When dieting and exercising for weight loss, people living with diabetes have to consider a few more things other than the size of their waistline. Particularly insulin intake because hypos are more likely to occur when the body is in a caloric deficit and is being exercised. So, if this is something that you struggle with there are a few ways around it. You can treat unexplained hypos and use them to understand how your body is changing. Also, all of the work you do to adjust your insulin to suit your new diet may help you stay on track.
The hypos don’t have to come from nowhere if you are strategic in your planning and prepare for them in advance. Naturally if you drop your food intake and exercise more often your body is going to respond to that quite quickly through insulin sensitivity and weight loss. Thus, if you’re experiencing hypos it is likely that your new exercise or new decreased calorie intake is to blame. This is the point where you will adjust accordingly. For example, if I know that I want to drop my calories by 100 calories per day next week I would also plan to drop my insulin too, possibly just the basal insulin at first to see how I got on but if I still experienced a hypo I would then adjust the carb / insulin ratio the following day.
If you are really struggling with hypos and you don’t know what to do about reducing further you can speak to your diabetes team. I know lots of diabetics who have been provided with a nutritionist to help them align their blood sugars with the amount of food they consume daily.
Hypos Don’t Mean Eat More
If you do have to eat to correct a hypo and you are being strict with your diet, leave a window of 15 carbs open until your last meal of the day and eat them then. That way you are not eating anything outside of your meal plan. If you experience a hypo during the night and have to eat the 15 carbs then, you can subtract the carbs from the breakfast the next morning. If you continue to go low, you may have to consider adjusting basal insulin too. A common complaint regarding to hypos is “I’ve just worked out and now I have to eat something. What is the point?” Well, an exercise session is never a wasted one. If you have physical goals that are not just linked to weight loss, say strength for example or more defined abs, the overall workout will contribute to your physique and strength level in the long run.
I suppose the good thing about working so hard to manipulate the insulin is that it will probably make you more likely to stick to the diet you have put in place. What’s the point in doing all that work to go and ruin it with a big session of eating whatever you like? This will certainly mess up blood sugars for a few days afterwards depending on the amount you consume. You can read more about this in my binge eating post.