Please note before reading this. What I have outlined here is for informational purposes so the reader can be more informed and not self diagnose themselves. Also it is intended for healthy adults and in no way to be taken over the advise of your doctor or other healthcare provider. Remember be safe and consult with your physician especially if you are under their care.
It’s 11:55am and I’m watching every second on the clock tick away as the teacher talks away, like scene from Charlie Brown. For a 9-year-old boy, lunchtime was the highlight of my day. We had an hour break and I was a 10-minute walk from home. Ten minutes too long when it meant cutting into my precious time spent at the local convenient store deciding which sugary delight I would spend my paper route money on. Would it be Red Hot dog gum? Charleston Chew? Kit Kat? Or a Three Musketeers bar? If I had enough money I would buy them all and eat it in less five minutes.
“So Red Hot dog gum it is.”
I remember buying a pack of thirty. By the time I returned to school I had a red ring around my mouth compelling people to wonder what exactly happened on my “lunch break”.
Fortunately for me, my little candy run was a 2.5-mile round trip and most of the sugar I’d eat would get me too and from the store. It was good thing my parents didn’t buy much junk food either. I grew up on yogurt, rice, eggs, meat, dairy and a few vegetables here and there. If I had my way, every day would have been Halloween.
I remember one of my fellow classmates always smelling like he had alcohol on his breathe and I would ask him why he “stunk” and he said, “because I’m a diabetic”. What the heck is that I would ask? I remember him sticking his fingers with pins quite often but most of the time he was excused from class to go to the nurse’s office for his injections. I use too think, “Wow, he’s so lucky he gets out of class”. When I look back, I’m glad I never got my wish. One time I remember Henry had passed out in school and none of us knew what the heck was going on but we all had an idea it was pretty serious.
Many people often wonder what’s the secret to getting a super lean body. It all boils down to one thing. Blood sugar control! If maintained properly and combined with exercise, we can all have the body of a Greek god. However, if left unchecked, blood sugar problems can be a person’s worst nightmare in the form of diabetes and body fat. Diabetes requires constant attention, is unpleasant, inconvenient, uncomfortable and most of all life changing and life threatening. The funny thing, type II diabetes is the most preventable of all debilitating diseases. If the diabetic plays the sugar game right, they can have a phenomenal body and maintain great health. Follow a diabetic around for a day and you would think twice about those Krispy Kreme donuts!
The number of diabetes cases per year is increasing at an alarming rate, especially type II or adult onset diabetes. Type II makes up approximately 90% of all the cases of diabetes, which is usually caused by excessive weight gain. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher you are at risk. Here’s a link to see where yours is. You will need a tape measure handy.
Type II is preventable and can be managed well with diet. However, if left unchecked for too long the individual will require regular injections of insulin several times a day.
In the past it normally affected over weight adults age forty and up, but that’s not the case any more. With the amount of processed foods, saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup children are consuming, as well as limited exercise from the computer generation, that age has now been lowered to include teens and in rare cases adolescence.
The other form of diabetes is type I, which usually effects adolescents and requires insulin injections from the onset. In children it’s caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the bodies immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown but some researchers believe there may be an environmental link like pollution, chemicals or other outside influences like severe viral infections and food sensitivity. So with type I, your body cannot make insulin and with type II the insulin you have becomes insufficient from years of eating poorly. When too many sugary foods are eaten your body keeps producing insulin and eventually it begins to lose its effect overtime and before you know it you’re a type II diabetic.
So why is glucose management so important? First off, it’s important to know that most tissues in the body can convert non-carbohydrate sources (Fat and protein) into useable energy or glucose, through a process called gluconeogenesis. There are only two tissues in the body that are independent from insulin and do not perform gluconeogenesis. They are the brain and Red blood cells. That’s why blood sugar has life or death consequences and is not to be taken lightly.
So lets get back to getting ripped and the diabetic. First and foremost, I can’t stress how important exercise is. There’s a phrase that rings so true which is, “movement is life” and without it -you will die!!! I don’t care if you eat the best food in the world 24/7, if you lay around all day eventually your body will breakdown and fail. Think of this way, when you exercise your body is continually thinking about getting better, an anabolic state. When you don’t exercise your body shifts to breaking down or becoming a catabolic state and you guessed it- aging.
Now I’m not saying diet isn’t important by all means it is, but exercise will help your body manage your blood sugar when your insulin has become insufficient from years of “Red Hots”… so to speak. In addition, the mitochondria (the power house of the cell) in your muscles becomes more efficient at burning energy and they too will take a load off that blood glucose level your trying ever so hard to keep at or under 100. Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen as well as skeletal muscle. Extra muscle tissue means the body is capable of storing more glucose/ glycogen in the form of glycogen. Get it??
So what does that mean, more muscle better blood sugar management at rest. Combine that with a low glycemic diet consisting of vegetables, very lean meats like skinless boneless chicken breast, fish, turkey and eggs as well as good fats consisting of olives, avocados, walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and seeds like Hemp, Chia and Sun flower. I can almost guarantee your type II diabetes over time will be gone and those abs will start peeking through in no time! How can I say that? Because I’ve seen it happen.
Case in point;
One of my clients, a great guy named Jim, came to me on the verge of diabetes. He had was what termed pre-diabetes. That meant his fasting blood sugar levels were from 100-125mg/dl. The ironic aspect of it all is that Jim was a pharmaceutical sales rep at the time and one of the drugs he sold was used to help manage diabetes. Over time Jim went from 250lbs down to a 175lb lean, mean fighting machine, full of chicken and vegetables. Jim and I were discussing how his new lifestyle prevented his diabetes and he is now in excellent physical health. His journey became a life altering and Jim no longer sells his diabetes medication. He feels it’s a preventable and curable disease and he no longer feels right having people use it.
So what can one do to start a new healthy life style on their way to curing their type II diabetes and having abs like granite? I won’t go into the debilitating health consequences this disease has because most people reading this already know. So I want to make my focus on how to manage it and prevent it with diet and how this way of eating can help you get in the best shape of your life as well as manage your diabetes better.
Below I have outlined the keys to success:
Your exercise routine should consist of at least forty-minutes of resistance exercise performed 3-4 days a week minimum. It should be resistance training combined with high intensity interval cardio respiratory work lasting 15-20 mins total. This type of workout needs detailed explaining, so I think it would be worth the investment to hire a good personal trainer and get you started.
The number one goal with nutrition is to allow your body to become insulin sensitive again. That means minimizing the amount of sugar that goes into your body that causes the largest increase in insulin production. Right now if you’re a Type II diabetic you probably have insulin running through your system but your bodies receptors have been switched off so to speak. Your goal is to turn them back on so they can become sensitive to insulin again.
So First and foremost EVERY diabetic or fitness enthusiast needs to become familiar with the Glycemic index of food. A number that every food is given in relation to how fast it turns into sugar in the blood stream. The numbers go from 0-100; table sugar and white bread are 100 as well as a white potato. Shoot for numbers below 50 in everything you eat. How do you do that? Glycemic index
Another important aspect is the Glycemic load of the food your eating or GL. The GI (Glycemic index) is the quality and Glycemic load or GL is the amount. Your GL is calculated by taking the foods Glycemic index and multiplying it by the number of carbohydrate grams in the serving size you’re having. Then dividing that number by 100 and you now have your Glycemic load. 50GI x 24gms serv.= 1200 / 100= 12 GL
If you are a type II diabetic or trying to get lean your GL per meal should not exceed 15 if your under 200lbs and 20 if your over 200lbs. Obviously if the food you’re eating has a GI lower than 50 you can eat more carbs per day.
I am also a firm believer that if you are a type II diabetic certain foods, additives and circumstances can also be detrimental to your weight loss and healing. They are:
In adults, dairy products can cause a person to over produce mucous in the intestines. This in turn can “gum up” the digestive tract causing problems with nutrient absorption. Dairy also contains lactose, which in many cases people are intolerant too. Not actually allergic but intolerant and they don’t even know it. Does your nose always run? Do you have gas or bloating? Is your mind always foggy? These are some of the signs of food intolerance. Intolerance seems so miniscule but in all actuality it’s like a “dripping faucet” to your immune system, which eventually weakens your entire body leaving you susceptible to other ailments. Your liver goes on overdrive trying to cleanse the body and forgets doing the less important jobs like burning fat.
Also another possible underlying theory by researchers is that milk may contribute to type I diabetes in adolescence. Cows milk contains a protein called bovine serum albumin and bovine insulin. The difference between human insulin and bovine insulin found in cow’s milk is very slight; only three amino acids make them distinct from one another. If the body develops an immune response to bovine insulin found in cows milk it may also develop and immune response by creating anti-bodies to your own insulin. The child’s own immune system then attacks its beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin subsequently causing diabetes.
This is the major protein component in wheat, rye and barley. Like dairy, gluten can also trigger an immune response from your own body to attack itself. When this happens a person has a disease called Celiac. Studies show that kids with celiac disease are at a higher risk of developing type I diabetes. Many people are gluten intolerant (not allergic) and don’t even realize it. Like the dairy scenario, this low level assault on your stomach can wreak havoc on your immune system over time and weaken it.
I believe fruit should be limited to only after your workout, if you must have it at all. Especially one’s like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. They too have a higher than normal glycemic index. If you must eat fruit stick to Berries of any kind – cranberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. or peaches, apples, plums, cherries and nectarines. These fruits are also high in what are called “Flavonoids” which help battle the complications diabetes has on the vascular system and retina of the eyes.
Caffeine is classified as a drug and the problem with that is many times coffee or tea drinkers over do it. If you are a diabetic you are probably experiencing some mild form of kidney or cardiac issues, especially in regards to blood pressure. Too much caffeine amping up your heart when it is already taxed and you may develop a case of Atrial fibrillation. A life threatening irregular heartbeat that can cause a stroke. What a horrible way to spend the rest of your life.
As much as you think your doing yourself a favor by loading up on one of the three colors of the artificial rainbow, your actually doing yourself far more harm than good. First and foremost artificial sweeteners are chemicals and they cause the liver stress, the organ most important in fat utilization. They also trick the body into thinking its getting sugar. But is it really the magician we think it is? Artificial sweeteners actually do have calories in them. If a food substitute has less than 1 calorie per serving they can call it sugar free or calorie free. So what some of these companies do is make the serving size smaller so it fits the qualifications of calorie or sugar free. In addition, your body learns to load up sweet alternatives “tricking” it into thinking sweets are ok so your body will crave them more even though your not consuming sugar. What a tease!!!!!
Ladies beware, there is a form of diabetes that makes up about 4% of the cases and it’s called gestational diabetes and it occurs more frequently in African American women, Hispanic, and American Indian females. This is usually caused by excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
So “hot mama’s” it’s a good idea to drop the mentality that you are “eating for two” when you’re pregnant! You really only need about 350 extra calories a day to sustain a growing fetus. Remember, babies come out weighing only 7-11lbs. Hardly enough to claim your eating for two.
Another good practice is to breast feed your babies. This helps them get all the vital nutrients and antibodies their growing little systems need. Most of a baby’s immune system develops in the stomach, which is why breast milk is so important. It provides many of the immune properties to help fight off bacterial and intestinal viral infections as well reducing the risk of food allergies.
Nitrates keep food from spoiling and are found in cured meats like beef jerky, hot dogs and bacon. If you look on most cured meat packages you will see vitamin C has been added. This helps prevent the formation of nitrosamines, which are known to cause diabetes in animals. The USDA actually requires the addition of vitamin C in all processed meat products.
Nitrates are also found in areas where there is a lot of farming due to the run off of fertilizer, which has a high nitrate concentration. So if you are in a farming area water contamination is something you should be aware of.
The take away. Don’t feed your kids these foods and be sure to have a good water filtration system in your home.
It’s important to keep your stress levels low. When you get stressed out your adrenal glands secrete adrenalin along with cortisol which helps raise blood sugar for your fight or flight response. Not good for a diabetic or someone trying to lose body fat. For the fitness enthusiast high blood sugar means the fat making machine “insulin” has been turned on. Cortisol also makes that insulin less effective, meaning more has to be secreted.
Stress also depletes the bodies B-vitamins, which are vital for glucose metabolism and also for helping the effects of nerve damage from diabetes.
So now that I have stripped you of your food identity what exactly can one do?
In the beginning, I would avoid all grains and certain root vegetables such as white potatoes, parsnips and beets. They have a relatively high glycemic index. Add lean meats as stated above as well as nuts and seeds and other good fats like avocados, olives, omega three fats (EPA & DHA) and egg yolks. They all help reduce inflammation.
In general your diet should consist of foods like, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetables especially your cruciferous ones like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Other good choices are any green leafy vegetables as well as asparagus and zucchini.
Certain vegetables and fruits I mentioned are vital because most contain what’s called soluble fiber. Unlike insoluble fiber, which provides bulk for our stools (So we guys can get our reading in) soluble fiber helps manage blood sugar by slowing digestion, subsequently sugar is not absorbed as fast into the blood stream. Soluble fiber also makes tissues (vital for storage of glycogen such as muscle and the liver) more sensitive to insulin. Your total daily fiber intake should be between 20-45 grms per day.
Note: If you are having trouble adding fiber to your diet a good supplemental version of soluble fiber is one called glucomannan. When taken with water it forms a gel like substance in the intestines and slows absorption of sugar. Most health food stores carry it and it’s great for after meal glucose management.
So what about Supplements?
I don’t believe in using supplements much but in the case of diabetics and blood glucose management it is an important tool in fighting the disease as well as staying lean. I have purposely left out dosing information and timing because It’s a good idea to seek help from a good naturopathic doctor who can lay out an entire program for you. What I am providing below is for informational purposes so you know what questions to ask the doctor when you see them.
Chromium– it comes in two forms- picolinate and nicotinate, a niacin based version. Without chromium the action of insulin is blocked, subsequently raising your sugar levels. This is especially important in persons with a chromium deficiency.
The niacin or nicotinate version is believed to be the better one because together with chromium they make up what’s called the GTF or glucose tolerance factor.
Vitamin C– Insulin helps carry vitamin C into cells. Bad insulin means bad vitamin C absorption- cough…cough!!!
Magnesium– Studies have shown that most diabetics are deficient in magnesium as well as a large number of the general population. Diabetics many times suffer from stiff muscles and joints as well. Magnesium relaxes muscles as well as your mind. It is a very important aspect of stress management and it also helps getting a good nights rest.
Zinc– Forms part of the protective process of the pancreas’ beta cells and is involved in almost all aspects of insulin metabolism. It’s part of more enzymatic reactions in the body than any other mineral and listen up guys, it also helps with testosterone production…Whoa!!!!
American Ginseng root– Considered by most authorities to be best herbal supplement at lowering glucose levels after a meal. Bam..need I say more?
Garlic– Not only is garlic great at glucose management but it is also beneficial for an already taxed immune system from diabetes or too much sugar in the diet, which also weakens the immune system.
Vitamin D– Vitamin D is vital in the development of the immune system. Studies have shown that many times children with diabetes have low levels of vitamin D. Adequate levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy and childhood may reduce the risk autoimmune conditions that attack the beta cells. Also, vitamin D is actually classified as a hormone and is crucial for overall health and wellness. If you live in a cold climate or don’t get much sun have your vitamin D levels checked.
Alpha lipoic acid– What’s unique about ALA is that unlike other anti-oxidants, which are either fat soluble or water soluble, it can act on free radicals in both mediums. It also works it’s magic inside or outside the cell. Therefore, it has been termed the perfect anti-oxidant. What is amazing about this remarkable supplement is that it has proven medical benefits for reducing diabetic neuropathy. It does this by improving blood flow to the peripheral nerves and has been used in Germany for years to treat this condition! Did I also mention it improves insulin sensitivity.
So to wrap things up, here are some very important rules to follow in order to maintain that blood sugar level at a cool 100 and lose that body fat.
1) Never, ever go more than three hours without eating! That means however many hours you are awake divide that by 3. That’s how many times a day you should be eating. Small meals spread out evenly through the day. How many calories should you eat per day? 13 calories roughly per pound of body weight. Go up or down from there.
2) If you are trying to get leaner, the slower you lose the weight (1lb a week) the more muscle tissue you will spare. Lose weight too fast and the body slows down and secretes cortisol- a demon hormone for fat loss and muscle gains.
3) No carbohydrates other than vegetables 4 hours before bed.
4) Drink plenty of water, at least 1oz per kg of body weight. This helps the kidneys function optimally and then allows the liver to burn fat more efficiently.
5) Keep your sodium levels below 2300mg. Not enough water and too much sodium are hard on the kidneys. Diabetics are already at risk for renal problems. Why make it worse.
6) Too much protein as well can be a hard on the kidneys. Some people advocate 1 gm. per pound of body weight. Most sports dieticians will advise 1.8gm per kgm. of body weight. So if you weigh 200lbs that’s 91kg x 1.8= that’s 163gms a protein a day spread out over 5-6 meals.
So Eat protein with every meal. Unless you are diagnosed with kidney problems from your diabetes.
7) Breakfast and after workout meals are extremely important and should never be skipped.
8) Exercise, exercise and more exercise.
High intensity interval training is the best for your cardio work. As far as resistance exercise do interval training. Perform 8 exercises consecutively with no rest, in the rep range of 12-15 for 4 rounds. In my opinion this is best for adding muscle and creating a vascular hard and strong look. Again hire a good personal trainer to do this. Don’t wing it; it’s complicated and too long to go into now. Do it yourself can mean just that, a do it yourself injury like a blown out shoulder, back or knee.
Ok that should do it and hopefully in a few months you will be a new person.
If you are interested in nutritional guidance or counseling I do provide that service via the internet as well using Skype, face time and email. I also can write up workouts with video and Skype sessions. You can reach me through my web site at the “contact” tab.