What is type 1 diabetes? How is it different than type 2?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin, forcing the pancreas to produce ever more insulin, and leading to a downward spiral of metabolic illness. It’s also called “Adult Onset Diabetes”, because the vast majority of people who develop it do so in adulthood, after years of eating a high-carb diet.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as “Juvenile Diabetes”, is a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. Only the pancreas can produce insulin, and insulin is the hormone primarily responsible for shuttling molecules out of the blood and into cells for energy or storage. That means, if the pancreas isn’t producing insulin, a person will starve to death from the inside. Their cells, literally, cannot get any food. They can eat and eat and eat, but there’s no mechanism to transport that food energy into the cells. That’s why they need regular insulin shots.
On a regular-carb diet, those insulin shots might be several times per day. On a high-carb diet, those shots will be even more frequent. Type 1 diabetics must keep injecting themselves with insulin in order to deal with all the glucose in their blood stream. They have to keep insulin levels high, if they eat high carbs, because they have a high level of glucose to deal with.
Being ketogenic means insulin levels don’t have to be high, because there isn’t a high level of glucose that needs to be shuttled around. And, because there isn’t a big requirement for insulin, the type 1 diabetic can reduce the amount of insulin needed on a daily basis (many reduce this requirement by 80%).
The important thing to remember is that someone suffering from type 1 diabetes MUST MUST be all or nothing with the ketogenic diet. The biggest ketogenic concern for those with type 1 diabetes is a condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a situation where high levels of blood sugar (glucose) mixes with high levels of ketones (the energy byproduct of ketosis). This is a dangerous, deadly condition, and it is not something to be taken lightly. That’s what I mean when I say that you must be “all in” with a ketogenic lifestyle. If you decide to have a high carb cheat meal, you will be flooding your body with glucose, and if you are already in ketosis, you are running the risk of producing out of control ketone bodies, and putting yourself in a very bad situation.
Since ketosis doesn’t use glucose, and since a Ketovangelist isn’t eating many carbs, the risk of ketoacidosis is small, but it requires diligence and constant attention. Having said that, though, being a type 1 diabetic, just by the nature of the illness, should already be diligent and attentive, so it’s not that much of an added difficulty.
If you are eating 70%-80% of your diet from good fats, you will in the “sweet spot” more than likely. That’s because fat has no affect on insulin levels. Protein has a small impact, but carbs are the main offenders of high insulin. Removing the carbs means you remove the amount of insulin needed every day.
The final point I want to make is that you absolutely must work closely with your doctor if you or a family member is type 1 diabetic and wants the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle. Your doctor will be able to assess and guide the proper amount of daily insulin needed.
As you probably already know, I’m a big believer in getting educated. Ketovangelists put a premium on learning. This book is highly recommended for those who want to educate themselves more on the subject of type 1 diabetes and a ketogenic lifestyle.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you I missed something of if you know someone in this situation. Leave a comment below or here.