Losing Body Fat with Type 1 Diabetes The “Right” Way

Within 5 minutes of reading any diabetes blog or perusing through any Diabetes Facebook group, you will probably find more biased, scientifically unsupported diet advice than a poorly thought out midnight infomercial.

“Keto is best!”

“No, plant-based is best!”

“Wrong, apple cider vinegar and intermittent dieting is best!”

With so many opinions and biases, how, as people with type 1 diabetes, can we decide on the “right” diet?

Let’s get this out of the way quickly—there is no one golden way of easy results for everyone. Why? Because everyone is different with different goals and value sets and needs to achieve their individualized quality of life.

So when you are searching for the “right” way, just make sure that you are considering what is right for you in the sense of being able to adhere to it for a long period of time, making sure that it doesn’t make you miserable, and assessing the effectiveness toward your goals. The right way will accomplish those three things for you as long as you continue to put in the work.

The “Right” Blood Sugars

As people with diabetes, we can probably all agree that there are effective and ineffective blood sugars. We can’t be hypoglycemic before an activity as that will likely put us in danger and being hyperglycemic can reduce performance, affect function, and become dangerous as well. So, when it comes to fat loss, is there a “right” blood sugar?

Yes and no.

Of the hundreds of people with diabetes I’ve helped to lose thousands of pounds total, blood sugar management comes first.

If you are chasing blood sugars constantly, your diet will reflect that and your training will likely suffer, resulting in a negative cascading effect, leading away from progress.

I’ve found that we can tend to brush off the importance of getting better with our blood sugars (I’m also talking to myself here), because we want to lose fat and show people how hard dieting is, and prove our dedication to other people. But by skipping blood sugar management, we essentially toss all our hard work into the wind and hope for the best.

If you truly want to progress your physique and performance, you have to start asking the right questions:

  • How is this activity going to impact my insulin sensitivity?
  • Am I checking my sugar enough, especially when I start a new diet or exercise program?
  • Am I taking into account how much insulin on board I have before I exercise?
  • Am I talking with my diabetes management team to make sure that my insulin needs are adjusted with my diet and activity levels?

When things change, things need to change yet we tend to fall into the same rut of diabetes management.

Make sure you take into account your new level of intensity and duration and exercise as well as your caloric intake and specific nutrient intake to make sure that your insulin needs are optimized toward the new stimulus you are giving your body by starting a new exercise or diet program.

Here is a chart from JDRF PEAK showing the different blood sugar trends around varying types of exercise. This can help you plan your management accordingly.

Image credit: JDRF

The “Right” Nutrition Plan

All successful diets in terms of fat loss share one pivotal concept—burning more calories than you consume. For you to optimally lose body fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit regardless of whether you are eating keto, vegan, Whole30, or the “broke college kid diet”. It’s not opinion either, it is just the law of thermodynamics.

In abundance, you gain. In deficit, you lose.

So, the right nutrition plan puts you in a moderate caloric deficit where you aren’t starving or medically unsafe but you are also not eating enough to maintain your current weight (after all, what would be the point of that?).

Now, the right plan also has to account for adherence and not making you miserable.

If you truly enjoy carbs and you can manage your sugars well on a moderate- or high-carb diet while still in a caloric deficit, most likely a keto diet will make you miserable and will not be the right fit for you. While both a high-carb diet and a keto diet could be equally effective at losing body fat when equated for calories, we also must consider the real-life implications of quality of life during dieting.

The right diet is something that you can adhere to while also managing your blood sugars and at the same time putting you in a moderate caloric deficit so that you can continue to progress.

You can individualize your nutrition so that you can adhere to whatever kind of eating preferences you like, as long as you can maintain your blood sugars simultaneously.

Some people prefer low-carb, so that it minimizes blood sugar fluctuations.

Some people prefer high-carb and can still manage blood sugar fluctuations.

Regardless of what you choose, the fact remains that you have to stick with it consistently and you have to follow the rules above.

The “Right” Workouts

Personally, I love lifting heavy weights. Also personally, I hate when a coach tells a client that they have to work out the same way that they do.

There are many successful ways I have helped people with diabetes incorporate new workout programs:

  • Walking and progressing to walking with weights
  • Sprinting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts
  • Bodyweight and resistance band training
  • Water aerobics
  • Olympic weight lifting and bodybuilding
  • Walking your dog and doing 10 Squats every 5 minutes during that walk
  • Working out does not have to mean going to a gym. You can work out exactly where you are, even if you’re in an office just by standing up and sitting down a few times, despite maybe looking a little awkward.

There are three aspects of working out that are considered important and I try to encourage every person to incorporate each of these aspects into their program to have a more well-rounded approach:

  • Resistance training (added weight or bodyweight exercise)
  • Cardiorespiratory training (walking, jogging)
  • Flexibility (stretching yoga, etc.)

So whether you go to the gym and lift weights, or pick up a gallon of water and press it over your head, walk your dog every day and finish up with some stretching, if you use these three concepts and incorporate movements or activities that you like, you’ll find yourself doing the “right” workouts.

Now, extremely successful workouts involve a concept called progressive overload— that simply means that whatever you’re doing will eventually stop working if you keep doing the same thing over and over without any change or progression.

So my advice? Progress. If you walk 20 minutes every day maybe next week walk 25 minutes one of those days or even add five minutes to every day. If you constantly do the same exercises maybe change up the exercise or add weight or change how many repetitions that you do.

Change requires change.

Progression requires progression.

FitMeT1D Challenge

A Free Solution That Might Be Just “Right”

Over the last four years, I have worked with hundreds of people with diabetes and I found a creative way to build a community for free of just people with type 1 diabetes all working together towards a four-week fitness challenge called the Fit Me T1D challenge.

I provide our hundreds of members a modifiable exercise plan with an easily individualized and adaptable nutrition guide as well as a bunch of extremely helpful tips and tricks around diabetes management.

All of this happens in a private Facebook group and your fellow T1D members help you every step of the way.

It’s fun.

It’s challenging.

And hey—it’s free.

I feel like it’s my duty to give back to my fellow type 1s so if you’re interested in joining, we have our next challenge starting March 22nd. Feel free to sign up for free on FitMeT1D (more info at the link as well).

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Coffee and Blood Sugars: What’s the Connection?

If you’re a coffee drinker and live with diabetes, you may be familiar with the difficulty that drinking a regular morning cup of joe can be. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks on the planet, with the average U.S. adult drinking two 8 oz cups of coffee per day.

Whether you spike or crash, drinking and enjoying coffee is made infinitely harder when living with diabetes. So, what’s the deal? What exactly does coffee do to your blood sugars, and how can you help mitigate the damage?

This article will outline the effects that coffee has on blood sugar levels and ways you can prepare and guard against any negative side effects from your morning routine.

What Is It About Coffee That Affects Blood Sugar?

The majority of people with diabetes see a spike in their blood sugar when drinking coffee, and it’s not a mystery that a lot of the cause can be attributed to the caffeine content in your morning cup.

According to the Mayo Clinic, for people with diabetes, about 200 milligrams of caffeine (about one to two 8 oz cups of plain, brewed coffee) can cause a spike. Caffeine causes insulin resistance and can negatively affect postprandial blood sugar levels, essentially requiring you to take more insulin for foods eaten when you drink caffeinated beverages. Some people even need to bolus for drinking plain, unsweetened, black coffee that has no carbohydrates.

Ironically, long-term coffee consumption is associated with higher insulin sensitivity and lower rates of type 2 diabetes, but in the short term, the caffeine content causes a spike in blood sugars and lower insulin sensitivity. Caffeine is also an appetite suppressant, so its overall effect is sometimes balanced out.

The best option for people with diabetes who are struggling with blood sugar spikes post cup, however, may be to opt for decaf: drinking decaffeinated coffee seems to curb blood sugar spikes in individuals.

Why Does Caffeine Cause Blood Sugar Spikes?

Caffeine spikes blood sugars in a number of ways, including:

  • Naturally raising levels of certain stress hormones, epinephrine, and adrenaline, making you more insulin resistant when you drink it
  • Blocking the protein adenosine, tamping down the amount of insulin your body produces (if you’re type 2), making it more difficult for the body to process carbohydrates as quickly, spiking your blood sugar levels.
  • Inhibiting sleep, when consumed later on in the day. Lack of sleep for even a few days has proven to lower insulin sensitivity and increase insulin resistance, keeping blood sugars stubbornly high

And it isn’t only the caffeine found in coffee affecting blood sugars. A 2004 study showed that taking a caffeine pill before eating resulted in higher post-meal blood sugars and insulin resistance for people with type 2 diabetes. The same can be inferred for caffeinated sodas, chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and even protein bars.

Other Factors That Contribute to Higher Blood Sugars

The caffeine content in coffee is not the only thing to blame for higher blood sugar levels, however. Many people prefer coffee first thing in the morning, right when they’re often already experiencing the higher blood sugars associated with the dawn phenomenon, and combining the two can make it harder to get levels back under control.

Frappucino: sugar-loaded coffee

Photo credit: iStock

Additionally, beware of added sugars, syrups, and sweetened-dairy products that can quickly add empty calories (and carbohydrates!) to your morning brew. The difference in carbohydrate counts between one cup of black coffee (1 gram) and a Grande Frappuccino from Starbucks (50 grams) is stark and can make all the difference between a “good” blood sugar day and a difficult one. Having coffee beverages that are high in saturated fat and sugar on a regular basis can contribute to both insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Even an innocuous latte can still have anywhere between 12-25 grams of carbohydrates, simply from the sugars found in milk.

Ways to Combat the ‘Coffee Spike’

There are many ways to help combat the blood sugar spike from coffee, including:

  • Try not drinking coffee first thing; go for a 20-minute walk to combat the dawn phenomenon before you imbibe
  • Switch to decaf, or even half-caf
  • Cut down on your overall consumption (one to two 8oz cups of brewed coffee per day is plenty)
  • Do not drink coffee late in the day (try to drink it before noon), so it does not negatively affect your sleep, and thus insulin resistance
  • Drink only black coffee, cold brew coffee, or coffee with a touch of (unsweetened) dairy or non-dairy milk, cream, or half-and-half
  • Do not add syrups or sugar to your coffee; opt for stevia instead
  • Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, or sugar-free syrups to your coffee for extra taste
  • If you regularly spike, even from black coffee, aim to pre-bolus before a cup, taking a dose for your coffee 10-15 minutes before drinking
  • Get some morning exercise in immediately after drinking a cup to help curb the spike
  • Talk with your doctor about additional strategies to incorporate coffee into a healthy diet

The routine of a morning cup of coffee is essential to millions of people around the world, but a blood sugar spike is never enjoyable. Incorporating some of these strategies can help you mitigate the negative effects on blood sugar, while still allowing you to enjoy what you love! A little planning and preparation can make all the difference. And that’s definitely something to celebrate. Cheers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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