Whereas February 2017 was one of my best months in terms of glycemic control to date and March was rather typical of the previous two years or so, April was quite lack luster with more high and low blood glucose (BG) readings than the previous two months. This occurred despite no travel or major changes in exercise patterns. Fortunately, none of the hypoglycemic episodes were symptomatic, I feel well, and weightlifting performance is on par.
Glycemic Management Results for April 2017
Below are my mean blood glucose (BG) values, mean insulin doses, and BG frequency distribution for April 2017 compared to previous time periods.
As presented in blog post #15 exogenous insulin cannot mimic normal insulin secretion, so persons with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) should not expect to have truly normal BG values. They just need to be low enough to prevent long-term complications and not so low as to cause unpleasant hypoglycemic symptoms, brain damage, seizure, injury, coma, or death. I have set my target BG range at 61-110 mg/dl because values in this range are not likely to lead to harm or complications of T1DM. Your target BG range should be determined with your physician because one size does not fit all. Normal BG is 96 ± 12 mg/dl (mean ± standard deviation (SD)) and coefficient of variation is 13% which is the weighted mean from these two studies (here and here) of continuous glucose monitoring in healthy subjects. The standard deviation and coefficient of variation are measures of BG variability which I believe are important in T1DM. However, be advised that clinical outcomes in type 1 diabetes (i.e. microvascular and macrovascular complications) have only been documented to correlate with measures of mean BG, particularly HbA1c. This does not mean BG variability is not important, but it just has not been documented to correlate with outcomes and complications of T1DM. Achieving a normal standard deviation or coefficient of variation in T1DM would be difficult, if not impossible, with current exogenous insulin therapy (injected or pumped). I hope that adding a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to my therapeutic regimen will improve my BG variability and thus the standard deviation and coefficient of variation. I plan to get the FreeStyle Libre CGM as soon as it becomes available in the U.S. Monitoring the standard deviation and/or coefficient of variation and finding ways to improve them to the best of one’s ability is desirable in my opinion. Following a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet is one such method of reducing BG variability, mean BG, insulin doses, and hypoglycemia. A ketogenic diet may also provide an alternate/additional brain fuel in the form of ketones to protect the brain when BG does go low. The alternative energy that ketones supply to the brain may prevent or blunt the sympathoadrenal response to hypoglycemia which in turn reduces or eliminates the symptoms of and harm from hypoglycemia. This hypothesis needs to be tested before it can be stated as fact. Having BG close to normal most of the time (some of which are hypoglycemic) also minimizes the symptoms of mild hypoglycemia and potentially the harm from hypoglycemia as well due to lack of activation of the sympathetic nervous system and adrenal gland responses to hypoglycemia i.e. sympathoadrenal-induced fatal cardiac arrhythmia, see here.
Below are my BG readings along with exercise type and time for April 2017.
The table below shows the BG variability results for current and previous time periods. The percentiles (10th, 25th, 75th, 90th) on the right show the spread of the BG readings about the median. The interquartile range, the difference between the 75th and 25th percentiles, is a measure of BG variability. In the middle of the table are the %Time in three BG ranges: %Time BG < 61 mg/dl and the mean BG during that time, then %Time BG 61-110 mg/dl, and %Time BG > 110 mg/dl and the mean BG during that time. The other measures of BG variability were defined and explained in blog post #10.
The actual daily insulin doses and daily insulin dose totals are shown in the graphs below. I had to take multiple extra rapid-acting insulin doses to correct hyperglycemia and the breakfast and dinner rapid-acting insulin doses increased during the month. I made small changes in my basal insulin doses based on the fasting BG results as usual. I still find it interesting that my insulin doses vary so much over time for reasons that I largely do not understand. Again, this is due to the very nature of exogenous insulin therapy and the effect of my exercise on insulin sensitivity.
I am omitting my Ketonix breath acetone results this month since I did not take many measurements in April.
In May, I will continue olympic weightlifting most days while trying to avoid injury and overtraining (by adjusting the load (intensity times repetitions) up or down) and do aerobic exercise (swimming, rowing, walking, or cycling at low intensity for ≈ 0.5 – 2 hours) the remainder of the days.
My Thoughts About Management of Type 1 Diabetes With A Ketogenic Diet
My goal of glycemic management in T1DM with a ketogenic diet is to keep BG as close to normal i.e. 96 ± 12 mg/dl (mean ± SD) as is safely possible (i.e. avoiding hypoglycemia) to avoid diabetic complications, a reduction in lifespan, and unpleasant symptoms of as well as injury and death from hypoglycemia. For me, a well-formulated whole-food nutrient-dense ketogenic diet (see blog post #9 for more details), daily exercise, frequent BG measurements, and lower insulin-analog doses (Humalog/Lantus) have improved my glycemic control, hypoglycemic reactions, and quality of life. My current version of ketogenic diet has changed slightly since I last wrote about it in detail in blog post #9. Since that post, I have eliminated dairy and decreased my fat intake to further improve my body composition so as to be able to compete in masters olympic weightlifting in the 77 kg weight class without having to think about when and how much I eat before weigh-in.
My current diet looks like this.
What I Cook & Eat
•Beef, grass-fed, including meat (85% lean), heart, liver, and kidney (liverwurst)
•Fish, mainly wild Alaskan salmon
•Canadian bacon (uncured)
•Chicken & Turkey occasionally
•Eggs (from chicken)
•Non-starchy vegetables (about 5% carbohydrate content by weight) including Cabbage (Red, Green, Napa), Kale, Collard Greens, Spinach, Bell Peppers, Raw Carrots, Leeks, Onions, Brussels sprouts, Home-made Sauerkraut from Red Cabbage, Bok-Choy, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Cucumber, Lettuce (Iceberg & Romaine), and some others.
•Fruit – Avocado, Tomatoes, Olives, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, lemon juice on fish and salads
•Nuts & Seeds – Pepitas, Macadamia, Brazil, Pecan, Walnut, Pistachio, Cashew.
•Note: I developed an intolerance to milk prior to my diagnosis of T1D. I did try heavy whipping cream after starting my KLCHF diet, but am also intolerant of it. I do tolerate butter, but wanted to decrease my fat intake, so eliminated all dairy including cheese and yogurt.
What I Drink
Water (filtered by reverse osmosis), Unsweetened Tea & Coffee
What I Don’t Eat
•Grains – Wheat, Corn, Rice, Oats (there are many more) or anything made from them, which is too numerous to list here. Gluten is a protein present in a number of grains (all varieties of wheat including spelt, kamut, and triticale as well as barley and rye.) which can cause a number of medical problems for a significant portion of the population with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. In my case, I avoid them due to their carbohydrate content.
•Starchy vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, most root vegetables (turnip root okay), peas
•Legumes – peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, soybeans
•High sugar fruits – includes most fruits except berries, see above.
•Sugar and the fifty other names used to disguise sugar.
•Vegetable Oils (really seed oils) – Canola, Corn, Soybean, Peanut, Sunflower, Safflower, Cottonseed, Grape seed, Margarine & Butter substitutes, Shortening.
•All Processed Food-like Substances i.e., most of what is in the grocery store.
•I avoid restaurants except when traveling, and then order fish or steak with plain steamed non-starchy vegetables (no gravy or sauces that typically contain sugar, cornstarch, or flour) or salad.
•Refined, but healthy, fats – I have eliminated refined fats from my diet including butter, coconut & olive oils.
What I Don’t Drink
•Colas (both sweetened and diet i.e. artificial sweeteners).
•Fruit Juice except small amounts of lemon juice.
•Alcohol (can cause hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia in persons with diabetes).
•No artificial sweeteners, don’t need or like them.
A large part of my fat intake comes from nuts & seeds which hypothetically could result in potential adverse consequences from omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in the opinion of some low carb advocates. However, I have yet to see any studies that show harm from eating nuts & seeds. As a reference, the average fat breakdown of the seven nuts & seeds that I eat daily is 33% polyunsaturated, 52% monounsaturated, and 15% saturated fat. However, when my entire diet is analyzed, 26% of my fat intake is from polyunsaturates, 56% is from monounsaturates, and 18% is from saturated fats. When my diet is broken down by macronutrients, I consume 170 grams of fat (or 68% of my total daily calories), 70 grams of carbohydrate, 30 grams of which is dietary fiber (or 12% of my total daily calories), and 110 grams of protein (or 20% of my total daily calories). In calories, it totals to 2,250 kcal/day.
My exercise regimen and its resulting varying insulin sensitivity and hormonal changes actually makes glycemic management more difficult i.e. challenging, but I enjoy exercise and feel it has other health and lifespan-extending benefits. Hopefully, my BG values and variability as well as my lower insulin doses that result from my ketogenic diet and exercise are close enough to optimal to avoid any reduction in lifespan, diabetic complications, and harm from hypoglycemia. Only time will tell.
Till next time ….