Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Guest Post - High Intensity Exercise and Low Calorie Diet to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

I'm really please to be able to bring you a guest post from a really good friend of mine, Pete. I used to work with him up until around eleven years ago and we've stayed friends since. When I was diagnosed, Pete was really helpful and supportive. He was able to give great advice from his knowledge of type 1 diabetes, which affects a family member. Little did we know that within a couple of weeks of my diagnosis, he would also be confirmed as a type 2 diabetic. However, through a similar plan to my experiment, and with a lot more strenuous exercise, Pete was able to reverse his diabetes to the point of passing a glucose tolerance test. No longer diabetic, not even pre-diabetic, here's Pete's plan in his own words...


I have been following Richard’s experiment with the 600 calorie diet on his blog with great interest.

I should say at this point that Richard is a very good friend of mine who I have known for over twelve years. I have a very personal interest in seeing Richard succeed with his 600 calorie diet: I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the end of February 2012, some 6 weeks after Richard received his own bad news on the subject.

Luckily for me (and Richard) the BBC showed “The Truth About Exercise” on their Horizon program. This demonstrated the link between high intensity exercise, regular exercise and reducing blood fat levels and, importantly, visceral fat deposits. The program demonstrated the link between visceral fat around the pancreas and liver and the development of type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat is the stubborn, hard to get rid of fat that accumulates around internal organs. It is thought that the presence of this fat around the pancreas inhibits the correct production of insulin.

There is also some evidence that fat cells are more resistant to insulin than muscle cells. If a person has more fat cells than muscle cells, then the insulin becomes less effective overall, and glucose remains circulating in the blood instead of being taken in to the cells to be used as energy.

Horizon highlighted a recent study by Dr Niels Vollaard, of the University of Bath, into the application of HighIntensity Training (HIT) for the reduction of visceral fat.

Clearly the Horizon program was of great interest.  To cut to the chase, the key to HIT is as follows:
Use an exercise bike, cross trainer or similar, set it to a high resistance and perform the following exercise 3 times a week:

·         Cycle / run flat out, as hard as possible for 20 seconds (timed).

·         Rest for 40 seconds.

·         Repeat the above 2 more times, making a total of 3 high-intensity bursts of exercise over 3 minutes.

WARNING! Do not attempt this without first consulting your GP, making them fully aware of what you intend to do, and having a physical. Please also watch the Horizon program carefully before embarking on this.

Richard and I also discovered another study at the same time, at Newcastle University, showing that a very low calorie diet of 600 calories a day could reverse type 2 diabetes.

I consulted my GP with an idea. What if I applied both techniques together? What if I began using HIT and the low calorie diet in concert? My GP gave me a clean bill of health to proceed, but told me to be careful and to monitor my weight and, in particular, to watch out for adverse physical reactions (heart palpitations, dizziness and so on).

I needed to lose the weight. When I started I weighed 93 ½ kilograms (that’s 14 stones 10 pounds in old money) – I’m only 5 feet 8 tall – too heavy!

Fortunately I spent many years doing martial arts and gym work (but obviously that had lapsed!).  Nevertheless I was determined to try this. On my first HIT session I had already eaten. Bad idea. I was sick afterwards. Tip: only do HIT on an empty stomach!

The 600 calorie diet was another ball game and the first 3 weeks were very tough. I would go to bed hungry. I would wake up hungry. I was hungry all day. I cut out all lunch (something I still do).  However, I designed a very low carb, low fat, protein high diet, which incorporated plenty of green veg and salad (I have included it at the end for interested readers). I also ran it by a dietician, who OK’d it (but frowned at the lack of lunch). However, after 3 weeks the hunger subsided and I started getting the weight off.

I also steadily built up my use of the cross trainer. I do the HIT sessions on setting 5 of a maximum 8 on resistance. I have built up to doing a session in the morning of between 2.5 – 4.0 miles (time sometimes limits me to 2 miles) on the cross trainer, 100 press-ups, 100 sit-ups and 40 arm curls with 13 Kg weights. Of course, I didn’t start at that level. Initially I was doing ½ a mile and twenty press-ups. But I do them every day, unless there’s a good reason why I can’t. I soon moved into a session on the cross trainer in the evening as well. Now I average around 4 – 5 miles an evening, taking around 20 - 25 minutes on average.

The exercise, in addition to HIT sessions is essential. Remember, the heart is a muscle. If you start fasting and don’t exercise, your muscles may begin to atrophy somewhat – the heart is a muscle! So keep the all muscles fit and healthy.

All the time I tested my blood glucose levels. After a while they started to reduce, bit by bit.

So what was the outcome?  At the end of May 2012 my GP gave me a second glucose tolerance test. The results were startling. My GP was delighted to tell me that I no longer had type 2 diabetes.

I should add that I tested my blood glucose with a proprietary glucose testing meter (about 8 or 10 times a day) for the entire time. I still test my blood, but not quite as many times a day.

Is it a miracle cure? No. I know now that I will always be predisposed to develop type 2 diabetes – if I let my discipline falter. So I monitor my weight, I eat sensibly and I check my blood glucose. I will always do the exercise. Why? Because I was in a place physically that I couldn’t afford to stay in and I definitely don’t want to have to take the medication. Downsides? I had to buy a new set of clothes. I now weigh 11 stones 2 pounds. I kept one pair of my old jeans so I can remind myself now and again of where I had allowed myself to get to. My wife says I have a cute tush again (I might be exaggerating).

I cannot claim that this will work for everyone – it depends on each individual’s physiology and whether there are any other underlying factors. However, it worked for me. Just remember if you decide to try this – MAKE SURE YOU INVOLVE YOUR GP AT EVERY STEP!
And now, the diet! You’ll notice it’s not all exactly 600 calories. That’s because I slightly tailored it to that fact that I work for a living (albeit a desk job) and was doing increasing levels of exercise over time. Plus you have to have the occasional treat!

Download the diet (PDF)

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