Type II Diabetes Reversal On 800 Calories Per Day



The TL;DR is that 800 kcal per day for 6-8 weeks solidly reverses type 2 diabetes in many people, and most people can go on to eating in a sane manner and remain reversed. They did an LC diet in the study. So why wasn’t this being shouted from the rooftops, steeples, and battlements everwhere? Well, focused misanthrope and mini cynic I am, I guess it’s because management of diabetes is where it’s at, regardless of what management camp you happen to support.

Is the reason this research was largely crickets in LC circles only because the extreme caloric restriction obviously overshadows the LC diet they used? And so, undercuts the theme some tend to advance, that calories don’t matter only the kind, and a person can just eat LC ad libitum and keeping carbohydrate low enough manages diabetes? I think it’s perfectly OK to hold food quality above calorie counting, and one should sort that out first. But calorie counting is sometimes necessary and is probably absolutely necessary on a diet of crap.

If one is genuinely trying to help people, then what good does it do to offer a tool they’re incompetent at—or can’t, or won’t use—when there’s one they could try, that might get the job done permanent like? It’s only a couple of months of toughing it out. I have a question for LCers and Paleos: what if the world just kept eating industrial crap, but reversed diabetes through simple caloric restriction and fasting? Would you be happy, or kinda pissed because it’s more effective?

So here’s two stories to relate from people who went and tried it. The first is a commenter, Glenn Beeson and the second, my mom.

Here’s Glenn’s initial comment:

I am game to try.

Last year April, after landing in the hospital for a little CABGx4 (quadruple bypass) action, I was further ‘awarded’ Type 2 Diabetes. Good times.

So – I am almost 1 year diagnosed with type 2 and even with VLC and paleo I have had a freakishly hard time controlling blood glucose; very erratic.

Spuds and rice, 800cal a day is worth a shot. Interestingly enough I have been hearing about this from several different places as of late. Interesting timing.

Genn’s comments on the experiment begin here.

Okay so first week is complete. Here are some comparo’s:

Starting weight: 199.1
Current weight: 193.3
Starting fasted blood glucose: 242
Current fasted blood glucose: 141

How about The Rules?

800 calories a day based on boiled, cooled red potatoes. Condiments include light salt, ketchup, Texas Pete and sriracha (all used sparingly). Nothing else is placed in my mouth; no diet soda and no other foods. No alcohol either.

Not a bad start though I must say my blood glucose rollercoastered the past three days and that surprised me.

The Meds

2x Daily Carvedilol and Naproxen
Baby Aspirin in the AM
12u Lantus before bed

I have stopped Metformin and the short term insulin injections for now.

Week two of The Potato Hack is complete. No change to the methodology or meds

Starting weight: 199.1
2nd week weight: 191.1
Starting fasting blood glucose: 242
2nd week fasting blood glucose: 177

Yep the blood sugar is aggravating to say the least. It is still very unstable – I am trusting in the process and being patient. It is still very early and obviously, my organs are still fat covered. No worries.

Week Four.

Starting weight: 199.1
4th week weight: 187
Starting fasting blood glucose: 242
4th week fasting blood glucose: 162

So we’ll be looking to see if he’s stuck with it and how it’s going. The pounds keep coming off steady like.

My mom has been diagnosed Type II for about 15 years with the first few years on oral meds only, then onto the injections. She just turned 75 last week and is active and otherwise healthy. She and dad just got back from a 2-month road trip with the RV and have a Hawaii trip in a few weeks, then lots more camping.

She had told me she was going to try something, but I thought it was the potato hack. At any rate, no, at 800 kcal, she believes it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot. You’re cutting out lots of everything.

So it’s been about 5-6 weeks so far. Her fasting blood glucose has been 170 – 190 for years, in spite of the meds and in spite of all sorts of paleo, LC, and Keto dieting. She needs insulin first thing in the morning to bring it down. She used both the fast acting and long acting.

So, these weeks since and her insulin usage is down by way over half, and fasting glucose is in the 90 – 100 range. I asked what she’s eating, and it’s just normal. Like an egg, toast and piece a fruit in the morning—or oatmeal—and whatever’s for dinner, limited to what gets her to the 800 calorie limit.

The other night she did a stress test with a personal-size pizza for dinner. She writes:

I really believe I am going to beat this.

Bottom line: I had a small personal pizza for dinner Monday night, had 1/2 cup oatmeal for breakfast and nothing else except lots of water. When I got home couple of hours later I thought I would have to take a big dose of insulin. My blood sugar was 137. Could not believe it. I have gone from taking 8 to 10 units of regular and 15 to 20 of long-acting insulin twice a day, to 3 or 4 units of regular and 5 to 7 of long acting once every other day and even went 3 days without insulin. I have lost 24 pounds. I really believe when I lose another 10 to 20 pounds I will be off insulin.

So, there you go. Still a long ways to go, and then to see how it holds once eating returns to normal but sensible, but both folks show promise and what’s particularly important is that this happens rapidly, keeping a person’s spirit’s up, and on top of that is the weight loss.

Please spread the word to those who need it.

Update from Glenn:

Week Six

Starting weight: 199.1
6th Week weight: 182.2

Starting fasting blood glucose: 242
6th week fasting blood glucose: 138

Monica – Yes I am primarily using potatoes only. I say primarily because I did try a rice and fruit a couple of times just out of curiosity. I also ate pizza once ‘just to see what would happen’.

Even though I am not through the eight week course, my number trend weight and glucose would suggest that if I were to drop further, I will certainly have better glucose numbers. That is a good thing and certainly doable.


  1. Charles on April 21, 2016 at 17:34

    80 points FBG down for Glenn after stopping Metformin and injections? Damn good.

  2. Tim Steele on April 21, 2016 at 20:12

    To be clear, curing diabetes means that the person will pass an oral glucose tolerance test. It does not mean that one’s FBG and post-prandial blood glucose is below 130, kept artificially low by LC diet.

    Type 2 diabetes has been shown to be curable: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/18/hope-for-reversing-type-2-diabetes/

    • Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2016 at 20:34

      Yes, we are dealing with clinical methods. A test for diagnosis, lifelong management for a price, etc.

      One wonders how many undiagnosed millions of diabetics lived long full lives with more pocket change. It’s a serious admonishment for chewing.

      I dislike hard-line standards in this realm, because you just don’t know about any individual BP and cholesterol are similar. There are these bright line clinical diagnoses, but many live to ripe old ages with “high” blood pressure and “high” cholesterol.

  3. Charles Richardson on April 21, 2016 at 20:41

    As you probably know, as you age, better to have higher cholesterol (within limits). I think your point is well taken. The only reason for the numbers is to possibly convince physicians, and the people who depend on their physicians, that this might be a good intervention.

  4. Natasha on April 22, 2016 at 09:07

    Well done Richard! Well done.

  5. Tim M. on April 22, 2016 at 11:52

    I had to chuckle at the comment by Dr. King in the NY Times linked article above that Tim Steele linked to.

    “Dr. King said that even short-term remission would reduce or put off some of the serious complications associated with diabetes, like nerve damage, kidney damage, loss of vision, heart attacks and strokes. Yet structured weight loss programs are expensive and often not covered by insurance”

    Are you kidding? Eating a diet of 800 calories per day will save you a lot of money on your food budget. If this is a cure it would lead to huge medical savings and hopefully lead to lower insurance premiums.

    • Charles on April 22, 2016 at 12:21

      Of course it would lead to all that. It would also lead to fewer sales of various drugs, and fewer visits to doctors. Not particularly incentivizing for certain economic actors.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2016 at 15:48

      “Eating a diet of 800 calories per day will save you a lot of money on your food budget. If this is a cure it would lead to huge medical savings and hopefully lead to lower insurance premiums.”

      And that would be a very serious problem.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2016 at 15:52

      “Of course it would lead to all that. It would also lead to fewer sales of various drugs, and fewer visits to doctors. Not particularly incentivizing for certain economic actors.’

      True, Charles, but there are also the narratives and Catechisms.

  6. Anand Srivastava on April 22, 2016 at 21:28

    I would think that an ad libitum boiled potato only diet would fare better than a calorie restricted potato diet, as it will avoid the starvation response of the body, and would still be sufficiently low calorie, enough to cure diabetes because of the off the charts satiation property of boiled potatoes.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2016 at 21:53

      I agree Anand and will be recommending to my mom that in a week or so, she transition to ad libitum potato, however she prefers, but no added fat.

      You are one of my favorite commenters over many years and you always bring a good value when you comment.

    • Charles on April 22, 2016 at 22:06

      I’d give $1000 as a contribution to a study of that. It will take $100K of more, so that’s not much, but that could be groundbreaking.

  7. Joe Blowe on April 23, 2016 at 11:26

    In the Guardian this morning:


    “The results suggested you could reverse type 2 with a daily 800-calorie diet for eight weeks, depending on how quickly and how much weight you need to lose. Taylor’s team discovered that type 2 is caused by fat clogging up the pancreas, preventing it from producing sufficient insulin to control blood sugar level. They calculated you need to reduce your pre-diagnosis body weight by a sixth to starve your body into using up the rogue fat lodged in your pancreas and allow it to function normally. “The body does not like any fat lying around in the pancreas, so it consumes that first,” says Taylor. The daily 800-calorie diet comprises either three 200g liquid food supplements of soups and shakes, and 200g of non-starchy vegetables or the tastier 800g equivalent of calorie-shy meals you measure out yourself, plus 2-3 litres of water.”

  8. Thhq on April 24, 2016 at 16:59

    I reversed Type 2 sometime over the course of a year. I attribute most of it to losing 50 lbs, though during the first few months I restricted starchy and sugary foods. My basic strategy has been restricting calories to what I can metabolize, and it doesn’t matter in the slightist what foods I eat. Going on 9 years of normal weight and blood glucose now. Compared to my T2 life I’m much more active.

    • thhq on June 28, 2016 at 09:13

      Grok is a muse, and Cordain is my preferred Paleo author. He justifies the mollusks, fish, nuts and berries I’ve been collecting and eating all my life. More importantly he’s a vetted human physiologist. The most important thing in Paleo is being a hunter gatherer, and Cordain sets the daily bar at 1000 kcals of calories-out (sorry I can’t find full text for free anymore)

      What I put in the piehole is secondary to traveling 2-3 hours every day on foot or bike.

    • Jonathan Smith on June 27, 2016 at 20:48

      Keto is easy for me so whatever works for you. I’d rather eat food and move on to something productive than enter everything into myfitnesspal, but hey that’s why there’s more than one religion, right?

      Good point – Grok didn’t need to measure ketosis to be in it. Where did Grok find the data and calculator to measure the calories of all the food he ate?

    • thhq on June 28, 2016 at 04:57

      At this point it’s all in my head @Jonathan. How much I need to do, how much I need to eat. The tools are a notebook and a scale.

      Neither of the modern rationing systems we use is Paleo. You chose a system that replicates a seasonal eating behavior. I chose a system that matches eating to activity level. Grok didn’t fast by eating 900 calorie sticks of butter in coffee, nor did he use ketostix, or a scale or a notebook. Both modern systems work, and Paleo is only a muse.

    • Jonathan Smith on June 28, 2016 at 08:26

      Tbh, I could care less about what most of what grok did. He’s a reference to what we used to do and it was effective, but not always optimal. He didn’t watch movies either, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon that form of entertainment. My initial reference was to appeal to this community (grok lovers), not my paradigm. I’m appealing to others, while you appeal to yourself. Most dieters and diseased individuals fail dramatically and the basis for their program is counting calories. Glad it works for you, but it fails most and for obvious reasons.

      I used to count calories as an athlete and was quite successful at it, but now I don’t want to eat repetitive meals or waste that time when changing my diet works just as well if not better. I can eat until surfeit and still stay lean. Appetite is now my counting mechanism.

  9. charles grashow on May 8, 2016 at 14:47

    You can get the same or better results with a much higher low carb high fat diet as well



    • charles grashow on May 8, 2016 at 14:47

      Typo – meant high carb low fat diet – my bad

    • Jonathan Smith on May 16, 2016 at 16:28

      Doubtful. Sounds like high carb vegan propaganda. I felt like crap on high carbs, but do whatever religion works for you.

      Logically however, it makes no sense retraining your body to use insulin by eating a high carb diet. Cyclical diets, (high carb, then low carb, and/or med carb, or some combination) work best for me. If read any of Lyle McDonald’s books on cyclical dieting (especially UD 2.0) then you will understand how each diet can affect the up-regulation/down-regulation of hormones and other processes.

  10. Jonathan Smith on May 16, 2016 at 16:23

    I have been doing EOD for a couple weeks now. My fasting and OGTT test results have all improved significantly. I basically have “bulletproof coffee” on fasting days and IF on feeding days.

  11. Bob on June 25, 2016 at 15:07

    Thanks for you post Richard. I’m coming to the realization that for most folks entering into their 40’s 50’s 60’s etc, we probably only need to eat about a third to a half as much as when we were in our teens and 20’s. It’s kind of cruel joke but then again, we were meant to exist more like a mayfly than a human for most of our history. Now we live longer. So we must stop crying for our formulas like babies and swear off food with 800 calories intake at most for as long as it takes to get a proper waist size. There’s plenty of charts out there to show what’s right. Then add in the calories to maintain once the proper waist size is realized. I realize now that if I consume 800 and still can’t lose belly fat, with exercise, it becomes 600 then 500 etc. It won’t come to that of course but I need to have that kind of whatever it takes determination. Reading about your experience motivates me quite well. Take care

    • Jonathan Smith on June 26, 2016 at 17:41

      There’s more to that. The quality of food we eat (GMO’s, processed, high sugar, etc.), our microbiome, sedentary lifestyle, and other factors contribute significantly. I’ve added a ketogenic diet to my EOD and IF lifestyle and no longer have to count calories. Once you get everything “lined up” the proper calorie level will just occur naturally. Grok didn’t need to count calories, so unless you’re a competitive athlete or bodybuilder I would avoid that approach.

    • thhq1 on June 27, 2016 at 06:15

      @jonathan calorie counting is a snap compared to staying keto, EOD (?explosive ordnance disposal? end of day? WTF?) and IF. It’s worked for me for 9 years to maintain a 50 lb weight loss, and at age 63 I’m eating 2400 calories a day while doing nothing more strenuous than riding a bike, walking and lifting light. Some of the foods are healthy, some not so healthy, but always my choice. Every food is on the table, no ketostix required.

      Where did Grok buy his ketostix?

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