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  1. #1
    Registered User Gfe919's Avatar
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    Low blood sugar effect on muscles?

    Hi, I'm 21 with type 1 diabetes. When diagnosed at 15, my doctor told me low blood sugars can cause loss of muscle mass. He said it was far from significant but of course I tried to avoid even slight low blood sugars because I want to gain as much as possible.

    But I've never read or heard much else about it, so can someone confirm or elaborate on this? How significantly would a low blood sugar(my lows are usually 55 at their lowest which is not dangerous as long as sugar is available which I carry with me, and does not cause long term health problems) affect my mass and gains? I'm not too concerned as I've managed to get good results while having a few to several dips in my blood sugar weekly. I'd just like to know a little of the science behind it. Also how does high blood sugar affect muscles? I am more cautious of going high as that's what causes future complications and I'm sure not great for your muscles either.
    Last edited by Gfe919; 02-05-2013 at 11:59 PM.
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    There are many factors that contribute to muscle loss with T1D, but it's because of the lack of insulin moreso than blood sugar since insulin is anti-catabolic
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    Registered User Gfe919's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Sarcobium View Post
    There are many factors that contribute to muscle loss with T1D, but it's because of the lack of insulin moreso than blood sugar since insulin is anti-catabolic
    Well I take an insulin injections 5-10 xs daily with carbs and for higher than idea blood sugars, so I don't think I have a lack of insulin
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    Originally Posted by Sarcobium View Post
    There are many factors that contribute to muscle loss with T1D, but it's because of the lack of insulin moreso than blood sugar since insulin is anti-catabolic
    Type I diabetics have injectible insulin or pumps.

    Originally Posted by Gfe919 View Post
    Well I take an insulin injections 5-10 xs daily with carbs and for higher than idea blood sugars, so I don't think I have a lack of insulin
    It's great that you strive for control of hyperglycemia, but I'm uncomfortable with how often you are going hypoglycemic (moreso for your brain than your muscles). Talk with your physician about using a base analog injection like glargine along with short-lived analogs on a meal by meal basis.

    Low blood sugar will not affect your muscles since they lack glucose-6-phosphatase and cannot export glucose in response to this stimulus. Instead, your liver will "catabolize" by undergiong glycogenolysis to get your blood glucose back in range. However, if you overinjected insulin, insulin will dephosporylate phosphorylase kinase and glycogenolysis will be inhibited, causing a hypoglycemic crisis. Which takes me back to my initial point.

    So in short, your muscles will not catabolize in response to low blood glucose. Glucokinase is the primary sensor of blood glucose and muscles lack such. All of this said, you should try to manage your glucose levels a bit better.
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    Registered User Gfe919's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DannySampsonite View Post
    Type I diabetics have injectible insulin or pumps.



    It's great that you strive for control of hyperglycemia, but I'm uncomfortable with how often you are going hypoglycemic (moreso for your brain than your muscles). Talk with your physician about using a base analog injection like glargine along with short-lived analogs on a meal by meal basis.

    Low blood sugar will not affect your muscles since they lack glucose-6-phosphatase and cannot export glucose in response to this stimulus. Instead, your liver will "catabolize" by undergiong glycogenolysis to get your blood glucose back in range. However, if you overinjected insulin, insulin will dephosporylate phosphorylase kinase and glycogenolysis will be inhibited, causing a hypoglycemic crisis. Which takes me back to my initial point.

    So in short, your muscles will not catabolize in response to low blood glucose. Glucokinase is the primary sensor of blood glucose and muscles lack such. All of this said, you should try to manage your glucose levels a bit better.
    Thanks the detailed response.

    But I figured someone would say I'm having too many lows. But I'm not really. Most T1 diabetics will tell you their blood sugar "crashes" every day, often around the same time of day. And my lows that are usually 60+ and rarely much lower, are quickly corrected and less extreme than many diabetics who may not feel symptoms until 45 or 50.

    Some diabetics never have lows, buts that's often because their blood sugar sits in a much higher range, like 180-300 Which is unhealthy. T1 diabetics must basically act as their own pancreas and if you are like me and are able to keep it in the 100-160 range almost all of the time, you're gonna experience a few minor lows here and there unless you are vastly over checking your sugar to prevent them.

    My doctor has told me that the only real negative effect from lows (besides having a severe one with no sugar available) is difficulty to recognize future lows, but that would take chronic low blood sugars, like several every day.
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    Originally Posted by Gfe919 View Post
    Well I take an insulin injections 5-10 xs daily with carbs and for higher than idea blood sugars, so I don't think I have a lack of insulin
    Understood. It's moreso with the case of poor condition management when you have to deprive yourself of insulin because of low blood sugar rather than the low blood sugar itself.
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    Originally Posted by Sarcobium View Post
    Understood. It's moreso with the case of poor condition management when you have to deprive yourself of insulin because of low blood sugar rather than the low blood sugar itself.
    Ah ok, well in my case the amount and frequency of my eating results in me rarely going more than 3-4 hours without taking an insulin injection, except when sleeping (and I take 1 lantus aka "background insulin" ( slow, long acting (24 hr) injection daily) so there is always insulin working at least slightly in my body.

    Does anyone know the effects high blood sugars on muscles? (I'm never above 250 and when I'm above 180 it is a very short-lived episode, usually returning to normal within an hour)
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    Anybody?
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    Originally Posted by Gfe919 View Post
    Ah ok, well in my case the amount and frequency of my eating results in me rarely going more than 3-4 hours without taking an insulin injection, except when sleeping (and I take 1 lantus aka "background insulin" ( slow, long acting (24 hr) injection daily) so there is always insulin working at least slightly in my body.

    Does anyone know the effects high blood sugars on muscles? (I'm never above 250 and when I'm above 180 it is a very short-lived episode, usually returning to normal within an hour)
    typ1 1 diabetic chiming in

    I think the biggest thing that high blood sugar levels would have on your muscles would be your ability to use or fire them with any force or endurance. Basically the biggest issue would be high (or low) blood sugar preventing you from having an effective workout or a workout at all. I've often tried to explain how high blood sugar feels to non diabetics and the best logic I can think of is that's it's like you're muscles are lethargic and lack movement from being worked but you feel sick at the same time. a quick test I've done is compare my ability to do pushups or dips with high blood sugar versus regular blood sugar. The numbers aren't even in the same ballpark when your high or low because your ability to exercise is severely limited when your muscles feel lathargic and weighted down, which leads to your diabetes ending your reps before your muscles ever can really fail. In short, high blood sugar won't cause you to lose muscle, but i personally think it will put you in a position that makes you feel more sick and incapable of performing, which definitely isn't conducive to getting to where you want to be
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    Registered User Gfe919's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dbman4 View Post
    typ1 1 diabetic chiming in

    I think the biggest thing that high blood sugar levels would have on your muscles would be your ability to use or fire them with any force or endurance. Basically the biggest issue would be high (or low) blood sugar preventing you from having an effective workout or a workout at all. I've often tried to explain how high blood sugar feels to non diabetics and the best logic I can think of is that's it's like you're muscles are lethargic and lack movement from being worked but you feel sick at the same time. a quick test I've done is compare my ability to do pushups or dips with high blood sugar versus regular blood sugar. The numbers aren't even in the same ballpark when your high or low because your ability to exercise is severely limited when your muscles feel lathargic and weighted down, which leads to your diabetes ending your reps before your muscles ever can really fail. In short, high blood sugar won't cause you to lose muscle, but i personally think it will put you in a position that makes you feel more sick and incapable of performing, which definitely isn't conducive to getting to where you want to be
    Thanks for the input, dbman. Good to hear from other type 1 diabetics, I don't even know any fellow t1s.

    That's encouraging, because I only lift when blood sugar is 120-160, if its not in that range when I'm ready to lift, I postpone my workout until its good. It's interesting that you've actually tested strength and endurance with high sugars, I've never lifted with a really high sugar, but I didn't notice my workout being any worse when I've lifted with a 160-180 (a few times) but I guess that wouldn't really be high enough to make a big difference.

    I'm just always curious about it because I know that prolonged highs can cause weight loss, so it seems like some of that is muscle. I know when I was diagnosed I'd lost 20 lbs and my muscles thinned out.

    Of course, my hyperglycemic episodes now are not nearly as severe as when I was untreated before diagnosis, and if they were my muscles wouldn't be the main reason to worry.
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    Any more info on this ?

    For example I've heard that glucagon is catabolic, as glucose is taken from liver and muscles to counteract low blood sugar. But diabetics don't really make their own glucagon anymore so would a low blood sugar in a diabetic therefor not affect the muscles because glucagon isn't really being produced?
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    Registered User Gfe919's Avatar
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    In an article (that I can't provide link to because not enough posts) it talks about how insulin can eventually lead to muscle proteins being cannabalized for fuel etc. the article is called "blood sugar and insulin"

    Someone please help me make sense of this and how it would apply to a diabetic I'm so confused
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