I've been told I'm "pre-diabetic" and should start exercising. I thought diabetes was related to diet: how will exercise help?

ask the trainer, jim beatty

Diabetes is a lifestyle disease in which the body has trouble handling and processing sugar in the bloodstream. Type I diabetes is genetic, but Type II diabetes is usually caused by lifestyle choices. By consistently eating too much sugar for too long a period of time our bodies can become insulin resistant, or "pre-diabetic." This doesn't mean that your body doesn't necessarily make insulin to deal with sugar; it may just mean that it can't correctly use the insulin that it makes, and therefore is having trouble lowering the elevated levels of sugar in your bloodstream. You see, our pancreas is responsible for creating insulin to remove excess blood sugar. And asking the pancreas to do too much work (due to too much sugar) will lead to insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes. Obviously the best way to avoid this is to make a dietary change and limit your intake of simple sugars. But is that all we can do?


Our body's primary energy source is carbohydrates, or sugar. When we perform movement or exercise, especially at high intensities, our bodies will use sugar as fuel. We'll use the sugar in the bloodstream, sugar stored in the muscles, and sugar stored in the liver. Proper exercise (especially strength training), will help to use that extra sugar floating around, as well as keep your metabolism elevated throughout the day, allowing you to chew through more sugar and fuel all day long.


Keep in mind that our bodies are made to adapt. And adapt is what they'll do… to anything. We can build up a tolerance to sugar, just like anything else; caffeine, alcohol, our kids whining… whatever. And sugar is no different. We call this specific tolerance to sugar diabetes. And just like those other stressors, our bodies can "heal" when that stress is removed. Start exercising correctly and eating to control your blood sugar and your body will adapt again, and diabetes will go away. I’ve seen it first hand! If we all ate as if we were diabetic, there would be no Type II diabetes.

Remember when it was called "adult onset" diabetes. Well, they changed that name to Type II diabetes because it’s no longer happening to just adults. We're now seeing it in kids. And it's all due to the same accumulations of poor, sugary, highly processed foods, combined with a lack of movement and exercise. It's downright scary. Our kids are getting "adult" diseases because of our lifestyles. Things need to change, and it needs to start with each of us making better decisions. Get active! Eat smaller balanced meals every three hours, and maybe even test your blood sugar at the same time every day. I guarantee that your blood sugar will level off, and your body will begin to "remember" how to process your food correctly. All lifestyle diseases, including diabetes can be reversed with simple lifestyle adjustments.