Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

My diabetes science experiment

on September 11, 2012

Today I added a new dimension to my exercise routine.  I started a strength training workout, that I plan to do twice a week, alternating with swimming the other three days that I exercise.  Now I’ve been reading an incredible book (Your Diabetes Science Experiment by Ginger Vieira) (which I HIGHLY recommend to any exercising diabetics out there) that sort of prepared me for the fact that adding this kind of exercise to my routine would probably disrupt my blood glucose levels for a while.  Understatement of the year!  As I sit here writing this, my BG is around 90, which is actually about the highest it has been for the last 8 hours or so, and so I feel a whole lot better than I have most of the rest of today.  Let’s go back to the beginning, with the hopes of helping others of you out there who might learn from my (and better, from Ginger Vieira’s) experience.  But let me preface what I am about to say with: I am not at all sorry I have added strength training to my workout routine, even though right now it is really a pain to deal with.  In the long run, I expect to benefit greatly from the added muscle, and it will be worth the extra work to get my BG to behave.

So, I woke up this morning quite low (BG was 59, which isn’t fun at 6:30 am).  Ate a good breakfast, dosed as I would for swimming, which involves spreading out my insulin dose over an hour and a half  to keep my BG from dropping too low during my swim.  That was my first mistake.  Anaerobic exercise, which is what strength training is, requires insulin for the muscles to use glucose for the energy they need to work.  As a result, my BG during my workout soared to over 200 and stuck there for about an hour or so, because there wasn’t enough insulin around to help metabolize all the glucose being released from the glycogen in my muscles. So all that glucose just floated around in my bloodstream.  I ate lunch after it had come down, dosing with insulin as I normally do.  Second mistake.  I should have used less insulin per gram of carbohydrate, because my muscles needed a lot of glucose to replenish the stores of glycogen that I had used up during the workout.  (Trust me, you don’t really need to figure that out. It’s just fun to use all that physiology and metabolism I learned in college and grad school.) Once it came down, it came down with  a vengeance and has been stuck at between 60 and 80 most of the rest of the day.   That doesn’t feel particularly good after 6 hours of it – sluggish, headache, incredible sleepiness. So at dinner, I did the first correct thing of the day diabetes-wise and used less insulin per gram of carb, which seems to be working.   Apparently it is try that my muscles are more sensitive to the insulin after a workout, and the insulin works more efficiently to move glucose into them, thus I need less insulin.  Pretty cool.  (I know, I’m a diabetes nerd.)

And that is really the whole point of adding this strength training to my routine.  Increasing muscle mass and muscle activity increases your sensitivity to insulin, which for diabetics is way cool.  It’s probably way cool for non-diabetics too, but they just don’t know it.  My goal is to help my body use the insulin I pump into it to keep my BG more tightly controlled, and this should be one big thing that will help me do that.  So I will take the time over the next few weeks to figure out how all of this works and how to keep from having another day like today.  I’m already making plans for Thursday.  First I need to figure out what it is I should eat for breakfast before working out.  Back to Ginger Vieira’s book to plan my experiment…………and since my Dexcom is buzzing me to tell me my BG is now below 80, I still have some work to do tonight!


2 responses to “My diabetes science experiment

  1. Sarah Grogan says:

    Also, the more muscle you build, the faster your resting metabolism will get, which will affect your basal rate… but you knew that, right? 😉

    • Colleen says:

      Yep I did, but momentarily forgot about that wonderful part of this whole thing. Something to look forward to, changing all those basals…oh boy.

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