Diabetes and Bodybuilding

Diabetes Management Through Bodybuilding

Ryan Clark General Leave a Comment

Chances are you have a family member that has diabetes.

You might even be a diabetic yourself.

Proper diabetes management is a challenge for everyone who has become diagnosed. Over time diabetes becomes more manageable as the individual learns more about how their body reacts to different situations. I have had more control over my Type 1 diabetes than I ever have since I began following a bodybuilding type nutritional plan.


Type 1 diabetes means 100% dependence on insulin.

Taking insulin is vital for survival and can be a tough task to manage. Nutritionists and doctors will tell a diabetic to count carbs and such for regulation of insulin to take. This just doesn’t work for everyone and certainly doesn’t work for myself.

Properly counting carbs isn’t realistic for most people.

When I started a bodybuilding type diet I consistently ate the same amount of carbs/protein/fat on a daily basis. I would always change up the foods but kept the macronutrients the same. This meant I would always take the same amount of insulin needed for each meal. This takes the guessing game out of the equation of diabetes management and makes it much easier.

I also used a food scale to weight out my meals on a regular basis. I would have far less low and high blood sugars because I knew how much insulin to take to have a desired blood sugar level. This doesn’t mean that an individual has to eat large amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and food in general. Just being consistent with whatever food that is consumed is what is important.

Glycemic Index/Types of Carbohydrate Consumption

Complex and simple carbohydrates have very different effects on insulin response.

More complex carbs generally require less insulin to be taken. This is another reason why counting carbs just doesn’t work for myself. For example, 40 grams of carbohydrates from white bread and 40 grams from sweet potato would require two different amounts of insulin to be taken to maintain a proper blood sugar.

More complex carbohydrates also have a far less spike in blood sugar reaction. This happens because the simpler carbs digest at a far more rapid rate and cause the blood sugar to rise faster.

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Insulin and Fat Storage

Insulin is a hormone that works with your body in fat storage.

It is a general rule that, the more insulin released/injected by a diabetic, the more fat that can and will be stored in the body. So the less insulin taken the better right? This is true, but a diabetic will need to take whatever amount of insulin needed to return blood sugar to a proper level.

This means eating smaller meals and better food choices would require less insulin to be taken and thus less fat stored in the body.

Insulin Resistance and Sensitivity

Many factors can increase and decrease amounts of insulin needed by a diabetic.

Proper hydration can increase insulin sensitivity and can help a diabetic take less insulin on a daily basis. Drinking a proper amount of water has many health benefits beyond this but is great to know for all diabetics. Proper hydration would also help a normal (non-diabetic) individual to have less insulin released in the body. Being dehydrated will definitely cause a greater insulin resistance and could cause blood sugar levels difficult to control.

Exercise, especially higher intensity exercise, increases insulin sensitivity. Not only does exercise burn calories but also helps the body require less insulin to be needed to maintain a proper blood sugar. The health benefits of exercise are vast and this just gives another reason to not skip that next workout!

Body Mass and Insulin Requirement

One thing I noticed while contest dieting for bodybuilding was that the exact same meal I would eat at 20-30 pounds lighter (bodyweight) would require less insulin. This does make sense that the more mass (bodyweight) the more insulin that would be required.

A lighter person would generally require less insulin than a heavier individual. This means that far less fat would also be stored for the lighter individual.

Weight management with diabetes can be difficult and this is important for every diabetic to know. The less a person weighs, the easier it is to lose weight or maintain a lighter weight. The more an individual weighs the more likely it is for them to store more fat and harder for them to lose more weight because of additional insulin requirement. Every diabetic should strive to maintain a healthy weight or lose a few pounds to better control diabetes.


Diabetics can manage their diabetes through consistent food choices, choosing better sources of carbohydrates, getting proper exercise, and maintaining a proper bodyweight. Having diabetes since the age of 9 has never been easy. Anyone with diabetes can tell you that it is never easy to manage at times. These are just some simple changes diabetics can utilize to help manage their diabetes.

I urge everyone to consult with a medical professional before making any changes related to their diabetes. I feel these changes have helped me and wanted to share it with everyone!