Although diabetes is often associated with being overweight, especially type 2 diabetes, it’s a myth that everyone with diabetes has a high body mass index (BMI). Some people have trouble gaining weight. In fact, unexplained or unintentional weight loss can be a symptom of undiagnosed diabetes.
Issues with weight management center around insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas. People with diabetes are unable to use or produce enough insulin to transport excess sugar out of their blood and into their cells, where it can be used as energy. This can cause your body to burn its existing fat stores and muscle tissue in order to supply your cells with energy.
If your sugar levels are constantly in flux, your body will continue to chip away at its fat stores, resulting in weight loss.
Diabetes food plans are often geared toward helping people lose, rather than gain, weight. This can make it harder to figure out how to gain weight in a healthy way.
Before trying the tips below, talk with your doctor or dietician. They can help you set the right diet and exercise goals for you, as well as answer any questions you may have.
There are many apps available to help you manage your condition and make the right food choices. Look for apps that help you track blood sugar and BMI.
Some options include:
GlucOracle: This glucose forecasting app uses crowdsourcing to analyze the estimated amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, calories, and fiber in each meal. It also predicts what your glucose level will be after eating.
SuperTracker: This app helps you gain weight by providing comprehensive nutritional information on over 8,000 food items. It also tracks your nutritional targets, diet, and activity levels against your goals.
If these don’t appeal to you, we’ve also rounded up the best diabetes management and calorie counter apps of the year.
It’s important to know what your current weight is, as well as establish how much weight you want to gain overall. Setting weekly gain goals can help you chart your progress.
You should also know what the appropriate BMI is, for your frame and height. Plugging your height and weight into a BMI calculator can help you get an idea of where your weight should be.
Your doctor or dietitian can provide you with more specific information about your ideal weight. They can also help you determine what your daily caloric intake should be.
The only way to gain weight is to increase your calorie consumption. The trick is to eat healthy food every three hours or so, before your body starts burning its fat stores for energy.
Getting used to eating this way takes a bit of practice, as well as planning. It doesn’t mean giving up dinner with the family or not meeting friends for lunch. But it does mean keeping an eye on what you eat, so your intake is as nutrient- and calorie-dense as possible.
Planning out your meals for the week can help. Your meals should be made up of:
- lean protein
- mono and polyunsaturated fats
- whole grains
Try to drink fluids an hour or more before your meals, or shortly after you finish eating, rather than during meals. This will stop you from filling up on fluids.
Researchers Say Proportion of Muscle Mass in Your Overall Weight Has a Role in Cutting Diabetes Risk
July 28, 2011 — Building muscle mass with resistance training exercise may play a role in lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, a study shows.
The findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“It’s not just weight that matters, but what proportion of your weight is muscle mass,” says study researcher Arun S. Karlamangla, PhD, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Researchers tapped into data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III on 13,644 adults who were not pregnant and had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 16.5. The researchers wanted to see how muscle mass affects insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
For each 10% increase in the skeletal muscle index (ratio of muscle mass to total body weight), there is an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes. These relationships held even after the researchers took into account other factors affecting risk for insulin resistance and/or pre-diabetes.
“If you start an exercise program, and don’t lose weight, you should not give up hope because your fat is getting converted to muscle,” Karlamangla says. “If you lose fat, you gain muscle. So even if the weight is the same, the balance shifts.”
Resistance exercise may also have a role in helping people with type 2 diabetes better use the insulin that they do produce, he says.
“It’s not too late if you already have type 2,” Karlamangla says.
Muscle Mass and Insulin
John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says that muscle is one of the major insulin-sensitive tissues in the body.
“The more muscle mass you have, the more glucose you can dispose of in response to insulin,” he says.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. Left unchecked, high glucose levels can wreak havoc on the body and cause many diabetes-related complications.
Current exercise recommendations call for resistance training that involves all major muscle groups two or more day of the week, in addition to aerobic exercise.
When it comes to diabetes risk, “fitness trumps fatness,” he says. “If you are a little heavy but fit you are probably well. If you are heavy and not fit, your risk of diabetes is higher,” he says, adding that the ideal is to be both fit and trim.
Francesco Rubino, MD, chief of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery and director of the Diabetes Surgery Center at New York-Presbyterian in New York City, says that appropriate-for-your-size muscle mass can improve your metabolic efficiency and reduce risk of insulin resistance.
“The exercise that we always used to consider appropriate for reducing cardiovascular risk — aerobic exercise — may not be enough,” he says. Resistance training may also be beneficial, he says.
Sedentary lifestyle is a known risk factor for diabetes, and it is believed that this is due to increased fat storage. There may be more to the story, Rubino says. “Sedentary lifestyle also decreases muscle mass.”
Arun S. Karlamangla, PhD, MD, professor of medicine, division of geriatrics, University of California, Los Angeles.
Francesco Rubino, MD, chief, gastrointestinal metabolic surgery; director, Diabetes Surgery Center, New York-Presbyterian, New York City
John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of endocrinology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Srikanthan P. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2011.
Having diabetes won’t stop you from building muscle. However, it’s wise to follow a few precautions when it comes to gaining muscle.
There are many different types of exercise and one of the most popular is strength or power training, which is very effective for building strong bones and muscles.
Strong muscles collect oxygen and nutrients from the blood much more efficiently than weak ones, meaning that any physical activity you do will require less cardiac work and put less strain on your heart
As well as being good for the heart, they also improve weight control and help the body remain sensitive to the hormone insulin, which is vital for keeping blood sugar levels in check and preventing or controlling type 2 diabetes.
Here are some tips on how you can build strong, lean muscle, without affecting your diabetes:
Load up on protein
Protein intake is vital for building muscle.
However, your body constantly drains its protein reserves for other uses such as producing hormones, resulting in less protein available for muscle building.
To counteract this, you need to build and store new proteins faster than your body breaks down old proteins.
You should look to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight , which is roughly the maximum amount your body can use in a day.
Remember, the more protein your body stores (protein synthesis), the larger your muscles grow.
Have a protein shake before your workout
Protein shakes are very effective for improving strength.
While many trainers have a post-workout shake, research has shown that drinking a shake containing at least 6 grams of amino acids – the muscle-building blocks of protein – and 35 grams of carbohydrates 30-60 minutes before exercising increases your protein synthesis more than drinking the same shake after training.
“Since exercise increases bloodflow to your working tissues, drinking a carbohydrate-protein mixture before your workout may lead to greater uptake of the amino acids in your muscles,” says Kevin Tipto, PhD, an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Texas.
Good quality whey-protein powders usually contain at least 30 grams of protein per serving, as well as a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals.
Other liquid supplements such as weight-gain powders can also provide a lot of high quality protein and nutrients in each serving, but they also tend to be extremely high in calories, carbohydrates and sugar.
While this is sufficient for most weight lifters, it is not ideal for those with conditions such as type 2 diabetes, for whom weight loss may be a key goal.
Work your biggest muscles
If you’re new to weight lifting or strength training, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis and build muscle.
However, if you’re experienced with weights, you’ll see the biggest and fastest results by focusing on the large muscle groups, like the back, legs and chest.
The best exercises for these body parts are squats, dead-lifts, bench press, leg press, pull-ups, bent-over rows, shoulder press and dips. Add two or three sets of 8 or 12 repetitions to your workout, with about 60 seconds’ rest between sets.
Eat a high-quality meal after training
Post-workout meals or snacks should be high in carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are needed to fuel exercise. As well as being a vital energy source they also play a role in the release of insulin, which regulates levels of blood sugar and is also the body’s most potent anabolic hormone.
However, people with diabetes are generally advised to limit their carb intake to keep their blood sugar levels under control as their bodies struggle to produce insulin or don’t use the insulin produced effectively.
The problem with this though is that a lack of stored carbs can result in the body using protein for energy production, thus leaving less protein for building muscle.
The key is to cut out bad carbs such as. refined, processed carbohydrates found in white bread, potatoes, pasta and rice from your diet and replace them with good , unprocessed carbs from fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole-grain versions of bread, pasta and rice.
Foods with good carbs generally have a lower glycemic index (GI), which means they tend to break down slowly to form glucose. Low GI foods also have a high nutritional value and provide prolonged release of energy.
Drink plenty of water
Adequate water consumption is one of the most overlooked factors in exercise. Water comprises up to 70% of the human body and if you’re dehydrated, your muscle size suffers as well. The other way of looking at it is that one pound of muscle can hold up to three pounds of water.
Rest is another hugely overlooked factor in building strong, lean muscle.
The simple fact is that after an intense workout, the body needs the proper nutrients and recovery time to grow bigger and stronger.
In fact, your muscles grow when you’re resting, not when you’re working out.
If you’re a beginner, do a full-body workout followed by a day of rest. Alternatively look at setting aside at least 3 days of rest each week.
Consume good fats
A common misconception among the general public is that all types of fat are bad for you. While saturated fats and trans fats (i.e. bad fats) increase cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can have the opposite effect and benefit your overall physical and mental health
They are also important for muscle growth.
Good sources of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, cashews and macadamia nuts
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower, sesamen, and pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed
Weight training can be therapeutic and is recommended for the prevention and treatment of many diseases and illnesses. For example, it is recommended that people with diabetes exercise regularly. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
When individuals hear the term “bodybuilding,” they automatically think of competitive bodybuilding. In all reality, this is just one very small sector of a large subset of the population who weight trains (e.g., body builds) for general aesthetics and health.
Weight training itself can also be therapeutic and is recommended for the prevention and treatment of many diseases and illnesses. For example, it is recommended that people with diabetes exercise regularly. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
A Brief Background About Diabetes
The rate of diabetes is soaring at an unthinkable level in North America. This increase is related to the obesity epidemic in this country; diabetes is one of the many diseases associated with obesity.
There Are Two Main Types Of Diabetes:
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (organ responsible for insulin production) completely stops producing insulin. Insulin is the hormone necessary to use glucose (sugar) found in foods for energy. Therefore, individuals with type 1 diabetes must take insulin shots. This usually develops in children between the ages of 8 to 12, but can develop at any age. I’m aware of one woman who developed type I diabetes in her mid 50’s.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented; it is an autoimmune disease that ultimately results in the cells of the pancreas which produce insulin to stop functioning.
On the contrary, type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce and/or unable to properly use insulin. This accounts for about 90% of the total cases of diabetes. This used to be more prevalent in adults, but again, because of the obesity epidemic, it’s now seen in adolescents.
There is also a genetic component to type 2 diabetes, but the initial problem is not with the cells of the pancreas as in type 1 diabetes. Instead, it is an issue with the insulin receptors in the body and in particular the receptors on muscle tissue. Because of this dilemma, blood glucose is not readily transferred into cells and insulin continues to be released from the pancreas to clear the glucose that’s still circulating.
You can think of insulin as a school bus and glucose as the children; without the bus (insulin), the children (glucose) cannot get to where they need to be (muscles and organs). If, for example, one of the buses (insulin) along the route broke down, the children (glucose) would continue to pile up because no children (insulin) were picked up and shuttled. Therefore, the boss (pancreas) would have to send more buses (insulin) out to pick up the extra children (glucose) resulting in too many buses (insulin) on the route (bloodstream).
Type 2 diabetes is also a secondary disease, known as a co-morbidity, to overweight and obesity. It is often referred to as “diabesity.” This is because oversized fat cells actually increases the risk for insulin resistance. Remember, this is the problem with type 2 diabetes, not type 1 diabetes. Lean individuals can get type 2 diabetes too, however. When it is linked to overweight and obesity, though, it often disappears after weight loss and increases in physical activity, which brings me to my next point.
Physical Activity and Diabetes
Remembering what was discussed above, the insulin receptors on muscle cells become rather inefficient at transferring glucose in those with diabetes. Therefore, one can see why regular exercise is recommended.
Going back to the school bus example, exercise would be like a mechanic in the above example where the bus broke down; the mechanic would fix the bus (insulin receptors in this case) and get it back into working order.
All forms of exercise have been shown to be effective at reducing the risks and complications associated with diabetes. Resistance training in particular is crucial because exercising muscles increase the need to use glucose for energy.
Therefore, natural, anabolic free bodybuilding in the general sense or for competition is great for those with diabetes. It is forcing your body to utilize the additional circulating blood glucose. Aerobic exercise is also beneficial to increase the uptake of glucose and efficiency of insulin usage.
General Diet Recommendations
Diet is also a crucial component to controlling diabetes. Individuals are unique, but health professionals generally recommend reducing any type of refined carbohydrates (white flours, white pastas, high sugar cereals, white breads) and replace them with their whole grain alternatives (whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, oat bran, whole grain bread, etc).
Similarly, protein intake should be more closely monitored. Protein is the mainstay of many otherwise health individuals trying to build muscle and/or get lean, which is fine; however, with diabetes, there is the concern of additional stress on the kidneys because of what’s already added from potential diabetic complications. Therefore, do eat high quality proteins, but do not overdo it.
Lastly, healthy fats are also a crucial component to all diets and that’s no different in folks with diabetes.
Monitoring Blood Sugars
It is of course important to note that it is crucial for folks to monitor their blood sugars regularly and specifically before, (during if you feel ‘low’), and after exercise. Keep in mind how exercise effects blood glucose – exercise will cause glucose to be utilized by the muscles; therefore, what was once circulating in the blood stream, is now being taken up by muscles.
This leaves little circulating and if it dips too low, you could get disoriented, dizzy, weak and actually pass out (reminds me of one time after a set of heavy squats). Therefore, always keep some form of quick sugar with you or near you at all times; lifesavers, jolly ranchers, juice or anything of similar ilk all work well.
The moral of the story is that all exercise is beneficial and crucial for health for those with diabetes. Whether you’re a competitive bodybuilder or a weekend warrior, if you have diabetes or are even at risk for diabetes, you better get or keep moving!
Sometimes, people with diabetes need to gain weight to avoid health problems. Eating foods that contain
In this article, we consider how people with diabetes can safely gain weight without any health complications.
Share on Pinterest Eating foods that contain healthful fats is a great way to gain weight with diabetes.
In general, people who want to put on weight need to eat foods that are high in calories rather than following a restrictive diet and keeping calorie consumption low.
Typically, people who want to put on weight need to consume more calories than they use.
However, people with diabetes also need to choose what they eat carefully as some foods may cause a peak in blood sugar levels, which could lead to health complications.
Anyone with diabetes who is considering making significant changes to their diet should speak to a doctor, a certified diabetes educator, or a dietitian who can suggest dietary adjustments that result in weight gain but do not damage health.
There are several strategies that people with diabetes can use for gaining weight healthfully. However, it is essential to consider the effect that any dietary changes might have on their diabetes and continue to keep their blood sugar under control.
These strategies include:
Keeping track of calorie intake
To gain weight, people must consume more calories than they use. Although some reports state that it takes an increase of 500 calories each day to put on 1 pound of body weight per week, this is not true for everyone because people burn calories in different ways.
Several apps and online calorie calculators are available that can help people estimate how many calories they need a day, according to their:
A dietitian can help to create a meal plan that focuses on increasing calories but takes into account the dietary requirements for a person with diabetes.
Eating full-fat dairy products
Although eating full-fat dairy can aid weight gain, a person should be mindful of their daily saturated fat and total carbohydrate intake to manage their blood sugar.
Full-fat foods include whole milk, full-fat yogurt, and cheese. People can also add full-fat milk or cream to soups and mashed potato to increase their calorie content.
Limiting caffeine and avoiding low-calorie foods and beverages
It is best to exclude diet products, tea, and black coffee from the diet where possible. Caffeine may mask hunger and act as an appetite suppressant.
A high-calorie, nutrient-dense snack is a better choice for someone trying to manage their blood sugar and gain weight.
Examples of suitable snacks include:
- full-fat Greek yogurt with granola
- apple with peanut butter
- banana and walnuts
- whole-grain toast with avocado and chia seeds
Adding an oil, such as olive or avocado oil, to vegetables and greens
Adding oils to vegetables and greens allows people to eat healthful foods while still getting a calorie boost.
Eating healthful higher-calorie foods
Eating calorie-rich foods will help a person gain weight.
However, the key is to choose nutrient-rich foods rather than sugary and fatty foods to maintain the best possible health.
Higher-calorie foods that are also rich in nutrients include:
Eat these healthful foods alongside nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as beans, quinoa, brown rice, and granola.
Healthful fats are calorie-rich and can help people gain weight, but they also offer health benefits as they control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Heart-healthy fats include:
- seeds (such as pumpkin or flax)
- nuts, spreads, and oils (including olive, canola, sunflower, rapeseed, and peanut)
- fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna)
- nut butter (for example almond or cashew butter)
Eating smaller portions more frequently
Eating more often during the day will help to increase the appetite and, for some people, eating smaller meals throughout the day is more manageable than eating a more substantial meal.
For example, try eating six small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals.
Increasing protein intake
A person can increase the amount of lean protein in their diet by eating chicken, turkey, boiled eggs, and fish. Plant-based sources of protein include lentils, beans, quinoa, and soy. Be mindful of total carbohydrate intake when incorporating lots of these foods into the diet.
Including resistance training as part of a workout routine
Exercise can help to add muscle to the body, which should lead to weight gain. Strength training is the best way to transform calories into muscle.
Use hand weights, resistance bands, kettlebells, and weight machines at the gym to build lean muscle. This is a more healthful way to increase weight than putting on weight by storing excess fat.
Exercise can also increase appetite.
Adding nutritional supplements to the diet
These may include food or beverage supplements, which can increase appetite and help people to gain weight.
Casein and whey protein are examples of supplements that some people take to build muscle mass and gain weight. Try adding them to milk, hot beverages, yogurt, muffins, or puddings.
All supplements are different, so it is best to ask a doctor or dietitian for specific recommendations.
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Diabetes is a complicated and dangerous disease in which blood sugar levels are often too high, which can cause dizziness, increased thirst and heart problems. Diabetics need to make sure to control their weights and be neither too heavy nor too thin. If you have diabetes and need to gain weight, be aware that gaining too much weight, fat especially, can worsen the symptoms of diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic 1. Instead, you need to eat the right foods, exercise and take good care of yourself to safely gain weight.
Increase the calories in your diet while watching your carbohydrate intake. Gaining weight is simply a matter of eating more calories than you burn, but having diabetes complicates the equation because it’s not safe for diabetics to eat whatever foods they want 1. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting sweets like candy and chocolate, as they can spike your blood sugar levels too quickly, and instead of eating foods with refined carbohydrates like white rice, white bread and pasta, eat more whole grains like whole wheat bread, proteins like chicken and fats like olive oil 1. Continue to check your blood sugar levels as often as your doctor or dietitian recommends.
Diabetic Diet Food List
Eat more plant sources of fat while continuing to limit animal sources of fat. Since type 2 diabetics are at a higher risk of heart disease, the Mayo Clinic recommends that they limit their intake of fat from animals, such as beef, bacon, whole milk and butter 1. Instead, olive oil, nuts and avocados are all high in calories, but contain healthy unsaturated fats.
Start lifting weights or using resistance bands to strength-train at home. You can try bicep curls, push-ups, squats with weights in your hand, and any other strength-training exercise. If you are going to gain weight, make sure that some of that weight gained is muscle, which can keep you strong. According to the University of Michigan Medical Center, lifting weights can increase bone strength and actually improve glucose tolerance in diabetics 2. At the same time, strength training can build muscle mass so that you can gain weight. Aim for three to five days of strength training per week.
Diabetics and Butter
Limit the amount of cardiovascular exercise in your life. Cardiovascular exercise like running is healthy but it burns a lot of calories. Since your goal is to gain weight, you should limit either the frequency or the intensity of cardiovascular exercise. Try jogging only twice a week instead of four times or walking instead of running.
People with diabetes tend to think that they are not as privileged as normal people, despite this not being the case. They tend to think that life is not very good for them, and that they can’t be like everyone else. This is a rather amusing and odd way to look at things, but it is the way that they go about with their life.
Now these patients tend to think that when hitting the gym, it is not going to be easy for them to gain muscle mass. However, that is not the case since their diabetes really doesn’t do much to their muscle mass building abilities. This is because they just have to stay away from sugar, and take their insulin as per the doctor’s prescriptions.
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Hit the gym
Now the most basic way for you gain muscle mass is to hit the gym. This is the primary requirement to you building any muscle mass, without which you won’t be able to do much.
Now when you are at the gym, your primary focus should be on lifting heavy weights and doing fewer reps, as opposed to doing lots of reps with low weights.
This is going to really hit your body in a positive manner and get those muscles growing.
In order for you to really build lean muscle mass and not get any negative impacts of your new gym routine, you need to eat a lot of meat. This can be in the form of beef, chicken or fish, as long as you manage to get it into your system in large quantities.
Just make sure that you avoid taking any and all sugar related substances, which could spike your condition and diabetes situation. Should you be able to take a lot of precautions with the food that you eat, you should be good to go.
Avoid fats, sugars and other fattening things
Now the things you need to avoid include fats, sugars and other items that are low in protein content. Being a diabetes patient, you should really avoid sugars, since they could make you get very sick very fast.
Now avoiding fat is a must, since it won’t let your muscles develop and will actually make you gain fat instead of muscles.
Now if you follow this strict diet regime, you should be on your way to building lean muscle mass.
IS IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES TO BUILD MUSCLE?
Straight answer. YES!
However, this is only true when you give diabetes the two fingers and screw controlling your blood sugars.
Building muscle with diabetes takes a little more than normal.
You need to be smart about it. Really smart.
You need to a firm understanding of what to do, and what not to do – especially with diet and lifestyle.
In this video blog, I go into detail on the complications of poorly controlled diabetes and explain why you must obsess over your blood glucose control if you want to build a healthy, strong and great looking body!
This is a must for anyone living with diabetes who wants to get more out of their efforts in the gym! If you’re a diabetic bodybuilder or fitness fanatic – you need to WATCH THIS VIDEO!
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