Beat Diabetes With Weight Training

[ 0 ] September 12, 2012 |
diabetes weight training

Photo Courtesy Of Ben Levin (

If you’re currently suffering from diabetes, one of the absolute best forms of exercise that you should start doing on a regular basis is weight training.  Weight training provides a wide range of benefits to all individuals, but is going to serve to help those who are suffering from diabetes especially.

Getting on a good weight lifting routine doesn’t take much time at all – just three sessions per week at 30 minutes per session can offer you tremendous benefits.

A good weight lifting workout routine is going to help to build lean muscle mass, which will boost your metabolism all day long, making it that much easier to control your food intake. Additionally, it’s going to help to increase your insulin sensitivity levels so that your body can better handle carbohydrates that you consume more easily, and it’s going to help to keep your strength levels up, ensuring you stay as fit and healthy as possible.

Those who partake in a regular exercise program also tend to pay more attention to their nutrition as well simply because they want to see the best results from the effort they’re putting in to the workout session. This adds additional benefits to including it as part of your day.

One thing that is important as you go about your weight lifting program however, is that you pay close attention to what you’re eating around working out, to ensure you maintain adequate blood glucose levels.

Let’s go over a few facts to remember.


Know Your Around Workout Protocols

First, before your workout session is to take place, it’s important to get in a moderate dosage of carbohydrates that are slow digesting in nature. It is critical that you do not opt for simple carbohydrates during this time because these will produce a rapid spike in blood sugar, which will just cause you to crash mid-workout.

Simple carbs are high GI carbs and slow digesting carbs are low GI. Refer to the table below (source: for some example foods:


Table 1 – Low GI Foods

Food GI
Roasted and salted peanuts 14
Low-fat yogurt with sweetener 14
Cherries 22
Grapefruit 25
Pearl barley 25
Red lentils 26
Whole milk 27
Dried apricots 31
Butter beans 31
Fettucine pasta 32
Skimmed milk 32
Low-fat fruit yogurt 33
Wholemeal spaghetti 37
Apples 38
Pears 38
Tomato soup, canned 38
Apple juice, unsweetened 40
Noodles 40
White spaghetti 41
All Bran 42
Chick peas, canned 42
Peaches 42
Porridge made with water 42
Lentil soup 44
Oranges 44
Macaroni 45
Green grapes 46
Orange juice 46
Peas 48
Baked beans in tomato sauce 48
Carrots, boiled 49
Milk chocolate 49
Kiwi fruit 52
Stoneground wholemeal bread 53
Crisps 54
Special K 54
Banana 55
Raw oatbran 55
Sweetcorn 55

Medium Glycemic Index foods (56 to 69)

Table 2 – Moderate GI Foods

Muesli, non toasted 56
Boiled potatoes 56
Sultanas 56
Pitta bread 57
Basmati Rice 58
Honey 58
Digestive biscuit 59
Cheese and tomato pizza 60
Ice cream 61
New potatoes 62
Coca cola 63
Apricots, canned in syrup 64
Raisins 64
Shortbread biscuit 64
Couscous 65
Rye bread 65
Pineapple, fresh 66
Cantaloupe melon 67
Croissant 67
Shredded wheat 67
Mars bar 68
Ryvita 69
Crumpet, toasted 69
Weetabix 69
Wholemeal bread 69

High Glycemic Index foods (70 or more)

Table 3 – High GI Foods

Mashed potato 70
White bread 70
Watermelon 72
Swede 72
Bagel 72
Branflakes 74
Cheerios 74
French fries 75
Coco Pops 77
Jelly beans 80
Rice cakes 82
Rice Krispies 82
Cornflakes 84
Jacket potato 85
Puffed wheat 89
Baguette 95
Parsnips, boiled 97
White rice, steamed 98


With diabetes, low blood sugar levels are definitely not something you want to be dealing with.

Make sure that you combine your carbs with a good protein source during this pre-workout meal, as this will further decrease the blood sugar response that you get.  Consume it around 30 minutes before the session so it has enough time to digest, but not so much that you again risk low blood glucose mid-workout.

After the workout is finished, you again want to follow this up with a carbohydrate and protein mixture. While typical recommendations for normal individuals are to go with a simple carb to spike insulin, the diabetic will want to avoid this.

Instead, opt for slower digesting carbohydrates, which will still restore muscle glycogen, but that won’t lead to the large insulin spike fast acting carbs would cause.

Some diabetics will also need to sip glucose solution or have glucose tablets on hand while doing the workout in case they feel their blood sugar level dropping, so that’s something to take note of as well.

It’s important that you learn about your own body and how it responds to weight lifting exercise so you can plan accordingly.

Weight lifting will use up glucose rapidly, so if you aren’t being careful, it can quickly lead to problems yet the benefits of making weight lifting part of your life are outstanding!

So there you have a few important things that you must keep in mind as you go about your diabetic weight lifting program.  Be smart in how you plan your diet around this time and you can reap all the benefits weight lifting provides.


P.S One more thing . . if you are female, DO NOT worry about putting on lots of muscle like one of those huge bodybuilders! Women only have very low levels of testosterone (the male, muscle building hormone) meaning you won’t build muscle like men. Don’t be scared to lift weights that you find quite difficult as you will not gain the muscle that you don’t want.

P.P.S Exercise is not recommended if you are following any kind of very low calorie diet such as the Newcastle Study 800 Calorie Diabetic Diet.


A Sample Weight Lifting Routine To Help Beat Diabetes Could Be

  • Leg Press
  • Chest Press
  • Seated Row
  • Shoulder Press
  • Bicep Curls
  • Tricep Pushdowns

Perform this routine 2-3 x per week with at least 1 day of rest in between.

Aim to complete about 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each with about a minute rest in between.

Choose a weight that makes the last few reps very difficult and change the routine every 6-8 weeks for best results.

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About the Author ()

Kate Robinson is a country girl who never had to worry about her weight until she piled on the pounds in her twenties. After years of depression, self pity, binge eating and yo yo dieting, she finally managed to lose 71 pounds and got back her figure and her life! The experience affected her so much that she vowed to help as many people as possible to do the same. Kate teamed up with some industry experts to provide the right information and support when you need it most.

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