Patient Success Stories

The T1D community is full of brilliant, resourceful, and thoughtful individuals. Here at the U-M Pediatric Diabetes Clinic, we would like to share stories and tips from our patient partners and families who have successfully managed a tricky aspect of T1D in order to help their peers! Be sure to check out our Helpful Hacks page for these tips and tricks, and stay tuned for future stories!

Controlling Blood Sugar While Exercising with Diet

By Annabella Pasque

As part of the HealthDesignBy.Us MAKE:Research program, Annie was asked to design a research study related to her T1D. She was inspired by one of the articles she read in the class, which suggested that eating foods in a certain order could improve blood sugar outcomes. Annie decided to try this experiment for herself to see if her blood sugars would improve.

What made you decide to try this experiment? (What problem were you trying to solve?)

I’ve always had trouble keeping my blood glucose levels in range during soccer. Before this experiment, I would need to get my BG really high, near 300, before practice or games to prevent it from going too low while playing. 

At the beginning of the MAKE:Research program, we had to read medical research articles. I read an article about a study that inspired me. The article was explaining a study trying to see if a diabetic’s blood glucose (BG) levels could be stabilized by a certain diet. Specifically, the hypothesis was that "postprandial (after a meal) glucose levels would be lower when fat and protein are consumed prior to carbohydrates, compared to a meal where all macronutrients (carbs & protein) are combined.” 

 

What excited you about this article? Did you think it would work for you?

I liked this article because I thought the idea they came up with to prevent highs after meals was neat. I was hoping that if I tried eating protein before carbs it would help stabilize my sugar levels and prevent the need to create highs, which I knew weren’t good for me.

 

The strategy they used was eating protein before carbs during meals. I liked that idea and wanted to try my own version of this experiment with snacks before soccer practice and games.

 

What steps did you take to conduct the research? What were your variables and how long did you try the new routine?

The steps I took to conduct the research were to use the same diet plan before each time I played soccer. I kept track of what I ate and tracked my BG levels during and after playing.

When I had a snack before soccer, I first ate protein 15 minutes before eating carbs. I did all of this prior to exercise. For protein, I usually ate meat or cheese. For carbs, I ate fruit or a granola bar. I used this diet for a total of 9 days, and tracked my BG levels starting 1 hour before exercising, while exercising, and for 1 hour after exercising. I downloaded the data from my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to my computer.

 

Next, I took the data from the days when I was on the new diet and put it into a spreadsheet. I also collected old data from my CGM, from before I started the diet, and put that into the spreadsheet too. I averaged my data from both routines. I used the average BG data to tell if my experiment worked or not, and it did!

 

The MAKE: Research program taught me how to code an LED ring to represent my data in an interesting way. I used LED rings to show my averaged BGs from the experiment. I coded the LEDs to show different colors. The colors represented my BG’s ranges. Red for low, green for in range, and yellow for high. Looking at the LED colors, it was easy to see that eating protein before carbs helped keep my BG stable. 

Do you think your experiment worked? Will you keep up with the new routine?

I think my experiment worked! For me, it kept my BG stable and in range throughout soccer. My BG barely moved. My blood sugar stays very close to wherever is when I start, it hardly moves after using this diet. Even when I want to it’s hard to move my BG up or down after eating protein before carbs. It sort of locks my BG where it is when I start eating. I am still using this routine and it has continued to work. I will keep eating protein before carbs prior to exercise and I think that it will lower my A1C over time and keep me healthier.

You can check out the article Annie read here!

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