Your Guide to Losing Body Fat and Building Muscle Mass as a Diabetic

You’re in the middle of a workout session, already warmed up and you’ve hit that sweet spot where the groove is just right. All of a sudden you start feeling a bit lightheaded and you realize that your blood glucose level is dropping rapidly. So you have to stop for a sweet snack mid-workout, which means the groove is gone and you’ll have to start all over again. Yes, exercising can be a pain when you’re a diabetic. It’s especially difficult when your goal is to lose the excess fat from your body and build some muscles mass. But it doesn’t always have to be such a huge challenge. Here’s a useful list of tips you could use to help you safely get rid of unwated body fat and gain more muscle as a diabetic:

1. Understanding the Impact of Exercise and What It does to Your Body

It’s important to keep track of your blood glucose levels before and after your workout sessions. This will help you understand how to plan out your exercises more efficiently. Your blood sugar may have varying reactions to different kinds of exercises, which means that you’ll need to understand the process in order to prepare an effective workout session.

Weight training exercises and cardio can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin for about seven hours after exercise. So it would be wise to reduce your basal or bolus to prevent extreme drops in blood glucose levels post exercise as the insulin will e highly effective event at a lower dose. However, make sure you consult your doctor instead of simply changing your dosage on your own.
Credit: Jill Brown
High intensity exercises like CrossFit and strength training can increase your heart rate to more than 70% or even 85% faster than your maximum heart rate. As a result, these exercises promote the release of adrenaline and stress hormones, which prompts the release of glucose into the blood stream. While this temporary spike in blood sugar level is auto-regulated in non-diabetics, diabetics will have to adapt their insulin dosage to prepare for this.

These are few examples of how your body reacts differently to different exercises. The goal is to understand them and prepare for them, so you can smoothly plan your workout sessions in the future. If needed, you can even note down all the changes you notice during and after certain exercises to remember better.

2. Understand the Impact of Proteins

High protein diets are often recommended for building muscles mass. Protein can help you with long term weight loss as well. For diabetics, protein can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. This means that the spike in blood sugar will be less severe. However, it’s important to remember the impact of a high protein diet on people with diabetes. If you have an existing kidney problem, it may be wise to avoid overdoing this type of diet and stick to a moderate protein diet to reduce the risk of further kidney damage.
Ideally, you need to opt for low-calorie proteins with low levels of saturated fat. Some excellent examples are skinless chicken, lean red meat, and fish such as tuna and salmon. You can also add more beans to your diet, as they are a good source of protein without being high in calories or saturated fat. Pinto beans and black lima beans are a great choice as they are also high in fiber, thus boosting your energy and muscle mass.

3. Understand the Impact of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are often associated with weight gain, but the truth is that they don’t make you fat. Over-consumption of calories, on the other hand, has a much more negative impact on your weight. For people with diabetes, the main consideration is that some carbohydrates can cause a spike in your insulin production. So there’s a risk of hypoglycemia. But the solution doesn’t lie in a low carb diet and more in a low simple carb diet.
In fact, complex carbohydrates are highly encouraged for diabetics. This type of carbohydrates slowly release energy into the blood stream and doesn’t cause the rapid spike and drop in blood sugar levels as simple carbs do. So opt for a higher intake of complex carbs like sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole grains, kidney beans, and whole-grain pasta. The recommendation is to have a small meal with high protein and high complex carbs around 30-60 minutes before working out.
When monitoring your blood glucose level before workout, make sure it’s lower than 250 mg/dl. If you have type 1 diabetes and you start exercising despite a blood sugar level higher than 250 mg/dl, you could be at risk of ketoacidosis. This is a serious complication in which there is an excess production of blood acids and can even be life-threatening. Some symptoms of this condition include nausea, thirst, weakness, frequent urination, and abdominal pain. Immediate medical attention is needed if you find yourself experiencing these symptoms.
It’s also important for you to carry along some candy, juice, or glucose tablets in case of low blood sugar episodes. Preparation is always key for anyone with diabetes who takes their fitness seriously and wants to eliminate excess body fat.


Chris Ruden has his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion and is an entrepreneur, model, and motivational speaker. Despite his congenital birth defect leaving him with only two fingers on his left hand and a shorter left arm, he is an Elite Powerlifter, that has type 1 diabetes and works on an insulin pump. He has broken a number of state “powerlifting” records in Texas and Florida and he is showing the world that limitations are self imposed! Follow him on his Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Gravatar.


*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.




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