Sports and Blood Sugar, WTF?

Over the past few months I’ve been getting the hang of managing my blood sugar levels, learning different techniques and having a good idea of what number I’m about to see before I see it. Since I eliminated day / mealtime insulin its become even easier. The only thing I’ve been having trouble with is managing and understanding my blood sugar level during sports, particularly basketball.

The first time I played basketball with diabetes  (4 months ago) I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I think I ate and took insulin at the same time, had some Gatorade and hoped for the best. As you would guess that didn’t work out.

After realizing that mixing all of that together would make it impossible to develop a strategy, I then switched to reducing insulin use before games with the hope of getting up to around 150 and gradually burning out all that glucose during the game and finishing up in the normal (80-120) range. My biggest fear at this time was going low, so this was a start high, end low type of strategy. This worked a couple of times, but it wasn’t easy to get my blood sugar that high without over and under shooting my target range.

My newest strategy since cutting back on insulin is to leave a 1.5 to 2 hour gap between any “blood sugar changing” activities such as eating, using insulin and stress. The idea here was that during sports, the less things that have an effect on my blood sugar the better. This actually worked out for a while but after playing more intensely for longer periods of time I began to start going high during games. I start out at 90 and end up at 180-190 roughly 25 minutes into the game. I’m not sure if it is caused by adrenaline or the physical demand. Either way, its a reminder that I’m diabetic and pretty dam annoying.

Here’s the part I REALLY don’t understand. Immediately after playing I could be at 190, and a re-test with the same meter 2 seconds later and get something ~40 points lower. Around 30 minutes later I’m right back in the normal range without the use of insulin. Is it normal to get seemingly random results during physical activity? If my blood sugar level is changing so rapidly, how do I go about treating it? Any suggestions are welcome!


May 2012
POSTED IN sports

4 Responses to : Sports and Blood Sugar, WTF?

  1. Hey Drew!

    Welcome! I’m glad to connect with you. I’ve lived with T1D for 32 years now.

    I play a fair amount of basketball, though it’s probably not as competitive as what you do (I just play at a local YMCA).

    It took me a long time of trial and error, and keeping good notes, to figure out a strategy that works for me. Even with all of that, there are days where it just doesn’t go right.

    What can you tell me about your current insulin delivery methods? Are you using a pump? Pens?

  2. Oh yeah – love the picture. I’m in MN, and was a big KG fan until he bailed on us. 🙂

  3. drew says:

    I have an insulin pen, but have recently stopped using insulin almost entirely. I was just diagnosed in January so i think I only needed the insulin to get my blood sugar under control. Not sure how long that will last but its working for now 🙂

    • Cool – take advantage of that honeymoon period and enjoy it as long as you can. As you mentioned in one of your earlier posts, you’re still making a bunch of your own insulin.

      I’m using an insulin pump. On the days I play basketball I usually cut my basal insulin back by 50% for 3 hours, starting about 60-90 minutes before I hit the court. Even with that I sometimes have to consume some carbs while playing (Gatorade, etc), but that’s a pretty normal thing even for a non-diabetic athlete.

      Talk more soon!

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