Alissa's Fitness Blog

Alissa's Diabetes and Fitness Blog


Discussion of Diet and Fitness as a tool to manage Diabetes

I interviewed my endocrinologist, Dr Blevins, founder of Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology in Austin Texas on managing diabetes while training for athletic competitions.  Please leave your comments at the end, I'd love to know what you think!

Alissa:   What is your opinion on professional athletes competing in sports such as myself who live with Type1 Diabetes?

Dr Blevins:          Any athlete or is planning to be one can  pretty much do any sport that exists and it’s very important to do what you’ve done which is to get a team consisting of a nutritionist, a doctor-type and yourself.  You’re the most important part because you’re there every day and you get to observe what happens to your blood sugar with various activities.  You really have to define what’s best based on your own body’s responses.  You have to not only train but be super careful about carbohydrate intake and its effect on your blood sugar.  You’ve clearly had considerable success, which is very impressive.  I think it’s good to have a team.  And every athlete I know of ….has a team. 

Alissa:   I have learned how my body responds to exercise.  How can others learn their body’s response to exercise and managing diabetes?

Dr. Blevins:         You have to learn your own body’s response to exercise.  Some exercises will raise your blood sugar – especially exercises with rapid bursts, some will lower.   Every individual is a science in and of themselves.  Those are the two main concepts.  It’s very individual - there are certain rules, for example with the rapid burst exercises, your blood sugar will go up afterwards.  If it’s more of a distance running or aerobic exercise, where the glucose is dropping, you have to adjust your treatment to accommodate that so that you can compete successfully – You want your blood sugar in a reasonable range.

Alissa: How often do you feel that somebody who is competing like me should be seen by an endocrinologist and followed?

Dr Blevins:  I think close initial contact is reasonable.  If somebody has problems, availability is important, probably once every few weeks.  Once the formula is achieved that works best for you then you don’t have to do it that often.  The most common sport I see are people participating in is marathons, triathlons, things like that.  Make sure your feet are well taken care of, make sure your heart status is known and that you’re able to do that kind of intensive training safely.  It’s a big deal too that people not just jump into something without some degree of assessing whether their blood pressure, feet, heart are all ok.

Alissa:  So being that I’m you’re first fitness competitor athlete and having worked with me over the last year to get me through an accomplishment and learning what my regimen, diet and program, training is it encompasses a whole lot of areas to succeed.  So if somebody else like myself , being I have this fitness blog , were to go and want to compete in a figure or fitness or bikini competition – what would be the advice that you would give them , that I can also help them with .  And what are your thoughts on losing body fat quickly – how does that impact blood sugar.  Those are the key things that I was wondering. 

Dr. Blevins:   I really think the blog is a good idea, because I think when people talk to each other about what their experiences are it really helps.  You can find someone with type 1 diabetes and take their experiences, you know, everyone is going to be different.  You may also find someone’s advice you really don’t want to take – I think you have to be discriminating and careful about it because some things that are good for other people may not be good for you.  I think that comparing notes is really potentially very helpful.  I’ve had a lot of runners talk to each other.  I don’ think you want to go on a radically different diet quickly.  You want to do things gradually and moderately, remembering, after all, that you do have diabetes and you have concerns about your blood sugars and you don’t want to go on a crash diet, no more than you want to start exercising in a crash sort of way.  You want to work your way into it and be careful with yourself and your health. 

AlissaSo like for me, working with the team of people I work with, I’ve been advised that about 2% body fat loss per week and maybe a pound at most a week is advised – for me within a 12 week period.  So really it depends on the person, but right now, my body is at 13% body fat and when I compete it needs to be between 6% and 8%.  I have to stay at 13% right now for the next 2 weeks to build muscle and to stay healthy.  And then after that my diet starts decreasing, reducing carbohydrates, and I’m sure my blood sugars are going to be changed again, so when that happens what  do you suggest to help me self manage?

Dr. Blevins: Your insulin sensitivity can change when you increase your muscle mass and even if you change your fat percent and you have to be very careful and aware that your requirements might change.

Alissa: So what do you do to compensate for that - do you suggest follow-up appointments?

Dr.Blevins:  I think a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be very helpful in letting you know.  But close monitoring, careful monitoring, eyes wide open – that’s the bottom line. 

Alissa:  Sounds good thank you very much!


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Amanda 9 years ago

That is my doctor too! :) Thanks for the article, good info.!

rjabraham 9 years ago

very nice blog post :-)

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