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June 3, 2003

Exercise and Sports, Hypoglycemia

Question from North Dakota, USA:

My 14 year old daughter has severe problems with lows, dropping while running in track meets or playing basketball, and she has little to no warning when they are coming on. She can only make it through two races or two to three quarters of basketball. She gets cold, clammy, dizzy and has fainting spells. We are something to feed her before and during the events to keep her blood sugar up. All the doctor has told us is was to have her eat sweets, but it is not helping, and the Snickers bars he suggested make her feel sick. Sports drinks do not seem to be able to regulate her sugar either. Eating to much food makes her feel sluggish.

Answer:

I would not discourage the exercise because it’s great for everyone, but it is important to know how to use nutrition to your advantage to help prevent exercise induced hypoglycemia.

I would suggest a good combination of carbohydrate and protein (protein bar, cheese and crackers, red cal yogurt, etc) to extend normal blood sugar without making her feel too full or bloated. Unfortunately, most of the sports drinks available are high in carb and nothing else so they would spike blood sugars too high. I would recommend checking blood sugars before activity and afterwards.

JMS