Preventing and managing diabetes

By Banin Shahine, Nutrition Fitness Manager, Fitness First Middle East

Types of Diabetes:

  • Diabetes Type 1-insulin dependent – it is usually treated by insulin injections, but the insulin dose has to be taken according to the carb intake during the day. It is not related to weight gain.
  •  Type 2-insulin in-dependent – usually it is obesity related, especially to abdominal fat, as it blocks the insulin receptors.

How exercise helps:

  •  Exercise improves diabetes management and delays the onset of type 2 diabetes. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or if you are at risk for diabetes, making exercise a part of your lifestyle will improve your diabetes and reduce complications.
  • Activity fights diabetes in a number of ways. Raising your heart rate – whether by walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming – helps your body use insulin more effectively. Exercise also improves blood circulation to all organs, especially the kidneys, brain, heart and eyes, which can be injured by poor diabetes management. Additionally, adults who exercise reap the benefits of stress reduction, decreased LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure and weight control. Exercising when you have diabetes also lowers blood sugar and improves protein and fat metabolism, slowing organ damage.
  • Keep a record of your daily and weekly time or distance and blood sugar readings before and after exercising. Writing down your progress lets you see your accomplishments and increases your opportunity for success.


Smart fueling for activity:
Your new exercise programme may lower your blood sugars, and, in turn, your health care provider may adjust your diabetes medication. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you adjust your meal plan so you have the fuel your body needs. These guidelines will fuel you for peak performance.

Before Exercise
A small whole-grain or carbohydrate snack with some protein provides enduring energy for your activity. You’ll need about 150 to 200 calories, as found in 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup fat-free milk, or a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

During Exercise
If you’re exercising for more than an hour, you may need additional carbohydrates (such as 8 ounces of a sport beverage, half a banana or a handful of raisins) during activity to prevent low blood sugar.

After Exercise
If you plan to exercise for more than an hour, refuel with a post-workout snack, like six ounces of fat-free yogurt and a small apple.

Before, during and after exercising, stay hydrated by drinking water. Drink 8 ounces of water before exercise, and continue drinking water so that you have clear urine within 2 hours of completing your activity. If urine is dark coloured, keep drinking water until it is clear.

Whether starting your first exercise program or training for an endurance event – like a marathon or triathlon -increase your training slowly, check your blood sugars and fuel and hydrate before, during and after exercising. Your goal is to be in the blood glucose range that your health care provider recommends. As your fitness improves, you will reap greater health benefits. Please make sure you inform the club you are training in that you are diabetic, so they know in case of emergency.