FAQ | Cravings, Coaching, and the Weight Loss Plateau

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Published July 30, 2023

We always say that nutritional biochemistry is very, very complicated, but your solution to losing weight and living with diabetes doesn’t have to be.

Three things make ALL the difference

  • #1, Moving for at least 20 minutes per day, preferably after meals. 

  • #2, Intermittent Fasting on a 16:8 schedule – so basically, you cut out late-night snacks, and you drink tea, coffee, or water instead of breakfast

  • And #3 (and this is the big one), you eat a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet, with the vast majority of your calories coming from fruits, starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, grains, spices, and legumes. 

And if you do all those things, you can see results FAST (especially if you’re tracking them in your decision tree). Simple, right? Well, we know that that information is pretty straightforward, but there are always a LOT of questions. So we’re going to spend the next little while answering them for you!

How Important is Weight Loss for Reversing Diabetes, and How Much Weight Do I Need to Lose?

Weight loss plays a crucial role in reversing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Many individuals often wonder how much weight they need to lose to make the reversal process a reality. In addressing this question, let's delve into a noteworthy study published in the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine in the early 2000s. This study compared the effectiveness of Metformin, a commonly prescribed medication, versus lifestyle changes in terms of weight loss and blood glucose reduction.

Conducted as a randomized control trial involving numerous centers and a substantial participant pool, this research presented compelling findings. It unequivocally demonstrated that lifestyle changes have a significantly greater impact on body weight and diabetes risk than Metformin.

In fact, the study revealed that when individuals modify their diet and exercise routine, the improvements in body weight and diabetes risk are twice as powerful compared to those using Metformin alone.

While Metformin can contribute to weight loss and blood glucose control, the benefits derived from lifestyle changes are much more pronounced (and lack the side effects of Metformin). This critical insight has paved the way for the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an influential initiative aimed at helping millions of individuals reverse type 2 diabetes. 

The DPP and subsequent studies have consistently revealed a key threshold for weight loss: achieving a 7% weight loss has been shown to be sufficient to enable individuals to completely reverse type 2 diabetes. 

But, it’s important to note that weight loss is not a one-size-fits-all prescription. Factors like an individual's starting weight, overall health, and metabolic factors can influence the specific weight loss goals necessary for diabetes reversal, so it’s best to work with a doctor, nutritionist, or coach as you work towards these goals. 

What Should I Do if I've Been Trying to Lose Weight For a While and Haven't Seen any Results, or if I've Hit a Plateau?

It's a common concern: you've been diligently trying to lose weight for a while, but the results seem elusive. Or perhaps you've hit a plateau and can't seem to make any further progress. So, what should you do in these situations?

First off, it's important to acknowledge that many people encounter this challenge. In fact, it's a frequent topic of discussion throughout all of our community, especially people in the early stages of implementing the method. 

The good news is that in the majority of cases, there's a simple reason for the lack of progress or plateau: an unintentional oversight or gaps in implementing the method.

This is where the guidance and support of a coach become invaluable. When you have an experienced coach who can examine the details of what you're doing, 99% of the time, you can find a solution to help you overcome the plateau and get that momentum rolling again. Plus, the added benefit of having a team, a coach, and fellow individuals support you is huge.

Sometimes, initial weight loss can be attributed to picking the "low-hanging fruit." But to reach the next level, you can fine-tune your approach and address any gaps or “weak points” that may be hindering your progress.

It's important to remember that weight loss journeys are unique to each individual. What works for one person may not yield the same results for another. That's why personalized guidance and support are vital in navigating challenges and overcoming plateaus.

In summary, don't lose hope if you've been struggling to see results or have hit a weight loss plateau. Often, the missing piece of the puzzle is easy to find – you just might need some help spotting it!

How Long Does it Take to See Results in BG and Body Weight? And How Do You Stay Sane in the Meantime?

You might be wondering how long it takes to see results in terms of your blood glucose and body weight. And equally important, how can you maintain your sanity during this process? 

First, it's essential to acknowledge that results can come quicker than you might expect. Drawing from our extensive experience of working with over 10,000 individuals in person, we've witnessed time and time again that a single change can have a profound impact. 

Specifically, when you begin incorporating foods that are lower in calorie density and prioritize "green light" foods, you'll notice remarkable effects on multiple systems in your body. This change has a powerful influence on your liver, cardiovascular system, and muscles. 

The outcome? Lower blood glucose levels right from the start and rapid weight loss. In the initial couple of weeks, it's common to experience a weight loss of two to three pounds per week. Subsequently, as your body adjusts, weight loss typically stabilizes at around one to two pounds per week. 

As a result, it's not uncommon for people to shed around eight to 10 pounds within the first month of adopting the Mastering Diabetes method. Beyond that, a continued weight loss of approximately four to six pounds per month can be expected.

While this timeframe might initially sound long, it's crucial to understand that these changes are sustainable and yield significant results over time. In just three months, you can anticipate losing approximately 20 to 25 pounds—a remarkable achievement. 

However, weight loss numbers for a particular method aren’t all that’s important. There are plenty of methods and medications that will help you lose weight in the short term but only lead to weight regain or rebound down the road.

It's worth mentioning a recent exploration of Ozempic, an increasingly popular medication classified as a diabetes drug that is all the rage among internet influencers trying to play up its weight loss effects. People have reported losing up to 16% of their body weight with Ozempic, exceeding the target of 7% for your ideal body weight we talked about before. 

However, upon discontinuation of the medication, if individuals didn’t make substantive lifestyle changes, they just regained the weight over the ensuing months. 

Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize sustained results over quick fixes. And for that, the most important aspect of embracing a lifestyle change is falling in love with the process itself. 

Every action you take should be enjoyable and fulfilling. If there are aspects you don't particularly love, that's okay. Reflect on why and work towards transforming them into something enjoyable. Shift your focus away from reaching a specific number on the scale and embrace the joy of the day-to-day changes you're making.

You’ll notice yourself having more energy and physical fitness. You’ll notice yourself sleeping better, many aches and pains caused by diabetes can fade, and your overall mood will improve.

If you’re just tracking the scale, the process may occasionally feel monotonous or unattractive, and that's perfectly normal. But if you focus on the small changes and fall in love with the process, every day is a chance to celebrate those improvements to your overall well-being.   

In summary, the time it takes to see results in blood glucose and body weight can be relatively quick, with noticeable changes occurring within weeks. However, the key lies in sustaining these changes over the long term, and that requires a certain mindset. 

Embrace the process, find joy in your new lifestyle, and prioritize your overall well-being. Remember, it's not just about the destination but also the incredible journey toward improved health and vitality.

How Can I Build Muscle on a Plant-Based Diet?

Building muscle on a plant-based diet is a common concern for many individuals who follow this lifestyle. While protein-rich foods are often associated with muscle growth, it's important to understand that muscle is not simply built by eating high-protein meals. The key to gaining muscle lies in a process called hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy refers to using your muscles in a way that induces stress and causes micro tears in the muscle fibers. When these tears are repaired, the muscle becomes stronger and adapts to better handle the workload in the future. So, before focusing on your plate, you need to engage in activities that promote hypertrophy.

For instance, let's say you aim to complete a 30-minute bike ride. Initially, it might be challenging, and your leg muscles will enter a hypertrophic state as you work towards that goal. The micro-tears in your muscles will be repaired, leading to muscle growth. Once hypertrophy is induced through physical activity, then you can shift your attention to nutrition.

Following a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet can be highly beneficial for muscle growth. While carbohydrates are often overlooked in favor of protein, they play a crucial role in providing energy for intense workouts and aiding in the repair and growth of muscle tissue. 

By consuming green light foods that are rich in carbohydrates, you can fuel your muscles and enhance your ability to gain muscle mass.

It's important to note that protein is still essential for muscle growth, but it should be part of a well-rounded diet rather than the sole focus. Combining the stimulation of hypertrophy through exercise and consuming a balanced plant-based diet (which likely has more protein than you know!) can be a powerful combination for building muscle.

Remember, gaining muscle is a process that takes time and consistency. Engaging in regular resistance training exercises that target different muscle groups will help you progress toward your muscle-building goals. Be patient, stay consistent, and allow your body to adapt and grow stronger over time.

Will I Ever Stop Craving Unhealthy Foods? And if I Reverse Diabetes or Lose Weight, Can I Have a Treat Every Once in a While?

Craving unhealthy foods and wondering if it's possible to indulge in treats occasionally, especially after reversing diabetes or achieving weight loss, are common concerns. The good news is that your taste buds can change during your dietary changes, and you may naturally start craving healthier options as you adopt a sustainable approach to eating.

While it can be challenging to resist cravings, it's important to find alternatives that align with your weight loss goals. Instead of indulging in unhealthy treats, consider making healthier versions of your favorite foods. 

For instance, you can make "nice cream" using frozen bananas blended with cocoa powder for a delicious chocolatey treat. By getting creative and experimenting with whole-food substitutions, you can satisfy your cravings while still nourishing your body.

As for cheat days: we often get questions from individuals wondering if they can have a “cheat day” as long as they’re healthy the rest of the week. But rather than thinking of it as a cheat day, consider shifting your perspective to focus on enjoying foods that are both delicious and beneficial for your health. 

You can create a Venn diagram where the foods you're supposed to eat and the foods you enjoy eating overlap. This way, every meal becomes an opportunity to nourish your body and indulge in foods that make you feel good. It takes a little bit of extra effort, but the results can be powerful!

It's worth noting that moderation is key, and occasional treats can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle. However, it's important to prioritize your health and make choices that align with your long-term goals. 

Opting for healthier alternatives to traditional treats can help you strike a balance between indulgence and maintaining your progress. And when you start feeding your body foods that taste good AND are good for you, you might notice those cravings starting to fade quicker than you might think. 

Coaching Seems Like a Big Commitment, Is It Really Worth it?

The question of whether the coaching program is worth the price and commitment is a valid concern. However, we recommend everyone consider the value that investing in your health holds. Your well-being is priceless, as it affects every aspect of your life, including your ability to enjoy your achievements, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Taking care of your health should be a top priority. It's common for people, especially caregivers, to prioritize the needs of others before their own. However, neglecting your health can have severe consequences, including a decreased ability to be present, lower mood, increased doctor visits, and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Joining a coaching program is an opportunity to make a lasting investment in your health. By participating, you will build habits that can positively impact your life for years to come. The program provides guidance, support, and the necessary tools to help you create sustainable changes. It's an investment in yourself and your future well-being.

Keep in mind that results are not guaranteed overnight, but with commitment and the right support, you can achieve significant improvements in your health. The coaching program is designed to understand your unique needs, preferences, and challenges. The personalized guidance you receive can make a substantial difference in your ability to reach your health goals.

If you're interested in joining the coaching program, you can visit masteringdiabetes.org/start and schedule a free discovery call with a team member. During this discussion, they will take the time to understand your situation, lifestyle, and past experiences to develop a customized game plan for you.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in the coaching program is a personal one. However, prioritizing your health and making a commitment to your well-being can have long-lasting benefits. Remember that the coaching program aims to provide the best education and accountability to help you achieve your health goals. If you feel ready to take this step, the team is there to support you.

And If You Still Have Questions…

You can schedule a FREE consultation to talk with someone on our team who’ll show you exactly how we’ve transformed the lives of thousands of people using the Mastering Diabetes Method.

If you do, it’s important that you answer all of our questions to the best of your ability because we want to be able to help you and assess whether you’re a good fit for a personal coach. We have a limited number of spots available, and that’s why it’s imperative to find a good fit.

Complete the application process, and show up to your FREE discovery session with a pen and paper ready.

We’re going to go through everything you've tried in the past, understand what has worked and what hasn't worked, and we’ll come up with a game plan that WILL WORK 100% of the time for you specifically, based on YOUR responses, YOUR lifestyle, YOUR preferences, and YOUR unique metabolic health.

We can’t wait to see you on the call!

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.