Tips on weight gain for an insulin dependent diabetic


Any tips on weight gain? I have been stuck on 115 lbs for one year. After 96 lbs on diagnosis 4 years ago, maximum I reached in between is 128 lbs. With height 157 cms it is in normal BMI range. But I hope if can push it up to around 132-135. I am on MDI (12 basal+ 20 bolus total daily). Even if bs is in good range it seem harder to gain some weight. I do cycling daily for about 6 kms as exercise. I was under strength training after diagnosis for 2 years. During that period I definitely gained some around 120 lbs. After 2 years I stopped any training. And I started losing weight again. That is the only connection I have yet found for weight gain. I would admit that my a1c has not been the best recently. Currently it is 7.6 %. How do we gain it keep it at that, there must be some other way than joining the gymnasium. I have insulin resistance as during strength exercise I needed to take less insulin. This still applies today.


In hospital, I was 100 lbs, 5’5.5" Now about 116#. Also, remember that muscle weighs more, and so, imo, your weight is fine for your height. However, when I worked hard on weight gain, I did work very hard to eat 3 meals/day, when my routine was 2 meals/day. Be sure to get some fat in your diet to help; being vegetarian it ends up being things like peanut butter, nuts, and feeling free to splurge on things more often than Imight ordinarily. My a1c’s have shown up around 6.5, until my last visit when I had been experiencing some highs and anticipated it would go up (7.1). Made some basal adjustments and things settingling down again. You have insulin “resistance” or is it sensitivity?

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I’ll swap bodies with you. I’d love to be 115 again. :wink:

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@LorraineK Yeah. BMI is fine for the height. I still wish I could look more healthy rather than very thin as I am now. I m also on 3 meals a day. I m vegetarian. I would try to include more fat amount in food. Your A1C 6.5 is very good. Best I have seen is 6.1 years ago. By insulin resistance, I meant when I exercise a lot, my insulin requirement reduces significantly.

@beacher I wish we could do that but I m very thin. :smiley:


It can be really challenging to get key nutrients as a vegetarian. One approach you might consider is supplementation with protein shakes. There are quite a number, I always liked whey protein shakes. I would mix them with half and half or heavy cream for a total protein/fat bomb. A good strategy is also to do heavy resistance training and then after your workout do a protein shake for recovery. Your body is extra efficient in using those after workout nutrients for building muscle.

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@Brian_BSC Thank you sir. This sounds a great advice. I will further consult with my dietitian about protein shakes. Second point is also interesting, which I intend to apply, only if I knew most appropriate protein shake to use in my case.


Protein shakes are pretty straightforward, even for diabetics! The goal is to get a good amount of protein immediately after you workout, and there are several options: whey (if you consume milk products); pea protein (if you are vegan); and some others you can find in specialty shops.

You can make sure you get protein with no carbs (Isopure whey is what I use), but beware adding a lot of fat to a post-workout protein shake. It dramatically slows down the uptake of the protein, and either straight protein or protein plus a strategic amount of carbs is generally considered to be more effective (for diabetics and non-diabetics alike).

If you are lifting heavy (even relatively heavy, so that your muscles are getting good soreness after a workout), you probably need a lot more protein in your diet than most people (especially vegetarians) are used to eating. A rule of thumb for beginning weightlifters is 0.8g of protein per lb of lean mass per day, or 1.0g of protein per lb of body weight per day. That’s a lot of protein, for most people, and you have to really be working hard to utilize it, but you won’t be able to add (muscle) weight if you aren’t doing both.

I’m sort of in the same boat as you: trying hard to maintain/gain muscle mass, which I’ve lost a ton of since diagnosis. I’ve recently taken to upping my carb intake (approximately double what I was a few months back), and it has stopped the weight loss for me. My blood glucose is not as tight as I’d like it to be, but I have stopped losing weight. I may have to come to terms with being one of those rare people that low-carb high fat diet doesn’t work for: my body seems incapable of efficiently digesting fats, so even when eating 3,500 calories per day I was losing weight. By adding some carbs back (I’m eating about 100g per day, now), I’ve been able to maintain weight on a 2,500 calories per day diet. Long and short of that story is pretty simple: every person’s metabolism varies significantly, and it takes some experimentation to figure out what works best.

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@David49 Thanks a lot. It makes perfect sense. I lift heavy weights but I never used any post workout protein shake ever yet. That may be the reason I didnt get good results in terms of muscle mass. Even if I made slight improvement, an irregular sugar levels wont let gain any mass. So protein shake with no carbs and low fat is the key here. I could take 115 gm protein per day according to 1gm per body mass in lb. May I ask if there is any book you can recommend to clear my basics about how carb, fat affects body mass. I think being type 1 I need to understand a lot about this stuff.

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Well, I don’t know of any diabetic-specific sites or advice for weightlifting, but there is a good resource that makes sense for many of us. is a site devoted to those who weightlift or bodybuild while eating very low carb (or a variant). They are more interested in staying lean or losing body fat, but it actually makes good sense for many of us who eat low or moderate carb in order to manage our BG.

In particular, they have a couple of tools that are useful. Their Macro Calculator is a good way to figure out calories, macro targets (grams of protein per day, etc.), and how much exercise actually affects energy expenditure. I can set my carb limit at a certain level and let it help me figure out how many grams of fat I need to maintain or gain weight. There are also links to other sites with relevant info for diabetics interested in working out.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned so far is pretty simple:

  • I do need a certain amount of carbs to build/maintain muscle: for me it’s somewhere around 60-80 g of net carbs per day (on a 2,500 kcal diet)

  • I need around 155 g of protein per day to build muscle given my height, weight, and body fat %

  • If I’m doing significant cardio, I have to significantly up my calories and carbs in order to not lose body fat (my doctor doesn’t want me going below 15% at my age)

  • If I do significant cardio, gaining muscle is harder than it would be otherwise (because of using up calories)

  • On days I do not lift heavy, extra protein (above around 90g) tends to get turned to glucose and raise my BG; on workout days, protein (and carbs to a lesser extent) barely affect my post-workout BG

  • Sleep is probably as important as getting enough calories, enough protein, and enough carbs; if I’m not getting at least 7 hours of good sleep a night, I can’t maintain muscle mass

I’ve cadged that together from online sources and just personal experience with lots of experimentation. I’m a research scientist by trade, so I tend to chart everything and run personal experiments :slight_smile:

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just my thoughts…
+1 on the protein, a good 100-120g a day, some need to part bolus for it., then back off to 75g when the weight is on, with using low carbs… 60g on a high carb diet.
amount of carbs doesn’t really matter, too much will get wild swings and you will work out what works.
fats make up the needed calories, natural fats are good for you, they were never bad.