Glucose levels rise during activity

What is causing my glucose levels to rise when I workout? I have been noticing a trend of increasing glucose levels on my Dexter receiver after I wake up before I eat anything. Today it happened during a brick workout. Today I ate 20g Carbs (toast) & 10g Protein (Ham) then swam 1600M with weights after. I took one unit of quick acting insulin during my transition. My Dr recommends doing this before a workout but I didn’t take it until the transition. Twenty minutes into “weight-lifting” my sugars rose 50 mg/dl (peak 230mg/dl). Is the Glucagon my body producing causing this? If yes, any ideas to manage sugars levels better?

First, many of us have a blood sugar rise in the morning, I call it my Darn Phenomenon (DP). For many, establishing good overnight basal levels and eating a good breakfast can really help manage the DP. As to exercise, that is a different story.

Everyone reacts differently to exercise, but often aerobic activities lead to drops in blood sugar and anaerboic activities lead to a rise. I usually weightlift in the gym and it cause a rise in my blood sugars. Before I started insulin, I would have a rise of 100 mg/dl and often leave the gym in the 200s. These days I try to eat and bolus before my workouts. I actually bolus more than is required to "cover" my food since I know that my insulin will also need to counteract my workout. I then eat following my workout. I think that intense workouts like weightlifting result in hormone releases of things like adrenaline and cortisol. There is a lot of science suggesting that this is what happens, it helps us summon the resources to exert ourselves. But it also causes a surge which causes our blood sugar to rise and if it rises too much it can impact our gym performance. A good book on this subject is Sheri Colberg's "The Diabetic Athlete's Handbook."

Jacob's mom said… Hi Wayne, I am by no means an expert( but i am a mom of a type 1 diabetic and an exercise physiologist) i have afew thoughts, when my son ran cross country he was always higher after a workout because he ran after school with a small snack but no insulin on board ( he was on shots then) there is a fine line, you need some insulin on board to burn the carbs, if you are running high at first, how high? also high intensity workouts say a compitition or just very intense work can cause an adrenelin surge and high blood sugars, lower intensity work seems to cause more lows for my son, also are you hydrating enough? good luck finding the balance! amy

Thanks bsc and Jacob's mom for the feedback. I'll keep you posted on tomorrow’s attempt

It would be interesting to see if it was the swimming or the weightlifting (or both) that caused the increase. Muscles have glucagon as well as the liver. Maybe try just swimming on one day and just weights the other, eating the same meal prior to both. That would help you plan ahead…

So actually, glucagon is the hormone generated by the alpha cells in your pancreas. Glucagon signals your liver to produce glucose. Glycogen is a storage form of glucose, bound with water it is present in your muscles and liver. When you exercise, your muscles can utilize stored glycogen as fuel without requiring insulin (it is already in your cells).

Update from this morning’s workout. I think I need more Bolus insulin during AT workouts. Today My sugars spiked to 307mg/dl during a 7 mile run; 5 miles at AT. I woke up at 75mg/dl, ate 29g carbs & 14g protein, took 6 units of bolus insulin then went to gym to run. Twenty minutes later my sugars where on the rise; I started my run at 140 mg/dl. Sugars never stopped rising and peaked at 307mg/dl then leveled of at 290 mg/dl through remainder of the run. The 6 units of bolus was 2 units more then I needed for 29g of carbs from breakfast so I believe that I can supplement more bolus before workouts to offset the food and Glucagon I produce during the workout.

hello again wayne, i suggest you look into some of the groups on here dedicated to athletes, they can give you lots of real life advise, it seems like the adrenal is kicking in with the intensity of your workouts are you having lows later in the day, again i dont have much real life experience to go on, but there are alot of athletic folk on here, you may try posting your question in a general type 1 diabetes forum or joining some of the specific groups for athletes, good luck, it stinks to be trying so hard to do the right thing and not have things work out the way you expect, don't give up! amy