When people think of prediabetes their mind immediately goes to carb intake! The mainstream thinking is you need to be on a low carb diet to prevent diabetes, and especially if you have prediabetes.
Only this is not true. You can actually make solid progress with either a low carb or a high carb approach. However, you do need to do a high carb diet right. This is exactly why diabetes recommendations do not for example advise against eating fruits, and diets like the Mediterranean diet have been shown to be protective. In fact, here is a summary of the CDC’s guidelines to prevent type 2 diabetes.
A high carbohydrate intake does not mean you’re on fast-track to diabetes and a low carbohydrate intake can be one approach for blood sugar control but if it doesn’t feel like what you’d want to do, the good news it is not the only successful approach!
At Fitness Reloaded we eat a lot of carbs, because we increase our fiber intake.
Fiber makes you feel full in fewer calories. It is cardioprotective and protects from diabetes. Unfortunately the average American only eats around 12 g a day, when the guidelines recommend a minimum of 25 g. In the Weightproof program we’re aiming to get people to 40 g or more. For reference, the centenarians in the blue zones can easily be in the 50s, 60s, or 70s g of fiber daily.
So I’m going to touch on the low carb vs high carb today by discussing the example of one of my coaching clients, Amy, who signed up with higher a1c and C-peptide levels and had questions about whether the high-fiber, and hence higher carb nutrition recommendations in the program would help her prevent prediabetes. E.g., should she be eating fruit? Are carbs really ok?
I will be updating this case study as Amy keeps moving on through the program. As of May 2021, here’s what Amy has achieved in her first 5 months:
- In her first 3 months in the program her C-peptide went from 3339 pmol/L to a normalized 714 pmol/L & a1c also normalized below the prediabetes level
- By month 4 she broke through the barrier of losing and regaining the same 20 pounds over and over, then getting stuck
- And as of publishing this review, i.e., in her first 5 months, she lost 22 lbs!
The Beginning: Over 8 years of weight cycling, goal was to lose 70 lbs
At the end of 2020 Amy, a Canadian woman in her 50s, joined our coaching program needing to lose over 70 lbs and aiming to reduce her body weight from the 190s to the 120s.
That was not her first time trying to lose weight. In fact, she sent me this screenshot that showed her struggle with weight loss & subsequent weight gain since 2012.
I feel like I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life. I only remember a few times in my life where I felt thin. Over the past 6 years, my weight has increased significantly, and I have tried a lot of different programs/diets to lose it. I’ve basically lost the same 15 – 20 pounds over and over again.
You can see that she kept on losing about 20 lbs over and over during the last few years. This is called “weight cycling” and is extremely common with weight loss clients.
This is one of the reasons I’m fixated on helping people not just lose weight but become WEIGHTPROOF. Because unless you develop a solid lifestyle that repels fat gain, then it’s only a matter of time until the weight you lost starts creeping back in.
From an unsustainable Low Carb Diet to a filling High Carb Diet
In the fall of 2019, my doctor was concerned about my blood glucose levels and suggested I go on a low carb diet. I was able to stick to this for a while and lower my numbers. However, I gained the weight back again in 2020.
In the fall of 2020, I was again looking for a program and stumbled on an ad for Fitness Reloaded. I had worked with Maria in a trail program many years ago. Because I had like what she had offered then, I decided to sign up.
In fact, when she signed up her C-peptide & a1c levels were elevated again. However, within 3 months of following the program, both normalized!
I was surprised by the focus on fibre as most programs now are focusing more on low-carb options.
Her doctor was very happy with the results and applauded the high fiber strategy:
My C-Peptide numbers were high again when I was tested in December, so I was concerned that this was not going to work for me. However, when tested again in March, after I had been doing the program for over 3 months, my numbers were in the normal range and my doctor was thrilled.
Now if you’re new to prediabetes and blood sugar control, you may be wondering, what is C-peptide? What is the function of c-peptide?
The c-peptide test is a blood test used for the treatment of either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It indicates how well your body produces insulin. Insulin helps move glucose from your blood into your cells.
Why is c-peptide used as a marker for insulin?
When the pancreas produces insulin. The same cells that produce insulin also produce c-peptide. In fact, c-peptide is a byproduct of the insulin production. When you measure the amount of c-peptide you can estimate the amount of insulin produced.
What do the results mean? What does high c-peptide indicate?
A low c-peptide level indicates that little insulin is being produced, and that may actually be normal if you have not eaten recently. A high c-peptide level indicates that there are high insulin levels produced. This can be an indication of type 2 diabetes, obesity, or insulin resistance, where the body is producing higher levels of insulin in its attempt to normalize blood sugar levels.
With a normalized C-peptide and a normal a1c that was below the prediabetes level, Amy put that the prediabetes fear behind her within her first 3 months of the program.
How Amy’s Health Habits Changed in 5 Months
First off, I need to acknowledge that Amy started the Weightproof program with the right mindset. She wasn’t looking for a fad diet to lose body fat:
I didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning. Because of working with Maria in the past, I knew that this was not going to be a “quick fix”. I could see that the program included some mindset courses, and I have already been trying different things to create better habits, so I knew that it would be a good fit. Other than that, I didn’t know much about the program.
I knew that I needed consistency and accountability, because that was what was lacking in everything I did on my own. I would try something for a few weeks, then get distracted or disappointed and then try something else.
At Fitness Reloaded we set weekly habits that we make progress on week by week. In fact, this is one of the things that Amy credits her success to:
What I like most about the program is the focus on weekly goals. I need to lose over 70 pounds and that can be very intimidating. But by focusing on just what I need to do for that week, it keeps me working towards my goal without being distracted or disappointed.
Other than the 22 lbs fat loss and the improvement in lab results…
Amy has so far lost her first 22 lbs.
Here are some other goals that Amy has been implementing in her journey to becoming Weightproof.
Healthier diet with higher fiber as she moved to a high carbohydrate low fat diet
Higher carb diet with complex carbohydrates: Her fiber went from 165 weekly grams (23.5 g a day) to 33 g a day.
Part of Amy’s Habit Diary in May (5 months later) Amy’s Habit Diary in December
She started exercising — in the morning!
My new exercise habit: I wake up early to exercise during the week. This is something I have never been able to do before. While I still find it a bit hard to get up early, I love the fact that I have already done 15 – 30 minutes of exercise before I start work and I’m usually in a good mood in the morning.— Amy
Amy went from fewer than 5000 daily steps to hitting 8000 steps daily! Increasing activity levels, helps raise your metabolism which in turn protects from weight gain.
Amy was rarely eating seafood before she joined, yet she always wanted to swap some meat with seafood options. She went to eating seafood twice a week!
Finally, what is it that has made Amy successful?
Any diet that helps put you on a calorie deficit will create fat loss. However, decreasing your calorie intake alone does not guarantee success. It does not guarantee you’ll lose all the weight & won’t get stuck, and it does not guarantee you won’t gain it back.
And while this is an ongoing case study and Amy still has 40something pounds to go, this is the most successful she’s ever been in the last 9 years!
Some take-aways are:
To get good results from losing weight then you can’t just follow a plan you hate. So if you like carbs, then don’t try to live without them just for the sake of weight loss. A high carbohydrate diet may be exactly what you need especially if you’ve had negative experience with a low carb high fat diet.
Consistency and habit building: this is the longest I have been able to stick to any program and I am building some great habits that will help me with my long-term goals.
Attitude change: I was very skeptical in the beginning even though Maria assured me it would work. Now, as I continue to lose weight every week, I am becoming more confident that it will work, and I can lose all the weight I need to.
If you want to learn more about the Weightproof program, please sign up for our free Weightproof course here. You’ll learn how to build a WEIGHTPROOF lifestyle that protects your from fat gain, including what to eat to lose 30+ lbs by actually eating more food!