1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Get the Diabetes Forum App for your phone - available on iOS and Android.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Guest, we'd love to know what you think about the forum! Take the Diabetes Forum Survey 2020 »
    Dismiss Notice
  4. Diabetes Forum should not be used in an emergency and does not replace your healthcare professional relationship. Posts can be seen by the public.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Find support, ask questions and share your experiences. Join the community »

Keto for Type 1 - My Story

Discussion in 'Success Stories and Testimonials' started by Colin of Kent, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. Colin of Kent

    Colin of Kent Type 1 · Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Hi all. The other day, I met with a friend I'd not seen for a long time, who's also type 1. I was waxing lyrical about keto and ended up promising to write her an email with all the resources I'd used along the way. (By the way, the fine folks on this forum are certainly one of the greatest among them.) Having composed the email, I thought I'd redraft it slightly and leave it here for anyone who's interested...

    I had always followed the standard advice given by diabetes nurses and doctors, and Diabetes UK. Carb-counting and the pump were supposed to free me from the shackles of taking regular, fixed doses and always eating roughly the same things at the same times each day. Well, they did do that... to an extent. However, my HbA1c never improved at all. It seemed like, no matter how hard I tried, I could never get it down anywhere near the elusive goal that all Type 1's are supposed to aim for. Well... as it turned out, there was quite a lot of information missing from the guidance I'd received.

    I've long had background retinopathy, but about two years ago I decided to get serious and do something about it. Searching online, I came across Dr Richard Bernstein, himself a T1, diagnosed in the 1930s. By the time he was my age, he had debilitating complications, but one day resolved to change things around. He was an engineer and his wife a medical sales rep, so he had access to all the medical journals and stuff, so he started educating himself, eventually ending up as a fully qualified doctor. He has since reversed all his complications and is still practising medicine to this day. He is truly inspirational.

    So I read his book, 'Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution', which explains everything very clearly. All his experiences with his own diabetes and that of his patients chimes with mine so closely, that I felt I must be on the right track. Basically, he says that diabetes - T1 or T2 - is effectively an intolerance of carbohydrate. This made perfect sense to me. It took me about six months to get my head around the idea of giving up bread, pasta, cakes, etc., but I resolved this by considering that it's those things that have made me so sick over the past 28 years. It may seem extreme at first - as it did to me, actually - but for many, it's the perfect solution.

    From there, it was a logical progression to the ketogenic diet for me. By making the body favour fat as its primary fuel source, it then becomes less reliant on glucose and thus blood glucose fluctuations become much less severe. For example, in times past, I would typically average one hypo a day, and BG readings in the high teens were commonplace. Nowadays, I'm unlucky if I go above 8 mmol/l, and hypos are down to one or two a week, sometimes even less. Historically, my HbA1c was usually mid- to low-60s, and the best I could ever reach with diligent carb-counting was 57 mmol/mol. Now it's 47 -- almost non-diabetic. In terms of my long-term health, this is the single most important factor.

    The resources that have helped me along this journey are as follows.
    • 'Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution' - a must-read for all diabetics, T1 and T2, whatever stage they're at.
    • 'The Ketogenic Diet for Type 1 Diabetes' by Ellen Davis and Keith Runyan. Runyan is himself another T1, and his blog is worth looking at too.
    • 'Think Like a Pancreas' by Gary Scheiner. Although he doesn't do low-carb, this book is a great resource for all type 1's, even if it is based on carb-counting etc. There is lots of advice in it about all the other myriad factors that can influence BG control, and it's written in a very accessible and friendly way.
    • 'Bright Spots and Landmines' by Adam Brown. This guy does do low-carb, having realised that it's the most practical way to manage his type 1, and again his book is written in a very friendly, engaging style.
    • 'Pumping Insulin' by Walsh and Roberts. A little dry, but a good one to dip in and out of for any pump user. Very comprehensive and clearly explains a lot of the things that diabetes nurses never quite seem to have the time to...
    • Diabetes.co.uk forum. Not to be confused with the charity (Diabetes UK). Many of the people on this forum are very well informed and very friendly and helpful. This has been my go-to source for all kinds of advice.
    • Typeonegrit group on Facebook. Mainly for followers of Dr Bernstein and keto.
    • Dr Ian Lake - a Stroud-based GP with T1 himself also following the keto diet.
    • Dr Carrie Diulus - another doctor with T1, who's also vegan and a keen athlete.
    As a footnote: Oddly, Dr Bernstein himself doesn't advocate either the ketogenic diet or insulin pumps. Some have described him as a zealot; personally, I think that's probably fair, but the fact that he reversed three decades of complications is testament to the solid foundation of his approach.
    • Winner Winner x 6
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. NicoleC1971

    NicoleC1971 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Thanks Colin of Kent. An inspirational story and a reading list!
    I think Dr Bernstein can be a little crotchety about keto but I think he feels ketosis to be purely incidental to his low carb approach rather than the unicorns that they have become for certain health advocates. He is just advocating what he knows works for him and his patients but on my first read of his book, I did back right off when told I could not eat carrots or tomatoes and had to buy strange sounding US food!
    I am working towards the same end now although I find Adam Brown;s approach (no more than 30g per meal ) a little more flexible.
    It does make me cross too that type 1 s are made to feel like failures if they don't do what only a working pancreas can do i.e. accurately guess insulin dosage at all times and in all circumstances!
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. ert

    ert Type 1 · Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Thank you for your post. I'm a Bernstein follower and a type 1 on insulin. My HbA1c is 5.2% and I feel really well.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. michita

    michita Type 1 · Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Thank you for the post. I’m also low carbing type 1. :) I came across Dr Bernstein and his book 3 and half years ago on this forum. He tells you no diabetes doctors would tell you, which is type 1 can also keep normal bs level and live complication free and ‘almost’ hypo free life and it’s working for me :) his book has helped me hugely. An inspirational person/book
    • Like Like x 2
  • Meet the Community

    Find support, connect with others, ask questions and share your experiences with people with diabetes, their carers and family.

    Did you know: 7 out of 10 people improve their understanding of diabetes within 6 months of being a Diabetes Forum member. Get the Diabetes Forum App and stay connected on iOS and Android

    Grab the app!
  • Tweet with us

  • Like us on Facebook