Diabetes Nutrition – How Meghan Eats 300 Grams of Carbs with Excellent Blood Glucose Control

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Published May 18, 2017

Meet Meghan.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008, Meghan has been living a low-carb lifestyle from the time she was first diagnosed. At the age of 10, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, and then transitioned to a vegan lifestyle in the middle of 2015.

Like most people living with type 1 diabetes, Meghan followed the traditional advice given to her by her medical team: restrict your carbohydrate intake in order to properly control your blood glucose.

So she did. She ate large quantities of nuts. And seeds. And avocados. And olive oil. And processed tortillas.

Meghan’s Solution

In February of 2016, Meghan decided to join our diabetes nutrition online coaching program, in the hopes that it would improve her blood glucose control. She was intrigued, yet skeptical because our philosophy of low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition went against everything she thought to be true.

In the first week of her new low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle, Meghan dropped her insulin use by more than 25% while almost doubling her total carbohydrate intake. In order to avoid frequent hypoglycemia, Meghan quickly reduced her insulin use, faster than she had anticipated.

Similar to Jessica, Meghan now has more energy than she knows what to do with, and no longer needs coffee to power her through the day.

Change in Insulin Sensitivity After 3 Months

Before Meghan changed her lifestyle, she averaged a proximately 75 grams of carbohydrate per day, and injected a total of 38 units of insulin per day. On a low-carb diet, her basal insulin requirement was about 18 units per day, and her total bolus insulin requirements averaged about 20 units per day.

Within 3 months of adopting a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle, she had increased her carbohydrate intake to approximately 250 grams per day, and reduced both her basal and bolus insulin requirements to approximately 30 units per day.

Her basal insulin dropped from 18 units per day to 15 units per day, and her total bolus insulin use fell from 20 units per day to approximately 15 units per day.

In this first 3 month period, her 24-hour insulin sensitivity increased from 2.0 grams per unit to 8.3 grams per unit, resulting in a 320% or 3.2-fold increase.

Insulin sensitivity equation

Change in Insulin Sensitivity After 6 Months

At the 6 month marker, Meghan had further increased her insulin sensitivity.

She increased her carbohydrate intake to approximately 300 grams per day, and further reduced both her basal and bolus insulin requirements to approximately 26 units per day, split between 13 units of basal insulin and 13 units of bolus insulin.

In this 6 month period, her 24-hour insulin sensitivity increased from 2.0 grams per unit to 11.5 grams per unit, resulting in a 485% or 4.9-fold increase.


Candidly, Meghan told us the following:

“I honestly would not have believed it if somebody just told me. I had to experience it to believe that it was true. It’s insane how quickly it [increased insulin sensitivity] happens.”

Change in Hemoglobin A1c Over 6 Months

None of the changes in insulin sensitivity described above would mean anything if her overall blood glucose control did not improve significantly. For that, we look to her hemoglobin A1c value, to understand how her average blood glucose control had changed as a result of a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle.

  • In February of 2016, Meghan's A1c was 8.1%.
  • By May of 2016, her A1c had dropped to 6.9%.
  • By August of 2016, her A1c had dropped to 6.3%.

She is a happy camper, given that an A1c value of 6.3% represents the best blood glucose control that she has had since the time she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008.


Meghan's Advice

We asked Meghan to give her advice to someone considering changing their diet to help manage their blood glucose living with type 1 diabetes. Her response was simple:

“Just try it for a month because you seriously won’t go back… commit to doing it for a month and you won't go back. That's a guarantee!”

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About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes.

He is the co-founder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green, and is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. He co-created the Mastering Diabetes Method to reverse insulin resistance in all forms of diabetes, and has helped more than 10,000 people improve their metabolic health using low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition, intermittent fasting, and exercise.

Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-author of many peer-reviewed scientific publications.

He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference (ACLM), Plant Stock, the Torrance Memorial Medical Center, and has been featured on The Doctors, NPR, KQED, Forks Over Knives, Healthline, Fast Company, Diet Fiction, and the wildly popular podcasts the Rich Roll Podcast, Plant Proof, MindBodyGreen, and Nutrition Rounds.

Scientific Publications:

Sarver, Jordan, Cyrus Khambatta, Robby Barbaro, Bhakti Chavan, and David Drozek. “Retrospective Evaluation of an Online Diabetes Health Coaching Program: A Pilot Study.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, October 15, 2019, 1559827619879106. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619879106

Shrivastav, Maneesh, William Gibson, Rajendra Shrivastav, Katie Elzea, Cyrus Khambatta, Rohan Sonawane, Joseph A. Sierra, and Robert Vigersky. “Type 2 Diabetes Management in Primary Care: The Role of Retrospective, Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring.” Diabetes Spectrum: A Publication of the American Diabetes Association 31, no. 3 (August 2018): 279–87. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0024

Thompson, Airlia C. S., Matthew D. Bruss, John C. Price, Cyrus F. Khambatta, William E. Holmes, Marc Colangelo, Marcy Dalidd, et al. “Reduced in Vivo Hepatic Proteome Replacement Rates but Not Cell Proliferation Rates Predict Maximum Lifespan Extension in Mice.” Aging Cell 15, no. 1 (February 2016): 118–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12414

Roohk, Donald J., Smita Mascharak, Cyrus Khambatta, Ho Leung, Marc Hellerstein, and Charles Harris. “Dexamethasone-Mediated Changes in Adipose Triacylglycerol Metabolism Are Exaggerated, Not Diminished, in the Absence of a Functional GR Dimerization Domain.” Endocrinology 154, no. 4 (April 2013): 1528–39. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2011-1047

Price, John C., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Kelvin W. Li, Matthew D. Bruss, Mahalakshmi Shankaran, Marcy Dalidd, Nicholas A. Floreani, et al. “The Effect of Long Term Calorie Restriction on in Vivo Hepatic Proteostatis: A Novel Combination of Dynamic and Quantitative Proteomics.” Molecular & Cellular Proteomics: MCP 11, no. 12 (December 2012): 1801–14.

Bruss, Matthew D., Airlia C. S. Thompson, Ishita Aggarwal, Cyrus F. Khambatta, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “The Effects of Physiological Adaptations to Calorie Restriction on Global Cell Proliferation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 300, no. 4 (April 2011): E735-745. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00661.2010

Bruss, Matthew D., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Maxwell A. Ruby, Ishita Aggarwal, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “Calorie Restriction Increases Fatty Acid Synthesis and Whole Body Fat Oxidation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 298, no. 1 (January 2010): E108-116.