While the majority of readers of this blog are trying to keep off the extra pounds, a few (like myself) struggle to keep the weight on. Every month I tend to receive an email from a reader saying their T1D diet is turning them into a skeleton. I hear the same form people on a low-carb, “paleo” diets or high-carb vegan diet.
“One of my big problems is I am skinny,” writes one male reader (it’s always the men, not the women ) from Canada who has had type-1 diabetes for 20 years. “The diets I am doing are making me more skinny/bony. I was weighing 67kg back in November 2017… Rechecking this morning, to my shock, I am at 57 kg, which is extremely low for me. I really need to gain weight, do you know how?”
There are (at least) seven reasons for this based on my research and experience:
1. Not enough insulin. A high A1C might mean someone is urinating out glucose instead of storing it as fat. Getting the blood sugar under control with Dr. Berstein’s insulin regimen and a low-fat, vegan diet, would be my chief recommendation.
2. Poor digestion. We can eat all we want, but if the gut isn’t breaking down and absorbing food properly, then many calories are passing through to the toilet. Generally, I’d say, avoid raw foods which require too much digestive energy. Indeed, some raw food may consume more calories in chewing than it gives in return. Also experiment and see if eliminating foods containing gluten, fructans or fructose helps (it certainly does for me). Lastly, minimize protein and fat and focus on unrefined sources of starch.
4. Eating too often. Some people seem to have less digestive fluid than others. Eating more than three times a day depletes digestive resources. Also, eating too often may discourage the body from storing fat (since it knows food is always coming). Paul Bragg’s superb book, The Miracle of Fasting, explains how a once-a-week 24-hour water fast can, ironically, help skinny people normalize their weight. It’s available from amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk.
5. Eating Food That Are a Little Too “Whole.” Ever notice how people who need to lose weight start eating foods like whole grain rice, nuts and seeds? I sometimes suspect this is because intact foods are harder to digest. Focusing more on freshly ground grains, nuts and seeds cooked as porridge, bread or pasta can really help those with weak digestions put on the weight.
6. Focused on Fat Not Muscle. Some people simply don’t store fat well. They are called ectomorphs. That’s me. My son, too. It’s genetic. Instead of storing excess calories as fat our bodies raise their temperature and burn it way. I find it far easier to gain muscle weight instead of lipid weight. This doesn’t mean one has to spend hours in the gym. Instead, simply perform a few sets of exercises each day that push your muscles to the limit and encourage them to grow. I highly recommend Convict Conditioning which details an easy-to-follow body weight program developed during one man’s long years behind bars. It’s available from Dragon Door Publishing.
7. Not Eating Enough. I think this is a big one for thin people trying to eat healthy. We just don’t realize how much the typical fast food diet is packed with calories (mainly from fat and sugar). It’s calorie dense. The fiber has been stripped away. Two cups of processed food may have the same amount of calories as 4 cups of unprocessed, fiber-rich food. One might just need to go back for seconds. The typical adult stomach, so I’ve read, holds about one-liter (four cups) of foods. I, personally, find this about right. I comfortably down two bowls of (thick) porridge in the morning. Likewise, eat stews instead of soups. And don’t drink with meals.
Of course, none of the above is medical advice. I’m not a doctor, just a Canuck with a melting snowball.
–Thinking Outside the T1D Matrix,
John C. A. Manley
P.S. Not only can fasting help you gain (or lose) weight but it may also help cure type-1 diabetes. See Fasting for Stem Cells: A Promising Cure for Type-1 Diabetes.
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