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Training with Diabetes – From The Inside Man

TRAINING WITH DIABETES – By Nicholas Caracandas


I have been an Insulin Dependent Diabetic for  16 years now, And I MUST say that without my training, I would not be able to control my sugars like I do. As a diabetic, you have what they call the “triangle of control”. This means that you need to control diabetes with Diet and Exercise BEFORE Medication. Fact is 65% of diabetics get this order mixed up. Diabetes is very much a trial and error affliction. I hope you enjoy this article and benefit from it in some way or another.

What is Diabetes? 

Diabetes is a chronic disorder that prevents the body from being able to convert starches, sugars and other food into energy. Most foods we eat are converted into glucose during digestion, and then the bloodstream transports the glucose throughout the body. Insulin then turns this glucose into energy, or it is stored in cells for further use. In diabetics the body either does not produce insulin, or is not able to use it correctly, resulting in too much glucose in the bloodstream.
What should our ‘Blood Sugar’ level be?
While the ideal blood sugar level is 5.5. A non-diabetic will generally range between 4.0 to 8.0.

What happens if your sugar levels are outside of the normal range ?


If your sugar level is below 4.0 you may become hypoglycemic. If you are hypoglycemic you may experience confusion, shaking, cold sweats and extreme hunger, and confusion. To rectify this you should immediately take sugar and a complex carb (so that your sugar levels stay up). If your sugar levels exceed 8.0 you may become hyperglycemic. In this case you may experience red eyes, fatigue, dry mouth, extreme thirst and the need to urinate constantly. If this happens – you NEED insulin.

From my experience, this is important information you should  know (as a diabetic) when training?

Know your body, the only way is to keep a record. Test regularly! If your sugars are 12.0 or above – exercise will push your blood sugar levels up. If your sugar levels are 11.0 or below – exercise will bring your sugar levels down. Knowing this makes exercise the best control of your blood sugar levels!

HOWEVER, if you do exercise that lasts less than 15 minutes and is high in intensity, it will sky rocket your sugar levels regardless of your sugar reading at the time. When preparing for this kind of exercise, a small bolus of insulin (normally 2 or so units), prior to the workout is advised. If the exercise you are planning is aerobic and lasts for 45 minutes or longer, this will bring your sugar levels down and having small amounts of glucose handy you will be able to balance this out.
THIS ABOVE MENTIONED IS NOT KNOWN BY MANY DIABETICS, I CONSIDER MYSELF LUCKY TO KNOW THIS, AND YOU TOO, ARE NOW WELL INFORMED.

What are some of the BENEFITS associated with EXERCISE for DIABETICS?

Control of blood glucose levels – Glucose is the source of energy in our body. Physical activity utilizes the glucose and helps to reduce the blood glucose levels. Physical activity also decreases the insulin resistance. A few studies have also indicated that activity increases the insulin receptors in the red blood cells. All this together helps to keep the glycosylated hemoglobin (three-month average of blood glucose levels) levels normal.

Improved cardiovascular function – Individuals with type II diabetes are more prone to cardiovascular diseases (hardening of arteries, heart attack, and stroke). Exercise increases the cardio-respiratory fitness by:
• Lowering BLOOD PRESSURE
• Lowering BAD CHOLESTEROL (triglyceride)
• Increasing of GOOD CHOLESTEROL (HDL)

Psychological benefit – Exercise causes the body to release endorphins giving you an immediate feeling of well-being. Exercise also helps give you a positive attitude and improved quality of life.
Weight control – Exercise helps reduce obesity and the associated health risks.

Diabetes is not a curse and is completely manageable. The way I see it, this is lifes way of forcing us to life the healthiest lifestyle possible. It’s a blessing in disguise.

Train Smart, Train Elite
Nicholas Caracandas

10 Comments on Training with Diabetes – From The Inside Man

  1. Vivienne Caracandas // April 22, 2012 at 9:31 am // Reply

    You are definitely an instrument of absolute positiveness and a comment like diabetes being completely manageable by living a healthy lifestyle, amps me.
    Thank you Nic

  2. Wow, it’s amazing to find another person walking this road less traveled. I am a 16 year old girl with type one diabetes living an insulin free life. I was diagnosed on January 9, 2012 and since then I was able to wean myself off of insulin using the paleo diet. “Blessing in disguise” is a phrase that I have been using since diagnosis! I recently started crossfit and I have fallen in love with it. It spikes my blood sugar but thankfully it comes right back down within an hour. Did you have any thoughts on crossfit and diabetes?

    • Hi Marianna. Thanks for the message and the visit. Amazing what you have achieved. CrossFit is tricky. We as CrosFitters all know that feeling at the beginning of a WOD, when we are getting ready for “battle”. We all stand in class and size up the competition etc. This releases Adrenaline and adrenaline kills insulin. This in turn raises the blood glucose levels but normally they come right after an hour or two.

      Remember to give about 60% less insulin after an intense WOD and keep monitoring. I find Carb Counting really works well. Please ask your doctor about my recommendation as These methods work but Diabetes is not a one size fits all approach. 🙂

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me, it really means a lot. As of today, I am not taking any insulin and I am on a very strict paleo diet (no cheats…..buried peanut butter a week ago). My A1C is 6.2 and I feel great. However, Crossfit is continuing to present a challenge and boy is it annoying. I spike after wods and in the morning (I spike to around 200-260, which is normally unheard of for me) and I am beginning to think that short acting insulin before I workout might be helpful. I workout at 5:30 at night and I am not sure if that could be affecting my morning numbers, unfortunately there is not much research on it. A couple months ago I tried going back on long acting insulin and it was actually raising me….how ironic. Also, being a teen with crazy hormones doesn’t help either. I refuse to give up Crossfit because of diabetes. Ideally, my dream is to become one of the first Crossfit Games athletes with Type 1 Diabetes. I was also wondering, do you believe that Crossfit is overall beneficial for someone with Type 1 Diabetes in the long run? (I am trying to convince my mom…she thinks I am crazy)

      • I strongly advise you see an endocrinologist. I think long acting may be a good idea. I use insulin before i train, BUT only because through trial and error i have seen trends in how certain workouts do certain things.

  3. Robert Hestrr // January 26, 2015 at 4:37 am // Reply

    I am a type 1 myself and trying to find a meal plan that’s fits into my exercise schedule and work. Any suggestions? I play disc golf and work at a restaurant right after for at least 8 hours.

    • Have you heard of Carb Counting. As a Diabetic Type 1, I strongly advise you see a nutritionist / the person in charge of your Diabetes management and explore this option for greatest Control.

  4. Hi I am also a type 1 diabetic for 11 years now. I am a student and don’t have time to do sport anymore but I do hit the gym atleast 5 times a week for a quick 45min workout. I am trying to bulk up a bit but am not shure which supplements would work without influencing my blood sugar levels. I want to know if either you have used supplements and if so what worked for you? I did ask my doctor 2years ago and her reply was only why do i want to get big (I don’t intend on ever being massive I just want to be in good shape)

    • Hi Francois. Thank you for visiting my site and thank you for coming to me with such a great question. What you have asked is exactly what I do and I would be more than willing to help and advise you with this.

      I realise that going to the doc and getting that reply from them is not the most motivating response one would want but most times people think when you say “get big”, they picture body building etc.

      What I must say upfront is that my profession is getting people as ATHLETIC as possible. A byproduct of being athletic and looking athletic and thats what we are going to do for you.

      Lets get a good idea about what and how you eat, what your sugars are like and they type of training you do. From there we can start breaking it down, make minor changes, build a good foundation and get you where you want to be.

      Email me at nick@citybowlfitness.co.za and we can go from there.

      All the best,
      Yours in health,

      Nick

  5. Hello Nicholas,

    My husband has only just been diagnosed with type 1. He’s 37. I know it’s old ofr type 1 but that’s just been confirmed. He is naturally long and lean and we’ve been training forever but the 2 past years, we’ve been avid crossfitters. Of course, now he’s super tired and has lost a lot of weight avoiding any sugar. I’m trying to put together a training program for him so he can manage his condition and gain some healthy weight and muscles but I don’t know where to start. He’s so sad at the moment, it’s breaking my heart.

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