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"Ditching carbs has helped me to walk again." ~ Paul's story

Weight loss: 13 kg
HbA1c: 
7.8 down to 5.8
In Remission: 
Yes

When Paul, his wife Lesley and their young family immigrated from Warrington, in northern England, almost 25 years ago, he was fit and healthy and had never even seen the inside of a doctor’s office.  

He spent most of the next few decades as a Manager in Perth, Western Australia, before his health started to deteriorate, with unexplained muscle weakness and fatigue. Eventually, he received a shock diagnosis in 2021 of Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD), a rare condition affecting the large muscles near the hips and shoulders. As a result, his mobility slowed, and he admits he “became a bit of a couch potato” but with the guidance of a physiotherapist, he started exercising again. 

A year after his LGMD diagnosis, Paul was also told he had pre-diabetes. Despite following the dietary guidelines, his HbA1c continued to climb, and six months later, when it reached 7.8, his GP told him he now had type 2 diabetes.

“I felt like I was falling apart. I was told I had two choices to manage my diabetes: I could take medication or try to fix it with my diet. My GP told me she was part of a research study with La Trobe University and Defeat Diabetes and told me about how a low carb diet could help. I chose the diet as I don’t like taking tablets. I think once you start taking tablets, you’re on them for life. 

“I always thought my diet was pretty good. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and pasta was a big favourite. I used to enjoy a big glass of orange juice every day for breakfast. I never knew how much sugar it had! 

“My wife and I soon learned how to swap our usual high carb foods - like rice, potatoes, and pasta - for low carb things, like cauliflower rice. It’s not been that hard, to be honest. Though I do really like cauliflower rice! 

“I started seeing lower blood glucose levels fairly soon after starting low carb, and the weight started to come off at around the three-month mark, so that was motivating. I also started keeping track of my blood sugar levels, not every meal, but twice a week. Slowly, I started to see them drop. Occasionally, there’d be a spike, but I tried not to worry about that and instead looked at the overall trend, which was a reduction.

“The Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program is the first time I’ve stuck with anything, and within 6 months, my HbA1c was 5.8, I had lost 13 kg, and I had achieved remission.

“What’s made it easy is that there are a lot more low carb products in the supermarkets nowadays, which I’ve found useful. But we keep things pretty simple. Breakfast is normally Greek yoghurt and low carb fruit, and I’ll have a protein shake before lunch or exercise. Lunch and dinner is a good quality protein (steak or pork belly are favourites) with vegetables. We also now make a lot more things from scratch, like curries, rather than buy processed or packaged food. I occasionally miss having ice cream, so instead I’ll just have yoghurt with some cream mixed in, and that usually does the trick. But since lowering my carbs and eating more fats, I’ve noticed how much my appetite is curbed. I just don’t get hungry now.

“Although I’ve lost 13 kg, which is great, the best thing was how the weight loss helped me regain mobility in my legs, so I was able to exercise positively again.

“Working with a brilliant physio, the diet - and focussing on protein - made a huge difference to the unaffected muscles in my legs and my LGMD overall. Before starting low carb, I was falling a lot, up to four times a week. Since going low carb, though, I may fall once a month, if at all, and I’m more upright when I walk. “Some of the most surprising things, though, have been benefits other than my blood glucose improving. My fatty liver disappeared, my cholesterol came down, and even my skin started to look better! One big benefit I noticed was how much better my mood was. I was getting down with all the health problems, but with motivation, that’s turned around now. 

“I now exercise four times a week. I love reformer Pilates, which helps build the smaller muscles in my legs. Before losing weight and low carb, I couldn’t straighten my leg, but I did for the first time a few weeks ago! The diet and my physio have made a huge difference in my life. I’m now working on building muscle in my arms; it’s important as you get older to be able to pull yourself up. And I can almost see my abs now!

“My advice to anyone who’s thinking about joining Defeat Diabetes is to just go for it. Start slowly and measure your blood sugar levels, but don’t obsess over it. You’ll see progress soon enough. 

“To anyone who is a doubter or feels ready to give up, I’d say: This really works. I am so happy to have achieved all of this. It’s been life-changing.”

More success stories

Rob McLean – I’m not going to lose my eyesight for a bowl of ice cream
Lynn Johns – For the first time in 15 years, I was able to put on my engagement ring, and that means more than anything
Maryse Chapman – I’m Sri Lankan – here’s how giving up rice saved my life.
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