Sunday, May 04, 2008

Reactive Hypoglycemia

I've got some pretty noticeable blood sugar issues. It's sort of a catch 22 when it comes to cycling. I need carbs, but oftentimes the timing and reaction to intake of carbs causes some serious spiking/crashing leading to brain-bonk.

I can bonk on demand. It's kinda cool and scary at the same time. I'm mostly talking about the light headed dizzy type of bonk and not the total body low muscle glycogen bonk.

Here's how I can do it. Ride later in the day (after 2pm or so). Eat something like a cliff bar. Wait 10-15 minutes. Get dizzy. Ride through it for about 20-30 minutes. Continue on as if nothing happened. I've done the blood sugar tests shown above and they didn't come out so bad that the doctor's have said anything. But I can do this to myself on demand by eating under 50g of carbs. Over 50-70 and I don't react as bad.

This article is the first thing I've read the addresses my situation almost to a T

And this one

The other day I was riding up the Beast. A pretty hard climb in some sections. I'd eaten a cliff bar about 10 minutes prior. I was riding later in afternoon too after I'd had all day for my blood sugar to get low. Learned not to eat right before riding. Otherwise I'd be bonked off the start. Sipping energy drink is usually the best way for me to maintain some steady level of blood sugar and intake of carbs to keep from truly muscle bonking. But I also decided to eat a cliff bar cause I hadn't eaten much prior. Sure enough my blood sugar spiked into that surreal disconnected daze.

The funny thing is while my head was dizzy and I'm weaving back and forth, my legs were churning away very well. So well that with the exception of the washed out staircase at the bottom I cleaned the whole thing. The upper sections are very steep and typically I don't clean it. So it was totally ironic to be brain bonked while still riding it.

Did the same thing today. This time it was cliff shots.

During racing I've got a pretty good system but it takes planning and effort. Basically 3 hrs before an event eat a lot of carbs. solid and liquid. So much that it requires training to build up to it. 4 g/kg of body weight. Ensure helps a lot with this. Crash hard for an hour. Let everything settle out. Go into the race almost feeling hungry. Energy drink only through 2-3hr race. It actually helps that I'm going at race intensity and not lower. I seem to burn energy more efficiently ar racing pace

During long endurance rides this plan doesn't work as well and I need more carb intake. The problem is that if I eat something liked a pbj or cliff bar, etc, I'll create a rollercoaster brain bonk. Once it settles I'm okay but for a period of time I'm about to ride off the shoulder.

But if I only rely on energy drink that I'll bonk totally after 2hrs. What can I eat on endurance type efforts without having to go through my huge eating plan?


At 10:27 AM, Blogger Keith said...

You might want to check out "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" by Cordain and Joe Friel. I don't think I had problems to the same degree that you do, but switching my off-the-bike diet has really evened out my energy levels.

I still eat on the bike the same way I did before (Clif bars, energy drinks, etc), but carbs off the bike are significantly reduced. Anyway, it definitely works for me.


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