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  1. #1
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    Diabetic rider badly needs nutrition advice

    So I have been mountain biking casually for several years. But this year I've kicked it up a couple notches and decided to train hard and ride as hard as I can. I tend to get my ass kicked by my diabetes most of the time. One of two things happens. I start with a normal blood sugar, and end up with a severe blood sugar crash that leaves me ruined. It happens even if I am pulling gatorade from my camelbak. Its just not enough to keep me sustained from a normal blood sugar. The other thing is I try to load up on carbs beforehand, my blood sugar goes high and I dehydrate from it in 30 minutes of hard riding or less. I can't seem to walk the line. Any other diabetic riders out there have any advice? Thanks in advance - Scotto

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    From my experience, don't load up on carbs before you start, but take enough to replace them as you ride. I check my glucose level before I leave. If it's normal, I'll bring a Powerbar and/or a pack of energy chews (like Gu Chomps) for every 45 to 60 minutes I expect to be out, and then one more in case I end up riding longer. It's very important to replace carbs as you ride, especially if you're grinding up a long hill, or spinning on a fast flat.

    Your ratios are probably different. One book that really helped me get it figured out was The Diabetic Athlete's Handbook by Sheri Colberg. The first few chapters are full of general information, then she goes into specifics for each sport. It's a lot of good info.

    I had a lot of similar sounding problems last year, when I was first starting out on longer rides. I read that book during the winter, and haven't had any issues this year.

    You'll need to figure out how many grams of carbs to eat each hour. That book has tables based on your weight. Powerbars and Clif bars seem to be better for keeping my levels normal as I'm riding. If I do feel low, energy gels or chews seem to bring it back up more quickly than Powerbars, which is why I carry both.

    The key is to eat something before you crash. I listen to music on my phone while I ride, and I sometimes set a reminder to go off in 60 minutes. Otherwise, I'm tempted to keep going until I feel woozy, which is not very safe.
    Justin
    Salt Lake City
    2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29
    2006 Specialized Allez Expert Double

  3. #3
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    Authalic thank you so much for the timely and wise advice. I appreciate hearing from other riders who have the same challenges and have been able to get past them. That book is something I have seen mentioned in several other threads I read about this. I will certainly be picking that up. Thanks again for the timely response.

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    One thing that helps stabilize blood sugar levels is a good fish oil supplement, it certainly wont fix your problem but it can help. One brand that is very good is nordic naturals.

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    Plus one thing.......are you taking a long acting insulin?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcrn12 View Post
    One thing that helps stabilize blood sugar levels is a good fish oil supplement, it certainly wont fix your problem but it can help. One brand that is very good is nordic naturals.
    Do you have scientific research demonstrating a link between glycemic control and fish oil supplementation?

    I am not aware of this information and it would be interesting to read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcrn12 View Post
    Plus one thing.......are you taking a long acting insulin?
    Yes I'm using Levemir 25u AM and 25u PM.Not sure if I can use fish oil supplements. I've had an intermittent allergic type reaction after eating seafood. Not sure if a fish oil supplement would set it off, but a bit nervous about trying it. I can hardly wait to get my hands on that book. Ordered it off amazon the other night.

  8. #8
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    I haven't biked with any diabetics, but i've played other sports with them. For the most part they got by with gatorade. Some sort of sugary energy chew would probably be good too, but you would need a more liquid to help digest etc. If it were me I would try drinking more gatorade, but I know sometimes that bloaty feeling sucks.

    Have you talked to a doctor or dietician?

  9. #9
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    Diabetic rider badly needs nutrition advice

    Trial and error Scott. There is no easy answer and all our bodies respond differently. Also as soon as you have it figured it may change.

    Personally, I pack a pound of candy just incase, test often, have a small snack before riding and back off insulin pump.

    Have fun.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies folks. I did receive the book "The Diabetic Athlete's Handbook" that Justin recommended, and I must say it is a wealth of knowledge. I have already seen some improvement, having been on two rides with no blood sugar crashes or extreme highs. Still not really dialed in, but definitely a small improvement. Lahrs is right, trial and error, but mostly error so far. The book does provide a great foundation to work from. Mountain biking is so weird to deal with because of the sudden extreme extended bursts of energy with the not so intense periods in between. I've been able to play football and do long periods of manual labor without having this problem, but mountain biking brings it out. I pack a big bag of skittles in my saddle bag and a packet of gatorade chews in my pocket. The skittles are a last resort. I usually fill one bottle with gatorade and wear my camelbak with water. The gatorade alone cannot keep my booldsugar stable and it tears up my stomach while working out. I found something new called Skratch, a hydration formula full of natural complex carbs. I'm going to give it a try.

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    Diabetic rider badly needs nutrition advice

    Skratch Labs is awesome. My favourite drink. It doesn't give me gut rot like Gatorade etc. I mix it stronger on hotter/harder days.

    Like I alluded to before, once your body gets used to the harder riding it will hopefully not drop bsl as much as it does initially.

    Cheers.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lahrs View Post
    Skratch Labs is awesome. My favourite drink. It doesn't give me gut rot like Gatorade etc. I mix it stronger on hotter/harder days.

    Like I alluded to before, once your body gets used to the harder riding it will hopefully not drop bsl as much as it does initially.

    Cheers.
    so I'm not the only person who feels like I've been kicked in the gut if I drink Gatorade while working out? Haha! I thought I was just a freak. I see so many people drinking Gatorade without any problem.

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    Other drink powder options I've used that have minimal artificial flavors and colors -
    Refresh (clear), Hammer HEED

  14. #14
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    Scott, what type diabetes do you have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    Scott, what type diabetes do you have?
    with 25 units of Levemir morning and night I would assume Type 1, but I don't know the doses some Type 2s are taking...

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    I would suggest talking to your Dr, or a nutritionist.

  17. #17
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    Lots of great info here. I am not a diabetic, but all except two people in my family are, so I try to follow a the diabetic diet in an effort to avoid/ stave off the problem. Gatorade always tasted sickeningly sweet to me and hurt my stomach too. Does anyone have any comments/feelings on the sweetness/syrupy level of Skratch, Refresh (clear), Hammer HEED?
    "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

    Specialized Myka SE disc 26"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Auntie Maim View Post
    Lots of great info here. I am not a diabetic, but all except two people in my family are, so I try to follow a the diabetic diet in an effort to avoid/ stave off the problem. Gatorade always tasted sickeningly sweet to me and hurt my stomach too. Does anyone have any comments/feelings on the sweetness/syrupy level of Skratch, Refresh (clear), Hammer HEED?
    IME Refresh and Hammer are still sweet-ish because they are carb drinks, but not as syrupy and fake-tasting as Gatorade. Hammer is quite mild, and Refresh Clear (my current fuel) is pretty mild too.
    You can buy single servings of HEED so it's cheap to test out for yourself.

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    because of certain restrictions and it taking a good bit of planning it doesnt work for everyone but have you ever considered a ketogenic diet? I do it off and on for weight loss purposes but it has shown to be very beneficial for diabetes. I can tell you that personally, coming from someone who consumed a good deal of carbs that cutting them out of my diet makes me feel the best that i have in years. Consistent energy and no crashes

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by crit_boy View Post
    Do you have scientific research demonstrating a link between glycemic control and fish oil supplementation?

    I am not aware of this information and it would be interesting to read.

    I am so sorry I did not pay attention to this thread and did not respond earlier...here is one study Fish oil supplements may help fight against type 2 diabetes -- ScienceDaily

  21. #21
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    not a scientific study but IMO this company makes great supplements ProOmega Blood Sugar - Nordic Naturals Pro

  22. #22
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    Just checking in as a fellow type 1 rider. I'm 31, type 1 since I was ten, insulin pump. I started riding 2 years ago and have been relatively successful with riding with diabetes. Usually requires eating a few cliff shots during the ride. Recently been experimenting with lowering my basal rate about an hour before the ride as per endo's advice.

    Sunday I went for a ride with a group that is faster then me but I tend not to push past my limits. If i get far behind them I dont stress, they wait at intersections. Anyway it was a tough ride, hot, humid. I ate too many carbs on the ride and my sugar was skyrocketing when I got off the trail. When I stopped riding I felt a little off...figured i was over heating and just got in my car and blasted the ac. I started to drive away and a few minutes in realized I couldn't. Had to pull over because I was getting light headed and dizzy.

    Ambulance came, whole 9...ended up in the ER getting 2 bags of fluid.

    in retrospect I realize i didn't drink much water the day before, so even drinking water while riding maybe I dehydrated from not having enough in my system to start with. I'm not 100% sure though if I dehydrated from my sugar going high or if they aren't really related. Probably made it worse. Maybe if my sugar wasn't shooting up to the moon I would have been able to rehydrate with fluids myself.

    Anyway the whole thing obviously freaked me out. My sugars came back down pretty quickly in the ER but I haven't felt 100% since. No dizzyness but still some very faint light headedness or just generally feeling off.

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    I havent checked in here in a while, but I have been riding more than ever. My type 1 is still a puzzle to me, but Im doing a more consistent job. I find if I eat a load of protein and long acting carbs befor ea ride I do better, but I still am playing hit or miss at how much to eat while I ride. I did the Tour de Cure 100 in Springdale AR last weekend and felt great for 50 miles. Then my blood sugar tanked and I played catchup the rest of the ride. I was eating constantly but couldnt eat enough to keep my sugar level above 60 unless I stopped for 30 minutes which wasnt an option. SOm eof the hints and tips I have read on here have helped a lot though, and I really a[ppreciate it.

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottomatic View Post
    I havent checked in here in a while, but I have been riding more than ever. My type 1 is still a puzzle to me, but Im doing a more consistent job. I find if I eat a load of protein and long acting carbs befor ea ride I do better, but I still am playing hit or miss at how much to eat while I ride. I did the Tour de Cure 100 in Springdale AR last weekend and felt great for 50 miles. Then my blood sugar tanked and I played catchup the rest of the ride. I was eating constantly but couldnt eat enough to keep my sugar level above 60 unless I stopped for 30 minutes which wasnt an option. SOm eof the hints and tips I have read on here have helped a lot though, and I really a[ppreciate it.
    fueling on long rides is a challenge - as you said there is a limit of how much carbs you can take in, plus you have to hydrate.
    For your 100 you may have given yourself too much insulin.

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    sorry about messing up this thread.

    I should not have commented on anything as i wasn't interested in stating advice which was completely sound, but would have needed paragraphs of additional explanation if I was asked about it.

    diabetic advice? consult with an endocrinologist who specializes in sports and diabetes. that is the real answer. also test your blood sugar continually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn902 View Post
    Have you talked to a doctor or dietician?
    Best reply so far.

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    Really Plugp7? I'm guessing you aren't a diabetic rider trying to figure out how to balance the interval training type demands of mountain biking with type 1 diabetes. Of course I have spoken with a doctor, a dietitian, and an endocrinologist. Once? Nope. Twice? Many times, yes. their knowledge is a good base to start from, but it doesn't replace what there is out there to be learned from other people who are dealing with the same circumstances and what things they have learned or found that make it easier to handle. Maybe they can tell me WHY carb loading didn't work for them at a time when it seems like the only answer to me. Then I can either avoid it, or change it so that maybe it will work for me. Whatever. I've been type 1 for 30 years. I test my blood sugar 6x a day on a normal day and 12-14 x on a ride or race day. This thread was a request for specific experiences with this situation because I can learn from that.

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    I think what the OP is was looking for is more of a "support type" thread from other Type 1's. Not people telling him to consult a dr as if that was a novel idea.

    I dont train, but I ride 2-3 times a week (if i'm lucky) and when I do its usually pretty hard. I wear a pump and one of the best things I've found is to reduce my basal rate by 50% an hour before I start riding. I totally get what you are saying though about loading up before hand. you really cant start a good workout with high blood sugar so its a delicate line because you also dont want to have that low feeling when your sugar is crashing even if it isn't going to reach a low

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    Diabetic rider badly needs nutrition advice

    Scott, congrats on the 30 years. I always thought we should an award from JDRF or whoever for milestones. I just passed the 25yr mark.

    As for advice, trial and error. But I think you already know that Then once you get it right, the body changes.

    On a short hard ride I don't worry about adjusting basal, just eat a banana before I head out. For anything longer I reduce on a sliding scale, 30% for 2hrs - right through to 90% for a 24hr race.

    My last race Animas lent me a Dexcom system. If your insurance or bank account allows I would strongly recommend getting one. During that race I had a major hypo after overdosing on insulin at start of race trying to combat elevated BSL. With the Dexcom I was able to ride through it balancing glucose intake, what my stomach could handle and ride speed. Was right on the 4 mmol mark for over 4hrs. Rest of race was great and if anything, having to ride the start of race at low intensity paid off in the end.

    I know everybody says, "see a doctor". In reality I have met very few who have any useful advice for a highly active diabetic. You know your body way better than they ever can.

    Good luck.

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    Oops. Upset some people here.
    No I do not have T1 diabetes; my comments were based on my own experience with my medical condition.
    I have Atrial Fibrilation and Atrial Flutter. One of the medications I take limits my heart rate to 130 -135 bpm. As you can imagine, this limits how hard/fast/long I can ride. There is a certain amount of anecdotal evidence on the net, in various forums etc. on how to cope with this in performance exercise, but non as useful as the advice I get off my cardiologist. This is what I base my comment on.
    If I have offended in some way the OP or hankscorpio, I apologise. I hope you find something useful in this thread that will help or support you in enjoying this fantastic recreational activity.
    My best wishes.

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    Fwit, I wear a dexcom and while normally it's close to accurate while riding is when it's off the most. They don't read blood. They read a fluid that is going to read lower then your bs at certain times. It's great to have on rides but on a long ride I find I need to have a meter too. Especially if you have a low and treat it and keep riding I find the dexcom will continue to read low for much longer. That can lead to over treating.

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