Meal Plan for a Diabetic Bodybuilder
Diabetes, or as it's fully called Diabetes Mellitus, is in fact two completely different diseases type 1 and type 2. From a nutritional point of view each should be treated differently, and meal plans for each can be viewed though the relevant links here where you can also read more about the conditions.
The plan below is aimed at a type 1 diabetic, i.e. who replies on injections of insulin to control their blood sugar levels, and who is looking to increase their muscle size and strength. The individual will more likely be on an insulin regimen which allows for some flexibility by having one injection of long acting insulin per day and an appropriate dose of super-fast acting insulin prior to a meal. Regular meals and snacks are encouraged, especially in respect of slow-released low glycaemic carbohydrate foods as the basis of each meal and snack. If you do not control your own insulin regimen, then speak to your doctor or diabetes specialist nurse. See our Glycaemic Index Tables for GI values of foods.
Many diabetics feel they cannot make notable muscle and strength gains due to their condition, but there is no reason at all why a diabetic cannot make just as good gains as a non diabetic. There is nothing revolutionary and special about a diet for type 1 diabetics; it's simply based on the healthy eating guidelines which everyone should be following, so simply incorporate concepts applicable to muscle growth, and the results will be fruitful.
So called 'diabetic products' such as special chocolates, cakes, biscuits, etc are not recommended. Eating a range of low fat, low sugar, high fibre 'ordinary' foods is far better. Many of these 'diabetic products' are no lower in fat or calories and are normally more expensive. Some contain the sweetener sorbitol which can cause wind, stomach upsets and diarrhoea. However 'low sugar'/'sugar-free' products, like diet soft drinks, are fine, and can be enjoyed.
In bodybuilding the ideal scenario is to gain muscle and strength, without additional bodyfat. Therefore you need to ensure you have a good understanding of your insulin regimen and are well controlled, especially if you manage your own insulin dose, before commencing a plan such as the one below. The key to quality weight gain is to eat big with six or seven smaller meals / snacks, rather than three big meals. Include plenty of high protein food choices like lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and milk; low glycaemic carbs; fruit and vegetables (don't forget nuts and pulses are also good sources of protein); aswell as sources of essential fats.
Timing of meals is also important, so spread the meals regularly through the day and try to adhere to a schedule. It's especially important is to eat good amounts of protein and carbs after training. In respect of protein supplements look at the label. Whey protein can be a useful aid to making gains, but the quality of product varies hugely from brand to brand. Ensure you have a product which is over 75g protein per 100g, otherwise it will contain too many simple carbohydrates and this could adversely affect your blood sugars. Weight gain supplement formulas should be avoided by diabetics. Remember supplements are there to supplement and are not meant to replace good wholesome food.
The following meal plan is an example plan of a healthy diet which is suitable for a type 1 diabetic to follow when weight training and trying to gain muscle and strength. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day. Remember to check with your doctor or diabetes specialist nurse before following this plan, and if you do not control your own insulin regimen, levels may need adjusting in line with the increased food intake.
Large bowl porridge made with 250ml skimmed milk + tbsp ground linseeds
(+ sweetener, if desired)
2 slices granary bread
toasted + peanut butter
200ml orange juice
2 sandwiches (4 slices granary bread) + tuna or sliced chicken breast
Large chicken breast
200ml fresh vegetable soup
4 slices granary bread + olive oil spread
Low fat, no added sugar yoghurt
45 mins pre-workout
80g chicken breast
Large handful mixed nuts
TRAIN – 45-60 minutes
Immediately post workout
2 scoops whey protein
Lean steak or
2 lean pork chops
100g boiled basmati rice or
5-6 small boiled new potatoes or
large dry roasted sweet potato
Large serving of vegetables
Low fat, no added sugar yoghurt
Large bowl unsweetened muesli + 250ml skimmed milk
1 scoop whey protein in 150ml skimmed milk
Weight training should be three or four times per week with intense sessions for 45-60 minutes maximum. It would also be an idea to incorporate 45 minutes low intensity steady cardiovascular training twice per week to help with heart health and to help keep body fat levels down.
As with all the meal plans this is merely a guide and you are encouraged to eat a variety of different meats / fish / alternatives, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. Adapt the plan to suit your own needs and daily routine and vary portions and food choices from day to day.
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.