Athletes who are competing in endurance sports or high-intensity training programs that have Type I Diabetes can achieve improved blood glucose levels with the right nutrition protocol and supplement regimen. But what supplements should athletes with diabetes take, to balance blood sugar levels and ensure fewer hypo/hyperglycemic episodes during training?
In This Article You Will Learn
- Nutrition For Diabetic Athletes
- Macronutrient Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
- What Are The Best Supplements For Diabetic Athletes?
- What Supplements To Stay Away For Diabetic Athletes?
- What’s The Recommended Amount Of Carbohydrates For Diabetic Athletes?
- Pre Training Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
- Post Training Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
Nutrition For Type I Diabetic Athletes
Type I diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people around the world. Type I also known as insulin dependent diabetes is characterized as a disorder in which the body is no longer able to produce its own insulin. Insulin is vital in normal hormonal function because it allows sugar to enter blood cells to provide energy. For those affected with Type I diabetes, beta cells in the pancreas are no longer able to dispel insulin, therefore muscles are no longer able to absorb sugar from the blood. Since glucose is not absorbed, it can lead to high blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia.
A decrease in blood sugar or hypoglycemia can also occur. Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar levels that fall below 70 mg/dl. Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include headache, hunger, sweating, shaking, or weakness. This decrease in blood sugar is often due to the treatment of diabetes. This can be caused by injecting too much insulin or exercising too much without eating.
When it comes to endurance sports, athletes with diabetes should closely monitor glucose levels and develop a proper insulin plan for training with an endocrinologist. Diabetic athletes should also consult a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports and diabetes care.
Macronutrient Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
Competitive athletes demand more from their bodies, which means they have additional nutriment requirements. Diabetic athletes have an even greater challenge to correctly balance blood glucose levels to achieve optimal cognitive performance and well as physical performance when competing at a higher level.
General macronutrient requirements are similar to individuals without diabetes, however carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements must be met in order to optimize and fuel athletic performance.
Diabetic athletes require a daily fat percentage of 20-25% of total calories. Diabetic athletes can also consume fat-soluble vitamins and should supplement with essential fatty acids or Omega-3s. We recommend Krill Oil. Fish oil has long been the preferred and recommended source of Omega-3. However, recent evidence suggests that Krill Oil is a far superior choice for athletes. Krill oil has been shown to be absorbed 68% better within 2-3 hours, as opposed to fish oil, which can take anywhere from 48-72 hours [R] This suggests that the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in Krill Oil can be absorbed much faster than Fish Oil [R] Faster absorption, will help with faster recovery, more workouts, and better athletic performance
RELATED ARTICLE Is Krill Oil Better than Fish Oil
Protein requirements range between 1.2-1.4 g/kg body weight for endurance athletes and 1.2-1.7 g/ kg body weight for strength athletes. However the most critical macronutrient for diabetic athletes are carbohydrates [R].
For those engaging in a combination of aerobic or strength training exercise (such as CrossFit) Carbohydrate consumption ranging from 6 to 10 g/kg of body weight/day is recommended to maintain blood glucose and replace muscle glycogen during activity [R]. Prolonged endurance training that last longer than 60 minutes may require additional carbohydrate intake to keep blood glucose levels within a safe and manageable range. We recommend Clean Carbs, since it’s made from 100% real complex carbohydrate super foods; sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries. Complex carbohydrates provide long-lasting sustained energy and do not spike blood glucose levels like simple carbohydrates and other carb products such as maltodextrin, cyclic dextrin, and dextrose.
What Are The Best Supplements For Diabetic Athletes?
First and foremost, it’s crucial that when considering supplementation, you choose a brand that is transparent in labeling and that does not use proprietary blends. Most supplement companies will use several ingredients and place them into blend or as I like to call a ‘mystery mix’ of ingredients. Proprietary blends do not list the actual amount of each ingredient it contains. Without knowing what you’re supplementing, you put yourself at greater risk and susceptibility to an episode from glucose level variability. All Swolverine supplements use transparency in labeling and do not hide behind proprietary blends, so you know and trust what you’re consuming.
RELATED ARTICLE What Is A Proprietary Blend In Supplements?
The Best Supplement For Diabetic Athletes: Carbohydrates
During exercise, glucose is burned in the muscle and also taken up from the blood very quickly. In type 1 diabetics, this can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, since glycogen is depleted so quickly during exercise. In individuals without diabetes glucose is relatively unchanged during exercise because glucose uptake by skeletal muscles is specifically matched by the amount of glucose released from the liver [R].
Athletes with diabetes are physically just as capable when competing or training just as everyone else, until complications such as hypoglycemia occurs. Since glycogen is depleted extremely quickly during intense exercise bouts, it is extremely important to supplement with carbohydrates to ensure adequate glucose levels. Glucose is the preferred energy source for optimal brain function and during prolonged training. Type I Diabetics don’t produce insulin; therefore blood glucose levels will tend to be higher.
However after insulin is administered, blood glucose drops, therefore it is critical to keep within a normal blood glucose level, so that glucose levels don’t drop to low after endurance training. With low levels of glucose, physical performance will suffer, response times will slow, and muscles will fatigue due to an inadequate fuel supply from glycogen depletion.
Carbohydrate supplementation is critical to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range, especially during prolonged training sessions. However not all carbohydrate supplements are created equal. The majority of carbohydrate supplements are created with maltodextrin, dextrose, and cyclic dextrin, which is modified cornstarch. Corn is a simple carbohydrate and spikes blood glucose levels. It’s important to supplement with a product that will provide high quality complex carbohydrates to provide long-lasting glycogen release, for sustained energy.
If you’re looking for the best carbohydrate supplement to manage blood glucose levels, before, during, and after endurance training, then we recommend Clean Carbs.
What’s The Recommended Amount Of Carbohydrates For Diabetic Athletes?
First, we recommend speaking with your endocrinologist when developing an insulin plan for training and continuous glucose monitoring and pre-training medical testing. Determine your safe blood glucose range for training and competing. Once you’ve determined your pre-training plan with your physician, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports and diabetes care to develop a nutrition plan and carb cycling.
In general carbohydrate recommendations increase as daily exercise duration and intensity increases. For those engaging in a combination of aerobic or strength training exercise (such as CrossFit) require 5-7 grams of carbohydrate/kg body weight/day. For individuals that perform endurance exercises such as running or cycling the carbohydrate intake should be in a range of 7-10 grams of carbohydrate/kilogram of body weight/day. For ultra distance or very prolonged exercise, the requirement increases to 10-12 grams of carbohydrate/kilogram body weight/day.
Clean Carbs contain 24 grams of complex carbohydrate superfoods per serving. We suggest taking this prior to and after training.
Pre-Training Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
Avoiding hypoglycemia is important when starting a new training regimen. When starting an endurance-training program, then follow the five tips below
- Check your blood sugar frequently, to ensure you’re within a reasonable range according to your insulin plan.
- Always have access to your Clean Carbs, product to have a quickly absorbable form of complex carbohydrates in case blood glucose levels get to low.
- Train with a partner until you feel comfortable avoiding hypoglycemia.
- Wear a medical ID bracelet or tag that helps alert medical professionals in case an episode occurs.
- Eat and drink before, during, and after exercise according to your diabetic nutrition and carb cycling plan
Post-Training Recommendations For Diabetic Athletes
Make sure to eat or drink your carbohydrates within 30 minutes post exercise, to help prevent hypoglycemia. Eat a regular meal within two hours of exercising and continue to check your blood sugar regularly [R]. Hypoglycemia is often seen 2 hours post exercise. It can also occur and should be monitored up to 48 hours, particularly if carbohydrate stores were not replaced following exercise [R].
In addition to carbohydrates, make sure to eat an adequate amount of protein and hydrate with water and electrolytes, before, during, and after exercise. We recommend Whey Isolate for a quick absorbing protein source post workout and hydrating with BCAA 2:1:1 since it has added electrolytes for maximizing hydration during your workout.
The Best Supplement For Diabetic Athletes
While there are many other sports performance products that can help maximize athletic performance, the most important supplement and macronutrient for diabetic athletes are carbohydrates. But not all carb supplements are created equal. Most carb supplements are made with unnatural junk like maltodextrin and dextrose, which is, modified just cornstarch and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.
Looking for the best Carbohydrate Supplement To Help You Balance Your Blood Glucose Levels? There’s No Better Choice Than Clean Carbs.
Swolverine's Clean Carbs is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries to provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Delicious and rich you can add it to your smoothies, shakes, or mix with water, for a rich and tasty treat.
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
Goodyear LJ, Kahn BB. Exercise, glucose transport, and insulin sensitivity. Annu Rev Med. 1998;49:235-61.
Diabetes and Endurance Sports.” EatRight, www.eatright.org/fitness/training-and-recovery/endurance-and-cardio/diabetes-and-endurance-sports.
Kirk, Susan. (2009) Hypglycemia in Athletes with Diabetes. Clinical Sports Medicine. Pp455-468.
Macknight John, M., Mistry, Dilaawar J., Pastors, Joyce., Holmes, Viola., & Rynders, Corey. (2009) The Daily Management of Athletes With Diabetes. Clinical Sports Medicine. Pages 479-95.
Guyton Hornsby, Robert D. Chetlin. Management of Competitive Athletes With Diabetes Diabetes Spectrum Apr 2005, 18 (2) 102 107; DOI: 10.2337/diaspect.18.2.102