The Perfect Workout®

The Complete Guide to Diabetes
And How to Manage It

All you need to know about diabetes, if you’re at risk, and how a few simple lifestyle changes could be the solution to preventing and treating this metabolic condition.
Glucose in the bloodstream
What a normal blood glucose level looks like
What high blood glucose looks like

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a complex metabolic condition that disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, also known as glucose. This happens due to insufficient insulin production or the body’s reduced response to insulin. Diabetes manifests in different forms, with Type 2 being the most common, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases.

By understanding the risk factors of diabetes and adopting a proactive approach with lifestyle adjustments, exercise, and medical support, you can create actionable steps to better health and diabetes management. The following are the most common forms of diabetes treatment:

  • Medications
  • Proper Nutrition
  • Physical Activity
  • Blood Sugar Monitoring
  • Insulin Therapy
Continue reading for more detailed information on these solutions and how to implement them in your lifestyle.

How Diabetes Impacts Health

With diabetes, the body lacks the natural ability to regulate blood sugar levels properly. Just about anyone can develop diabetes, but first let’s decipher the difference between the different types. 

There are two main types:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: an autoimmune disease typically diagnosed in children and young adults. This is a lifelong condition and there is no prevention for this type.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: 90% of people with diabetes have this type. It is generally a result of unhealthy lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise/activity.

People with specific risk factors, including family history, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle, are more prone to diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in neuropathy, a nerve damage that might lead to loss of sensation in the feet, increasing the risk of unnoticed injuries and infections. This can hinder mobility, limit physical activities, and compromise independence.

Additionally, diabetes-related vision problems, such as diabetic retinopathy, can challenge reading, driving, even leisure activities. The ripple effects of diabetes complications extend beyond physical health, and include emotional well-being and the ability to fully participate in everyday life.

Early detection, education, and proactive measures, such as proper nutrition, exercise, and medical care, are essential in preventing complications and optimizing diabetes management.

The History of Diabetes & Evolution of Treatment

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that a groundbreaking discovery transformed diabetes treatment. In 1921, Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated insulin, a hormone crucial for regulating blood sugar levels. This monumental breakthrough marked the dawn of a new era in diabetes care, as insulin injections became a life-saving treatment for those with Type 1 diabetes.

Monitoring blood sugar levels became increasingly accessible with the introduction of blood glucose testing methods. The urine-based glucose testing used in the past gave way to more accurate blood-based testing, providing individuals with diabetes a better understanding of their daily glucose fluctuations.

As understanding of Type 2 diabetes grew, lifestyle intervention emerged as a vital approach. Recognizing the connection between obesity, sedentary habits, and insulin resistance, medical professionals began emphasizing the importance of healthy eating and physical activity in managing Type 2 diabetes.

The mid-20th century witnessed the development of oral medications for diabetes management. Sulfonylureas and biguanides were among the first oral treatments, aiding insulin production and sensitivity. Over time, a wider range of oral medications, including thiazolidinediones and DPP-4 inhibitors, entered the scene, offering diverse options for Type 2 diabetes management.

Technological advancements further transformed diabetes management. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems allowed individuals to monitor their glucose levels in real-time, enabling better control and informed decision-making. Insulin pump therapy offered an alternative to multiple daily injections, delivering insulin in a controlled manner throughout the day.

Today, diabetes care is increasingly personalized. Tailoring treatment plans to each individual’s needs, preferences, and circumstances is paramount. The integration of technology, from smartphone apps to artificial intelligence, empowers individuals to manage their diabetes with greater precision and convenience.

A doctor consulting their patient on their glucose levels

Diagnosing Diabetes

What’s Normal & What Isn’t?

Diagnosing diabetes involves understanding various blood sugar metrics that indicate the health of your glucose metabolism. This assessment helps determine whether your blood sugar levels are within a healthy range or if intervention is required to manage diabetes effectively.

Blood Glucose Testing: A Crucial Tool

The holy grail of diabetes diagnosis is blood glucose testing, which provides insight into your body’s ability to regulate glucose. Here’s how the process unfolds:

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG):
This test measures your blood sugar level after an overnight fast. A blood sample is taken in the morning before you’ve had breakfast. A fasting plasma glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher on two separate occasions confirms diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):
This test involves fasting overnight and then consuming a sugary beverage. Blood sugar levels are measured periodically after consuming the beverage. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher two hours after drinking the solution indicates diabetes.

Hemoglobin A1c Test:
The hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test provides an average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. An HbA1c level of 6.5% or higher confirms diabetes.

HbA1C test for Diabetes
Results for a glucose test to decide if someone has diabetes or not

Interpreting Results: What's Normal & What Isn't?

Your blood sugar levels are assessed based on the results of the tests mentioned above. Here’s how they are categorized:

Normal Blood Sugar:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Less than 100 mg/dL
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2-hour level): Less than 140 mg/dL
  • Hemoglobin A1c Test: Less than 5.7%

Prediabetes:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: 100 to 125 mg/dL
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2-hour level): 140 to 199 mg/dL
  • Hemoglobin A1c Test: 5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetes:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: 126 mg/dL or higher
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (2-hour level): 200 mg/dL or higher
  • Hemoglobin A1c Test: 6.5% or higher

Diabetes Prevention & Treatment

Diabetes prevention and treatment requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account a range of interventions like medication, nutrition, physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, and insulin therapy.

Medications

Medications can play a significant role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. The approach differs between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, reflecting the unique mechanisms of each condition.

Type 1 Diabetes and Insulin Therapy:

For individuals with Type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy is a cornerstone. This is because Type 1 diabetes arises from the body’s inability to produce insulin due to an autoimmune response that attacks insulin-producing cells. Insulin is administered through injections or an insulin pump, and the goal is to mimic the body’s natural insulin production. Your healthcare provider will guide you on the appropriate type of insulin, dosage, and timing.

Type 2 Diabetes and Enhancing Insulin Sensitivity:

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, where the body’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin. Medications for Type 2 diabetes focus on enhancing insulin sensitivity, reducing glucose production by the liver, and improving pancreatic insulin secretion. These medications may include metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, and thiazolidinediones. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable medication based on your individual needs and health profile.

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is a universal approach to diabetes management that benefits both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Crafting balanced meals is essential for maintaining stable blood sugar levels and preventing extreme spikes or crashes.

The emphasis for both types of diabetes is on controlling carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates directly affect blood sugar levels, so focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats helps regulate glucose fluctuations. Portion control and timing of meals are also key considerations.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is a potent tool for diabetes management, influencing insulin sensitivity and overall health.

For Type 1 and Type 2, engaging in regular exercise enhances the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, aiding in blood sugar regulation. A combination of aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, and strength-training exercises, like weightlifting, offers a comprehensive approach. Exercise not only supports weight management but also boosts cardiovascular fitness and overall well-being.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Regular blood sugar monitoring empowers individuals with diabetes to understand their body’s responses to various factors, enabling more effective management.

Frequent blood sugar testing allows you to identify patterns, make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan, and make informed decisions about your food choices and physical activity. Monitoring becomes particularly crucial around meals, exercise, and any changes in routine.

Insulin Therapy

Insulin therapy is a vital component for maintaining stable blood sugar levels, and it’s relevant for both Type 1 and some with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes:
Insulin therapy is essential for Type 1 diabetes, as these individuals have little to no insulin production. The goal is to replicate the body’s natural insulin release through carefully calculated doses.

Type 2 Diabetes:
Some individuals with Type 2 diabetes may eventually require insulin therapy if oral medications are no longer effective in managing blood sugar levels. Insulin is administered through injections or an insulin pump, and its role is to supplement the body’s insulin production.

Customized to your diabetes type and personal requirements, these strategies help you manage blood sugar effectively and lead a balanced, energetic, and healthy life.

Exercise for Better Blood Sugar

Slow Motion Strength Training

Slow motion strength training (SMST) is a scientifically-proven exercise method that can effectively aid in blood sugar regulation. SMST is not just about building muscle and bone. This method is also proven to enhance insulin sensitivity, facilitating better blood sugar control for individuals with diabetes. By targeting muscle fibers, slow motion training triggers a cascade of physiological responses, leading to improved glucose utilization and overall diabetes management.

Blood Sugar Regulation:

  • Improve blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity through slow motion strength training, promoting better diabetes control.

Enhanced Muscle Size:

  • Muscles are the primary location for storing sugar that is moved out of the blood. Therefore, if muscles grow larger, they can hold more sugar.

Reduced Medication:

  • As a result of lower blood sugar, improved insulin sensitivity and stronger muscles, many diabetics who strength train can reduce or eliminate their diabetes medications.
A trainer helping a woman do bicep curls
A person using the lat pulldown machine to strength train
A woman strength training on the leg press

Nutrition for Diabetes

Nourishing Your Body to Thrive with Diabetes

Proper nutrition can play a pivotal role in managing diabetes and supporting overall health. Below are some strategies to fuel your body for optimal diabetes management.

Balanced Meals for Stable Blood Sugar

Create a balanced plate with fiber-rich carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats to maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Timing Meals for Diabetes Control

Stagger your meals and snacks strategically to support better blood sugar regulation and maximize exercise benefits.

Stay Hydrated, Stay Balanced

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support proper hydration and aid in blood sugar control.

Mastering Carb Intake

Learn how to manage carbohydrates to maintain steady blood sugar levels and support your diabetes management.

A healthy woman enjoys a walk through the park
A person enjoying their time traveling
A woman riding a horse

Lifestyle Tips for Diabetes Management

Slow Motion Strength Training

Adopting a blood sugar-conscious lifestyle can significantly contribute to preventing and treating diabetes. With a few simple adjustments, you can begin creating better, balanced blood sugar.

Key Takeaways

Because diabetes is a complex condition, understanding its types, risk factors, and complications is key. Here are essential takeaways for managing diabetes:

Health Impact:

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of health complications, such as neuropathy and vision problems. These affect mobility, daily life, and emotional well-being. Early detection and proactive measures are vital.

Diagnosis:

Diabetes diagnosis relies on blood sugar metrics, like Fasting Plasma Glucose, Oral Glucose Tolerance, and Hemoglobin A1c tests. Understanding these metrics, along with clinical judgment and risk factors, is necessary in creating a treatment plan.

Management:

Managing diabetes involves medication, nutrition, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and insulin therapy. Type 1 relies on insulin, while Type 2 focuses on enhancing insulin sensitivity. Proper nutrition and exercise help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Slow Motion Strength Training (SMST):

SMST is a scientifically-proven exercise method that aids blood sugar regulation, enhances insulin sensitivity, and reduces medication needs for many with diabetes.

Nutrition:

Balanced meals with fiber-rich carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats stabilize blood sugar. Strategic meal timing, hydration, and carbohydrate management are key.

Lifestyle Tips:

Transform your lifestyle by staying active, quitting smoking, moderating alcohol, embracing nutrient-rich foods, managing stress, reducing sitting time, and maintaining regular check-ups.

Simply having knowledge about diabetes risk, its treatments, and lifestyle adjustments empowers you to take control of your health. Consider making small changes now and speak with your doctor to create your ideal treatment plan.

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Meeting with one of our certified personal trainers is one of the best next steps in your journey to combat diabetes. Schedule a no-hassle, no obligations discovery session today!

The Best Kept Secret To Controlling Diabetes

Personal Training Southwest San Jose CA

“My diabetes is so under control, my Doctor doesn’t even want to see me anymore.”- Larry H.

This is every patient’s dream outcome. And if you’ve got diabetes you know that frequent trips to the doctor are pretty common.

It’s a shame more people with diabetes aren’t doing what Larry did to get his levels under control.

What’s that? You want to know what he’s been doing?

Slow-motion strength training of course 😉

What is Diabetes?

“Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream.” (CDC)

Who Gets Diabetes?

Just about anyone can develop diabetes, but first let’s decipher the difference between the different types. There are two main types:

  • Type I Diabetes: an autoimmune disease typically diagnosed in children and young adults. There is no prevention for this type.
  • Type II Diabetes: 90% of people with diabetes have this type. It is generally a result of unhealthy lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise/activity.
Personal Trainer Southwest San Jose CA

How Serious Is It?

Very serious if not controlled.

“In the United States, 88 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes” (CDC.)

The very serious thing about prediabetes and diabetes is it raises your risk for other serious issues like heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, stroke and even loss of limbs.

Diabetes is also strongly correlated with obesity- a major cause of many health issues.

Producing a lot of insulin can lead to both diabetes and weight gain.

One solution is to decrease the need for insulin by improving insulin sensitivity… strength training.

Strength Trainer Southwest San Jose CA

How do you control it?

Fortunately, strength training improves insulin sensitivity, and therefore also decreases insulin in the blood.

Men and women between 50 and 70 years old strength trained for four months in one study [2]. They performed full body workouts three times per week, with each workout featuring 10 exercises. At the end, the trainees improved their insulin sensitivity by 21%.

A second study was similar in terms of length and age group [3], except the workout included only five exercises per session. The result was similar: a 25% improvement in insulin sensitivity. And, the trainees lost averages of 3 and 8.4 lbs of fat.

Effective strength training can help keep your insulin levels in check, helping you to manage your weight while reducing risk of diabetes.

Strength Training Southwest San Jose CA

how does strength training improve it?

People with type 2 diabetes have an abundance of glucose in their blood, an amount of blood sugar beyond what is considered a healthy level. High intensity exercise, such as strength training, is the only type of exercise that uses predominantly glucose as fuel.

One study conducted at Louisiana State University lasted nine months and the participants were men and women of various ethnicity and averaged 56 years of age. The average starting hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood glucose over three months) was 7.7%. Six and a half percent is considered the minimum amount for type 2 diabetes.

The strength training regimen featured:

  • nine exercises targeting major muscle groups in the upper and lower body
  • each exercise was performed for one set
  • workouts were conducted twice per week


At the end of the study, the diabetic men and women experienced improvements in hemoglobin A1c ranging from 0.3 to 1.0%.

Forty-one percent of the participants improved by 0.5% or more, or were at least able to decrease their medications.

To put this into real-life perspective, a decrease in hemoglobin A1c as small as 0.3% is significant: it can translate to years of life regained.

The strength training program required a total of only 30 to 40 minutes per week, and the participants also walked approximately 100 minutes per week (an average of about 14 minutes of walking a day).

At The Perfect Workout, we know of a number of people with type 2 diabetes who improved their blood glucose with strength training and no other changes in their lifestyle.

They simply showed up for a high-intensity strength training session twice per week for about 20 minutes each visit.

That’s good news for people with diabetes looking to improve their health and extend their lives.

  • Church, T. S., Blair, S. N., Cocreham, S., Johannsen, N., Johnson, W., Kramer, K., … & Earnest, C. P. (2010). Effects of aerobic and resistance training on hemoglobin A1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(20), 2253-2262.
  • Turner, R. C., Holman, R. R., Cull, C. C., Stratton, I. M., Matthews, D. R., Frighi, V., …Hadden, C. (1998). Intensive blood-glucose control with sulphonylureas or insulin compared with conventional treatment and risk of complications in patients with type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 33). The Lancet (British Edition), 352(9131), 837.
  • Cauza, E., Hanusch-Enserer, U., Strasser, B., Ludvik, B., Metz-Schimmerl, S.,…Pacini, G. (2005). The relative benefits of endurance and strength training on the metabolic factors and muscle function of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Archives of Physiology and Medical Rehabilitation, 86(8), 1527-1533.
  • Brooks, N., Layne, J. E., Gordon, P. L., Roubenoff, R., Nelson, M. E. Castaneda-Sceppa, C. (2007). Strength training improves muscle quality and insulin sensitivity in hispanic older adults with type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 4(1),

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