What are Some Healthy Diabetic Meal Plans?

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question-icon-newI’m a diabetic and would like to know if you have any basic meal plans you can provide to help me build muscle and lose fat. Can I just eat normal foods or should I be following a specific diet plan for diabetics? Maybe you know of a few websites I can use?

answer-icon-newBeing a diabetic, your main focus will be on controlling your blood sugar levels. This is why the glycemic index of foods is so important to learn when choosing the specific foods for your diet when your overall goal is to build muscle and lose fat. The glycemic index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. When blood sugar rises, insulin is released to bring the soaring levels back to normal. When insulin spikes, this can be a serious issue for a diabetic and controlling insulin is the ultimate goal of anyone struggling with this health issue.

Many traditional bodybuilding foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole wheat bread will most likely be off the list of foods for you to include since they have the tendency to be on the middle to upper range of the glycemic index. The best foods to include are all fibrous veggies such as broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, red and yellow peppers and many other vegetables. Fruit is another touchy area for the diabetic since different types have varying degrees of GI index ratings. Bananas affect blood sugar differently than berries do (blueberries, raspberries) and on the average, fruits have a moderate glycemic index rating. The interesting thing about fruit is that the sugar they contain (fructose) is stored in the liver versus a starchy carb like brown rice which is stored in the muscle (liver glycogen versus muscle glycogen). The liver can only hold around 60-120 grams of carbs before it spills over and has a much easier time converting to fat. On the other hand, muscle glycogen can hold around 400-500 grams of carbs.

Glycemic Index of Different Foods

BreadsGlycemic Index
White bread70
Wholemeal bread69
Pumpernickel41
Dark rye76
Sourdough57
Heavy mixed grain30-45
LegumesGlycemic Index
Lentils28
Soybeans18
Baked beans (canned)48
Breakfast CerealsGlycemic Index
Cornflakes84
Rice Bubbles82
Cheerios83
Puffed Wheat80
All Bran42
Porridge46
FruitsGlycemic Index
Apple38
Orange44
Peach42
Banana55
Watermelon72
Dairy FoodsGlycemic Index
Milk, full fat27
Milk, skim32
Ice cream, full fat61
Yogurt, low fat, fruit33

Below is a sample of a low glycemic daily meal plan which should work well for you. However, as noted below, you probably want to run this by a professional who specializes in working with diabetics just to make sure you are on the right path with your nutritional plan.

  • egg-white-omeletMeal #1: Egg White Veggie Omelet. Heat up a frying pan and add a little low calorie nonstick spray to avoid the eggs from sticking. Add 5-7 egg whites to the pan and cook on low heat. In another pan, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and heat up the pan before adding the veggies. Stir fry the veggies until finished and then pour the veggies onto one side of the cooked egg whites and simply fold over the other side to create a delicious protein packed omelet.
  • Meal #2 (snack): 1 small handful of nuts.Some of the healthiest nuts to choose are almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios and hazelnuts.
  • Meal #3: Grilled Chicken Breast Salad. Add some romaine lettuce to a bowl and add 4-6 ounces of grilled, skinless chicken breast on top. You can also add some tomato slices, cucumber and red onion. Drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette on top and enjoy.
  • Meal #4 (snack): Low Carb Protein Shake or Protein Bar. Make sure to read the ingredients carefully since many protein bars on the market actually hide the overall sugar content under “sugar alcohols” which have the same effect as sugar in the body.
  • Meal #5: Baked Salmon with Steamed Veggies. Bake 4-6 ounces of salmon for 12-15 minutes at about 350-400 degrees. For additional flavor, add some extra seasoning before putting it into the oven. About 5 minutes before the salmon is finished baking, take some broccoli and sliced carrots and add them to a Zip-Lock “Zip & Steam” steamer bag. Add some Italian seasoning inside the bag and pop it into the microwave for about 4-5 minutes. These Zip and Steam bags are great for making quick and healthy steamed veggies in a matter of minutes.

Since you’re a diabetic and need specific nutritional needs, I would highly recommend contacting a local dietitian who specializes in providing meal plans and nutritional advice to diabetics. Although there may be a few websites out there that cater to diabetics (I’m not aware of any in particular), I would rather refer you to an actual certified dietitian versus a website for your important needs. Once you have a tailored meal plan prescribed by a dietitian, you can use a fitness tracking program to monitor your nutritional breakdown (calories, protein, carbs, fat). The dietitian may also be able to provide specific exercises for you to partake in.

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