How to Lose Weight and Be Active With Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes

Editor’s Note: Cliff Scherb, Founder of the Glucose Advisors Consulting community and Tristar Athletes LLC, is a nutrition, health, and dosing expert. He consults virtually through the Glucose Advisors University, teaching the Scherb Method decision support system for insulin management, nutrition, weight loss, and activity. To inquire about program openings, courses, and general questions working with Cliff or Glucose Advisors, join the community or email him directly at cliff@glucoseadvisors.com.

Most of my career as a health expert, I have had the privilege of helping others. In the type 1 diabetes  (T1D) spotlight, I am one who walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to general health and well being. Yes, most of my career has been spent as a more extreme endurance athlete – yet these days most of my endurance is spent behind a computer teaching others how to achieve their T1D goals, still active but more inclined to also be happily chasing my 1.5 year old daughter as she grows up.

Cliff Scherb

Photo credit: Cliff Scherb

Sitting more regularly and burning less energy overall each day has had some meaningful changes to my management methods. Let’s face it, if I continued to eat the same amounts of calories each day such as when I was racing and training, I would blow up like a balloon!

I have always maintained what I will call a “normal” lifestyle and stayed true to what most do in life who do not have T1D. Meaning I don’t bend my will to T1D and I’m not afraid of carbohydrates or feel compelled to eat only fats. I believe that you can do what’s best for you, and if it makes you happy to join one of these extremes, by all means do it.

The internet is full of advice for people with T1D and never before have we had the wealth of information at just a fingertip-length away. How you put that information together and use it to your benefit is what is not so easy to do. Knowing what is worth your time and what is not can mean the difference between brilliant blood sugar control and avoiding longer term complications. The following tips we use have helped our students stay on track.

Here are five things you can do as a person with T1D that can help to improve your blood sugar and to help maintain a lean body composition:

1. Consider an Insulin Pump

If you have the option and ability, the pump allows you to lower and raise your total daily insulin dose more easily. When there are periods of your day that do not include insulin, there is a greater opportunity to process fat stores. If you are using multiple daily injections you may want to speak with your doctor about moving away from long-acting insulins such as Lantus, which have close to a 24-hour duration. On an insulin pump, only short-acting insulin is used, which is out of the body more quickly and may help lower the total daily insulin dose.

2. Choose More Fiber

Consuming an adequate amount of fiber in your diet can help not only by giving you the feeling of fullness but also by not requiring any extra insulin. Considered a carbohydrate, it does not generally impact blood sugars and can be subtracted out of your total carbohydrate count at meals.

3. Choose Lean Proteins

Proteins are great at promoting blood sugar stability and also have fewer total calories per gram when compared to fats. Fat grams, while having the benefit of blood sugar stability, can promote insulin resistance (increased insulin demand) and have nearly twice as many calories.

4. Time Your Carbohydrates Earlier in the Day vs. Later at Night

This means having a larger carbohydrate-loaded breakfast to supercharge your energy during the day and setting it up so that your insulin levels overnight are lower. This is a great way to lower your total daily insulin dose. You should also try to limit insulin prior to activity and time it post-activity when you are more sensitive and need less insulin overall.

5. Create Insulin Sensitivity

Being active is a great way to introduce a higher level of insulin sensitivity. This sensitivity will lower your total daily dose overall, aiding in total reductions in body fat. When timed with an appropriate meal plan and diet it can be a recipe for success!

Keep in mind, anything worth doing takes work! What is one of the biggest obstacles to T1D management success? It certainly isn’t a lack of desire. No, it’s just one thing…

Follow-through.

All the tools in the world don’t matter if you aren’t implementing what you learn. Practicing your nutrition timing and activity can help you to create greater insulin sensitivity which lowers your total daily dose. Ultimately, when you track the total daily insulin dose, this can help lead to longer-term weight loss and happiness with enhanced blood sugars.

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