Fitness & Nutrition with Type 1 Diabetes – a Guest Post by Dan

Hi everyone!

I’m really excited to share with you a great guest article by Dan from This post came about after I approached Dan to ask him for advice regarding a friend of mine who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My friend wanted to find out more about ways to keep fit and make sure his diet supported his active lifestyle as much as possible. Knowing that Protein Pow is full of sugar-free recipes, he asked me which ones would be best suited for him. I, in turn, asked Dan.

Now, before I hand the mic over to Dan, I want to say one quick thing:

People are every day are being diagnosed with not just Diabetes but all sorts of auto-immune conditions that affect their every day lives. All kinds of people. Fit people. Young and older people. People for whom it comes out of nowhere; people who don’t expect it.

The first reaction to receiving such a diagnosis is shock, disbelief, and very often sadness. It’s disempowering, at the end of the day, you know? To be told, “you have X and will have X all your life.” In addition to, in most cases, being told that,”there’s nothing you can do about it”. Getting that kind of news sucks. It’s important though, I think, for people to do their best to gain some control back and realize that you know what? Your life WILL change, yes, but you don’t HAVE To let this define you or disempower you from leading an active, fun, and yes, healthy lifestyle!

That’s a big reason why I love what Dan is doing with his website so much: he’s sharing his experience and showing people first-hand that, diagnosis or not, a fit, happy, and superhero-packed life is possible! That all you have to do is make some changes but at the end of the day you can lead a rich, full, and exciting life just as you would have without your diagnosis. Aaaanyways, you’re not here for me! You’re here for Dan. So, Dan, over to ya:


Hello, all!

First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Dan, I’m currently 27, I live in London, England and, on the 19th November of 2011, I was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic.

For those of you who are reading this and haven’t experienced diabetes – there are two main types, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 is an auto-immune condition (the body essentially attacks itself) which cannot be prevented and Type 2 is usually lifestyle related (commonly from obesity issues) and accounts for 90% of all diabetics.

Diabetes is, in basic terms, a condition that stops your body from producing insulin to deal with the glucose in your body. In order to combat this all Type 1 and most Type 2 diabetics require artificial insulin injected into the body at various points throughout the day to manage their blood sugar levels. Unmanaged blood sugars can lead to severe long-term health complications such as heart, kidney, liver and nerve damage, blindness, amputations and possible mental side effects.

Having always been an active kid and teenager I was determined to learn as much about my body as I could to try and manage my diabetes better when I was first diagnosed. This has led me down a path of being fascinated with nutrition and fitness and how I can use these tools to help with my auto-immune disease. I am currently training with Body Type Nutrition to become a nutrition coach and have also set up my own blog to provide information to diabetics as well as give my experiences living with the auto-immune disorder.

Diabetes is a constant life-long lesson.

Rules which work one day may not necessarily work the next. However, through constant learning and self-experimentation as well as talking to others, reading countless articles, listening to podcasts and watching seminars, this has allowed me to understand the benefits of good nutrition and an active lifestyle when it comes to keeping my blood glucose levels at a good level.

One of the first things that diabetics are taught when they’re first diagnosed is how they have to alter their diet to suit. We’re instantly introduced to carb-counting as simple and complex carbohydrates release varying rates of glucose into the body. However, very little is usually spoken about to begin with when it comes to protein.

We now, however, understand that if protein is ingested without the presence of a carbohydrate source in a meal then this does cause blood sugars to rise. Approximately 50% of the protein consumed can be converted into glucose if this is the case (for example a whey protein shake with zero added carbs, or a chicken breast/ steak/ pork chop without rice, potato etc.). This is why diabetics who adopt a ketogenic/ low-carb diet may still see a rise in blood sugars if they are unaware of this. If you follow this diet approach, it’s therefore a good idea to count the amount of grams of protein, take roughly half that amount and use your bolus/ meal-time/ rapid insulin as if it was a carbohydrate.

If a moderate amount of carbohydrates are added to a meal, then this has a sparing effect which means that the protein consumed is used for other bodily functions rather than supplying the body with glucose, such as bodily growth, muscular repair and hormonal function. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to have some form of carb with your protein at meal times. Protein is an essential macro-nutrient and is a fantastic one to utilise for fat loss and muscle building – it shouldn’t be used to make our condition any more difficult.

Diabetes usually gets a lot of negative column inches in the media and as such there’s a lot of poorly researched information out there on what diabetes can and cannot eat.

As diabetics, we have to be mindful of our nutrition. Protein ingestion in itself does not cause kidney damage if your kidneys are already healthy, however chronically high blood glucose levels are. Therefore, if you do suffer from kidney damage a high protein intake starts to have a negative effect on our bodies and it may be a good idea to speak with your dietician if a low-protein diet would be a good idea.

It’s a very good idea to find varying ways of getting protein into your diet. Protein Pow is a fantastic resource for recipes and delicious new ways to get different forms of protein into your diet. It’s packed with great information regarding all kinds of different protein powders and tips on how best to use them in the kitchen. I’ve actually been following Protein Pow and Anna’s work using protein powders for a few years now!

When it comes to protein powder, whey protein can sometimes get a bad rep in the media. But the truth of it is, whey is just derived from diary and is one of the best quality sources of protein available. When it comes to buying whey protein or any time of protein bar, make sure you do your research. Nutritional labels are key, especially the “of which sugars” underneath the carbohydrates line. Many off-the-shelf protein bars aren’t much better than regular sweets or chocolate bars just with a bit of added protein so it’s always a good idea to look around, ask someone who is qualified what they would recommend and why before spending your hard-earned money.

Anna has has very kindly asked me to pick 25 of my favourite recipes as a diabetic to recommend to all of you reading this. I’ve gone for varying types of recipes and tried to include as many “fun” ones as I can as we’re constantly told that we can’t eat this or that and well, food is food and food is awesome! And hey, life is too short not to eat cake. Or muffins. Or pancakes :-)

If you’d like to find out more about me and/or have any other questions regarding fitness and exercise with Type 1 Diabetes, check out my website here. You can also contact me on Facebook and I’m also on Twitter and Instagram! I look forward to hearing from you.


I love food and cooking and regularly post recipes on my website. Click here to check them out! I also make a lot of Anna’s Protein Pow recipes. Here are my personal favourites:

1) 4 Ingredient Whey Protein Ice-Cream
2) Almond & Dark Chocolate Protein Bars
3) Protein Pow Pancakes
4) Zero-Carb (Oreo-esqure) Protein Cookies
5) Fish Tacos with Low-Carb & Gluten Free Protein Tortillas
6) Protein Creme Eggs
7) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Cookies
8) Double Chocolate Fudge Low-Carb Protein Bars
9) Super Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken
10) Double Chocolate & Nut Protein Pow Bars
11) Spicy Chicken Protein Pizza (Gluten Free)
12) Chocolate Protein Mousse
13) Blueberry Protein Pancakes
14) Holy Sh*t! It’s The Healthiest Protein Cereal In The World:
15) Almond & Chocolate Protein Donuts
16) Protein Pow Truffles (Vegan)
17) Protein Pow Muffins
18) Caramel Protein Cake
19) Cherry Protein Cheesecake
20) Blackberry Protein Fluff (MY FAVOURITE!!!!)
21) Black Onyx (Cocoa) Protein Shake
22) Low-Carb Protein Tortillas – With Grass-Fed Steak Fajitas
23) Apple & Raspberry Whey Isolate Zest With Yogurt & Fresh British Strawberries
24) Hot Dark Chocolate Heaven
25) Strawberry & Cream Protein Pow Fluff

Thanks, everyone! Speak to you all soon.