Diabetes, sometimes referred to as Diabetes Mellitus, is a set of metabolic disorders or illnesses that causes a person’s blood sugar to become too high, causing severe side effects. The human body lives in a constant state of balance, never too thirsty, or too hydrated, never too hot, or too cold. This applies to blood sugar levels too, as if they either rise too high, or fall to low, the side effects can be serious. When the body takes in sugars (food), it releases insulin to keep the blood sugar levels steady to stop them from raising too high. Diabetes affects the release of Insulin, either in the form of Type 1, where the body fails to produce the hormone as the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce it, or in the more common form of Type 2 where the body doesn’t produce enough, or simply doesn’t react to insulin, also known as being insulin resistant.
Many of us know that building muscle takes serious dedication, not only to your training, but also to your nutrition, which is key if you hope to push your body out of its comfort zone. For many people with Diabetes, the idea of building muscle easily seems like an impossible challenge, as the delicate balance of keeping an eye on not only your nutrition, but also your blood sugar levels can be a handful. Of course, the training side of building muscle remains much the same. You have to make sure you’re consistently adjusting and improving your workouts, never treading the same ground and always pushing your body out of its comfort zone to stimulate muscle growth.
There are two things that Diabetics need to be conscious of when considering their nutrition.
- Hyperglycaemia – When the blood glucose goes too high.
- Hypoglycaemia – When the blood glucose drops too low.
Understanding your body as well as your food is a crucial component to controlling diabetes. Everybody is different, but most Doctors and Dieticians will often recommend staying away from refined carbs such as white pastas, candy bars, white breads and fizzy drinks and replacing them with wholegrain/wholefood alternatives such as sweet potatoes, wholemeal bread, brown rice etc. Although protein intake is often considered key when it comes to building muscle, it should still be closely monitored for diabetics. Too much protein can stress the kidneys, and there is always the concern of additional stress because of potential complications. Beware of cheap supplements that contain fillers or flavourings such as high sugar protein bars as although they may seem healthy, they’ll have a negative effect on your blood sugar levels. Healthy fats are an important element of any diet, and have very little effect on blood sugar levels, so be sure to focus on things like coconut oil, nuts and avocados to keep your body in good health, as well as consuming all the fat soluble vitamins and minerals you need.
One step someone can take to manage their diabetes is to increase their insulin sensitivity. Exercise is well known to have a very positive effect on insulin sensitivity. Any and all types of exercise have the potential to make your body respond better to insulin, especially mixing cardio with resistance training, or weight training. Cardio tends to burn more calories and use more glucose per session, but weight lifting builds muscle, which is what burns glucose during training, so having increased musculature will make a real difference over time.
Although Diabetes may seem at times like it can overshadow your whole world, with a little bit of planning and some forward thinking, there’s no reason it should have a negative effect on your wellbeing, or your mental health.