularly in the heat of summer in the car.
Now there’s a plethora of snacks and desserts available in stores as well as online. I’ll include a few of my favorites here, but no doubt you will do your own research and find more on your own–which I hope you’ll share here so that I can get in on the fun, too!
Please be aware that balancing the macros is of utmost importance, and it was–and still is–the hardest part of following a strict ketogenic diet. One of the reasons I use snacks is for their high-fat content. To this day I have trouble keeping my protein from overwhelming the fat percentage. If I see that the protein is too high–and if the protein is too high you can end up with too much protein from a process called gluconeogenesis, and then you’re not in ketosis anymore (more on this below)–I’ll grab a high-fat keto snack and !Presto! I’m cool
Custom Keto Diet
Here’s something that I wish had been available when I got started on my keto journey. It would have been far simpler, and I probably would have met with greater success earlier.
As I’ve said, there weren’t a lot of resources available when I first started. I could have used a meal plan all laid out for me, with recipes and even a shopping list.
Today, that is called the Custom Keto Diet.
I’ll let them give you the details, but the overview is this:
They customize the meal plan to your likes and dislikes, to your particular circumstances and goals, and then furnish you with a shopping list and easy-to-follow recipes for each meal. The pricing seems reasonable to me (I won’t give amounts here, because no doubt prices will change over the time that this blog post is available), but you can get all the information you need here.
They seem to know what they’re doing, and I’ve tried a few dessert recipes that were deeeeee-LISH! (Can you tell that I’m a dessert fiend?)
Now comes the really hard part: You’re going to feel a little bit (or maybe a lot) sick as your body converts from burning glucose to burning ketones for energy.
Again, I’m not going to delve too deeply into the science here, but I can give you a simple way of understanding why this happens:
The biome–basically, the bacteria–in your gut has been discovered to be of primary importance to your health. Of the many benefits it offers, your immune system is among the most important. I will provide links at the end so that you can study this further.
For our purposes, suffice it to say that, if you are overweight and eating sugar and flour, your biome is surviving on glucose. When you make the conversion to ketones on a ketogenic diet, your existing biome dies off, and a new biome capable of surviving on ketones takes its place.
When the glucose-feeding biome dies off, it produces toxins. Those toxins cause the symptoms, mostly in the digestive tract, that we call “keto flu.”
When I began keto, I probably went too strict from the start, and my keto flu was extremely difficult. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time on the toilet for about ten days. I also had a headache, off and on, for a few days.
From what I’m told, those symptoms could have been mitigated by replacing electrolytes. I can’t verify that from personal experience. I simply suffered. But you’re welcome to try one of the sports drinks for replacing electrolytes (just make sure to get the sugarless kind!) or use an electrolyte supplement.
I address it below, but I think that this product will probably address keto flu while helping you get into ketosis more quickly than I was able as I fumbled around with macros. You can view the product here:
I learned to cook under what I call The Low-Fat Delusion. I wish there were some way to go back and punish those responsible for leading me down that path! I saw the results of the low-fat regimens I followed every time I looked in the mirror. For a while, I was reminded every time I swallowed a fistful of pills.
For the first couple of weeks on keto, I was extremely nervous every time I put butter in the frying pan, every time I cracked a few eggs into the bowl, and every time I layered cheese into my omelette, or added a whole avocado to a salad, or ate bacon with my high-fat ground beef or deliciously skin-covered chicken or turkey thigh.
But the scale at the end of the week was the proof of the pudding (and yes! I make keto chocolate pudding! I’ll tell you below, I promise!).
I lost six pounds in that first week!
As anyone who has dieted as much as I have knows, weight loss in that first week or two is easy. Change your carb intake, and you lose water weight. The weight continued to come off, however, and I continued to improve my keto knowledge and skills.
Once again, Jimmy Moore comes to the rescue with a cookbook of keto recipes that will help you keep on track with your macros. I was able to find just enough recipes out on the InterWebs to keep me going in those early days–here’s a bunch of them from an expert in the field:
As I said earlier, the hardest part has been keeping my fat intake at 75 percent, while maintaining the 20 percent protein. Once I figured out which vegetables are high in carbs, that macro was easy.
But I found that the skinless chicken breast cost me too much protein–skinless thighs, with the skin, keep me in balance. And I also found that adding a nice helping of cream cheese to a snack of celery stalks kept my fat intake at the desired level.
How, you ask, do I track my macros?
Easy. There’s an app for that.
When I began keto, I was already using an app to track my calorie intake. I had gotten pretty good at entering every morsel that entered my mouth into the calculator. But I was pretty much interested only in calorie intake.
Counting calories continues to be important. After all, it’s elementary physics that, if you ingest more energy than your body needs to fuel its processes, then the excess energy will be stored as fat. Take in fewer calories than you need to fuel those processes, and your body will burn fat for energy.
When I started keto, I weighed in at 327 pounds (one night, I weighed 333, but that was after a significant binge, so I don’t count that). It took quite a lot of calories to maintain that weight, so I could get away with eating a lot more than I can now, 64 pounds slimmer.
I use an app called Carb Manager. It’s not perfect, even with the paid version (which I pay for). I saw another one recommended recently, although I can’t remember the name of it. I won’t go into the specific shortcomings now–I’ll do another post specifically on apps later.
But I can see how my macros balance out every day, which enables me to plan my menus before I begin the day. If I find that my carbs are too high, I can trade broccoli (higher carb) for cauliflower (lower carb).
What I like best, and least, about the app I use is that I can scan the bar code on food packaging, and the app recognizes it and has all the details filled out. What I like least is that, more often than I like, the data is wrong–but the app enables me to correct the data.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
As I said earlier, I hit a plateau after I’d lost around twenty-five pounds. This was after steady weight loss almost every day for a month or two.
But, as always, I turned to my trusty computer to do some research, and I found Intermittent Fasting (IF).
Again, I won’t go into the science here. Both Thomas DeLauer and Dr. Eric Berg (links below) do a far better job than I will in the space I have here (I’m already too wordy!), and I find no need to try to match their level of knowledge.
Simply put, IF means going without food from dinner until lunch the next day. Sixteen or so hours without food, then a six-to-eight-hour window for eating. Some health professionals will tell you that our digestive tract was meant to empty out on a regular basis. Our primitive forbears sometimes went a day or two or more without food when it wasn’t readily available.
I don’t know about you, but my digestive tract was literally stuffed with food, much of it toxic to my body, all the time! I would imagine that, when my innards were in constant use, without rest, and exposed 24/7 to toxic substances, my health suffered. It’s no wonder that cancers and Crohn’s and other chronic illnesses are rampant!
Sorry. Rant over.
You’ll find many benefits touted for IF.
All I needed to know was, once I was able to do IF successfully, the weight started to drop off once again.
But I was not able to do IF successfully when I first tried it. I don’t know whether it was the insulin resistance, or the diabetes, or something else, but I became severely hypoglycemic when I went even six hours without food.
So it was back to the laptop for more research.
And that’s how I found CBD oil.
I tend to be something of a purist but, again, I abhor orthodoxy. Unless you’re willing try something new, how would new discoveries be made?
That’s why I have been willing to try various kinds of ketone drinks. I’ll admit that I have not tried many–probably three or four.
Since I’m very strict with my keto diet, I doubt that I’m ever out of ketosis. I usually drink the product that I’ve decided I like best in the morning, when I’m probably most likely to be in ketosis anyway (I sometimes wonder whether, on a day when I’ve eaten too much protein, I’m out of ketosis because of gluconeogenesis, which is the bodies mechanism for turning protein into glucose.)
But here’s the thing: I wonder whether those drinks might have eased my pain during my bout with keto flu?
In addition to the KG4 product I showed you above, I also use a product called Pruvit. They make a wide variety of flavors, and I can tell you that, when the hunger pangs strike, these drinks certainly take the edge off! You can find the products here. Let me know whether that helps to abate your pain during your conversion
Enough Of Me
I can see that I’ve written far more than I’d intended for one post–thanks for sticking with me. I’ve given a lot of information, much of it in the form of either reading or viewing materials.
So you’ve got your assignments, should you decide to go along for the ride.
Let me know, in the comments, or by email, how keto is working out for you. I will do my best to answer questions and help in any way I can.
Thanks for reading!
Thomas DeLauer, an excellent source of information about keto, IF, and even recipes: https://youtu.be/sBw2rdwBfZE
Dr. Eric Berg, another great source of information about keto, about IF, and other health concerns. His very basic video on keto is here: https://youtu.be/vMZfyEy_jpI
Dr. Eric Berg, again, on the toxicity of sugar: https://youtu.be/HWI1TljBsaw
Keto Chocolate Pudding Recipe
1 ripe avocado
1 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tbsp sweetner (stevia, xylitol, I use erythritol)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (excellent source of healthy fat)
1/4 cup walnuts or peanuts
1/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
A drop or two of vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Enjoy