Can you avoid weight gain while maintaining a demanding exercise program

Hi Everyone:
Being in my mid fifties I still like to exercise and run daily 6 miles to keep in the best possible shape. I have to elevate my glucose levels before running and that makes my weight gain more difficult to control. I’m looking for ways to implement a routine that allows me to continue my running schedule and not eat so much before or after the workout. Any practices you have experienced that would assist me would be most welcome.

Well, I am not a fan of endurance running as a way of staying in shape and reducing weight, but I won’t go into that here. I would suggest that reducing your basal by as much as 50% may help. Also eating before and after exercise is considered by most athletes in training to be a good thing. One thing that may help is to carefully account for increased insulin sensitivity after exercise. If you bolus after exercise you may well find you need half the insulin you normally require. And finally, running every day is perhaps a counterproductive strategy that can lead to overtraining, have you considered alternate days.

Thanks for the note as I have thought about cutting the routine from 7x to 5x per week. Suggesting types of foods before and after the exercise is my concern now because that’s where I have been told many things and I always could use new suggestions. I appreciate your quick response and thoughts.

What about eating DURING your runs? Taking in carbs during your run should reduce the number you need to take after eating, when you can concentrate on ingesting more protein. While on the run you can use gels, beans or sports drinks, just to keep your BG up. If you don’t mind carrying stuff, or can loop around to a drop off point, try peanut butter sandwiches, breakfast burritos, quesadillas and a variety of fruits. Small apples and nectarines are easy to carry. This might also help you avoid elevating your glucose before the run.

Your schedule is VERY intense,as bsc notes, if you’re not training for competition. Personally, I cut my runs from daily to alternate days and have mixed in body weight exercises, yoga, stretching and cycling. It adds variety, keeps me interested and keeps me in shape. But if all running all the time is for you - go for it.

Also check out the Diabetic Athletes group and Sherri Colberg’s “The Diabetic Athlete” - the ‘bible’ - for more hints on eating and exericse.


The pump is the ideal solution for your problem, not sure if you’ve considered it. The ability to decrease your basal insulin for brief stints of time (about 30-60 min to start) all but eliminates the need to consume carbs or raise your bg before a run.

That said, I still prefer to run after a modest meal, 30-40 g carbs, potatoes preferred but grains ok on the lower end of that. I save the carbs for last and am out the door within 10 minutes of finishing, right around when my bg starts to tick upward. The running helps to keep the peak under control and those carbs will help keep you up late in the game.

Others have good luck with supplementing with sports drinks, glucose tabs, jelly beans, or glucose gels periodically during the run. It’s a matter of trial and error how often and how much you need to boost, probably not a whole lot though. A lot of work.

On injections, you can try splitting your basal dose in 2 if you don’t already. Take slightly less for the half of the day that your run in. But you may find that you need more corrections, and this is not as good as a pump.

Good luck! I’m glad your’e keeping it up! I started running a few years ago and love it. Hope I’m still doing it in 20!

Are you gaining fat? Or losing muscle due to overtraining, which can make you feel flabby?

Have you ever had hydrostatic testing for your body fat and lean body mass? That might be revealing.

Lots of marathoners I know take two rest days (say Friday, to rest before their bigger exercise over the weekend, and Monday to recover from the weekend) and do upper-body resistance training with weights on these “runner rest” days (crunches, back, delts, biceps, triceps, pecs, etc.) If you don’t want to completely rest, you could cut back to say twenty minutes instead of your long-distance runs a couple of times per week. Your body needs rest to repair and rebuild your muscles after you use them hard. Otherwise, you lose the muscle-building benefit from the exercise and can actually waste your muscles, lowering your metabolism over time.

The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn 24/7. Even if you don’t run every day you’ll be burning more calories over-all (and keeping a fit weight) if you keep your muscles strong and well-trained. I think weight training is especially important as we age. It helps us with our balance, coordination and fights off middle-age spread. There’s a great book about this for women by a PhD in exercise physiology, “Strong Women Stay Young”. She recommends weight training even for women in nursing homes in their 80’s. She’s demonstrated getting them out of their wheelchairs and walking again after a controlled program of progressive resistance exercise. It applies to men, too, of course. ;0)

I totally agree with Tom. If you don’t have a pump, you need to get one. It would really help you in this situation!

This doesn’t make sense without knowing more about your history of exercise and weight gain. How long have you been running every day? If only for a short time, then your insulin sensitivity should increase soon, and when it does you will need to lessen your basal insulin. Your carb/insulin ratio should also increase, so you will need to bolus less.

Pumping may be helpful as some have suggested, but certainly not necessary. You might want to look at the Colberg book “Diabetic Athlete” or start by looking at her website at She has lots of examples in her book, and recommendations for timing food and exercise. Or you could see the explanation of ExCarbs in Walsh’s “Pumping Insulin” and “Using Insulin” that suggests ways to substitute exercise for insulin (i.e. take less insulin by exercising more).

Terry…I think that’s a great idea about the daily runs being stopped and getting to a 5x per week situation. The snack situation is also something I should try as sports drinks sounds best. I will try it this weekend and see if it’s helpful and report back…Thank you

Tom and Jewels I’ve been reluctant and it’s more of a personal reason. Saving the carbs for last is a good way and cutting back on the insulin I agree is a better method than eating too much. With better modification I should avoid the high’s and low’s that I’m getting. I will let you know if it all works and thanks to you both.

I’ve been running 8 months and I will look into the Diabetic Athlete and see if it has got what I need. The substitute methods are interesting and I will also check into the two. Jag the points you made are great and as I mentioned I have avoided the pump at this stage of my life so that’s another discussion in the future…I appreciated you excellent comments. I will look into all comments and get back to everyone now that I have a new game plan.

Gaining weight Jean because i have taken to many carbs before and after my runs. To your point, I do need to modify my schedule and do a better job on the weight training. I just started to do weights and that will also be a part of my new routine. It’s something my son mentioned recently about avoiding the loss of muscle so thanks for bring it back up tom me. I guess the kids do know what their saying and I should have been more respectful…Thanks JeanV again.

Well, I wasn’t going to harp on it, but I am a real fan of weight training. In fact, the ADA and the American College of Sports Medicine have published a joint statement recommending exercise and specifically recommending resistance training (althought it is focused on T2, it is just as relevant to T1). I took up weight training and it changed my body composition far more than aerobic exercise ever did.