Ask Heidi Anything: I’m Diabetic. Which Plan Should I Follow?

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I?m often asked about diabetes and how it relates to carb cycling and exercise, so let?s talk about diabetes!

Here are some interesting?and sobering?statistics straight from the American Diabetes Association:

  • As of January 2011, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States?8.3% of the population?have diabetes.
  • 18.8 million people are diagnosed.
  • 7.0 million people are undiagnosed.
  • 79 million people are pre-diabetic.
  • 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

No wonder questions about diabetes and diabetes management are so common!

Let me say this up front: I am not a doctor or registered dietician, so if you have diabetes, please discuss carb cycling and exercise?and how both fit into your individual situation?with your health care team. They might decide carb cycling is the answer for you, or that it is not, or that it could be with a few modifications. That being said, here is some general diabetes-related information I?ve found that will hopefully help you and your team create the best plan for you!

If you?d like some very basic and easy to understand information about diabetes (what it is, symptoms, an explanation of the three types, etc.), check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics? website.

Diet and Diabetes:

You?ll probably notice that a lot of these ideas apply to carb cycling in general (for diabetics and non-diabetics), with a few adjustments for Gestational Diabetes.

Here are a couple of personal observations from my own experience of working with diabetics (again, please discuss these with your health care team to see if they?re right for you):

  • Many of our show ?peeps? have Type 2 Diabetes and have totally reversed this by following our most conservative carb cycle, The Easy Cycle.
  • Diabetics have insulin resistant cells, and carb cycling?alternating between high and low carb days?can make cells insulin sensitive, which is the goal of any diabetic!

No matter what type of diabetes you have, the actual amount of food (carbs, protein, and fats) to eat at each meal depends on the number of calories you need, which is based on your age, sex, weight, activity level, and whether or not you take insulin. Work with your health care team to design the program that is best for you. To find a registered dietician in your area, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics? website.

Exercise and Diabetes:

The guidelines for exercise and diabetes can depend on which type of diabetes you have, but here are some general tips:

Besides the many benefits of exercise everyone can enjoy, the following are especially important for diabetics:

Always be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise as outlined by your health care team, and follow their suggestions for what and when to eat while exercising.

Here are some awesome resources for even more information:

I know I?ve just touched the surface of the diabetes discussion, but the most important thing to remember is that you can have diabetes and reach your health and fitness goals. It might take some time, creativity, and a lot of communication with your healthcare team, but once you find the formula that works for you, the sky?s the limit! ?

24 Responses

  1. Hello!
    I just saw you on Dr. Oz and was telling others about it. Loved it! The next day, my friend Tara Cummins came up from AZ (She works with your foundation I believe), and was speaking about your plan also. So—here’s my question. Does the carb CYCLING actually cause faster weight loss (as opposed to just staying on low-carb EVERY day, or is the cycling just an emotional boost to help people remain on the system better?
    Thank you!!
    Misti Kanistanaux

    1. Chris and Heidi have found, through their many years of experience, that our bodies need the right combination of proteins, carbs, and fats – both low and high carb days – to not only function properly, but to lose weight as well. You can learn more about the nutritional aspect of their program here: Check it out!

  2. Hi miss heidi my name is tiffiny Stanley i would love you can find me on facebook and i have a wedding dress i need to get in too plz help thank you

    1. Hi Tiffiny: Check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling progoram in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s a complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one used on the show. Learn about the nutrition basics here: And congratulations on the upcoming wedding – that’s awesome! You can totally do this! 🙂

  3. Hi Team Powell….

    Just wondering something I want to do this Carb Cycling thing but my primary care physician says not too because of me being insulin dependent diabetic. I know you say that this works but I can’t do any exercises that are to much because I have congestive heart failure too and another heart disease and its nickname is “sudden death”. Scary right? Well I am overweight and I would love for me to lose some weight and to feel better about myself. My best friend wants to do this with me and I have no problem drinking water but every now and then I want something sugar free or to add Splenda to my tea. Any pointer you can give would help. Thanks

  4. I have been carb cycling, entering my 3rd week tomorrow. The hardest part are my weekends. My weekend plan just falls apart! Why? Because I take that opportunity to SLEEP IN! I’m not changing that. I have an auto-immune disease that just drains the life out of me and those extra hours make ALL the difference. How can I still stay on track on the weekends when I don’t get up until 11ish? I can’t get five meals in on those days. I also have my reward day on Saturday instead of Sunday. Should I still be having another HC day on Sunday after that? Thank you!

  5. In response to the other posts, I was diagnosed with diabetes a couple of years ago. I have always had problems losing weight, none of the plans seemed to work for me for very long and I have over 100 lb to lose. I was getting very discouraged as I watched several of my friends losing weight with Weight Watchers, but it is not the right plan for me. I saw a post by someone in a group I am in on FB and it mentioned carb cycling and Chris’ website, so I checked it out and bought the book. Carb cycling works for me and I feel wonderful. I am entering my 4th week, so with 3 weeks down on the classic plan I have lost 15 lb. I feel wonderful. For myself, I know that tracking EVERYTHING I eat is key, (even on free day) and also watching portion size and paying strick attention to the plan is very important. I have learned that I was eating alot more than I thought I was because I was misjudging portion size and I think this is a common issue. We as Americans are used to huge portions. I am retraining myself to eat properly and eating every 3 hours is vital to keep hunger and cravings under control. I have had a few days here and there when I thought I was sticking to the plan but was eating more carbs on low carb days than I thought I was, so I am working on that now. I believe this plan can work and that it is probably the best plan for diabetics or prediabetics, in the long run. Free/reward days are a bit of a struggle for me because I have found I don’t want to give up that control I have during the week but I also agree that it is important in order to stay on track because I can always last until Sunday if I think I want something and I have found when Sunday comes I may not still want what I thought I wanted. I am hoping that you will stick with it and that you will see results soon and I hope that sharing my experience with this journey will encourage you to stick with it. Good luck!

    1. Teresa, First I’d like to send you a great big congratulations for getting started on something that is working for you!!!!! I would like to know if you were able to stick with this, and what exercise you started with. Where are you today? I would really like to know because I am diabetic (3 years), and I have more weight to lose than you did and I am trying to figure out where to start. I hope you can reply
      : )

    2. Hi, thanks for sharing…how has your sugar readings/control been with carb cycling?? More controlled?

  6. I am a type 2 diabetic that just cannot lose weight. My blood sugar is well controlled, my average is 6.2. Every time I start a great routine, I get sick. I just get into the grove, and then I get bad sinusitus or leg pain and have to stop my routines. I love to excerise but I just cannot get all aspects to work together well, the diet, the job, the excercise and my health. Help!

  7. I really need help!!! I’m 27 5″9 200 lbs I’ve lost 50 pounds already but now I’m stuck. I’m hypoglycemic so it’s really hard to control carbs, sugars and all the bad stuff when I feel like my body needs to survive. I need help understanding everything and what to eat to continue to loose weight. I feel like hypoglycemia isn’t as publicized as diabetics.
    Please help. Thank you.

  8. Heidi (and Chris), first of all, I.LOVE.YOUR.SHOW! Secondly, and most importantly, I need advice…badly! I am 5’4″ and 291 pounds, my husband is 5’9″ and 260 pounds. We want to change that by getting rid of all processed food and moving more, of course. I have had trouble being able to commit to any type of diet program and know this is a life change we need to make or we won’t be around to see our grand children come into the world. What do we do?

  9. Hi. My son was diagnosed this morning with Barrett’s. He has a small area of erosion & the cells in the esophagus have changed into same-like cells as the intestines. He is 38, not a drinker or smoker. No red meat. Aside from medication he will get when his biopsy comes back (which they believe is pre-cancerous and early), what holistic measures can he take to help the acid? Hope your tummy burn is better. Thanks Heidi.

    1. So sorry to hear of the challenges your son is facing. My best advice is to follow what your doctor recommends. Best of luck to you all!

  10. I am type 1 on a pump I have to do high carb every day do to to many lows and exercise is impossible. I would love to lose weight thou.

  11. I teach elementary PE and have a few students that are T1D. I will run the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon with Team JDRF, Nov 17…just 5 days away. I am running to raise money for research for JDRF. If anyone would like to donate to the cause, I would greatly appreciate the support. All money goes directly to JDRF. Pease message me on FB if you need additional information. Thank you. Running strong for my T1D students. Deb Yingling

  12. I see you guys are really big and use these products called Bod-e I think? What’s your opinion on those? Should I try them?

  13. I have carb cycled for four weeks, and have been rigid on all the rules. Water, eating, times of eating, exercise etc. I have gained over 2 lbs. Is it possible it doesn’t work for everyone, or do I need to change something? I have noticed on HC days I feel really sluggish instead of the boost of energy I am supposed to have. I like eating this way a lot, but not if it means gaining the weight I am fighting so hard to lose.
    I’d love your suggestions.

    1. There’s more to measure than just the scale. Are you feeling it in your clothes being loose? How about your endurance on the exercise? Are your portions correct? Don’t give up. Let’s try boosting the intensity of your workouts and double check your portion sizes. Good luck! 🙂

  14. Heidi, I am starting my 3rd week of carb cycling and I have found that for the most part it is very easy. Still having problems eating 30 minutes after I wake up but trying. My question is about sticking to every 3 hours for eating. I want very much to work out with my 13 year old son but the only time we can do that together is at 6pm, right when I am supposed to have my final meal of the day. Would it be ok to eat after our workout? I don’t know how to handle this and need your help. Thanks!!

    1. You can break your final meal into two smaller meals if that helps. Maybe grab a quick snack before working out then finishing up the meal after the workout. 🙂 I love that you’re working out with your son. That’s awesome!

  15. I think these are great suggestions for all people with Diabetes. I am a Type 1 diabetic and I’m wondering what your suggestions would be for treating low blood sugars especially on low carb days?

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