Training With Diabetes: Nutrition A wholesome diet of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is essential for anyone trying to lose weight, build muscle or simply live a healthier life.
For a diabetic diet is crucial to managing diabetes and day-to-day health.
I’ve been diabetic for over five years and throughout that time I have come to recognise, through much trial and error, that diet is central to my physical health.
Working out and training in the gym has been a huge part of my life for many years. Since being diagnosed with diabetes I have learned which foods help to control my condition without compromising my training. Eating more of certain foods, less of other and even the timing of meals can play a huge part. I’ve broken down the most useful information about the nutritional side of training while living with Diabetes and listed out my favourite tips to stick by;
Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
This is by far the most important tip I can offer to a diabetic who’s looking to take their training seriously, actually this applies to all diabetics.
Your blood glucose (BG) reading should range between 4-8mmol (it may be slightly higher post-meal). If your BG is out of range it can be very difficult to train or build muscle.
For example, if your BG is higher than average then your body is unable to turn food to energy and ‘eats’ at your muscle/fat to provide much needed energy. If your BG is lower than average, you can become dizzy, weak, nauseous and extremely hungry – your body is basically crying out for glucose. Not ideal if you want to train.
Eating before Bedtime
Continuing with blood glucose management, something that has always annoyed me about my training while having diabetes is waking up with high blood sugars. You can have a great workout, eat the perfect meal afterwards and go to bed satisfied, only to wake up with high sugars. It’s almost like taking a step back with your training because while you’ve been asleep your body has been breaking down that muscle as a result of the high bloods.
What I’ve learned to do to prevent this from happening is to have my last meal about two hours before bed. This will give your blood sugar time to settle and therefore you can correct any abnormal blood readings with a simple insulin injection.
Educate Yourself About Food
You would never put petrol into a diesel engine? We should treat our bodies the same way.
You eat healthily, you feel healthy – in your body and mind. There are multiple health benefits from so many different types of foods. Filling your body with the right fuel can make such a difference to your day.
With diabetes, having food knowledge is an indispensable asset to have. Knowing what foods will spike blood sugar levels, lower blood sugar levels or even help regulate consistent readings will make life a lot easier. It’s vital to know what you’re eating.
I am constantly hungry, my two roommates cannot comprehend where the food even goes! No matter what I eat there’s always room for more.
Maybe you’re the same? What I find works is eating every 2-3 hours. If you’re diabetic I’m sure you’ve realised that if you go long periods of time without eating your blood sugars will drop. Eating frequently throughout the day will help to keep them at a steady reading and will also be fuelling your body with the carbohydrates, fats and proteins it needs to build muscle.
Eat Your Protein!
High protein diets are definitely a great way to get lean and stay lean. Protein is what makes up and rebuilds your muscles. Without sufficient protein intake your body is incapable of maintaining/gaining muscle.
You should aim to get about 1gof protein per pound of body weight. Play around with those figures to suit your own body.
Drink Plenty of Water:
The importance of drinking water is completely underestimated. With our bodies made up of 60-70% water, surely it should be an essential part of our diets? Drinking water can increase your metabolism and reduce appetite, in turn aiding weight loss. You may be running to the bathroom a little more but there are many health benefits linked to increased water consumption such as boosting your immune system, flushing out toxins, increasing your energy and improving skin complexion.
Low Carbohydrate Diet:
This is one of the most valuable tips I could offer someone living with diabetes. Carbohydrates are part of the reason weinsulin. It’s what spikes our blood sugars, the less carbohydrate we eat, the less insulin we require. This is not only a positive as we don’t need to jab a needle into us as frequently but also because insulin is a fat synthesising hormone and almost ‘promotes’ the production of fat in our bodies.
Eating a reduced carbohydrate diet will make it simpler for you to keep your blood sugar levels consistent and reduce the chances of experiencing a high/low blood sugar.
When I changed my mind set about nutrition, my training, diabetes management and day-to-day life were drastically improved;
Eating is a pleasure for people but it’s also how we fuel our bodies. Viewing your food as medication will change the way you eat and change how you manage your own diabetes. Educate yourself about nutrition and learn how your body reacts and responds differently to various foods.
Our food is our medication, just like insulin, and it can be manipulated in a certain way that we require less injections and experience fewer blood sugar highs and lows.
See your food as fuel and treat it as another form of medication!