Book Review: “Fit With Diabetes”

Front cover

Ginger Vieira introduced me recently to Christel Oerum via email. I was pleased to hear about Christel’s brand new e-book, “Fit With Diabetes.”

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Physical fitness is a major determinant of longevity. It’s truly our only fountain of youth, and it’s available to most everybody. The only way to get and stay physically fit is through regular exercise. Some studies document shorter life spans for PWDs (persons with diabetes). So it’s particularly important for them to maintain a good level of fitness.

I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Use of insulin, whether in type 1 or 2 diabetes, significantly complicates exercise due to sometimes mysterious effects on blood sugar. Christel de-mystifies the issue in a clear and science-based manner.

The most dangerous interaction between insulin and exercise is hypoglycemia, although the opposite can be a problem, too. Much of the book is about avoiding dramatic swings in blood sugar, particularly hypoglycemia. Christel teaches the reader how to balance insulin, food, and exercise to keep sugars on an even keel. Aerobic exercise tends to cause hypoglycemia, whereas anaerobic exercise tends to cause high sugar spikes. But your own reaction may be a little different, if not a lot. As you might imagine, monitoring and record-keeping are critical, and Christel shares her own downloadable log.

Trust me, most primary care physicians and many endocrinologists are not going to be much help in the exercise advice department. I only remember one thing my first-ever accountant told me 30 years ago: “No one cares about your money as much as you do.” Likewise, no one cares about your health as much as you do. You’ll have to become your own expert.

The author is like a trusted old friend who’s “been there, done that,” and is sharing freely with you.

Christel has had type 1 diabetes for 21 years and is a diabetes coach. She’s been an avid exerciser since 2010. At that time there were very few resources that addressed vigorous exercise in the setting of T1 diabetes. Learn from her clients’ experience and her own N=1 experimentation so you don’t have to make the same trial-and-error mistakes.

The author works out five days a week. That doesn’t mean you have to. I suspect you can achieve 80–90% of the maximal longevity and other health benefits with just three days a week, maybe two. (Note: I am contradicting several authoritative medical panels!) If you’re sedentary now, two or three days a week should definitely improve your fitness. But you have to exercise right.

Early on, the author talks about how to get motivated for exercise. I like her SMART goal setting-checklist: Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

She recommends a combination of aerobic exercise (“cardio”) and weight training. (I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out one day that the right weight-training program alone is good enough.) Christel tells exactly how to get started and maintain both types of exercise. She outlines both home-based and gym-based training programs.

Dietary calories for adults in the U.S. come 16% from protein, 48% from carbohydrates, and 34% from fats. Alternatively, the author recommends dietary calories come 40% from protein, 30% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fats. So 150 carb grams/day if eating 2000 calories, limiting meal carbs to 30 grams. I wonder if most folks will end up closer to 30% protein and 40% fat, especially for those not doing as much exercise as Christel. (Protein is important for muscle building and maintenance.) Many of my patients do well with additional carbohydrate restriction, but most don’t exercise as much as Christel despite my encouragement.

You can easily track your macronutrients and calories at MyFitnessPal.com.

The author shares some recipes and tells you how to get started on the all-important meal-planning and coming up with your own recipes. There’s even a helpful and realistic chapter on loss of excess weight.

As a reviewer, I always feel like I have to pick a few nits, so here it is. Christel says cardio exercise is great for losing weight. That probably true if you’re competing for $250,000 on TV’s Biggest Loser show. But usually exercise contributes at most 10% to a successful weight-loss program. Diet’s is critical. Exercise does help with prevention of weight regain and has many other benefits.

Again, I like this e-book and highly recommend it to adults taking insulin for diabetes who need a great physical activity program but don’t know how to go about it. Get the e-book here.

Of course, get the blessings of your personal healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise program, or medications.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Disclosure: Christel kindly gave me a copy of the e-book. Otherwise there was not, and will not be, any remuneration for this review.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Exercise

4 responses to “Book Review: “Fit With Diabetes”

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “Fit With Diabetes” – BuildCurve

  2. Mary Bracken

    Its very nice articles..

  3. Nate

    Thanks for the review. As a T1D for 52 years and a low carber for 14 years, I still have problems with exercise. So, I’m very curious to read her book.

    One concern for me is the 40% protein per day recommendation. That could be about 30 ounces of meat per day. The vast majority of people, including low carbers, only eat about 15% to 20% protein per day. (My Dr. Bernstein recommended diet is about 18% protein.) Now, there is not a lot of solid evidence saying that 40% protein is detrimental to one’s health, so why would I be concerned? Well, there is not a lot of solid evidence saying that it is not true. So, which is it?

    • I tend to agree with you. I generally don’t have any problem with 30% protein. Not saying 40% is detrimental. We probably don’t have longterm scientific studies of 30% protein diets, much less 40%.

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