Riding with diabetes
Yes I have to admit it I am a Type II Diabetic. After years of fighting with my doctor and trying to control my sugar with diet and exercise, in July of 2010 I accepted the fact that I’m just too sweet 😉 and now I am on medication to control my blood sugar.
The problem is
· I have been over weight most if not all of my life.
· I am “Carb Sensitive” meaning that my body likes carbohydrates and converts most of them to fat hindering my weight control.
· My blood sugar increases during exercise, and continues to peak post exercise.
· I have some other health issues.
· I’m still learning what affects my blood sugar.
So how do I control my sugar while riding? As said above I am still learning how to do that. The following are some to the actions I take to control the sugar at home and while riding.
· I take my medication 2 times a day. In the morning with breakfast and just before going to bed. Furthermore I check the sugar levels twice a day, when I get up and before eating my evening meal. While riding at home and because I know that my sugar increases during exercise, we normally eat shortly after the ride, I’ll take my afternoon/evening reading before riding. While on the road I normally have some cool down time in the afternoons before eating, and my levels will peak and then return to a “normal” state.
· I try to maintain the same diet while on the road that I have at home. I try to avoid a lot of foods that are high in carbohydrates; yes I know that that is against the practice of carb loading, by eating a low carb (not carb free) high protein diet. “Wait a moment, you told us that you eat spaghetti in one of you posts in the forum Food On & For The Road http://worldpedal.com/groups/food-on-for-the-road/. ” Yes I do, but it is the whole-wheat (brown) spaghetti. The white type increases my sugar levels to 2-3 times my target level for the morning reading. Also I will eat a peanut butter jelly sandwich. Interestingly fruits will affect my levels differently depending on how they are processed. For example if I eat an raw apple my levels will not increase very much, but if I eat my wife’s home made no sugar added applesauce the level will increase a lot. The only thing I can figure is that the process of making the applesauce releases more natural sugars from the fruit.
· I avoid using the sports drinks, electrolyte drinks, and gels. But depending on the length of the ride, the environment of the ride, and other factors, I will use the above-mentioned items. In September of 2010 after riding about 50 miles in 95° F (35° C) I consumed 2 ice cream sandwiches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_cream_sandwich) and 1.9 liters of sports drink. While riding I had water, electrolyte drink, a peanut butter and home made jelly sandwich, cheese, some fresh fruit and vegetables. That evening about 3 hours post riding and consuming the above-mentioned post ride items, my level was in the normal range.
As I mentioned at the top of this, my blood sugar increases during exercise, and continues to peak post exercise. I ran a couple tests on myself; I took a reading and then rode for about an hour. While riding the only thing that I ingested was water. Immediately after ending the ride I checked the sugar level and it was increased by a minimum of 20 units then the pre ride reading. I then waited 30 minutes, again nothing but water, and tested again with even a higher reading. Thirty minutes later still even higher. After an additional 30 minutes (90 minutes post ride) the readings started to drop. Of course I do not know at what level it peaked at, or for that matter when it started to come down. The reading at the 60 min post ride may have been lower then the peak or it may not have reached the peak yet. When I questioned my doctor about this, because he said that my sugar should go down during exercise, he started into a major explanation on how the liver and adrenal gland as well as the fat cells breaking down were releasing sugar into the blood stream to provide fuel of the muscles and that the pancreas is not producing or releasing enough natural insulin to compensate for the flood. He wanted to know how long the decent took too stabilized and at what point on the scale. That I could not answer, I had either lunch or supper after the ride.
I have not ridden any multiple week/month tours since I was officially diagnosed as a diabetic (work keeps getting in the way), so I do not know what affect that type of riding will have on the levels. I am hoping that they will come down over all.
Being a Type II Diabetic has other problems associated with it beside the high blood sugars.
· Injuries take longer to heal.
· Vascular and neural changes that can result in loss of extremities and sight.
· Increase thirst and increase urine production. Not sure which comes first, but I believe that is the urine production.
· Increased food intake.
Some of the things other then foods that I know that raise the glucose levels are
· Certain medications, both over the counter and prescription.
· Stress, both at work and at home.
My riding performance depends on my overall health, and my overall health depends on my riding performance. While keeping that balance I sometimes feel that I’m walking a tight rope and that any slip either way will have serious consequences on the other.
Interesting thoughts mate. Out of interest, have you tried things like nuun (carb free electrolyte drink in tab form), or calcium magnesium tablet supplement to help with muscle / bone repair and reduce cramps.
I can identify your with your headspace somewhat, a few years ago I was diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease that hasn’t gone well. It’s interesting, a lot of people constantly tell me what I can’t do. can’t do this, can’t do that, can’t exercise etc etc etc. I accept all of that but I reject the negative “can’t” connotation, and focus on what I “can” do. Sounds cliche, but that’s what I’ve arrived at. For sure in you’re post there’s a lot of negatives in there, but I’ll bet there’s a lot of positives in your life and riding too. I’ve had to totally reinvent myself as a rider and a person – and what I’ve found is having to focus solely on what I can do and what makes me happy has caused me to cut away a lot of stuff out of my life that was making me unhappy anyhow. What I have now is a set of conditions caused by my illness I have to work within, but within that what I have is total freedom to do what makes me happy. I hope you’re getting my drift and it helps you in some way. Cheers, L
Thanks for the tip on Nuun. I had never heard of it. After doing a Google search I see that is widely available in the States. I’ll have to give it a try. I can see that on a tour that they can be more convenient then the powders. We have gone to using the small tubes of drink mix (like this http://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Blackberry-Grape-Drink-Mix-.88-oz-10ct/16940542) and adding a pinch of salt to it. They come in many different flavors from many different companies, and some have a bit of caffeine in them.
Yes like most people there are negative issues in my life and sometimes they get the better of me. Fortunately the positives out number the negatives. Number one positive is that I have a FANTASTIC WIFE of 38 years. She and I have our own interests, but we also share a lot of the same ones and cycling is just one of them.
Don’t you just love it when people tell you that you can’t do something because of a health condition? In most instances it is something that they perceive that they would not do if they had that condition. Furthermore they would not do it anyways. For example I’ve been told that maybe I should not ride since I crashed last month and suffered an injury to the leg. “What if you crash again?” These are people that don’t ride anyways. I have a friend that has had one knee broke (not from riding) and has surgery on the other 3 times. He too has been told not to ride, but does, again by people who don’t make any attempt at any form of exercise. Our doctors have told him like myself that we need to ride to keep our knees working.
It is because of my different health issues, that I ride. I’m not trying to prove anything to myself or anyone else. I just refuse to dry up and blow away. Being that Diane, now retired, and I work in the Health Care we have seen too many people just give up because of a change in their health status. People many years younger (20-30) stop living life because they are told that they have an incurable disease and sit back and wait to die. I plan to go down fighting. Until I can’t get on some type of bike, I’ll be out there riding (my next purchase may be a three wheel recumbent, no falling over 😉 ). So what if I crash again and get killed, at least I will have died doing something I love and not sitting behind a desk, as I am right now, or being a couch potato.
I hear ya bro. If anything, getting sick has given me the courage to just go out and do the things I dream about – nobody else is going to do them for me, it’s not going to happen if I sit around waiting, and I’m not going to get the chance to do them later – so I better get them done now.
Quick tip – carry the tube of nuun / zym in your jersey pocket, the tabs get too rattled around and broken up in luggage / on the bike 🙂