Current medical wisdom advises that anyone suffering from diabetes or prediabetes should eat a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. But in this revolutionary book, Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH, rely on a century of research to show that advice is misguided. While it may improve short-term blood glucose control, such a diet also increases the long-term risk for chronic diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic kidney disease, and fatty liver disease.
The revolutionary solution is to eat a low-fat plant-based whole-food diet, the most powerful way to reverse insulin resistance in all types of diabetes: type 1, type 1.5, type 2, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes.
As the creators of the extraordinary and effective Mastering Diabetes Method, Khambatta and Barbaro lay out a step-by-step plan proven to reverse insulin resistance-the root cause of blood glucose variability- while improving overall health and maximizing life expectancy. Armed with more than 800 scientific references and drawing on more than 36 years of personal experience living with type 1 diabetes themselves, the authors show how to eat large quantities of carbohydrate-rich whole foods like bananas, potatoes, and quinoa while decreasing blood glucose, oral medication, and insulin requirements. They also provide life-changing advice on intermittent fasting and daily exercise and offer tips on eating in tricky situations, such as restaurant meals and family dinners. Perhaps best of all: On the Mastering Diabetes Method, you will never go hungry.
With more than 30 delicious, filling, and nutrient-dense recipes and backed by cutting-edge nutritional science, Mastering Diabetes will help you maximize your insulin sensitivity, attain your ideal body weight, improve your digestive health, gain energy, live an active life, and feel the best you've felt in years.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
We were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes early in life—Robby as a pre-teen and Cyrus in his early twenties—and as outgoing, athletic, adventurous, motivated guys, we didn’t want to put our lives on hold. But after following the popular medically orthodox low-carbohydrate, high-fat, high- protein diet to help manage our blood glucose, we were far from being in the driver’s seat of our metabolic health. Instead of making our blood glucose more controllable and increasing our insulin sensitivity, the nutritional steps we followed had exactly the opposite effect. It seemed that no matter how “perfectly” we ate, our insulin sensitivity decreased and our physical and emotional health suffered immensely because of it.
Even though we didn’t know each other at the time, we each made the decision to reexamine the nutritional advice given to us by the conventional medical system. We started by looking to “alternative” diet philosophies for guidance, including vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, and the Weston A. Price Foundation diet. Amazingly, our two different tracks led us to the same conclusion:
A low-fat plant-based whole-food lifestyle is the most effective way to gain insulin sensitivity using your food as medicine.
Even though this may seem counterintuitive at first, this form of nutrition is extremely powerful at reversing insulin resistance because carbohydrate-rich whole foods require large amounts of insulin if and only if the total amount of fat in your diet is also high, as you will learn about in detail in chapter 3. But when you eat a low-fat plant-based whole-food diet and reduce your intake of fat- and protein-rich foods, you gain insulin sensitivity very quickly, which in turn drops your need for oral medications and insulin in the short and long term.
Within days of changing our diets, we both observed that our insulin sensitivity increased dramatically. In addition, our energy levels increased, and our blood glucose became much easier to control. After only a few months of eating this way, Cyrus saw his total insulin use drop by 40 percent and Robby saw his insulin sensitivity improve by 600 percent. To put it in perspective: The average adult with type 1 diabetes injects approximately 0.5 to 1.0 units of insulin per kilogram of body weight per day. Following the Mastering Diabetes Method, those living with type 1 diabetes inject as little as 0.35 units of insulin per kilogram body weight per day, and experience dramatically improved blood glucose values, while increasing carbohy- drate intake as much as twenty-fold. When we transitioned to eating more plants, we began eating more fruits and vegetables than ever before—including many foods that previously had been forbidden on a low- carbohydrate diet. And despite this counterintuitive approach, we both felt better than ever—even better than before we were diagnosed.
This radical shift in our own personal diets sparked an adventure to learn as much as possible about nutrition-driven wellness. It’s what originally led Robby to help build the revolutionary Forks Over Knives empire and earn a master’s degree in public health. It’s also what inspired Cyrus to leave his job at the NASA Ames Research Center as a Stanford University–educated mechanical engineer to earn a PhD in nutritional biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. But the real magic was in realizing that we could take our unique insights, knowledge, and experience as people with diabetes and turn it into usable, relatable, and effective advice for other people living with all forms of diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 1.5 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. That’s the ethos behind our coaching program, and it’s what lies at the foundation of this book.
Over time, we have fine-tuned the Mastering Diabetes Method into something that is truly unique. It encompasses the following four components:
Component 1: Low-Fat Plant-Based Whole-Food Nutrition. We encourage carbohydrate-rich whole foods, including fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and intact whole grains. As you will learn in this book, carbohydrate-rich food is not the enemy when you are living with diabetes, and we’ll provide you with the scientific rationale as to why eating fruit and starchy foods is actually an integral part of reversing insulin resistance and maximizing your longevity.
Component 2: Intermittent Fasting. Not eating is one of the most powerful ways to improve your insulin sensitivity, improve your cardiovascular health, lose weight, and actually increase your lifespan. You’ll learn about various intermittent fasting routines and ways to successfully integrate this time-tested and proven practice into your busy lifestyle.
Component 3: Daily Movement. Your body is designed for physical activity, and when you make daily movement a part of your lifestyle, you’re likely to dramatically improve your insulin sensitivity, your energy levels, and your mood. We’ll teach you how to move your body, how often to move your body, and how to combine movement with a low-fat plant-based whole-food diet for maximum effect.
Component 4: Decision Trees. We have created a specific tool that helps you address hour-by-hour decisions, look for patterns, and establish cause-and-effect relationships between your lifestyle choices and your blood glucose profile. The process of filling out decision trees helps you troubleshoot confusing everyday scenarios relating to oral medication use, insulin use, and blood glucose management. In addition, decision trees can help you address little-picture scenarios like managing your blood glucose before, during, and after exercise; safely reducing your use of oral medications and insulin as your insulin nsensitivity significantly increases; understanding why your fasting glucose might be higher than your post-meal glucose at times; dealing with post-meal blood glucose spikes and dips; and timing your insulin use to properly control your blood glucose after meals.
Furthermore, you’ll learn how to use and interpret important diabetes blood tests and how to incorporate various medicinal plants as alternatives to pharmaceutical medications. We’ll also answer such questions as: Should I exercise before or after a meal? Why does my blood glucose increase when I eat certain foods? and Do fruits really metabolize to sugar?
One aspect of the Mastering Diabetes Method that is very important to understand is that we welcome people with all forms of diabetes including type 1 diabetes, type 1.5 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes, because our collective struggles controlling blood glucose all originate from the same underlying condition: insulin resistance.
Even though we are diabetes experts, our understanding of diabetes does not originate from a traditional medical background and instead comes from personal experience, a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, a rigorous analysis of almost a hundred years of evidence-based scientific research, decades of repeatable results from our colleagues, our in-person retreats, and our work with thousands of people via our online coaching program. Unlike any other program or book currently on the market for diabetes, Mastering Diabetes is written by two experts who have proven firsthand that our prescription works by helping more than 3,000 people around the world adopt lifestyle changes that transform their metabolic health from the inside out. This program is based on thirty-six years of combined personal experience living with type 1 diabetes and twenty-nine years of combined experience following the Mastering Diabetes Method.
Even though we’re not MDs, we are well versed in the evidence-based research of nutritional biochemistry and use rigorous scientific evidence as the basis for our recommendations. Because we put this data to the test every single day in our own lives, we are able to translate complex scientific concepts into easy-to-understand principles. Many people tell us that watching a few of our videos or webinars—like the ones that debunk the misleading science of low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets, reveal the true causes of high cholesterol, or demonstrate why increasing your protein intake can help you lose weight but increases your long-term disease risk—has taught them more about the biological details of living with diabetes than their doctor ever has. Evidence-based science (not pop science) is the foundation of our platform, and we make it a point to translate complicated biological phenomena into easy-to-understand topics so that you can understand how and why specific foods can transform your health from the inside out, and how and why other foods can increase your chronic disease risk.
Last but not least, we’ll plug you into a community. We’ve honed and strengthened the Mastering Diabetes Coaching Program based on the feedback from thousands of clients who follow it every day, and the most important thing we’ve found is that our clients do best when surrounded and supported by other people going through the same experience. Success is truly contagious! Too often, when you read a book or try a new program to improve your diabetes health, you’re a solo rider. The Mastering Diabetes Coaching Program is designed to put an end to that isolating feeling that comes from attempting to manage diabetes on your own. To help you plug into our support system, we have created a private online community that we monitor 24/7 to give real-time responses to our clients. We also host regular video conferences where community members can bring questions and concerns and interact directly with our highly educated and experienced coaching staff.
What began years ago as a cautiously optimistic plan originally using ourselves as test subjects—bolstered, of course, by sound research—has since blossomed into a life-changing program that has received the praise and support of well-regarded experts and friends. It’s a scientific method that has transformed the lives of the thousands of individuals who have already followed our program and will do so for you, too. If you stay faithful to the steps and insights outlined in this book, you are likely to experience the same results as our clients. You’ll lose the weight that you never thought you’d be able to lose, you’ll achieve the best A1c values you’ve ever experienced, you’ll lower your total and LDL cholesterol, you’ll reduce your blood pressure, you’ll reduce your need for oral medications and insulin, and most importantly, you’ ll significantly decrease or completely reverse insulin resistance now and for the rest of your life.