By Christel from TheFitBlog.com
My passion is strength training and I’m building a career coaching diabetics and non-diabetics alike in how to incorporate resistance training and proper nutrition into their often busy lives.
I’m a big fan of strength training since I find it empowering, I like being strong, and it has become a pillar in my diabetes management. While cardiovascular exercise is great for burning calories and regulating blood glucose during exercise, it doesn’t build much lean muscle mass which permanently raises your metabolism. And raising my metabolism has really been the key for me when it comes to long-term blood glucose (and weight) management.
Muscles burn more calories than fat so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn, even when doing nothing! Increasing your muscle mass also greatly improves your insulin sensitivity so when you start strength training, you will most likely see a reduction in your insulin needs.
How to begin strength training
But that’s not all – you need to eat to perform
What’s usually a big shocker for many of the insulin dependent diabetics that I work with is that I recommend carbs for most meals. Not just carbs of course, but a balanced combination of carbs, protein and fats. I don’t eliminate any food groups from my own or my clients’ diets. My approach is more about balance and finding the ratios of food that works for the individual. Truth is, that if you are hoping to build muscles, you need enough food for your body to build those muscles and you need the right nutrients. As a rule of thumb, you need 40% of your energy to come from carbs, 40% from protein and 20% from fat if you want to build muscles.
You should also pay attention to when you have your meals. I recommend:
- Eating every 2-3 hours (I find smaller meals keep me full throughout the day and I avoid any major blood sugars spikes)
- Focusing on low glycemic carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa), lean meats (chicken, turkey, lean beef) and good fats (avocado, nuts, coconut oil). The only time when you should have high-glycemic carbs is right after your workout, when you want to quickly replenish your glycogen (sugar) reserves
- Always have a meal 30-60 min before starting your strength-training workout and one within 90 minutes of leaving the gym. A banana and a protein shake is a great combination of protein and high-glycemic carbs after your workout
Putting it all together
I’ve had extremely good results with strength training on my own, but if you’ve never done it before it can be intimidating. I suggest you either find a trainer to get you started or start with group based resistance-training classes. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are muscles.