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Please check with your healthcare team before changing your diet. Most likely, you will need less diabetes medication and we don’t want anyone going low. Those with weakened kidneys should not increase protein intake without professional care.
I have been overweight my whole life. When I was in grade school, the other kids called me “fatty.” It didn’t help that the PE teacher created an unpleasant competitive environment and didn’t teach us how to care for our bodies.
Making things worse was the afternoon snack my grandmother provided: vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whole milk blended into a shake. It tasted great, but it sure helped fatten me up!
Then at age 17, I started taking insulin. Many of you know how easy it is to gain weight while trying to control high BGs with more insulin.
All that changed a few years ago when I started controlling my carbohydrates and taking half of my former insulin dose. My BGs are much better, and I now experience very few lows. In addition, I no longer gain weight. In fact, I have been steadily getting leaner.
In January 2005, I accomplished something I never had done before. I joined a local gym, but stayed with it this time. Having read of the many benefits of increasing my muscle mass in these pages, I decided it was time to “walk the Diabetes Health talk.”
Having a higher ratio of muscle-to-body fat makes you stronger and less injury-prone. It speeds up your metabolism and makes you happy. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns all day long—even during sleep.
The coach at my gym encouraged me to eat more protein. I checked with Gerri French, our registered dietitian at Diabetes Health, who told me that the official recommendations for protein are 0.4 grams for each pound of your body weight, and 0.8 grams if you are doing weight training.
So at 170 pounds, I would require 135 grams of protein per day (170 x 0.8). Clearly I was not eating enough protein, which led to craving carbs. I had thought that my two-egg breakfasts were enough, but one egg has only 6 grams of protein. Now I add two more egg whites to the skillet with spinach and salsa for a great morning omelet. That makes for a breakfast with 24 grams of protein.
For lunch I might eat a whole can of tuna, wild salmon or turkey on a salad, which adds 32 grams of protein. Dinner might be vegetables with a chicken breast or hamburger patty for 25 grams. This adds up to 81 grams of protein for the day, still 54 grams short.
I have discovered that adding two protein shakes into my day can make up the difference. The key is to find those shakes that are low in carbs.
When I’m at home, I use my blender to create these frosty delights. I buy the powder from Trader Joe’s or Costco. Water and ice are all you need to add, but adding a few frozen raspberries can really liven up the flavor.
When I’m on the road, I carry a few cans of protein shakes. Brands I enjoy are Atkins Advantage, SlimFast Low Carb and Worldwide Pure Protein. A big benefit is that these shakes are so satisfying that I don’t crave the foods I am trying to avoid.
Even though I am 48 years old, I am confident that I can completely get rid of my “spare tire” with exercise and sensible eating. And, of course I regularly test my BGs.
Type 1, 30 years (and counting)
Please send me your comments and suggestions via e-mail through our Web site.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.