I know that there is a general rule-of-thumb which says that basal insulin has nothing to do with food. You bolus for food and you take basal for when you are not eating. And people are told that you do basal testing by not eating during those hours for which you are trying to setup your basal rates.
This information can be useful for people who are just starting out and who are trying to get their basal rates setup. It is just a basic description which does help people distinguish between mealtime insulin and non-mealtime insulin. It is a great starting point for getting an understanding of how it works.
But for those who have spent enough time with the disease, let me say something that is heresy:
Your basal rates have very much to do with how much you are eating. You can not completely distinguish basal insulin from your food consumption.
There, I said it!
There is a reason for this. Despite what we may think of ourselves, we are still very primitive animals. For most of us, food is generally always available. We don’t have to go out and catch our meals, or grow them. Our meals do not depend on seasonal changes or migratory patterns.
But go way back. Imagine a time when food was not readily available. How would the body adapt to this?
During times of starvation or scarcity, the body wants to conserve its energy. Not having a constant supply of fuel (food) means that the body wants to spend as little of it as possible. So the body slows down its metabolism. Spending less of its resources means less stored energy is used for basic functions. And that simply equates to less insulin being needed during this time.
And the opposite is true during times of feasting. The body interprets that larger quantities of food means there is plenty, so it will use more energy. It will burn more fuel because it believes more is available. Burning more fuel means that the basal metabolic rate is higher. And that equates to needing more insulin in your basal rate.
I wanted to post this today, because perhaps some of you noticed a bit of a change if you spent 4 days gorging on Thanksgiving food.
Do basal rates have anything to do with how much we eat? Absolutely!