As you know, there are many health benefits of exercise for athletes with diabetes. But unlike running with Type 2, running with Type 1 (especially long-distance running) requires more planning and precautionary measures. Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 5-10% of all cases, yet most avid athletes with diabetes fall into the Type 1 category. While athletes with Type 2 often make their own insulin and rely on changes to the diet and exercise (and maybe oral meds) to manage the disease, athletes with Type 1 have absolute insulin deficiency, which means that this chronic disease is treated with diet and exercise along with insulin injections. While most runners don’t need to think twice about insulin or glucagon levels—or even glucose production during exercise—for the athlete with Type 1, careful consideration must be given to these factors before, during, and after each run.
Many variables influence blood sugar fluctuations during activity; the two factors that can be most easily tweaked include insulin and diet. Athletes with Type 1 should talk to their endocrinologist or physician about their training regimen, performance goals, and their levels in order to see if their insulin regimen should be modified during training. In addition, Type 1 runners—those new to the sport and seasoned athletes—should be sure to regularly monitor blood glucose levels in order to understand their body’s response to exercise and fueling. Keith, it sounds like you’re doing this since you mentioned your levels remain close to near normal, if not a bit above (which is likely fine because you don’t want those levels to plummet, leading to hypoglycemia).
As for fueling, most runners require 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour when running long. But in some situations, the runner with Type 1 should think twice and adjust carbohydrate and insulin intake, depending on blood glucose levels before starting out, length and intensity of the run, time of day, time of last meal, and previous reaction to similar bouts of exercise.
Carb supplements can certainly be useful when the opportunity to run sneaks up on you, your last meal was a while ago, and you need fuel to get through a long run. When working with any athlete with diabetes, I always recommend they plan ahead and have a gel, sports drink, or other form of fast-acting fuel (such as a honey packet) available in case they start to feel low during a workout. For any athlete out on the road for much longer than 60 minutes, this extra carb can help maintain blood glucose levels and delay fatigue.
As far as fueling during the run, generally experts recommend a starting point of 15-30 grams every 30-60 minutes. But this is just a starting point and based on your blood glucose levels, your intake of a GU (with 25 grams of carb) every 15 minutes seems to be working for you. Be sure to follow each GU with enough water to prevent dehydration and keep nutrients and blood flowing in an efficient manner. Since you noted that you tolerate the volume of gels you’ve been taking, I’m guessing you’ve got your water-chasers under control.
As far as GU versus other gels, I like the blend of carb and other nutrients found in the GU, and since your gut seems to like the blend too, there’s no reason to switch. If you’re looking to try another product, you might consider Hammer gel, as it has slightly fewer total carb per serving (21g), and with only 2 grams of sugar, has half the amount found in GU (which has 25 grams of carb and 5 grams of sugar). I know plenty of runners who have sensitive stomachs or are sensitive to energy spikes who like the Hammer products. Similar to the GU product, trying a new gel or drink (or bar/bean/block!) can take some trial and error. Remember to always make note of your blood sugar levels, how you felt, and your overall performance.
all information today was found on a website – I felt that this was good information for someone with type 1 diabetes looking to run long distance