Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Sugar effects


Hi everyone,

I’m wondering about the diabetics who do BJJ. I’ve been doing it for around a year and a half and find sometimes that my sugar react a little differently depending on the class.

Right now, my classes consist of the typical light warm-up with exercise, followed by sparring/king of the hill for the rest of the class. I find that my sugars explode upward right around when I start to spar.

I’ve even considered not eating anything beforehand to account for the anaerobic exercise spike.

Does anyone have any better ideas or suggestions as to what they do for bjj?
I’m on MDI and do not use a pump.



That type of exercise is going to introduce chaos. It is what it is. I treat lows as they occur, but do not try to anticipate them in advance because I find it impossible to do. I try to treat the highs as best I can, but I will go high. Nature of the beast.


Hello Ala,

Cant help you specific to the Jujitsu, Brazillian or otherwise. My practice has an Okinawan heritage. That said, having been a martial artist, (one art) for more than a day or two I have a couple ideas…

Most likely spikes are likely caused by massive adrenaline whether specific to sparring or caused by the activities leading up to it. One likely factor.

Another could certainly be whatever you ate before class, but unless its carb heavy I cant imagine anyone doing that before any martial arts class, it be a baaaaad idea more than once or twice. Can’t imagine that being a serious factor, but whatever you eat/ate before class could be a piece certainly.

Where do/did you inject when you get the spikes? Does it always happen, or just certain days, certain practices/activities (e.g. king of the hill). Could be a connection between where you put the injection and the activity you are focusing on that class(es). Not likely a huge factor but might be a piece. IF you’re doing a lot of bag work and you injected into your arm recently… it can get absorbed faster and could easily produce a spike by doing so.

How about your short acting insulin (or long acting), any chance its dropped off, you have little/none on board when the middle of class occurs? Thats a likely suspect I would think.

How bout, because your practice IS so much heavy physical activity, pinning, submissions, body to body could the highs your experiencing be a bounce, a rebound caused by a real “low level” low, and the high was your body’s adrenaline response caused by that?

What kind of spike are we talking about? Fifty, a hundred, several hundred points… does it come back down after class, presumedly once you use a couple units to get there?

Glad to help, if I can…


I do aikido about 10 to 12 hours a week, and the worst classes for me are morning classes. I go high far more often on Sat mornings than evening classes, and hardly ever go low.
I pump, but also have 70% of my basal as a Lantus shot. I don’t wear the pump during class, except for sometimes during warmup, or specific Sat am weapons classes when I’m getting high.
But this pattern mimics my everyday life. I can barely even look at carbs in the morning, whereas in the afternoon and evening I can deal with them much better.
I don’t spar yet, I’ve got two more gradings before I have to do jiu waza, but we occasionally play around with it. I haven’t noticed any particular difference in my levels with jiu waza.
Right now I’m rehabbing a torn meniscus, and not doing much!


Thanks for the replies everyone. I think the explosive movement and heavy sparring usually cause the high sugars since it mimics Hight Intensity Interval training in a way. I will be more cautious about eating and injecting insulin beforehand. Using the Freestyle Libre I’ll see how it affects things and will probably have a better grip on it.


Hello Morrisminor72,

Ouch… torn meniscus hope that heals quickly. 10-12 hours a week, a serious commitment. Assistant teaching/teacher I assume?



Full stomach, any martial arts class(es) baaaaad idea… just physically, nothing to do with our diabetes. Anything with heavy body contact likely gets decent adrenaline response. There are some arts which study it pretty heavily.

After some time, it should, should reduce somewhat because your body wont trigger it as easily. How big a high are we talking about anyway???


Lol re teacher - not even close! I’ve got 3 more gradings before that happens, at least 3-4 years at my current pace. I miss one week in 4 due to working away, so have to cram in lots of classes when I can. Many of us train 4 plus days a week. It’s so easy to forget stuff, being such a technical discipline.
I’m really missing training lots at the moment.


That is a lot of classes, never mind your home practice(s). They’re ALL technical disciplines, Ive forgotten which flavor of AIki do you study again?


Yeah, keeps me very busy indeed, but I don’t practice much at home at all. I should, but mostly I need to eat, wash my uniforms and sleep.
I train at 3 different locations (all the same organisation), so there’s a fair bit of travel time too, but we all do that.
My style is Iwama or Takemasu. Apparently calling it Iwama style is not correct these days. Following Saito Sensei, in the last years of O’Sensei’s teaching at Iwama. It’s very very technical, down to the angle of the toes, degrees of knee bend. Less flowing and more applied than some styles perhaps. And a very structured pedagogy, which I really like.
We had a lovely foreign Sandan training with us for a few months recently, he was Aikikai, and found us confusing, but enjoyed it very much😊.


I had the opportunity to get all 5 of Saito’s works for cost probably thirty years ago now but didn’t have the funds -SIGH-. The techniques all work because of those inches, the angles, outside of them and the locks cannot work. Structure counts. The identical way our Tai chi cousins cannot willy-nilly practice their forms. off by just an inch or two and the technique won’t work well, if at all.

Do you have time/experience to practice the jo or sword yet? Assume everybody is using the bokken (wooden sword), except at the top level tiers. -…No thanks I’ll just watch not going to practice with a live blade with anybody thanks…- you know -wg- ?

How do you practice with a pump? I could never get the bloody thing to EVER stay put with empty handed practice (heck couldn’t get it to stay on all the way through the most basic warm up practice) and compared to you folks we rarely used rolls. Compared to Ala we did not used the kind of clinching he uses either.

The pump didn’t play well in those scenarios (sic. ever). Made an expensive throwing star with some nice tubing to trip the unsuspecting,


We spend at least 1/3 of class on either jo or bokken, plus an hour on Saturdays. Lots of learning of 13 and 31 kata for jo recently, and associated partner practices. I’m expected to know both 13 and 31, even though I’m not graded on them for ages. Lots of disarming techniques with tanken too. I like them!

We do a bit of shihogiri and happogiri, but not for ages, or maybe I’ve just missed it. In my last grading I had to show 10-20 jo movements, but not much bokken, only migi and hidari awaze. We are also doing and receiving high falls at my level.

There is just so much detail involved. I am needing to work harder on completing my techniques, as I have an advantage in being 5’0”, and most partners fall in a heap before I’m even close to finishing the technique.

I have never worn my pump in taijutsu, ever. I learned the hard way when doing gymnastics that pumps do not stay put, and hurt to land on. I use an untethered regime, with 75% of my basal as Lantus, so I can unplug for up to 4 hours (Sat and Tuesday classes). Occasionally I’ll put the pump back on for weapons class, but mostly not.

Are you still training? Your post makes me think your aiki days might be in the past…


I was never a formal student of Aiki. Had a memorable seminar with Koenigsberg Sensei (Upstate NY) many years ago now. My wrists were sore, but my ribs… they hurt from laughing so hard for weeks.

Witnessed some beautiful Yoshinkan Aikido in Tokyo. A small Yoshinkan seminar with Utada Sensei in Philadelphia suburbs. Was in Osaka at the Tenshin Dojo just prior to Segal’s rise and when they said their American teacher was making a film, I politely rolled my eyes thinking it was a ninja, or a ninja turtle thing and was sadly mistaken. Fluid and powerful -embarrassed grin-

The art I practice apparently had serious flavorings by a teacher named Albert Church who depending upon whom you ask will get very different answers as to its validity or not. The founder of our art to hear it told practiced actively with them far more than anyone realized.

But for an American art with a clear Okinawan lineage, we’re a very soft style. Not “love bead” by any stretch, but not stacado, not angry-militant (vein popping) at all either.

I do appreciate the sophistication Aiki possesses, And had the good fortune to encounter several prewar Aiki folk. I have been lucky.


Hi everyone,

Sorry I was away for some time. I don’t check these posts enough!

Good conversations though! I’ve taken a break from BJJ for some time, but I was getting highs that went from 7mmol/l to 13 when I started doing some heavy sparring. I would rarely eat ANYTHING, maybe a fruit or something, but even on days where I didn’t eat, I found a fairly decent spike up to 10 or 11mmol/l

For now, I’m going to run more often and see if that will reduce my sugar spiking overalll, and hope for the best that it will solve the issue!.


Good luck friend… make certain you have a buffer to work through when you run.


I don’t practice BJJ, but I have several years of training in Filipino Martial Art. I also, for years, maintained a very heavy weightlifting regimen, along with kettelbells. I have had to curtail much of my training and seek other options. For years, though, after a hard workout, I had to immediately drink a rich, protein milkshake to keep from getting sick. Just last night I had a several hours hypoglycemic episode that ruined my sleep and nearly threw me into a panic attack. In part this was facilitated by a heavier-than-usual kettelbell workout yesterday. I also forgot my milkshake.
I am finding it increasingly difficult to exercise and manage my blood glucose. That’s why I’m on this forum, to learn from you guys!


Rodulf which art? Arnis? Eskrima? Kali? There are several after all…


My first school in Hialeah, FL was Vee Arnis, Visitacion Arnis System. My instructor cert is through them. Since then I have practiced the Lacoste Inosanto System of Kali, Pekita Tersia Arnis, Doce Pares and some eclectic systems. I recommend the Filipino Arts to anyone who really wants practical skills.