About four months ago, I wrote about Cyrus Khambatta who advocates a plant based diet through his Mastering Diabetes programme. I even vowed to guinea pig myself in the New Year. Dear Reader, I swear I was going to do it this week. I figured I would eat sweet potatoes and salad for a week, or more likely until my blood glucose became dangerously high, and then report back to you. The problem is that the more research I did last week, the clearer it became that Khambatta and his partner Robby Barbaro promised no quick fixes. This was a programme that needed to be followed for weeks and months before one started to see true results. Moreover, this is a pay to play operation where one has to fork over $149 for the basic “do it yourself” plan. I can only guess what their one-to-one coaching costs. You can’t find that easily on their site. They’ve got a waiting list though. Good for them. I like to see capitalism at work. Find what people want, in this case vegans, and sell it to them.
The Mastering Diabetes unique selling proposition (USP) is that the conventional Western diet is wrong and that we should be eating a very high-carb, very low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. Moreover, keto and paleo lifestyles that advocate high fat, moderate protein and low carbs are not so good either. Why? Because both promote insulin resistance. So their argument goes: if you follow their super high carb diet, around 800 grams of carbs per day, then your body will become insulin sensitive and your Hba1c will improve significantly. They claim if you are a Type-2 diabetic and follow this approach, you may be able to reverse your diabetes.
Now this view on paleo ran counter to my personal experience. Once I started the paleo diet, I quickly got off of insulin and for over a year I was not taking anything. I now take metformin. I also feel a lot better than I did when I was on a conventional diet before my diabetes.
My third alarm bell about the Mastering Diabetes programme was this linked interview with Khambatta and Barbaro where they discussed being Type-1 diabetics and injecting large amounts of insulin daily. They both claimed that they were more insulin sensitive because of their new plant-based lifestyle, but it was not as if they were reversing their diabetes or injecting hugely lower amounts of insulin.
As for other alarms bells, my first was the original video I stumbled across since it went against my own personal experiences. The second alarm was when I went to their site. Now maybe these are decent chaps, but I always get a bit put off when you see people smiling like maniacs in practically every photograph. I don’t know if this is what an advertising agency is telling them to do, but it puts me off since it seems unnatural. I mean look at these guys. Barbaro’s even worse in the video. It’s too much.
With a little more digging I came across several seemingly open-minded people who tried their programme or looked into it closer than I have. Marty Kendall wrote a very in depth article about the programme and pointed out that Khambatta and Barbaro seem to have invented their own definition of insulin sensitivity by combining bolus and basal insulin. Kendall explains why he thinks this is a misleading approach. When he pointed this out on the Mastering Diabetes Facebook Group, Barbaro kicked him off and deleted his comments. If that’s true, it doesn’t fill me with confidence about the Mastering Diabetes team. We should all be prepared to defend our positions in an open forum. To do otherwise is cowardly.
I’m not done looking into this programme. The Mastering Diabetes video is a marketing device designed to get you to their web page. A little bit of research suggests that their big claims don’t live up to the hype. What about those who have tried it? Do they have anything significant to say? Tomorrow.