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anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?(8 posts)

anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?morrison
Sep 20, 2001 11:41 AM
I'm a 32y male who recently was diagnosed w/ late onset juvenile diabetes. I used to ride 200+ a week, but now I'm lucky to hit 100. The problem is the diet . . . I had to eliminate all carbs; thus, no energy. If anyone has gone through this and has some advice, I would appreciate it very much. It was bad enough giving up decent food, beer, and wine . . . I'd hate to have to give up riding too.
re: anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?nestorl
Sep 20, 2001 11:56 AM
My Brother in law was in your same boat.. After the diabetes got stabilized (although he has to het shots before every meal) he is now a competitive adventure racer (eco challenge type of stuff)... I know that he changed dr. 3 times until he found a doctor that specialized in managing diabetes and nutrition for elite athletes. I good nutritionist will create a diet for you that improves your performance.

There are many elite pros in all disciplines that have severe diabetes...So be hopefull!!! :-)
Gold medal winner of 2000 Paralympics in SydneyTig
Sep 20, 2001 1:57 PM
I haven't met Pam, but am good friends with her tandem partner, Al. If she can do it blind and with diabetes, there IS a way! I haven't found any links that show that WAY, but I'll see what I can come up with. In the meantime, enjoy her inspirational feat at

and various diabetes info at

"Pam Fernandes, a visually impaired cyclist with diabetes, is a six time National Champion and has also earned two international medals previously a silver in the 1994 World Championships for the Disabled in Belgium, and a bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. Al Whaley, of Houston, TX, is a three-time Masters World Champion, a world record holder and is a four-time national champion. Together, racing on a tandem bike, the pair hold the national record in the 200-meter time trial and one-lap time trial. They have also won three national championships in tandem track racing."
re: anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?jtolleson
Sep 20, 2001 5:28 PM
My sister went through this when training for trail running in the Grand Canyon. She's insulin dependent (twice a day). Basically, her lesson was that an endurance athlete can (and has to) eat more carbs, because blood sugar can become dangerously low during heavy exercise. It changes the whole formula. She found the lowest sugar sports drink (I think she likes Exceed) and still can eat a Power Bar or two. She carries a blood testing kit on endurance events, and eats accordingly, which includes a lot of food that you wouldn't expect (but that's ONLY for during heavy exercise, which is the blood sugar equivalent of an extra insulin injection).

She then ran a marathon.

But it took a while to find the nutritionist and trainer she wanted. I'd look for information for diabetes and any endurance sport (running, swimming, mountain climbing) where you are burning much more sugar than the average sedentary person. It'll be full of tips.

Good luck. You can do ANYTHING... just do your homework!

: )
re: anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?Becky
Sep 20, 2001 3:48 PM
I'm 22, have been diabetic for 4 years now, and have cycled, run, and marched with a university marching band since diagnosis. It is possible to be active and diabetic without compromising one or the other! Without knowing your diet or insulin regimen, I can't give you specific advice, but I can tell you what has worked for me.
I have been using an insulin pump with Humalog insulin and also counting carbs instead of adhering to a diet for the past 2 years. This combination gives me the flexibility to ride whenever and to eat whenever and whatever (including beer, wine and desserts!) I highly recommend that you research insulin pumps and carb counting (which works equally well with injections of fast-acting insulin). There's a plethora of information on the web, but I really like For diabetes information specific to athletes, check out The Diabetic Athlete by Sheri Colberg. It's full of useful advice and well worth the time and money.
I hope that I've been able to help somewhat- feel free to email me directly if I can be of furthur assistance. Don't give up riding!
re: anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?Andy M-S
Sep 20, 2001 3:50 PM
I've had diabetes for 30 of the last 43 years, and I've spent a lot of those years riding (most seriously in the last few).

No carbohydrates? That's insane. I assume your doc has you on insulin--that's clearly indicated in juvenile onset diabetes. I'm on 4 shots a day; one of glargine (long acting) and 3 of lispro (fast acting) before meals. It hasn't cramped my riding any.

The trick is to find a target blood sugar and realize that at best you're going to average it. And test your blood. Did I mention test your blood? I test upwards of 10 times each day. If I'm on a hard ride, I take my meter along in a jersey pocket. If I feel off in any way, I test. And always, always, glucose tablets and energy bars.

Sorry, I'm in preaching mode.

What can I say? It's something you have to learn to live with. FWIW, I have no complications. If you have any questions that I can be helpful with, feel free to e-mail.
re: anyone w/ experience w/ diabetes & riding?Velocipedio
Sep 20, 2001 4:29 PM
You shouldn't have to give up all carbohydrates; you need them to live. Your diet WILL have to have a much lower level of carbohydrates that for a normal person.

I'm not sure what you mean by "late onset juvenile diabetes," though I assume that you mean Type 1 or Insulin-dependent DM. That means you must be taking insulin. Somet6hing to keep in mind is that physical exertion makes it easier for your body to USE that insulin [whether natural or injected].

What does that mean? It means that, not only should you be able to eat the carbs you need to cycle, but cycling should make it possible for you to eat more carbs [though less than the average, non-DM person]. This is something you REALLY should talk to your endocrinologist aabout. You should also find a dietician with experience dealing with endurance athletes.

I can assure you that any doctor worth his or her degree will do whatever he/she can do to make sure you can still cycle. Exercise is better than drugs... and for DM, it works better, too.

I'm type-2, diagnosed about six months ago. I cycle about 400 km/week at peak and my activity and diet has made it possible for me to go completely off meds. Cycling is a good thing; try to find ways to keep doing it. Your body will thank you.
Get a good endoTypeOne
Sep 22, 2001 10:38 PM
Yes, now my screen name isn't much of a surprise, is it?

I have had Type I diabetes for 26 of my 32 years, but only began cycling competitively once I began using an insulin pump. I echo what others wrote in response: you must have carbs!!! The trick is to find what carb/insulin ratio works best for you during periods of intense exercise. I think the pump with Humalog works best because you can manage your insulin level quickly and precisely. But it all takes experimentation and lots of packets of Gu while you work to figure it out.
If a doc put you on some sort of restrictive no-carb diet, I think you ought to find a endocrinologist or CDE who is more current than the diabetes diet of the 1930s.
There's a ton of information out there on the web, most of it good. There are great stories at Don't despair. A diabetic friend and I race together and I have since met several other cyclists of different abilities who have diabetes. There is no one formula that works for everyone, but you can make it work. Good luck!