Paul Coker (1Bloodydrop) & Georgia Thomson – Managing Blood Glucose during Weight Training

Hi. Paul Coker here from onebloodydrop.com. For those of you that don’t know me, I’ve been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 40 years. And to mark that occasion, I recently ran 40 half marathons in a year. Today, I’m with Georgia Thomson. Georgia’s an incredible athlete. She works out in the gym like a demon and she’s going to be sharing some of her story with us about how she manages her diabetes while she’s working out in the gym.

Great to have you here today Georgia and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

No problem, no problem. So yeah, during my sessions, my go to is to test my blood sugar. I will always test halfway through, whether I then need to test more often because I'm feeling funny is obviously what I do then. Sometimes my sugar will drop, sometimes it will go high. A lot of people say that their sugars go high when they weight train. I don't find that it affects me either way in any particular pattern. I just have to go with what my sugars are doing on that particular day. And, like I said, react to a high or a low.

Do you have different lengths of working out sessions? So if you’re doing a legs day, is that longer than an arms day? And does that require a different protocol for you?

Yeah, my leg sessions are longer than my arm sessions and obviously a leg session is a lot more strenuous than my arm sessions. Sometimes, if I go hypo, it will be during a leg session, it won't be during an arm session really, unless something's gone wrong previously in the day.

And was that always the case? Was this always the pattern for you or did this pattern happen as your fitness increased and your strength increased and your ability to lift weights in the gym increased?

Yeah, of course. So the heavier I lift, the more likely I am to go hypo because if find, for me, if I'm expending that energy, then obviously my blood sugar will drop. But what I do find is that as I get leaner or as I ... Yeah, as I get leaner and lose body fat, I actually need less insulin. So say I'm doing a six week programme at the moment and what I will find is that by the end of the six weeks, I will need less insulin than I do now.

And does your diet change as well when you’re doing a six week section like this? Do you eat leaner foods and more protein?

The aim of this six week programme is to lose body fat, so my starting point is what I'm eating this week. I will reassess on Monday now with whether my weight has dropped. If it hasn't, I will decrease my calories and decrease what I'm eating. But I don't necessarily alter the different food groups. I'm not that technical when it comes to what I eat. As long as I have carbohydrates and protein after I've trained, then I'm a happy bunny.

And that’s actually something that I believe is really important because many people out there in the diabetes community are following a low carbohydrate diet. And if you’re doing that and it works for you, then that’s absolutely great and I’m happy for you. But my experience of training was that I couldn’t actually go out and run a half marathon on a low carbohydrate diet. That’s not strictly true, I could, but it would take me a long time to recover.

Does that correspond to your experience in the gym? If you try to low carb, can you work out in the gym and can you recover?

I can, but not for a long period of time. I can do it for about three weeks. But obviously each training session you're then depleting the glycogen stored in your muscles and so your body is ... If you're not then replenishing those stores with carbohydrates, you don't recover as quickly. It's common sense.