Monday, 14 April 2014

Read This First

  • Type 1 diabetic for 6 years
  • 102kg (and rising!)
  • Sedentary lifestyle with low energy reserves
  • Ambitions of cycling a respectable 200km "Audax"

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, at the age of 26. At the time, I was moderately fit, but admittedly too heavy. Like many of us at that age, I had paid a little too much attention to partying and not enough attention to my health...

At the time (in South Africa), standard advice for new T1 diabetics was to go cold turkey on refined carbs and all high GI or hi GL foods. I took this advice and lost 25kgs. I felt and looked great, and when my final weight settled at 95kg, I thought that would be the end of it.

Fast forward 4 years and I found myself living in London, where NHS advice seems more directed at eating freely and injecting insulin to cover one's carbohydrate intake. Carbs are very popular in all their forms here in  England, for reasons I can only guess at. As the carbs gained prominance in my diet, my insulin dosage rose. Gradually I started gaining weight.

While I picked up weight, I was also attempting longer and longer bike rides. I've always used exercise as a means to control my blood glucose (BG) levels, but I found that I had limitations in terms of energy reserves that my friends didn't share. Reading around the issue online, I stumbled on an eye opening video by a renowned long distance cyclist Mike Cotty.

Part of his secret appeared to be a diet skewed away from carbs, towards fat and protein. I wondered if this would work for me, too. I have no aspirations of riding 600km in one go, but have my eye on a few audax rides this summer. 

Calling on my personal experience of weight loss and improved nutrition from my SA days, I bought a book on low carb living for enhanced performance (more on that later). Reading it was like a series of lightbulbs switching on in my mind. This was a concept I could get behind! 

The question was, and it's one I am sure many will share, what are the medical and practical implications of eliminating all carbs from the diet of a type 1, insulin dependant diabetic? Through this blog I hope to share my experiences.

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