Ken Thomas Starch-Smart Blog

Ken chronicles his fascinating journey as an engineer in charting and graphing himself into a whole foods plant based low fat dynamo!

Fad Diets Part 2

Fad Diets Part 2

The previous Fad Diets post did not answer what is not a fad diet.  Instead, the post was to point out how fad diets are not only possible, but almost impossible to avoid.  It was to point out how deeply diluted truth and reality is by all the noise of opinion, false associations and cascading strings of if-then assumptions taken as fact.

So now, part 2 is what I believe is the true optimum human diet and how I arrived at that belief.   

I feel very fortunate to have learned about diet and nutrition with minimal noise.  My initial (and only) Type-1 diabetes hospital stay painted a very bleak picture of the future to come.  My blood-sugar was wildly out of control, swinging between convulsive, cold sweat lows to deathly highs.  It was terrifying to realize that this level of control was under direct doctor’s care.  How could I ever manage on my own?  It seemed obvious that, at this rate, I would be in and out of the hospital for the rest of my very limited, debilitated life. 

It is amazing how sometimes someone can make a very simple, casual statement that hits you with a profound epiphany.  The person making the statement may not even be aware that what they said virtually saved someone’s life.  Such a statement was made to me by a fill-in doctor during my last days in the hospital.  He told me that I had to manage my diabetes myself; that no doctor can do it.  He pointed out (the obvious) that Type-1 diabetic’s blood-sugars change too quickly and is affected by too many variables to follow a doctor’s prescribed schedule.  This made me realize that I had to test, measure, calculate and adjust on my own.   The thought of that actually made me feel empowered and in control instead of being a victim.  It gave me the courage to not rely on my doctor’s dietary and insulin schedule prescription – especially since my hospital experience was so horrible. 

My guidance was my glucometer, insulin injections and log.  The glucometer actually came with a little log sheet, but that was soon deemed totally inadequate.  Since the fill-in doctor had mentioned that blood-sugar was affected by too many variables, I felt that all those variables needed to be logged.  So, my log grew into a spiral bound note book logging the weights, calories, and types of everything I ate, when I ate, every activity, insulin doses, etc. 

Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Carney or any other plant based doctors were completely unknown and would remain unknown for another two decades.  So, apart from what my doctor recommended, I was in an information vacuum.  I did attend diabetic management classes, but they all recommended the same low-carb diet and management scheme as my doctor.   It only took a few weeks of analyzing my log data and adjusting accordingly to reject everything my doctor and diabetic classes presented.  As I made adjustments from the log data, I kept feeling better and better.  

The data from my logs, as well as how good I felt, were very confusing as it seemed to fly in the face of all that I previously knew was a healthy diet.  It became undeniably clear that fats and meats caused a delay – a mismatch between insulin injection and blood-sugar response.  I found that by omitting fats and meats, insulin response grew sharper and sharper as the weeks went by.  Eventually, after a few months the insulin response to blood-sugar was in direct sync, meaning no blood-sugar spikes even with a high carbohydrate meal.  This was in complete opposition with all I knew about carbohydrates.  But, I had faith in my glucometer and log, as I knew they were just raw data and not subject to opinion. 

Curiosity took me to the Midwestern State University library where I spent years of evenings and weekends studying biology text books.  I wanted to understand why my evolving diet was so opposite from what I knew was a healthy diet yet my health kept improving.  So, I studied about the interaction between the cells and all the molecules involved in metabolism.  The text books were very dry and technical. Without any prior education in chemistry, understanding was difficult and slow, but things were becoming clearer. 

So, what did I learn?  Probably the most important thing I learned about is insulin resistance and how fundamentally important it is.  I learned that glucose is biology’s fuel and that insulin is required to “burn” the glucose into energy.  An analogy could be; glucose is the fuel and insulin is the throttle.  I learned that resistance to insulin is resistance to energy.  I learned that every biological function in our body require energy; moving a muscle, blinking an eye, taking a breath, beating a heart, removing a virus, fighting an infection, building muscle, healing a wound – everything.  Every action in your body requires energy, and that energy comes from glucose and glucose is enabled by insulin.  This is true for all animals from total carnivores to earthworms. 

I learned that dietary fats and animal protein causes insulin resistance.  I learned that no other food counteracts insulin resistance induced by fats and animal proteins.  I learned that with the absence of any animal protein and less than 10% fat; starches require the lowest insulin dose, meaning highest insulin efficiency.  I learned that starches readily convert to glucose and without insulin resistance results in prolific energy and vitality.  I learned that no amount of starch contributes to insulin resistance.  I learned that without insulin resistance, there is no delay in glucose / insulin action resulting in glucose being burned as fast as it is consumed.  This means blood-sugar spikes only occur with insulin resistance.  I learned that this condition creates a primary confusion in the low-carb world, because insulin resistance, caused by fat and animal protein, causes a delay in insulin response resulting in blood-glucose spikes with carbohydrate consumption.  The equally impeded energy is never associated with the insulin resistance, however, because they are never free of insulin resistance to ever experience the contrast.

Within the first year on my new diet, I was healthier and stronger and felt better than ever before.  I had seemingly inexhaustible energy.   I grew grateful of my Type-1 diabetes for teaching me my new diet and escalating vitality.  The inconvenience of managing it is totally trivial by comparison.

Attempting to share my exciting new experience and education was very disappointing.  Even while witnessing my ascending health, everyone, including my doctors, was convinced that a plant based, high carbohydrate, low fat, meat free diet was very unhealthy.  Finally, I just resolved to go my way and let it be and just told everyone that I had to eat this way because of the diabetes. 

For over two decades, I was the only person I knew that was following a meat free, plant based, less than 10% fat, starch-centered diet.  I had no evidence there was another on the planet, but obviously, I hadn’t been looking very hard!  I started in late 1988 and November 18, 2012 was the day I discovered I was not alone.  That is the day I stumbled across an article on diabetes by Dr. McDougall.  As I read, my eyes grew wide and my jaw dropped.  I was astounded to be reading an article from a medical professional recommending the very diet I had come to know!  This prompted a very enthusiastic search for more.  I found Jeff Novick, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Klaper, Dr. Greger, Dr. Carney, Dr. Barnard, Rip Esselstyn, Rich Roll, Sammy Foxworth, Frank Medrano, Austin Barbisch, Patrik Baboumian, Forks Over Knives, Starch-Smart and so many more… the list is just endless. 

So, as a result of my experience along with my trusty ever present glucometer, insulin vials, syringes and log, none of which are subject to opinion or placebo, and without any diet related external input and coupled with my ever ascending health and vitality, I simply can’t help but believe that a plant based, starch centered, less than 10% fat diet is indeed the optimum human diet.

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  • Thanks so much for sharing your experience with a low fat plant based diet on type 1 diabetes. you have no idea how much you have just encouraged me. after one and a half weeks of eating this way I am only beginning to experience the benefits. It helps so much to know that as I continue I will become less insulin resistant. Thank you again!

  • Hi Mary Jo,

    And… you have no idea how, after decades of having to keep quiet about something I feel so wonderful about and now finally I have a place of comradery! Thanks to the Carney’s for Starch-Smart and thank you for joining and thank you for listening!
    I would say that your progress is impressive – much better than I would have expected. Each time I lose insulin sensitivity, due to an accidental contamination of stealth oil or fat, it takes me a good month to fully get rid of it – though it is on a taper rate. Once you are finally there – fully insulin sensitive, you can expect your insulin dose to align with your blood-glucose cycles and a reduction in dose levels. I have learned to always inject before a meal (even if I am low at the time) so the insulin matches the glucose rise rate. A log really helps to match the timing because there too many variables (pre and expected post activity, meal content, etc.) for it to ever be routine, at least on a fine scale.
    Oh, another thing is that when very insulin sensitive, intuitively, insulin becomes very reactive. This allows the option to incorporate two elements of blood-glucose control. One is insulin where I always over-dose just a bit (about 1 unit) then fill in with snacks in step with glucometer readings. That makes it very easy to stay in the 70-90 range. As you mentioned, it all becomes very predictable!

  • Ken,
    Can you provide a copy of a blank log file? I wonder if we should make one available for download?

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