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From Annanagar, Chennai, India:

I am very much interested in body building, have a very lean muscular frame, but I can't increase my muscles without proper protein intake and supplements. Can body-building can be pursued by someone with type 1 diabetes on a long-term basis? What kind of protein food or supplements can I take without changing my now normal sugar levels?


There are a few things to consider regarding body building and the associated heavy weight training for persons with diabetes, but provided that you have physician clearance to do so, it certainly can be done. Screening for retinopathy, nephropathy, and heart disease should be done both before beginning a weight training program, and on a regular basis as a part of good diabetes care. With these complications, the concern is the dramatic increase in blood pressure that accompanies heavy lifting.

Be aware that an increased intake of protein, either dietary or via supplement, may have an effect on your blood sugars. Frequent blood sugar testing should be done to assess whether an increase in insulin dosage may be necessary to compensate. Remember that approximately 20% of protein itself is converted directly to glucose. In addition, the rise in amino acids in the blood five to eight hours later (from protein digestion) causes a liver glycogen release, leading to the possibility of elevations in blood sugar at that time. You may need to take this into consideration. Blood sugar monitoring will help you and your physician to pattern this and take appropriate action if necessary. Talk to your physician as well about your desire to supplement as high protein intake may also put the kidneys at risk.

Because of your diabetes, you may be wise to begin your weight training program without significant supplementation, and look at this issue again if you are not getting the results you desire. As a clinical exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, and as a person with type 1 diabetes myself, I encourage you to work closely with your physician and/or diabetes care team on this issue.


Original posting 4 Jun 2002
Posted to Exercise and Sports


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:34
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