Bodybuilding with Diabetes

When I tell people I'm diabetic, they look at me like I'm joking.

They find it hard to believe that here is this muscled up guy, with relatively low body fat, who is a diabetic.

Often times when we think of a diabetic we think of someone who has made poor food choices their whole life, is overweight, and often lazy. Well things aren't always as they appear.

I was diagnosed with diabetes over a year ago, and was borderline diabetic the year prior.

I have asked myself over and over again what could have caused this. Was it steroid use over the years? Was it massive food consumption and carbs? Was it just in my cards since I have a family history of auto immune disorders (my mother has chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia)?

The thing is I'll never know. My best guess is a perfect storm of limited sleep, excessive dieting which caused my liver to dump glucose into my body instead of food, and elevated cortisol levels for far too long.

You see, I never really stopped dieting after this show I competed in back in 2009. I stayed very lean year round, and ate like I was contest prepping all the time. But that's neither here nor there, it is what it is now.

Just before I was diagnosed with diabetes I noticed how thirsty I was all the time. It was worse at night, I just could not drink enough water to satisfy myself. I could literally drink 5-6 20 ounce bottles of water within an hour, and still felt thirsty.

I also noticed how tired I was. I would wake up, go to the gym, and an hour later I felt like going back to sleep again. Then when it really was time to go to sleep at night, I could not fall asleep for shit! I tossed and turned, woke up every couple hours, and day in and day out this was how it was for a couple months.

I also noticed how irritable I was after eating a cheat meal. It seemed like every time I had a high calorie cheat meal it was like a light switch had been flipped and I turned into an instant asshole. It was so bad that my wife would say, “I'll make sure I go someplace after you eat this, because you're going to be nasty acting.”

I went to my doctor and had some blood drawn. When I went back for my follow-up I told him right up front, “I'm probably diabetic” and when he looked at my labs the first words out of his mouth were, “Holy shit!” That is not something you want to hear the doctor tell you, trust me.

I went back for a glucose tolerance test a few days later. I thought that if I fasted for 12 hours, no big deal, levels would come down and everything was going to be fine. Not so much. I had my blood drawn that morning, and drank this sugary dextrose drink that is 100 grams of sugar. About 45 minutes later they come into the room and test my sugar, and I'm over 500. The normal range is 70-110 ng/dl. The nurse told me that just my fasted glucose was 350!

I couldn't even finish the test, they had to give me 10 units of insulin to bring my glucose down. Then after an additional 45 minutes they gave me 5 more units because the initial dose wasn't bringing me down enough. I'll never forget what the nurse had said. She said “Your body just isn't using sugar”.

I sat there in that exam room alone, with my head in my hands. This was pretty much the worst day of my life. I was thinking that this was a death sentence and that my life would never be the same again.

I worried about bodybuilding, I worried about my life being shortchanged, I worried about not being here for my family and especially my son. My world fell apart that morning.

Then I was angry. I was angry at everything I ever took. I was angry at myself for worrying so much about food and growing. I actually resented bodybuilding, steroids, and everything about building muscle.

I was fucking pissed off at the world. Then came the drive home. I drove myself home, and started to crash from the insulin. I got home and took my blood sugar and I was in the mid 40's. Shaky, irritable, and panicked, I raided my kitchen cabinets for anything I could get my hands on to eat.

I ate a bunch of food, and then an hour later my blood sugar was back up over 400 again. I drove to the emergency room, and waited for about 3 hours. The problem was I was fucking starving! I felt as if there was a hole in my stomach and all I wanted to do was eat something, but I felt like I couldn't due to this “medical problem” I now had. Finally I said fuck it, left the ER waiting room, and went home and doubled on my dose of metformin.

I could go on and on about when I was first diagnosed. I could talk about the shitty endocrinologist who basically wanted to nickle and dime the shit out of me every week, or the diabetes “education class” that was the biggest waste of fucking time I've ever experienced. It's pretty bad when you hand the nutritionist your current diet, and what she hands back to you is basically the same fucking thing, since you know more than she does to begin with.

Anyways, I was a diabetic and I had to accept it. I was down and out for about 2 or 3 days after I was diagnosed. But truth be told, it wasn't going to stop me, no fucking way! If I was diabetic then God damnit, I was going to make it my goal to be one big and shredded insulin using bastard, period!

Nothing has stood in my way before, and I wasn't going to let this stand in my way either. When that bitch endocrinologist looked at me and asked me “Do you regret the lifestyle you've lived and some of the things you have done over the years?” I responded with a great big “FUCK NO.” That was my last trip to the endo Doc, I stick with my primary Doc for everything now.

Bodybuilding as a diabetic

So onto bodybuilding as a diabetic. OK, here is the deal with bodybuilding with diabetes. You are not going to be able to eat QUITE AS MUCH as you did before. You can still eat above maintenance level calories from time to time, but the days of “bulking” are pretty much over UNLESS you take more medication.

You can still build plenty of muscle and eat 5,000 calories a day, but you're going to need more insulin. I didn't want to go this route, because once you elevate your insulin intake, it's almost like it's hard to go back to not using as much. In most cases insulin use gets higher and higher the longer you go on with diabetes. The problem with this, is the hypoglycemic crashes can get worse.

Also, in the beginning when your blood sugar drops you know it. You feel shaky, irritable, sweaty, and tired. The more often this happens the less prevalent those signs are. You may check your blood sugar one day and you're down at 50 ng/dl and you had no idea you would be that low! It gets dangerous, trust me.

I'd rather walk around 20 points higher 24/7 and take less insulin, than fuck with death while trying to make sure I was at 80 24/7. But rest assured, you can still be one bad ass motherfucker as a diabetic bodybuilder.

I searched all over the internet for diabetic bodybuilders, but there was actually very limited information on it. Of course I came across Tim Belknap, who was a diabetic bodybuilder back in the 1980's. I read somewhere that he had a heart transplant or something, which made me nervous. I found a couple other guys who were amateurs, but in the whole scheme of things, there was limited information on bodybuilding as a diabetic.

The issue is, the diets advocated for diabetics are nothing! God damn, the calories are so low you'd waste away! So how was I going to go about tweaking things for myself, now that I was bodybuilding with diabetes?

For starters, I found a few tricks to use to my advantage. The biggest blood sugar drop for most people is at 10 am. For some reason or another, around 10 am everyday my glucose drops lower. Therefore, let's say I woke up at 6:30 am, checked my sugar and I was around 120, and my breakfast consisted of some eggs and a carb source such as a bowl of oatmeal.

Where normally my sugar would spike from the oats, and I'd have to take 4-5 units of insulin, it may actually make me go hypoglycemic since my blood sugar naturally drop lower late morning. Therefore, I may not use any insulin or only 2 iu's. EVEN IF YOU DOSE IT CORRECTLY, 1 iu PER 10 GRAMS OF CARBS, CAN THROW YOU INTO HYPOGLYCEMIA!

The body is strange sometimes, it reacts differently. One day you could do everything right, the next day you could duplicate it and boom, your sugar is dropping like a rock. Anyways, the point to all of this is I know that at breakfast time I can go a tad higher on my carb intake and not be through the roof on my blood sugar.

Another trick I found was the idea of “Inner workout carbs”. I will often drink a shake made of about 40 grams of protein powder, and 50-80 grams of some sort of carb powder such as Karbolyn.

I can get done training and check my sugar, and I'm perfectly normal, despite about 40 grams carbs pre-workout (roughly an hour before I train), and an additional 50-80 grams of carbs during the workout. Then post workout I can usually eat about 30-40 more grams of carbs and be normal or SLIGHTLY HIGH, but nothing bad.

Foods that I do the best with are yams and moderate portions of brown rice. I also eat half an apple here and there. Oats usually throw me through the roof on blood sugar, but if I limit the portion to 1/2 cup dry measure, more in first half of the day, I do pretty good.

White rice and potatoes throw me pretty high, I now avoid those. Cereal throws me really high, and as for fruits to avoid, definitely stay away from bananas and watermelon. Watermelon is the worst one! Strawberries aren't too good either, blueberries are a much better choice.

Sample diet for diabetic bodybuilders

I could write a book on this shit over what I've learned since I was diagnosed with diabetes, but I'm going to give you a sample diet of how I eat as a diabetic to gain muscle.

Feel free to use this as a template to help you. And if you're not a diabetic, you can use this anyways to your benefit.

Meal 1 – 4 scrambled eggs, 2 slices turkey bacon, 1/2 cup oats

Meal 2 – 8 oz tilapia, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup mixed veggies

Meal 3 – 1/2 cup brown rice, 8 oz lean beef or steak

Meal 4 – 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup veggies, handful of mixed nuts, can of albacore tuna fish

Meal 5 – TRAIN/inner workout (workout meal consisting of 40 grams protein powder in water, 50-80 grams of Karbolyn, sipping throughout training)

Meal 6 – 6 oz sweet potato, 8 oz Tilapia

Meal 7 – 2 spoons natural peanut butter, 9 egg whites/1 whole scrambled

That is something that I would eat right there on any given day. That is pretty much a spitting image of what John Doe is doing right now.

If you have any questions on bodybuilding as a diabetic, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions. And if you're wondering if anyone else out there is bodybuilding as a diabetic, you have found one right here. If I can do it, you can do it. What one man can do, another man can do! What one man can do, another man can do!

This doesn't have to be a death sentence. Use this to your advantage to pay even closer attention to your diet and your health. I'm willing to bet if you try hard enough, you may just be better than you were before!


119 thoughts on “Bodybuilding with Diabetes”

  1. “If I was diabetic then God damnit, I was going to make it my goal to be one big and shredded insulin using bastard, period!!”

    Man I laughed hard when I read that. I could literally see the dietitian’s face when you retorted.

    Btw John, I’m curious … could someone with diabetes use the insulin to help him grow bigger than what’s naturally possible? I mean, if you have to shoot yourself with insulin, why not make the most of it? :)

    • Dejan, I do not believe taking insulin is of any advantage to growing if you’re a diabetic. The reason is because you are limited as to how much you can eat and insulin only replaces what the pancreas no longer wants to produce. Anything over that level contributes to fat gain. Without other sources to grow such as HGH it’s of no benefit. And with HGH, it creates even larger spikes in blood sugar and you will need more insulin to control it and maintain healthy levels. If it has ANY benefit to growing, it’s going to be short lived and your health is going to take a major hit. I know a lot of people think that diabetics have an advantage with insulin, but I would have to disagree. ESPECIALLY for a competitor in bodybuilding, because it’s a double edged sword. Trying to get shredded on insulin is extremely difficult and lower insulin levels will always yield a more conditioned bodybuilder. That’s the reality of it all

      • Well this is a little late, but as a type one diabetic of 14 years as well as a bodybuilder, yes you can use insulin as an advantage to getting bigger. take a dose of quick acting insulin immediately after lifting, depending on your tolerance it could be bigger, i take 20iu’s of novolog after i lift, then when you get home to eat, and drink protein, your body will be more susceptible to absorption of nutrients, if mixed with anabolic steroids it can be very effective.

      • Hi Jhon l am type 2 diabetic trying to build muscle, but l came to find out that ampk is blocking protein synthesis due to medication like metformin. Can u send me some feed back thanks

        • Hmmmm…never heard much on that one. Plenty of bodybuilders use metformin to help shuttle nutrients, I couldn’t see that hurting you and gains

          • Hey Jhon thanks for the reply! Do you have any bodybuilding tips for a type 2 diabetic non insulin use, on how l can make some gains? Also how long before you see any noticable difference?

            Thanks bro!

        • It does activate ampk and also affects androgens levels but that would be irrelevant if your on exogenous testosterone’s and taking other compounds of offset igf I would use it after a high carb meal but as John Doe stated tons of bodybuilders will take 1500-2000 mg precontest and then 500 off season to partition and also help there own pancreas with insulin resistance

    • Hi! I have t1d and I am trying to get lean. I gained weight when I was diagnosed and I am having a hell of a time loosing weight. I have been building muscle really well. But, no matter how good I eat, I can’t loose weight. I just want to look like I used to before I was diagnosed. I have been reaching out to people but no one responds. Please please please help me!

      • I cannot give you one simple answer in the response box here, it’s a little more complicated than that. I’d highly suggest signing up with me if you need this sort of help

  2. Hmmm, have you looked into Ketonbody-based Training? Instead of KH, try to replace them with short/middle-chain fatty acids (coconut example). Therefore being not so insulin dependent throughout your day and getting the blood sugar levels a bit down.
    Just tossing ideas around ….

      • I know a bunch of people on ketosis diets who claims to build up muscle while loosing 3 pounds a week. Would you please elaborate why it’s impossible?

        Great work! thanks

        • For a beginner who responds to pretty much anything or an overweight person who hasn’t touched a weight in years, then I could see this being possible. For a seasoned trainer, no fucking way. You wouldn’t lose 3 lbs per week and get more muscles at the same time, it just doesn’t work like that. If this were true then bodybuilding competitors would be strong on the day of the contests, not weaker than water

      • I’e tried this on a limited basis as a beginner, and he’s right… its seemingly not possible for large mass gains – lean muscle.. maybe – Dr Peter Attia would be a great example of someone living that lifestyle with much success… i tired it and my cholesterol shot up over 232… i’m now back to a diet like described above, but lower carb.

  3. Hi,

    I am type 1 diabetic and have been training for around 1 year have went from 181 lbs at 23% bf to 15% bf at same weight I am 5`11.

    Have had to drop my calories low around 1700 on rest days and 2100 on training days to keep dropping fat… do you have any recommendations on getting to 10-11% with type one? I am wanting to lean down a bit more before increasing my calories and trying to gain mass slowly.

    I take insulin with every meal and generally follow a lower carb diet with the majority of them on lifting days pre and post workout.

    Have gained a good bit of strength over last year around 60lbs+ on all lifts and have been making small steady strength gains when dieting.



    • Can you drop your insulin use to 3x a day if you strictly eat protein/fats every other meal? Also, you could try hitting your insulin pre-workout along with some simple carbs, then hit a smaller amount post workout with more carbs. The carbs provide the volumization to the muscle. The trick is to still find ways to volumize the muscle and pump it up, but without spilling over and needing more insulin. Too much slin makes burning fat damn near impossible

      • Hi I still have to take insulin on the off days as my body doesn’t produce any but it is a good bit less than the days I have carbs.

        Thanks my end goal would be around 185lbs at 10% wanting to lean down to around 170lbs first at 5’11 then slowly gain size.


        • yea, it’s definitely an uphill battle when it comes to building new muscle. Carb timing is everything (as you already know) and I’ve found that placing the carbs around the workout time is the best way. Pre-workout,inner workout, post workout, then the remainder of the time you back off. When I do eat carbs at any other time of the day it’s a very small portion, not enough to trigger much of an insulin need, usually 30-40grams per sitting max.

  4. Sir what was the best time too take insulin per workout or post workout sir and what was the minimum dose we have too take that work sir

  5. John, I am quite surprised that oats spike your blood sugar too high. Have you tried oat groats? It is the least processed form of oats.

    Cereals are “the” culprit of type II diabetes, all of them. Maybe one in a hundred is not, if anyone’s interested in counting.

    Anything processed is a no, and so is any sugar substitutes except Stevia. Then again I am leaning towards naturals as much as possible, can’t do it one hundred percent though (can’t live without my cell tech)

    I have been following your blog, you are one of the few with logical reasoning approach to bodybuilding.

  6. Well written article John. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 27 years and started body building about 3 or 4 years ago. I finally googled to see if there were other Diabetics who did this stuff. It amazes me that there arent more since it’s the perfect sport for diabetics.
    I too only eat carbs in and around training and none on days off to reduce the amount of insulin I need to have. I suspect I should eat more carbs but for me I believe that will be more fat and more blood sugar swings carbs give me. Anyway good to see there’s at least someone else out there doing this stuff keep it up and I’ll come back to check up on what’s going on here.

  7. John i am searching google to find out bodybuilder with diabetic because i want to build my body with diabetes. I am only 22 & type 2 diabetic. I will be happy if you give me some tips & contact with me through my email . Please reply me.

      • Hey John,

        I am 29 years old and type 2 diabetic for almost 2 years. I have some questions. Could you please email me. I want to make life better.

      • Hi . I’m type 2 diabetic ,23 years old . LAst year i was diagnostic as type 2 diabetic last year . I was training and i gained muscles but when i was diagnostic i lost more than 17 KG . But when i tried to gain muscles again i find it very hard because i take 2100 mg /day of metformin and when i want to bulk my sugar goes up and i tried over and over but my resultes weren’t like before . So i give up and i see some of my friends with type 1 could put on muscles better than me . So i think taking insulin is an advantage . I really think seriousely to take insulin because i really want to do bodybuilding so bad and i can’t imagine my life without it . Plz answer me sir and give me some advices

  8. John,
    Your website is very informative. I believe I’ve become type 2 diabetic over the last 2 years and didn’t know it (my parents are both type 2). Aside from genetics, my lifestyle contributed to my current situation. I’m 5’11, 44 and work in the Information Technology industry, and for the last 9 years I worked the night shift at a data center and my weight went from 205 to 263.

    I know work normal hours and I work out periodically. I have an athletic body, but I can’t seem to lose this spare tire around my waist. Any additional tips you can give me via e-mail will be greatly appreciated.

    • Somewhere on the Internet a guy says that if you start exercising with high blood sugars your body dumps glucose into your blood for energy. But a diabetics insulin cannot deal with it, so it is stored on your body as fat. Some bloggers on this site say using insulin helps to build muscle, they may be right, I don’t know.

      • You may be talking abt how a diabetic releases sugar into the bloodstream from the liver when NOT ENOUGH energy is readily available. Ie: working out on empty stomach

        And too much insulin in the system will store more fat. Dude, I guarantee you are talking abt a thread response that I’m the one that responded becaise this sounds very similar to something I just you touched on in a forum

  9. I was diagnosed with type 1 3 and a half years ago (age 16) I had always lifted being a 3 sport athlete and when I was first diagnosed I got a little chub, I didn’t look fat I was just not use to being 15% and not having abbs. Any way after trying to loose all the weight and I mean staying in keto for a couple weeks at a time and running on an empty stomach almost daily I saw how much harder it was to loose weight with type 1. After many nights staying up past 2am reading about the disease I learned a lot and said fuck it I’m going to get jacked. I oh did cardio to stay in shape and started eating 5k calories a day. My body grew insulin resistant but after a while it just coasts. I lift 6 days a week on a strict routine and just broke 215 pounds being 5″11 with 11% body fat. One year ago I was wrestling g 152. There is a lot of shitty set backs to having diabetes but I have found that good use of insulin can really help with gains. That being said I really appreciated reading this and it got me pumped to go lift some heavy ass weight.

  10. Amazing story, and amazing resilience! I’ve always been curious on how diabetics can follow a bodybuilder diet (I’m a medical student). I think the reason why your blood sugar is low despite the carb intake after your workout is because during exercise your muscles uptake glucose in an insulin-independent fashion (as in glucose will move from the blood to your muscles without insulin). Not sure if you know about that, but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

  11. Thank you so much for your work here. I have a very similar story to yours, including the frustrating lack of information available for this, so I have had to craft plans for myself. I was diagnosed 5 years ago (I am now 46) with type 2 after my daughter died, the symptoms hit me so hard but I just thought I was depressed. the biggest issue I have now is the recovery time from simple sickness or injury. Another big issue I have is extreme low T from the diagnosis. I had a doctor tell me the guys that have been castrated have higher levels than me.
    Any comment / advise on the test levels?

    • I’m sorry for your loss. If your test levels are low then why wouldn’t you jump on hormone replacement? Life is terrible without adequate testosterone levels. My advice is to find a Dr. who will put you on injections (not cream) and allow you to inject yourself at home once/wk. Most general practitioners want you to come into the office once every 2 wks for a 200mg/shot, and that is a downright hassle. Find one who specializes in anti-aging

  12. Man, its so good see that there more than just me in this situation. I have 19 years, diabetic since 11. And my dream is be a bodybuilder, that im sure one day i will.

    I will give my opinion, but I’m just learning about this diabetes world. For what i learned and lived , we don’t create a resistence to the insulin, so even i eat more in a determinate period, when i decrease the food, my insulin decrease with it. What I want to know is, how can i do to use the insulin to my favor? how can the insulin help me more than hinder my gains? the hormones, there some contraindications in relation the diabetes?

    I want to thank you for sharing your story. Motivates us a lot!!

    • The advantage of using insulin to grow is obviously you utilize nutrients more. The double edged sword of it all comes with more glucose monitoring and greater chances of going hypo. You have to be cautious because there comes a level of insulin use where the old 10 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight goes out the window. For example, if I take 5 units of insulin then 50 grams of carbs is about right, if I use 15 units of insulin then 150 grams of carbs is not enough for me personally. The reaction is not the same and I’ll go hypoglycemic unless I cram in many more carbs. As far as “using it to your advantage” the only advantage I really see is being able to eat more and process it all. But you’re not just going to use a bunch of insulin and get huge without other building blocks involved in the equation, it’s risk will outweigh the reward and you’ll gain fat more than anything.

      Now, on the upside of being diabetic, you can handle lower carb diets better when cutting up because where the average persons glucose dips way down on low carbs, yours stays closer to normal since it naturally runs higher anyways. My comfort zone on a diet is much more manageable now on a low carb approach than it used to be. It’s sort of sporadic when I diet, if I feel like I’m looking a little flat then I hit just a tad bit of insulin and eat something a little heavier such as oatmeal or potatoes. I use hardly any insulin when cutting, maybe once/wk I’ll need to use a little, other than that it’s just metformin. But as a type 1 this would obviously be much more difficult for someone. I used to try to fight it and use as little as possible but obviously running with a higher glucose level isn’t healthy. So my advice is to use what you need to use and carry on like a normal person. If you want to consume 5,000 calories a day to grow, then by all means do so and just use the required amount of insulin. You’re not going to gain fat by just replacing what isn’t there anymore, you will gain fat by consuming excessive amounts and eating more to combat effects. It’s pretty much no different than a normal person eating 5,000 cals/day, they’d get fat too. Don’t let the insulin confuse you, you’re no different than anyone else if you get your dosing down, and it shouldn’t hold you back. Hasn’t stopped me dude, I’m the largest and most shredded guy in gym and pretty much get asked on a regular basis if I’m competing in bodybuilding. good luck!!

  13. Hello and thank u John!!!!!! I’m 44 and have been type 1 diabetic. Since age 11. I compete in physique competitions and work full time as a firefighter/Paramedic. Just FYI for other diabetics. Low carb is the way to go but like Johns diet we can’t eliminate carbs totally. Sides will show up. A few will be lack of a pump or flat muscles when training,energy through workout. Both of these are fixed by using carbs properly. Also a bigger issue impotence can show up. Yet eat some carbs and 1/2 hr later your ready for business. It incredible what carbs can do! I hit the stage at 2 to 3 % body fat so we can get very ripped as diabetics. If I new how to post a pic I would show a stage shot. Anyway lord there is soooo much I would love to explain here but it would take days. So for other diabetics e mail me [email protected]. Ive been training,competing and eating with diabetes for 33 years I’ve learned a few things lol take care! John I would love to talk to you but having a hard time seeing your E mail thanks again!

  14. Very informative article. I have been struggling with weight gain after competing in bodybuilding in 2005 and 2007. Each year since, I’ve had more difficulty dropping weight. I was diagnosed Type II in 2012 after a trip to the ER with blood glucose level of 450 ng/dl. I’d really like to chat via email about the issues I’ve faced and still face today. I am not insulin dependent at this time but do take oral meds morning and evening. I have a high knowledge in exercise physiology and clinical nutrition (Masters Degree) also having previously been CISSN certified. Even with that skill set, I struggle to find the right combination for me. Like you, I have issues with the docs in not understanding the bodybuilding lifestyle and how diabetes can be manipulated for it.

  15. hi everyone
    i am type 2 diabetic for almost 6 months! i am now 24 and i was doing bodybuilding occationally! but later i stoped it as i was so busy! i was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and my sugar level was 440! i really shocked! i was given metformin+sita to lower my sugar level and 4 days later it came down to 270! so i took medicine and changed my meal plan as well as started doing excersices daily! after couple of days my sugar level came back to normal! so i thought to start weight excersices again! so i started and once i checked my sugar level after work out believe me it had came down to 1.8mmol.. but i kept doing and later i noticed my sugar level going well anytime in day! so i stoped taking medicines and keep excersicing(weights) and also consuming healthy foods! but i keep checking my medical condition! this might vary to others! so pls be on alert before doing an experiment.
    [email protected]

  16. Very interesting article. I have been type 1 diabetic since I was 2 years old and have at times been on over 1000 units per day due to being massively insulin resistant as well. Started bodybuilding aged 15 so have found many tricks over the years. One of the best and approved by my diabetic specialist (who is the world leader on endocrinology) is that you train heavy to create a cortisol release which will peak 2 hours after training so you actually put in more insulin as you train (about 30 minutes before you finish) I put in 20 units via a pump and whilst I train I have 40 grams of whey protein mixed with 400ml of semi skimmed milk. I will then have oats post training which helps to stop the delayed hypo 12 hours post training when the hormones level out. In addition it is worth noting that type 1 diabetics CANNOT go catabolic but can still over train. The reason is that a catabolic effect is not possible if insulin is present in the body. Also worth noting that if your protein levels are good then the chance of DOMS is highly reduced when you are a type 1 again due to the presence of insulin and the fact that protein is being forced into the muscles along with carbs thereby greatly reducing DOMS. Personally being a type 1 is advantageous to bodybuilding and not a curse, you just have to rethink the rules a little to get the benefits.

  17. I take 2 units of levimar, when would be the ideal time to take it before or after my workout? Thankfsfor all the information you provide!

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    • 2 units of Levamir is jack shit, won’t do a damn thing!! Levemir is a slow acting insulin and taking it pre/post workout does essentially nothing as it doesn’t release at the rate of nolva or humalog. Levemir is to be taken in the evening and a good starting point is 20 iu’s/day. This is not the same deal as a fast acting insulin, your body adjusts to it’s release before you go hypo. Also, it’s not like taking 20 units of fast acting, 20iu’s of Levemir is not a large dosage at all. Just be damn good and sure it’s Levemir you’re using if you do this!!!! Go research it if you want, hitting it in the evenings is perfectly fine

  18. Diabetic, former competitive bodybuilder here. I have the best advice ever.
    If you value your heart, your kidneys, your feet and your LIFE… then you should not be bodybuilding at all.

    Bodybuilding is NOT a sport for anyone with a metabolic disorder such as diabetes.

    I did it. I valued muscles and abs more than my health. Take all the insulin and meds you want… these are just as damaging as too high blood sugars. They don’t tell you that tho.

    Now I’m going to die well before my time. Your choice. You were warned.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but taking insulin is not damaging when you don’t make enough of your own. All you are doing is replacing what isn’t there and you’re better off doing what you need to do in order to keep your A1C in check rather than taking no meds and walking around with sky high glucose. High sugar in the blood is what damages organs, not taking diabetic medication. The average person produces 50 iu of insulin daily, so if I’m taking 50iu’s daily because I no longer make my own how is this damaging? I get my bloodwork done religiously, about 5x/yr. I know what I’m looking at and nothing looks out of the ordinary other than a slightly high A1C. If anything bodybuilding HELPS diabetes!!

  19. I just got off the phone with the doctor this morning, and was pissed with my A1C results so, I started Google’ing.. I’m glad I found this blog. I’m 52 and developed type 2 diabetes about 4-5 years ago and its been a struggle understanding what to do in order to manage it so that I don’t see an early grave with maybe limbs missing and blindness.

    I had read a LOT of articles about how muscle mass (body building) could be an answer, or a cure for my type 2 diabetes. So, I set out on a journey over the past 8 months to see what my options were. As a background, I’m a web developer who sits on his ass most of the day. Then I would drink red wine, eat a couple of meals a day, nothing too terrible but, my A1c numbers kept inching up. 3 months ago, I my A1C was 7.0! Crap…

    Since that test, I got into the gym with a trainer, put on 4 inches in the shoulders, 4 in the chest and 3 in the arms. Feeling and looking good!! I like this… Trainer says I’m one of the hardest working, and fastest growing they’ve had in that gym. Damn that felt good to hear.

    In 4 months, the muscle has poured on, I’m setting goals and meeting or beating them. As of this morning, I’m feeling somewhat defeated. My latest numbers came in at 6.9, down .1 from 3 months ago. I don’t know if this is good or bad. I eat a shitload of protein and I’m always hungry so, as my trainer says, I should be eating 6-7 meals a day to keep building. My body fat hasn’t changed and stays between 24-27% and I feel that maybe thats contributing to my perceived lack of success.

    Right now I’m confused because I’m eating better than I ever have, stopped drinking, don’t eat deserts, and instead eat a few carbs on training day along with plenty of protein and fruit to head off the sugar craves.

    Was I wrong in thinking bodybuilding would be an answer to really controlling type 2 diabetes?

    Maybe.. I don’t know.. I feel cheated because all the medial advice out there says that increased muscle mass should positively affect A1C and glucose storage but, in my case, it seems like its not.

    At this rate, I would need to be the size of Arnold during his peak to have my A1C numbers below 6.0! At this point, the only thing I know to do is eliminate the fruit, get off any supplements, keep the protein meals up and go back in 3-6 months for another blood test to see where we are in all this.

    I’m controlling (or somewhat) my glucose with Janument 50/1000 at 2 a day so, thats 2000mg of metformin a day, pretty much the max.. Did I move the needle during all this? Yes.. but, was it what I was expecting for all this work, and expense (trainers are expensive!)? No at all….

    • You are talking to someone who eats more strict than anyone I personally know, and I really don’t believe you can “reverse it” but just control it. When it’s controlled people assume it’s reversed or gone; not the case though. I have A1C numbers in the 7’s a lot, but the rest of my bloodwork looks great. My best advice to you is to try your best to eat clean but don’t obsess over your numbers on a daily basis to the point it drives you crazy. What I have found to work well for me is to get in the bulk of my daily carb intake pre and post workout, when my body is burning it up or using it for replenishing and it doesn’t drive my numbers up. Fruits are going to jack it up, but I’ve found blueberries to work pretty good.

      There is going to come a point where you’ll have 2 choices. Either A. Accept the size you’ve gained and stay dieting a lot, or B. Continue eating more but increase medication or get on insulin. I take testosterone because my body doesn’t make it anymore, I take insulin because I’m extremely low in production. But you know what? I’m going to continue doing what I enjoy and do what I have to do. Big deal, I’m on medication for glucose, it could have been Cancer I was diagnosed with or some other terminal illness. Always look at the bright side of whatever you can. You could walk out in front of a bus and get killed tomorrow. I do what I love and I do what I want, when death comes it just comes

      • Shortly after reading your blog, I ventured off to more diabetes sites which deal with Type 2 diabetes, and you hit the nail on the head. My 6.9 number on metformin isn’t worrying my GP (so why should I worry) because all my other numbers are good. Like you, I got really pissed after getting this last A1C check and finding that my numbers hadn’t moved that much with all the forward progress and looking better than I ever have.

        After a couple of days of cooling off, I got real again. I didn’t stop eating clean, and continue to consume 3,500 calories,, plus the right amount of, proteins, with cabs and I’m keeping it at 7, or below. So, I’m marching on and will continue towards my goal of getting big…

        What I also found out is that a LOT people are running around with an A1C of 8-11 constantly, with some living well into their 80’s with numbers like that. Everyone’s body is different, and damage sets in differently for all of us at different times.

        My choice is to continue eating a lot of clean food, grow in size, then maintain. I’m not a junk eater anymore, and only eat some fruits, and no cookies, no cakes, no cokes, or other shit. Don’t crave it anymore, just water and protein cravings.

        Also, this is a great blog so please keep it rolling because I have a feeling there’s a lot more of us out there than they (the guys who haven’t had blood work done yet) realize. Tomorrow is chest and back day and it’s time to add more weight, just like I did last Friday and my first 315b squat last Wed..

        Next week, more reps at 315, and continue working at getting bigger.. Screw feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to make the most of what I have left at 52 because future years won’t be any kinder. I will have comfort in knowing that being big does help a lot, and being in shape well into my seventies will be with the price of not ending up with shot kidney’s or worse!

        Who knows, we may be revising this conversation in a few years with all the new treatment options any maybe gene treatments that reverse this condition or help us produce more natural insulin via gut bugs (promising research there).

  20. hey man how you doing i really like your type up and your tips and tricks ,im a type 1 diabetic also ive been training on and off for years atm im 36 years old 6 ft 197kg/213pound and about 25% body fat .
    When lifting weights and training ive always found my body adapting faster then the guys around me i put it down to my insulin .
    when im bulking im on about a 3200-3400 daily cal intake carbs-400-500 protien 120-170gram,fats try and keep under 100gms
    As i work in construction i like to keep my levels 6-10 on the glucose meter as i dont want them dropping i also find having my level at that on pre workout helps also .
    when i train for bulk i lift heavy mon to fri have weekends off , i always have a 20gm carb and 1iu before i train and after i take my protien with about a 100gms carbs and 5-6 iu depending what ive tested before hand , hear is one of my daiy nutrition intake guide i use to use while bulking as a diabetic and the rules i follow-
    Want insulin level around 7.
    1iu for 20 grams carbs in meal
    1iu will lower me 3 down on test results
    If low eat more carbs 20 gram bring up 3
    If below 6 at test time only take half amount iu

    Daily Meal Plan
    Farmdale light milk : 1 cup : 114 cal
    Coffee, NS as to type : 1 coffee cup (6 fl oz) : 4 cal
    Sugar : 2 teaspoon : 33 cal
    GoldenVale Apple n Ras oats : 1 packet : 156 cal
    cenovis mens multi : 1 cap : 0 cal

    Calories: 306 Carb=48g Prot=12g Fat=6.4g
    Bfast – test take correcting and take 2iu
    Take viatim

    Snack 1
    Damora Rice cake : 2g : 8 cal
    purevta canola spread : 1 scoop : 58 cal
    Honey : 1 tablespoon : 64 cal
    natrual armonds snack pack : 1 pack : 167 cal
    Apple, raw : 1 medium (2-3/4″ dia) (approx 3 per lb) : 81 cal

    Calories: 469 Carb=64g Prot=7.5g Fat=20g
    Snack1- test correcting and take 3iu

    dried apricots : 5 apricots : 91 cal
    Burgen Soylin bread : 2 slices : 209 cal
    purevta canola spread : 1 scoop : 58 cal
    Lettuce, raw : 2 large leaf : 4 cal
    Tomatoes, raw : 2 medium slice (1/4″ thick) : 8 cal
    lite cottage cheese westacre : 1 scoop : 27 cal
    Turkey ham : 2 slice (1 oz) : 73 cal
    Onions, mature, raw : 2 medium slice (1/8″ thick) : 11 cal
    appleblack current juice box : 1 box : 115 cal
    Egg, whole, boiled : 1 large : 77 cal
    Banana, raw : 1 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) : 109 cal

    Calories: 781 Carb=109g Prot=35g Fat=21g
    Lunch- test correcting n take 5 iu

    Snack 2 (pre and post workout)
    My Protien : 2 scoop : 236 cal
    brigalow prem sugar : 10 scoops or table spoon : 370 cal
    appleblack current juice box : 1 box : 115 cal
    Banana, raw : 1 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) : 109 cal

    Calories: 830 Carb=160g Prot=47g Fat=4.3g
    Snack2- Test correct does n take 2 iu with Bannana and juice with 2 scoop d acpartis, 1 scoop creatine,1level table spoon l glutamine
    Train then take 6iu 1 scoop creatine with my protein and dextrose and 1 level table spoon l glutimine

    Attlantic salmon lemon pepper : 1 piece fish : 280 cal
    Sweetpotato : 1 cup, mashed : 261 cal
    Cabbage, Chinese, cooked, fat not added in cooking : 1 cup : 24 cal
    Avocado, raw : 1/2 Typical Serving : 81 cal
    Broccoli, raw : 1 Typical Serving : 12 cal
    cowbell light slice cheese : 1 slice : 41 cal

    Calories: 699 Carb=65g Prot=32g Fat=37g
    Dinner-Test correction does if needed take 3iu

    Snack 3
    brooklea 150 straw yougurt : 1 Typical Serving : 143 cal
    Portview Tuna lemon pepper : 1 tin : 145 cal
    Damora Rice cake : 1 cake : 22 cal
    lite cottage cheese westacre : 1 scoop : 27 cal
    Onions, mature, raw : 2 thin slice : 7 cal
    Calories: 344 Carb=33g Prot=33g Fat=8.1g
    Snack3- test correct to get to 5 this time not 7 if needed and take 1 iu extra
    Take 30iu night time insulin
    2 hypazine before bed
    This is just a 1 general day whilst bulking but following this and my other day plans i have bulked and have had consistant blood levels, u may noticed i drop them lower before bed for me it helps me sleep better and i never give my fast acting insuin in the same place as my night it fucks it ileave fast for stomick and night for legs.
    After i do this for about 8-12 weeks staying around the same nutrition i then go to cutting i drop my cals by about a 1800-1000 and instead of doing weights every day i do day weights then day cardio and so on i also change my post workout to about 50gms carbs , just remeber if ur still hungry wjilst eating on a lower cals pump that plate full of free fooods . i also enjoy a beer on the weekend come weekend i cheat a bit not to much still sticking around the same cal guide but u just gota add it up when u go out i found xxxxgold the lowest cal beer best tasting and bang for my yahoo eforts without effecting the hard work ive been putting in to keep my blood glucuse level and training , anyways hope this helps with anyone that wants a ruff idea…….
    Cheers Jhndoe

  21. I have type 2 diabetes since i was 6 now i am 22 i have been training for 6 years i fond it very hard to lose weight while using insulin when i am on diet i feel very hungry and cant stop eating so i take much insulin wich makes very high water and fat retention any advice ?

    • Id try timing your carbohydrate intake more around the workout time and taper them down towards night. Also be sure to stay up on your cardio, that definitely helps

  22. This article has hit me in the heart. I was recently diagnosed and have been pretty much depressed about it. I lost over 100 pounds about 3 years ago and have maintained a weight of around 210 lbs. Got rid of type 2 diabetes and life was good. Gradually I started getting sick often and decided to check my sugar, it was 396… I lost my mind when I saw that. Come to find out after several test and visits to a few doctors I found out that I an a type 1 which has been the problem the whole time. I’ve pretty much given up on my workouts, I’m a crossfit trainer, (that’s how I lost the 100lbs). But since this has come up, I feel like I can’t do it anymore. Your article is the only thing I can find about diabetics who continue their workouts and diet while getting big still. Thanks so much for the encouragement! You have no idea my friend, I truly needed to read this TODAY.

    • fuck that, I just competed about 6 wks ago and looked my best ever, even better than before I was diagnosed. If you let it get you down then it will, if you fight it then it really doesn’t matter…you’ll still come out on top no matter what

  23. Enjoyed this site very much. Diagnosed 6 months ago with type 2, at 59 years old with no prior health issues, I was bummed to learn I came in with a 13.8 a1c and meter readings above 300. Now on Janumet, and along with diet/cardio exercise have gotten the a1c back down to 6. The ‘diet’ I was provided limits me to 30g carbs 3x a day, primarily whole grain bread. Now that I have begun incorporating lifting in my regimen, and would like to increase muscle mass and believe this simplistic diet just won’t support it, your site has given me some sensible ideas to try. I will check back here regularly. Thanks!

  24. You mention in your blog about dealing with fatigue, as a TD1 I have been telling my doctor about it for what seems to be years, how are you dealing with or how have you delt with the fatigue on a daily basis.


    • There is no added fatigue if I keep my shit in check, no more than I’d have training hard and recovering anyways. I don’t even think of it, it’s just second nature when it comes to taking meds and checking my sugar. You start dwelling on it and it’ll consume you

  25. hi there I am diabetic and want to get cut up to the max lose all of my bodyweight and be the best at training weights which I will do it hope you can help me out on what to eat etc hear from you.

  26. Hey John my names Chandler and I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since I was 9, I’m 16 years old currently and I’ve been bodybuilding since freshman year. I found your article compelling and inspiring and just found this glory of information about insulin and bodybuilding and I have an abundance of it, because it keeps me alive! I’d love to talk with you and get more information and tips on how much more insulin I should
    Be giving with my workouts and any other life advice you have! I love to lift and I’m trying my best to learn all I can I’m looking forward to speaking with you ! – Chandler

  27. Hi, I am 15 and in high school, I play high school football and I have trouble gaining weight, do you think that diet of yours help me gain some weight?

    • eat everything…..I mean it. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, subs, pizza, CALORIES!!! Eat everything you can feed yourself until you see the scale begin climbing, and lift weights. The weights will create the deficit for more food, and more food will create the strength and energy for more weights. The 2 go hand in hand

  28. Very good read, thank you. I am a type 1 who competes.

    How has your diagnosis changed your protocol with gear, if you don’t mind me asking?

    • There are certain compounds that seem to make the glucose harder to control, ESPECIALLY peptides and orals. Most peptides are pretty much out, HGH is out, and dosages need to be kept in moderation with almost everything now

  29. John, Thank you so much!

    I am a type 2 diabetic/Army veteran, and I happened to be perusing the internet for information on diabetic bodybuilding. I came across your site and I am encouraged and motivated. I was like you in the beginning, I nearly cried when the Doc made me transition from oral meds, to the needle. Today I thank him for saving my life, because at one time I was averaging blood sugar readings around 400-500! I rapidly lost 88 pounds in less than six months, and then I started injecting insulin what a total turn around. I regained approximately 44 pound of mostly solid muscle and I feel alive again!

    Anyhow, once again I want to thank you for your information and for hope and encouragement that I get from the information that you have shared!

    God bless you and Merry Christmas!

    SGT Carlton Sargent

  30. Wow, amazing weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The entire look of your web site is wonderful, as neatly as the content material!

  31. As a type 1 diabetic and have been for years… Saying you can’t build muscle without carbs is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. There are multiple type 1 diabetics that are pro bodybuilders. Jason Postin is an IFBB Pro and competes at the Olympia every year. He’s a type 1. He placed 3rd overall in Physique. Weighs 230lbs. He doesn’t eat more than 120 carbs a day and in contest prep has under zero carbs a day. Maintains 6% body fat all year on a ketogenic is based diet. As for myself since being diagnosed, I stay under 100 carbs a day and stay at just above maintence and have steadily added muscle without gaining any bf for the last 3 years. I don’t take any AAS so my gains have slightly hindered but I’m still seeing progress. I compete in the NPC and am nationally qualified

  32. Hi John,

    I am sharing my schedule and please correct if I am doing anything over . I was diagnosed diabetic 3 years back and since then from 2.5 years everything is stable .

    I run for 3 -4 KM daily in morning and then weightlifting for 45 min . Total workout time is 1 hour . I do this for 5 days and 1 day for legs only in gym . I run on plain road in Pune.

    After that I regularize my diet accordingly . I take D-Protein supplement for diabetic also. I eat managed carbs and eat very less non veg foods but take more of egg whites also.

    • it would depend on your goals, but ideally you want to do cardio after weight training so you utilize fat stores for energy and conserve glycogen stores for muscle output in the gym. You may want to taper down on your distance for running if your goal is to gain muscle mass, you may be burning everything up

  33. I am a newly diagnosed diabetics and bodybuilder. you can see my pre-and-post pictures at my trainers website i was 150kg and now 90kg. The question i have is the follow. What about supplements? Can i take products like pre-jam, post-jam, HMB, creatine, etc freely or should i just it all out?

    • You can take them, creatine may actually help with your condition actually. The supps that may mess with your levels will be many of your prohormones and/or oral steroids

  34. Hey man , i just want to say wow!

    I’m a 22 year old and have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around march this year. No idea why to be honest, no family history , i actually have the least “sweet tooth” in my family and never really indulged in the sugary stuff .

    Yet it happened to me.

    Currently i am on a fasting program given by Dr.Jason Fung:

    Accordinly with the high fat low carb diet being consistent along with fasting , your beta cell functions will eventually return to normal. Your thoughts on this?

    • I don;t believe in reversal of the condition. I think as a type 2 you can control it with a good diet, but go back to eating excessively and it’ll go right back up

  35. Hi John,
    I am type 1 diabetic diagnosed 4 years ago. 66.93 inches/170cm and 127pound/58KG. I’m taking Lantus every morning and medications such as Diamicron for every lunch/dinner and metformin for every lunch/dinner. Recently I had involved in muscle building. My A1C test 7% to 8% past 3 months. My fat percentage had reduced from 15% to 12% past 2 weeks. My muscle mass increases a bit, but still inconsistent. Up and down. I believe I have exceeded my minimum calories intake each day.

    Current Problem: Inconsistent Growth of Muscle Mass
    My Goal: Gain Muscle Mass and Reduce Body Fat to 6% to 8%.

    I have lots of questions (Feel free to email me the answers):

    1. Is Lantus (slow basal insulin injection) good for post workout?

    2. How high blood sugar level can stop muscle from growth ? Got any recommends blood sugar level for muscle growth?

    3. What is the recommendation percentage protein intake?

    4. I heard protein powder supplement requires carbohydrates to work. Is it recommend for type one who doesn’t have insulin?

    5. If metformin is good for shuttle nutrients, when is the best time to consume. Pre/Post workout or meals as usual?

    6. I don’t want to increase my insulin intake so much, is it still good for muscle gain if I didn’t consume much carbohydrate but over calories intake?

    Thanks you.

  36. Hello,

    I am just getting into body building. I was diagnosed with diabetes type 1.5 when i was 19. I am 28 now and take Humolog. I’m 5 foot 8 about 180 lbs. I just had a few questions that would help me out. After, searching google, I think i am more lost then ever on this topic.

    1) When should I take my insulin, pre or post work out?
    I was told insulin will not allow you to burn fat, also if the sugar is high. Not sure whats the best route to go.

    2) I know i need protein and the recommendation is almost 200 Grams a day. What is the likely hood of doing kidney damage? Is 200 Grams a good starting point?

    3) I have some extra weight on my sides do i need to focus on cardio to burn it off? Or focus on the weights and the extra fat will burn off in the process.

    • 1. Either time is good if you’re familiar and experienced with insulin. Just make sure to take the right amount of carbs in accordance to the units of insulin you take. You may find that taking a smaller amount pre and post workout helps your body process carbs better and it keeps it around the workout time, then keep carbs lower at other times of the day. Taking insulin if you need it will not make you fat, you’re just replacing what isn’t produced anymore. Taking too much to compensate for a ton of food will, think of it like any regular person. When they eat more they gain fat, when they diet they don’t. Using what you need wont make you fat

      2. 200 grams is fine. You are already in a state of not being able to take carbs as high, the only thing left is fat and consuming several hundred grams of fat a day isn’t good either. You need to live your life bro, don’t over-analyze too much, just take the medication and live like a bodybuilder. I understand it’s easy to get frightened while living with this, but don’t let it get to you. Drink a decent amount of water and take protein for muscle like any other bodybuilder.

      3. Do both

  37. Hello there,
    I consider myself lucky finding this article 👏🏼💪🏼
    Now the question as a Diabetic Type 1,
    Who wants to drop weight,
    Do I consider eatting more, so i could take the right amount of insulin I need, and exercise the rest, or that my exercise will just burn my blood sugar not fats.
    Or that exercising works as an insulin, which causes weight gain.

    Thank you ❤️

    • Exercise and diet the way anyone else would to try dropping weight, just use the right amount of insulin to help stay in normal range. It’s that simple

  38. I am wanting to do my first show in 2017. My biggest concern with my coaching is peak week and pre show carb loading. I do know as we get leaner our insulin sensitivity increases and my fear is not enough insulin and my muscles will not get full enough or too much and I pass out on stage.


  39. As an 18 year old diabetic with a solid muscle base and roughly 13-16 % bf, how should I eat to cut down below 10%? I find it very hard to lose body fat, thanks for any help you can give.

    • Keep most of your carbs pre and post workout, eat protien veggies and healthy fats at other times of the day. Make sure to do cardio onna regular basis as well

  40. Dear John
    Thanks for wonderful article.I a type 2 diabetic from last 3.5 years…i only take very light medication once after dinner & able to control my sugar levels through workout & i want to add muscle & loose belly fat.What kind of suppliments i can take?as people say suppliments effect kidney & heart in gym instructor advised me BPi BCAA or muscletech shatter X7 along with whey isolated proteins.but he is also not 100 % sure..Kindly suggest.

    • yea I see nothing wrong with that combination at all. I’m not familiar with Shatter x7 but from reading up on it, sounds like something that wouldn’t effect your sugar levels unless its loaded with sugar which i dont think it is

  41. I am a bodybuilder but haven’t competed for two years and during that time I went totally off the rails on my diet and recently after bloodwork dr. wants me to take meds for high blood sugar/insulin resistance. I am getting back on my usual diet with a few modifications like much stricter on starches and no sugar. I am also monitoring blood glucose with meter. I wondered if there were numbers I should shoot for preworkout to get the most out of it without overfeeding

    • Normal sugar range is 80-100, but if you’re used to running higher then you may feel low in this range. I’d say to shoot for anything between 100-150 before the workout, you’ll probably be down in normal range by the end of the workout. If you can start in the 80-100 range and feel decent then do that, if you’re riding higher then gradually try to get it low, not all of a sudden. If you’re over 250 then do not work out until you get it lower than 250 with medication

  42. I have been type 1 diabetic for about three months now and I know how insulin is anabolic.. So I have been thinking about using it towards my advantage in bodybuilding…I go to the gym 5:30am and I was wondering is it better to take a couple units of the fast acting (humalog) insulin eat some carbs and protein then go workout and repeat post workout?

    • its going to be a learning curve, you’ll figure out what works best for you and how to control your glucose. In any event, make sure you eat before you train, DO NOT TRAIN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH IF YOUR TYPE 1!!!. Your liver will dump excessive glucose into the bloodstream to make up for lack of nutrients in your system and it can actually make your blood sugar worse post workout. Yes, possibly take a small amount of insulin pre workout with some protein and carbs, again post workout if you need it. Like I said, you’re going to have to experiment a little and figure out the amount you need. I’d start low, adjust as you become familiar with how ur glucose runs

  43. Hi there John!

    First of all I want to THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A DIABETIC BODYBUILDER! Because I have never found one and I have been searching for experiences and yours its truly worth to hear!
    So Thank you for that!

    Im TYPE 1 since I was born (I got in coma by the age of 1 when I was diagnostic because my levels werent dropping down..). And my mom always told me to do exercise and I have been doing pretty much my whole life! With 15 I started to workout, and Im now 27. I do workout everyday, because it makes me feel great! Its not just a matter to gain muscle but to feel good with myself.

    I have some questions:
    — I have really low body fat , 3% but I have not a pretty bulky abs (the are not very visible)… is that because Im diabetic? Or because I need to train more like a hypertrophy abs?
    — do you have any problems on getting bigger now than before?
    –Do you workout everyday? If not how does your levels get stabilized on no workout days?
    — I do many meals a day like 6 -7 and I take around 4000callories a day, but I think I eat a LOT MORE than a normal guy, without this disease… is it normal?

    PS: Im 183cm tall, with 81kg

    These questions I mentioned are specially because I have “never lived” without Diabetes… So I want to know your experience about this!

    THANKS A LOT FOR ALL THE HELP! Will be waiting impatiently to hear your answer ;)

    • I don’t gain as much as I used to but that is due to choice to keep calories lower to not need as a much insulin and also because I stay leaner now rather than big and bulky. You just need to take whatever insulin you need in accordance to calories. So if you’re eating more you’ll need to use more and vice versa.

      If you cannot see abs then it may be development and try working them more. Also, shoot your insulin in the muscles, not belly fat, it’ll develop fat pockets from repeated shots in the abdomen area

  44. Nice article btw John. I wanted to ask you, I’m trying to lower my body fat % (26% 4 weeks ago) and I’m avoiding carbs except before workout and keeping my protein intake high. I’m type 1 diabetic for 20years and I’m on Humalog. Do you think this is a good approach? I haven’t had to inject myself for meals except for that one meal with carbs. Thank you!

    • Not really, while I understand your logical thinking with this the reality of things are that muscles are going to eventually need glycogen sooner or later. I would probably throw in 1 more small carb meal during the day and adjust insulin accordingly. Something such as some sort of carbs with breakfast and post workout. Or another option for you is to try going 6 days in a row clean like this with just what you’re doing now, then come off the diet on the 7th day so eat whatever the hell you want and use insulin accordingly to blow your muscles back up. You may need to use something like 50iu of insulin just that 1 day, then go right back to the swing of the diet

  45. Hello John Doe. Diagnosed with T2 diabetes in Feb. 2016, Lost 85lbs since then and now I am trying to put on muscle. I have reduced my A1C from 12% to 5.9. I have just paid over $500 to a trainer who is going to help me grow, but I am concerned about the amount he wants me to eat with my Diabetes. As it is now, he wants me to get 1,787 calories/55 grams of fat/ 180 carbs and 143 grams protein per day. I find I am having trouble eating all of the calories. I am afraid of getting fat again. A typical day of food for me is:
    2 Hardboiled eggs and packet of plain instant oatmeal
    Atkins natural caramel nutrition bar for snack
    Can of tuna with mustard and Dill relish with a medium plain potato
    3 dill pickle spears for afternoon snack
    1 scoop whey protein pre-workout
    1 scoop whey protein post-workout
    Can of chicken and 1/2 cup brown rice for dinner about a half hour after protein powder
    a snack later like a handful of almonds or another Atkins bar.
    It comes out to about 1650 calories/56 fat/ 150 carbs and 132 grams protein.
    How does all that sound? Do I need to eat more? I have reluctantly cut out cardio because I don’t want to lose muscle. I am highly motivated and regimented but I just want to grow and not put myself at risk with the diabetes.
    Any help is appreciated.

  46. Respected John Doe,

    First of all thank you very much for sharing such a good perspective. I am diabetic and 24 years old. I really want to make good physique naturally, I have never taken any performance enhancers like steroids and don’t want to take those. I want to put genuine efforts, You have explained it very well regarding diet and all but I want to ask you, is there anything which can be done to sustain the muscle growth? Waiting for your reply.

    • the best answer I could give you is to eat in the same manner someone who wasn’t diabetic eats for gains, and adjust insulin and meds accordingly. When someone who isn’t diabetic takes in carbs their body produces more insulin to utilize them. You’re going to have to do the same thing through your medication, that’s the only difference. It’s going to be damn near impossible to make muscle gains without the proper food intake. Everyone says to “just cut out all carbs” when you’re diabetic, my stance on it is to use whatever you need accordingly when you’re diabetic. You do not need performance enhancement to get a good body

  47. Greetings from Dominican Republic, I want to ask you two questions.

    1st – what steroids have you used since you were diagnosed with diabetes?

    2nd – What amount of metformin do you consume today?

      • Great artical. I’m a type 2 as well going on 8 years. I’ve been into bodybuilding for 30 years. Although never competition ready. But now I want to get shredded. Here is my problem. I’m on blood thinners for life because of blood cloting issue. I’ve had clots in my leg and lung. And twice in my head – cerbral venous sinus thrombosis which they think was caused from testosterone boosters such as superdrol I used back in the day. Anyway can’t do carbs cause of diabetes and can’t do anything with vitamin K. Any suggestions?

  48. Type 2 DM= on metformin 1gm/ Hypertensive on Telmisartan + metroprolol .light weight training for 2 years almost.
    Wish to build some muscles. At 52 house hold responsibility and middle class Indian family diet ???
    Any specific diet workout regime , please suggest
    P R Singh

  49. Great article!
    As for supplements or vitamins is Universal Nutrition Animal Pak a good multi for diabetics?
    Thanks for input!

    • Body building at 53.Is it a possibility with Type2 DM and Hypertension ?
      Indian spicy oily food avoided yet at times needs to share being in a joint Hindu family.
      Working out at the gym moderately since 3 years.
      Not much benefited..
      Need a plan regime .

  50. For the diabetic patients this article is worth reading the people with diabetes need more look after to their body and they need strong muscles.

  51. Hi, thank you first for ur inspiration . i’m 22 years old , i had diabetes one year ago , i take 1200 mg of metformin . I really find a lot of problems in building muscles . Before i was diagonstic i was able to build muscle and it was great . But now it’s like my body doesn’t respond to training and food . I tried so many times but i could’nt see any good resultes . I have friends withe type 1 and they could build muscles that why i think taking insulin make it easier . So now i think to start taking it so i could build muscles because i love bodybuilding so bad . Please sir give me advises . I can’t imagine my life without the gym

  52. I so read myself in Your story. My wife sees my temper changes and reminds me to keep my opinions to myself which I gotta say really helps. Do you cycle and what do you notice about maintaining your sugar levels on/off cycle?

    • yes, I cycle all the time. First thing you need to understand is there are certain drugs that are simply not options anymore. The only oral I’ll occasionally use is anavar or proviron, and I think even those mild ones elevate it slightly. But shit like dbol and drols are not an option for me. I keep my cycles moderate on dosing and keep mostly to TRT levels of test. I take stuff like EQ, primo, deca (not all at the same time) and on HGH I have to keep it at 2-3iu per day, and use it closer to the workout time as opposed to splitting shots throughout the day. I hope this helps. Remember, we aren’t the only bodybuilders that are diabetics. There are many on the pro level that are too, they just don’t talk about it. I talk about it. Good luck -JD

    • it will raise your glucose, not as bad as other heavy orals like dianabol and anadrol, but its still gonna fuck with it


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