Living with diabetes shouldn’t stop you from building muscle. However, it’s wise to follow a few precautions when on a diabetic diet plan.
Amongst all types of exercise for muscle building, strength training is the most effective one. So whether you have diabetes or not, this is the best workout to gain muscle mass.
Regular exercise is mandatory for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. That’s because, besides increasing heart health, physical activity also helps control weight.
This is paramount for diabetic people since they need to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Building strong muscles should be your first line of defense against diabetes, whether you’re looking to prevent it or, unfortunately, you’re already suffering from it.
Besides muscle building, you’ll also need to manage your diet and body systems with major care to maintain a balance.
A customized diet and workout program to build muscle mass works best, but the below tips may be helpful to anyone with diabetes.
Tips To Help Diabetics To Gain Muscle
Here are some expert tips on how you can quickly gain muscle mass without affecting your diabetes:
1. Get Enough Protein
You can’t build muscle without protein. And the recommended amount of protein for muscle building is 1 gram per pound of body weight.
So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for a protein intake of 150 grams per day.
Great sources of protein include:
- Skinless chicken and turkey;
- Fish such as tuna, cod, halibut, and salmon;
- Cottage cheese;
- Kidney beans;
- Protein supplements, powders, and shakes.
Remember, if you want to increase your muscle mass, you need to make your body store more protein. And this rule is also valid for people with diabetes.
2. Eat A High-Protein Snack Before Workout
Your body needs an energy boost before your workout. So eat a high-protein snack an hour before exercising.
You can opt for a healthy protein-and-carb snack, a protein bar, or a protein shake. Just make sure they’re not packed with calories.
High-calorie snacks are not ideal for people with conditions such as diabetes since their goal is to lose weight.
3. Work Your Biggest Muscles
The fastest way to gain muscle is to target the biggest muscle groups through your workouts. So focus on your back, legs, and chest for best results.
The exercises that work your biggest muscles are:
- Bench press;
- Leg press;
- Bent-over rows;
- Shoulder press;
- Dips, and more.
Pick 4-5 exercises from the above list, grab a pair of dumbbells and/or a barbell to add extra resistance to your workout, and aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise. Don’t forget to rest for a minute or two every time you finish a set.
With time, you’ll be able to increase the number of reps and/or sets according to your progress. Just make sure there is a progress; otherwise, you might be hitting a plateau.
4. Eat A High-Quality Post-Workout Meal
A high-quality meal to consume after working out should include high amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Both are needed to increase muscle mass.
However, experts often recommend limiting your carb intake if you’re diabetic. This helps keep blood sugar levels under control.
So, how does a person with diabetes get the needed carbs after a workout? It’s easy.
Replace bad carbs (refined, processed carbohydrates) with the good ones:
- Bad carbs include potatoes, white bread, rice, and pasta.
- Good carbs include fruits, veggies, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain products.
So make sure your post-workout diabetic meal contains lean meat, lots of vegetables, and maybe some dairy products.
5. Hydrate Properly
You are 70% water. So your muscles need water to grow. Make sure you’re hydrating before, during, and after your workouts.
The only liquid your body needs is water. So why would you consume soda, alcoholic beverages, or other unnecessary drinks?
Choose only plain water and try to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
6. Rest Your Muscles
Whether you suffer from diabetes or not, rest is one of the most important factors when it comes to muscle building. That’s because muscles grow at rest, not during the actual workout session.
So give yourself 24-48 hours of rest after a workout. This should be enough time for your muscles to get the nutrients they need, recover after the strenuous workout, and grow bigger and stronger.
An easy-to-remember workout schedule, especially for beginners, would be to alternate one day of full-body exercises with one day of rest.
7. Get The Right Fats
There are good carbs and bad carbs. Likewise, there are good fats and bad fats.
You can find bad fats on product labels under a couple of names: saturated fats and trans fats. Meanwhile, the good fats are known as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
While trans and saturated fats can make you harm, good fats promote muscle growth, fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
Some great sources of healthy fats include:
- Fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, sardine, and herring;
- Olives and olive oil;
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, and macadamia nuts;
- Peanut butter;
- Seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds.
8 Check Your Glucose Levels
Use a glucose meter kit to check your blood glucose levels before and immediately after your workout session. It shouldn’t be too high, nor too low.
Depending on your blood glucose levels, you might need to adjust your dosage of medicine or insulin.
Make sure to get proper advice from your doctor regarding your glucose levels and how you can balance them.
9. Always Be Prepared
Since you’re suffering from a serious, chronic disease, you need to always be prepared for the unexpected.
In case your blood sugar level drops during your workout, you should have an emergency, high-sugar snack in your workout bag.
A bottle of water is also something that shouldn’t miss from your gym bag.
You Can Gain Muscle While Living With Diabetes!
Your disease shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dream body. With patience, perseverance, and willpower, you can reach your goal this year!
People with diabetes can build muscle mass if they carefully follow this guide. Stay fit!