“Sugar Nation – The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way To Beat It” by Jeff O’Connell is a must read for diabetics. I would go so far as to say everyone would benefit from reading it.
Written in 2010, it chronicles the author’s personal journey with discovering and managing prediabetes and insulin resistance. Jeff O’Connell does not fit the prototype of a typical diabetic, yet gets tested after learning his estranged father had a leg amputated due to complications of Type II Diabetes. O’Connell, a Muscle and Fitness editor and author on nutrition and exercise, is thin, works out regularly and is knowledgeable about diet.
O’Connell visits many diabetes researchers and experts and discovers he does not agree with the dietary recommendations of the American Diabetes Association. In fact, he feels following the Standard American Diet led him on his path to diabetes.
O’Connell comes up with a plan to manage his diabetes and discovers through additional testing he also suffers from insulin resistance. He is able to control his symptoms after designing an exercise and diet plan that he follows stringently. O’Connell’s primary exercise recommendation is interval training, and he goes so far as to say daily exercise is the single most important key to preventing and managing diabetes.
The nutrition plan O’Connell follows consists of low carbs, high protein and high quality fats. Through precise blood glucose monitoring, he ascertained eating these foods broken up into 8 small mini meals throughout the day was optimal for regulating his insulin levels. He rarely eats anything containing sugar, or carb foods that convert to sugar in your body. He does occasionally drink alcohol, but only red wine (which only contains 3 grams of carbs per 4oz. glass). He diet relies heavily on nuts, which have a beneficial effect on blood sugar. Fiber is important, although essentially a carb, but is indigestible so your body doesn’t metabolize it like other carbs.
I found O’Connell’s diet and exercise recommendations specific and somewhat easy to follow, once you give it a try. He does point out that his dietary changes were difficult to make, but well worth keeping his limbs and staying off medications. His book also contains useful charts such as how to slow down carbs entering your bloodstream if you must “cheat” on your eating plan. Adding fat or fiber is the main way to “slow down” your carb absorption. Examples include: butter on popcorn, sour cream and bacon on a baked potato, Metamucil added to soda, and walnuts and cinnamon added to oatmeal.
Supplements also round out his health plan. He recommends Glucomannan added to foods to help regulate blood sugar. Other supplements he regularly takes include: chromium, alpha lipoic acid, biotin, magnesium, and bromelain.
The most stand out thing I learned from “Sugar Nation” is that 90 – 95% of diabetes could be prevented or controlled by diet and exercise. I would highly recommend it for your reading list, and feel adopting the principles of this book would provide invaluable health benefits.
Author: Michelle Caron