Maintaining Muscle Strength and Living Well with Diabetes


Physical activity is by far the most effective form of treatment for maintaining muscle and living well with diabetes. Aside from improving blood flow to the extremities and relieving the heart from stress, it also improves immunity by reducing inflammation. From loading up on protein to boosting your energy, we will explore the key points of maintaining muscles and improving your diabetic condition.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Load up on Protein

Proteins are the epitome of muscle building and if the body does not get enough, it will eat into the reserves for production of hormones, especially for appetite control. To counteract this, you need high quality proteins to provide more than the body uses. High quality proteins can be found in chicken, tuna, eggs, premium cheeses, and nutritional supplements. Since exercise increases blood flow to your muscle tissues, a protein drink or snack before and after a workout improves muscle uptake of amino acids and repair.1, 3, 5

High quality carbs and protein rich foods raise your blood glucose much slower (Glycemic Index rating, scale of 1 to 100). But due to taste preferences, most diabetics have difficulty consuming enough so they need meal replacements. Make sure they are diabetic specific so you do not have to worry about destabilizing blood glucose. For example, backed by 30 years of research and over 50 clinical studies, Glucerna is formulated with an exclusive Advance Carbohydrate System with 4 times the Myo-inositol (a carbohydrate that improves insulin action and sensitivity)4 to provide muscles with essential muscle maintenance nutrients and slow release carbohydrates. Since proteins are essential for building antibodies, the heart-healthy lipid blends in Glucerna works in tandem with vitamin A, D, and zinc enrichments to help regulate the other bodily functions and further improve the efficiency of the immune system function.3, 5, 6, 7, 8

Work on your main muscles for core strength

Diabetics worry that because of their medications to preexisting physical conditions due to diabetes itself, working on muscles is not an option for them. To be safe, consult a doctor for tips on what is appropriate for you. Since exercise is meant to increase blood flow and improve insulin sensitivity, work on large muscles of the back, legs and chest for maximum benefit. Any exercise from walking to resistance training that gets your heart rate up and body sweat is good.1, 2

How does it all (Physical activity) affect blood sugar

During workouts, your muscles use blood sugar as energy, thus preventing it from building up in your blood. The more you work out consistently, your body will become more efficient at burning calories, use glucose, and maintain muscles through supporting nutrients and muscle memory. Working out not only prevents muscle loss due to inactivity, it also improves mood and blood pressure, thus removing strain from the heart. But as a word of caution, if you have been sedentary for a long time, do not jump into a workout. You will most likely quit or cause injuries. Like before, your own physician or related health care professional can tell you what is right for you.1, 3, 5

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  6. Chee WSS et al.BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2017 (
  7. Sun J et al. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008 (PDF-