I’m an engineer, but I also have a doctorate. Which means I approach problems from two points of view: how does it work and what does it mean (the doctor in me), and how do I fix it with minimal effort and most elegance (the engineer in me). So when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I started as a doctor: what is diabetes, how does it work, what has a beneficial effect on the condition?
When you have diabetes, it’s like having cancer: no matter what you do, you’ll always have it. What you can aim for is remission. For diabetes, there is no standard definition of what remission is. One of the definitions I found is 3 months of normal glycemia readings (HbA1c < 6.5%) without the help of any medication. So, my first goal was to find what could get me into remission the fastest and for the long term.
One thing I discovered is that weight loss has a very high positive impact on remission. If you’re overweight, you hear that all the time. It’s like a magic bullet for people and is even getting to the point where it’s considered socially unacceptable to be overweight. Some people call for refusing health care to people with weight problems because it’s their fault and they cost money to others. I guess mental illness can’t be used to blame people, so something else needs to take its place.
However, a recent study published in the Lancet in 2019 has shown that a weight loss of at least 15kg immediately after diagnosis has led to 36% of the participants, who received a low calorie diet for 3 months then a weight maintenance diet, getting into remission for at least 2 years, versus 3% of the control group. That means that a 15kg weight loss or more increases the likelihood of reaching remission and staying there by a massive amount.
The weight loss group also showed fewer serious adverse events than the control group. So weight loss also has a beneficial effect in terms of diabetes day-to-day problems.
The diet doesn’t have to be a low calorie diet. It’s up to you how you lose the weight. I went the low carb high fat and protein route for reasons I’ll explain another time.
Of course, once you lose weight fast, expect your mum, like mine, to start worrying you’re losing too much weight…