In this article, I want to outline the basic process of how people living with diabetes can increase muscle mass.
This article is suitable for anyone interested in improving the look of their body, from a fitness beginner right through to the professional bodybuilder, and athlete looking to improve performance.
How do you build muscle?
Consume enough protein?
Get enough rest?
Yes, Pretty much!
Everyone has the potential to build muscle over the course of their lifetime.
Some people are happy with the level of muscle mass they have while others desire more for performance and aesthetic reasons.
The ability to gain muscle is highly specific to an individual’s genetics, baseline hormone levels and day to day activity. Many of these factors change as we age, reducing our capacity to gain muscle as we age. In other words, Muscle mass increases as we age up until a certain point.
The effect of age on work capacity and muscle growth is a complex and lengthy subject. In fact, there is an hour long video module on the topic on the member’s site.
The best way to stimulate muscle growth is regular weights resistance training or loaded body movement.
Even though we perform loaded movements daily, such as
Squatting down to pick up our pets,
Carrying the groceries to the car,
Pushing annoying people ‘out the way.’
Pulling the kids around,
Picking things up (hip-hinge) off the ground.
Day to Day Movement Isn’t Enough. None of these movements load our muscles heavily or frequently enough to stimulate gains in muscle mass.
Weights resistance training is an incredibly useful tool for increasing muscle mass, especially with diabetes.
The intensity (load) and frequency of training determine the stress placed on the body’s musculature and consequently determine how fast muscle tissue is gained.
Training means nothing without recovery.
For the body to get the best adaption, it must have adequate recovery resources available. These include:
– Appropriate calorific intake (the major determinant of weight loss and muscle gain)
– Essential Nutrients (fats, protein and micronutrients)
– Adequate sleep – 7-8 hours per day including naps
– Adequate rest between training sessions (movements or body parts)
When you add something (training wise), you need to add something (recovery wise) from the list above. You can’t keep increasing the training intensity and frequency all the time. There is a cutoff point!
You also need to respect the fact that stressors, like prolonged emotional trauma and illness, especially uncontrolled diabetes can interfere with your muscle building efforts.
You must minimise outside stressors, and take good care of your diabetes. That’s exactly what I teach everyone in DIABETIC MASS and DIABETIC SHRED, the two most advanced diabetes bodybuilding diet and training programs in the world.
3 Facts About Building Muscle with Diabetes.
Uncontrolled diabetes reduces your chances of building muscle tissue and increasing physical strength. Here are three important points to consider when trying to build muscle with diabetes.
#1 Diabetes is a catabolic disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes is a state of undernutrition. Lack of insulin reduces the body’s ability to utilise nutrients (fuel) properly.
If nutrients can’t get into cells performance (stimulus) and recovery will be negatively affected, limiting muscle growth,
Hyperglycemia increases muscle protein breakdown and limits the protein synthesis – the process of creating new proteins.
On the other hand, hypoglycemia steals energy and mental focus, making training difficult and in many cases dangerous.
Obsess over your blood glucose control.
Do all you can to keep blood glucose levels in healthy range. This requires dedicated monitoring of blood glucose levels in response to medication and dietary intake.
Instead of tracking aimlessly, feedback the data to your healthcare team and do your best to identify patterns when blood glucose levels dip or rise into unhealthy ranges. Anticipate and react appropriately next time round.
#2 Be Mindful of the Side Effects of Injectable Insulin.
People who rely on injectable insulin can run the risk of taking too much and too little.
Too little insulin – hyperglycemia.
Too much insulin – hypoglycemia.
Aerobic exercise poses the greatest risk for experiencing hypoglycemia due to its low-stress nature and reduced capacity to increase glucose-raising hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which are typically produced during higher intensity exercise and responsible for increasing blood glucose.
Hypos during higher intensity exercise are less likely due to increased production of glucose from the liver. However, if there is too much-circulating insulin, hypos are a real possibility.
High levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) suppress the action of glucose-raising hormones like glucagon, which normally signal the release of stored glucose from the liver into the bloodstream to rectify low blood glucose levels. This abnormal response doesn’t usually occur in the body of a non-diabetic because insulin production is tightly regulated.
Learn to dose precisely. Injecting the correct amount of insulin is a fine art and requires constant monitoring. The more consistent you are with diet, training and lifestyle – the easier it is to pinpoint control.
Be mindful of injecting insulin into a trained muscle group. This leads to faster action of the drug and increased risk of hypoglycemia.
#3 Keep your head right.
Living with diabetes can be stressful.
It’s common for people with diabetes to suffer from depression and anxiety. The burden of managing blood glucose levels, injecting in public and complications from poor control (both short and long term) add additional stress to an already stressful modern lifestyle.
It’s difficult to get the most out of training when you’re stressed. As a result, the training stimulus is never as good. Chronic long-term stress is detrimental to health and diabetes management. If left uncontrolled stress can manifest into a host of adverse health problems including:
– Not feeling present or in the moment
– Digestive Upset
– Reduced immune function – opening you up to other infections
Not ideal for high-quality living or building a strong muscular physique.
It’s incredibly important to focus on what you can control and surrender to what you can’t. As I always preach, there is always blessing in adversity.
Being self-aware of stressful situations is important.
Take time away from social media, meditate, journal and surround yourself with as many positive people as possible. Doing so will give you a clear mind, and allow for better decision-making.
Health starts from within! As I say in my book, your psychology becomes your physiology.
People with diabetes can build muscle. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your muscle-building potential depends upon the following;
– Training intensity
– Training frequency
– Recovery resources
– Blood glucose control.
You must stay motivated to learn all you can about your condition and empower yourself with the knowledge needed to understand why blood glucose levels behave the way they do.
Go out of your way to get accountable to a mixed team of professionals including a diabetes specialist, exercise physiologist, sports nutritionist, psychologist and strength coach.
I’ve incorporated all of these important factors (and more) into DIABETIC MASS and DIABETIC SHRED, two complete diet and training systems designed for individuals looking to build maximum muscle mass and shred large amounts of body fat. All the hard work is done for you as the diet, workouts and supplements are all planned out for you. All you need to do is follow them.