Diabetes in Sports
Playing sports with diabetes is different for everybody. However, the symptoms are very similar across the board. For athletes, it can be difficult to monitor their blood sugar during a game, tryout, and even practice. While you’re on the field, ice, or court, your body consumes sugar and turns it into energy, this can cause sharp drops in your blood sugar while you’re playing. For other athletes, they may experience spikes in their blood sugar because of adrenaline, raising their blood sugar. Here are some tips and tricks to maintaining your blood sugar so it doesn’t have to impact the way you play.
In order to prevent going low while you’re playing, it is important that before the start of the game, tryout, or practice, you must eat something beforehand. When you eat beforehand, your body will break down those sugars first before they impact your blood sugar, so your body is gaining energy, but not at the cost of your blood sugar dropping. It is suggested that an athlete eat about thirty grams of carbohydrates before competing, but that number can vary depending on the level of activity in your sport.
Before you compete, you can choose to eat whatever you want. However, in my experience, something like a small Sprite or a bag of Skittles won’t hold your blood sugar for very long. This is because the carbohydrates in those items break down very easily so they won’t last the whole game. One trick to solve this is eating a carbohydrate that doesn’t break down as easily, like chocolate, peanut butter, or crackers. The carbohydrates in these don’t break down as easily so your blood sugar will stay stable longer while you compete.
If you do happen to go low during a game, make sure you have something on the bench just in case. The things you keep on the bench should contain carbohydrates that break down easily, like a Gatorade or some Skittles. In my opinion, Gatorade or Powerade or the best options because they will raise your blood sugar fast, and that way you don’t have to eat anything and feel sluggish when you go back into the game.
The most important thing to do, however, is to monitor your blood sugar after the game, tryout, or practice. During games especially, there is a large amount of competition that will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. When the game is over, you might experience high blood sugar and you might try to bring it back down as soon as possible. However, if your blood sugar is high when the game is over, take about half as much insulin as you would take because your adrenaline will go away and your blood sugar will shoot back down. Wait about two hours afterward to start dosing normally.
Diabetes doesn’t have to limit those who are athletes. It may be a bit of a hassle but eventually, you’ll get into a rhythm so your sugars stay level during your games, practices, and tryouts. You can still be competitive but it’s just a few tiny steps to make sure you’re performing at your best.