Blood sugar management during sports?

Hi all, my name is Dan. Just joined today after checking out the site for a few days. I just found out I have Type 1 diabetes on August 7th, so things are very new to me, although I fortunately (and unfortunately) have my older brother to rely on as well, who has been T1 for 13 years.

I’m happy to say that after entering the hospital with a BG of 442 a few weeks ago, I think I’m getting the hang of a few things. My last week’s average BG reading was 102, and I only went over 140 once. However, I’ve only been able to do this with pretty rigorous carb counting and not going out to eat. I work from home, and while I get out daily, I haven’t been out for more than 3-4 hours at a time, not wanting to be away from my supplies. While I’ve seen my friends, I haven’t gone out to eat with them once, because my carb estimation skills are pretty weak and I don’t want to send myself into a BG high or low. I’m also still not past the idea of “shooting up” at a restaurant.

Of course, I have to get on with life, and a good opportunity for me is coming up. I signed up for an adult soccer league that I also participated in during the spring. We have our first practice this Sunday, and the season starts in mid September.

This is going to be a huge challenge for me. The endocrinologist I saw in the hospital told me to stay away from vigorous exercise for the time being. However, I know there are a lot of diabetics who are able to lead very active lives.

During the past 2.5 weeks, I only really exercised once - after a breakfast where my BG shot up to 290, I decided I needed to play some basketball to bring myself down. I played for around 45 minutes and retested, and I had gone down all the way to 190.

However, I knew I’d be safe then because my blood sugar was so high that exercising couldn’t have possibly taken me too low.

Now that most of my readings are below 120, how do I assure that playing soccer doesn’t leave me passed out on the pitch?

Anyone have any advice?
Specifically, a few pieces of data that may be useful:
Carb/insulin ratio that has been working for me is around 8-1. If I do that, my 2 hour post-meal BG is usually within 20 points of my pre-meal.
A serving of carbs (15 grams) will usually send my BG up by around 20-30 points if I don’t take insulin
Soccer matches for my league are broken up into two 25 minute halves.

Hey Dan!

Yeah, it can be a lot to manage but lot’s of us do it!

Here’s a group dedicated to athletics and diabetes management:


Happy you joined such a great site and got involved already.

Here is a link to a 4 part presentation about managing Sports and Diabetes that I recorded at our local JDRF.

This is the best information I can find on the subject hope it helps.

thanks for the help so far. sounds pretty complicated… didn’t realize adrenaline and stress could send me up close to 300.

Hi Dan: Another resource for diabetic athletes is the Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association (DESA) ( They have some really useful information. I find that exercise lowers my blood sugar a lot, and so having some juice before soccer practice (depending on your blood sugar level) may be useful. Also, be sure to test a lot. I always have my “security blanket” with me–a diabetes kit with all my blood testing gear, glucose tabs, and spare pump supplies (I am on an insulin pump).

It really is challenging when you are so new to diabetes, but with care and lots of testing, you’ll be fine. And you’ll get lots of help and support here on TuD.

Hi, Dan,

Others have provided excellent links for you. I’d also recommend a book - The Diabetic Athlete by Sheri Colberg.

Some quick and general advice:

You are right to be concerned about lows. It’s a major issue for being active.

Test frequently. Once before starting and at the end of each period and the end of the match. If you have a chance check in the middle of a period, too. Gradually you’ll learn how often you need to test.

Always, always, always, always have some fast acting carbs handy. Glucose tabs, sports gels or beans, a sports drink. Always.

Ditto for your meter. Don’t even go into the game without it. I carry an Ultra Mini in a spibelt when I run so it’s always with me. I don’t know if your league rules will allow you to wear one on the field, but look into it.

Eat some carbs, maybe 15g, before starting exercise.

If testing shows you dropping, even though you are in a good range (80-100), ingest some carbs anyway because you’re going to keep going down.

You can experience a post exercise spike which can lead to dka. What happens is that your liver overcompensates for low blood glucose and starts dumping glycogen into the blood. Treat these with insulin, lots and lots of water and rest.

Even with all that, have fun and have a great season!


I play soccer for an adut league too and coach my god daugthers team. I am on a pump which has made great improvements to my bg control with sports and activities. for soccer with all the running we do I tend to eat a high protien and about 30 carbs with only half the carb coverage for the insulin so my body has 15 carbs to play with to keep my normal during a game also i test in between halfs to ensure safe levels i tend to run myself slightly higher bg before a pratice or game this also helps but nothing too high though

that’s what my initial thought was. the league is a casual adult league, so it’s not too stressful. i just have no idea what factor adrenaline will play, because there are always a few situations every game where i’ll have to go full sprint.

try running slightly higher before a pratice or game and see how that works also keep you d - gear on the sidelines in case you need it sooner then half time. also try like a peanutbutter sandwich and glass of milk or my fave graham crackers and peanut butter with some OJ it works great for me.


You might find that the adrenaline factor will come into play, but without any consistency. David plays a lot of competitive hockey, and has played some competitive soccer. Never any issues with the adrenaline factor for him with soccer, but definitely at times with hockey, but that is a reflection of how much more he throws himself into the game of hockey than soccer.

Test frequently. Drink extra water to make sure that you are well hydrated. If your sugars are low, but not too low, try to boost lightly to avoid putting yourself on a low to high roller coaster. The biggest key is patience, so if you use 15 grams of carbs to boost your BG, give it time to work before checking and trying to boost some more again. One thing that we always did if David’s BG was high post game was to have him drink more water and wait an hour for another BG test before attempting to treat a high. More often than not, the time/wait was all that was needed post game to get back on track.