How Sam Increased Her Insulin Sensitivity by 566%

Article written and reviewed by Jamie Koonce, DACM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM
Published September 5, 2018

Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 5 years old, and has always considered being on the blood glucose roller coaster a “normal” part of being insulin dependent.

For as long as she can remember, Sam’s unpredictable blood glucose highs and lows combined with a constant struggle to lose weight left her with a complicated relationship with food.

Battling Exhaustion...Constantly

In her adult years, Sam thought that controlling her blood glucose would become easier, but often she would wake up in the mornings feeling completely exhausted.

Nevertheless, Sam found a way to live a “normal” life even though she was constantly lethargic.

In the morning she would muster up the strength to wake up and go to work, but soon find that she needed a mid-morning nap.

Next, she would eat lunch, take a second nap, then home to cook dinner before taking a third nap.

After 3 daily naps, Sam was finally ready to go to bed, before waking up to repeat it all over again.

Throughout her life, Sam had tried to lose weight following the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, and several other weight loss programs, but nothing ever worked.

Before joining the Mastering Diabetes program, she was at her highest weight of 203 pounds after multiple failed attempts to lose weight.

Time for a Complete Lifestyle Change

When Sam’s doctor wanted to put her on statin medication to lower her cholesterol, she finally decided to finally take control over her health using a complete lifestyle change.

The first thing Sam did was switch to a 100% vegan diet, which quickly normalized her cholesterol.

Despite this, she still struggled with being overweight and having subpar blood glucose control, which made her realize that she needed a coaching program to help her figure out the missing puzzle piece in maximizing her health living with type 1 diabetes.

Sam then joined the Mastering Diabetes coaching program in September of 2017, and has never looked back since that day.

Using daily Decision Trees, Sam realized that even though she was eating a 100% plant-based diet, she was over consuming dietary fat, which made controlling her blood glucose practically impossible.

It wasn’t until she learned how to lower her total fat intake safely that she began to experience a significant improvement in her improved insulin sensitivity, within weeks, Sam was finally able to control of her blood glucose with precision.

When Sam joined the Mastering Diabetes program, she weighed 203 pounds, injected 80 units of insulin per day, and ate no more than 120 grams of carbohydrate per day.

In 1 year, Sam lost 35 pounds, decreased her insulin use by 50%, and has more than tripled her carbohydrate intake to 400 grams per day. She has also increased her insulin sensitivity by 566%.

The beauty of her new approach to maximizing her diabetes health is that she eats more carbohydrate per day then she has ever eaten in her life, and no longer experiences dangerous hypoglycemic episodes or unexplained high blood glucose.

In 1 year, her A1c has decreased from 5.1% to 5.0%, the lowest it has ever been in her life with type 1 diabetes, and her insulin sensitivity increased by 566%!

Take a look at the table below to see the changes in her biomarkers since the beginning of the Mastering Diabetes program:


September 2017

September 2018

Weight (pounds)



Total Insulin (U/day)



A1c (%)



Carbohydrate Intake (g/day)



Insulin Sensitivity (g/U)



Sam loves to eat bowls full of fruit for breakfast, beans and rice for lunch, and steamed broccoli with roasted vegetables for dinner.

For the first time in her life, Sam is able to enjoy her meals – which are surprisingly simple, yet full of flavor and vibrant colors. She doesn’t remember the last time she felt so full of energy, and she no longer feels exhausted from blood glucose fluctuations. 


For the first time in her life, Sam is able to enjoy her meals – which are surprisingly simple, yet full of flavor and vibrant colors. She doesn’t remember the last time she felt so full of energy, and she no longer feels exhausted from blood glucose fluctuations. 

Sam can now enjoy living life to the fullest instead of having to take naps just to get through the day.

Sam is a perfect example of the power of low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition, and has become a huge advocate of the benefits of eating a 100% plant-based diet, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

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About the author 

Jamie Koonce, DACM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM

Jamie Koonce, DACM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM is the Digital Content Manager at Mastering Diabetes. She holds a Doctorate degree in Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology & Anthropology from Hendrix College, and Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through eCornell. Jamie has been enjoying a plant-based lifestyle since 1999. In addition to writing at Mastering Diabetes, she teaches continuing education courses to other health professionals on the science behind a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle for specific medical conditions.