Need Help

Submit your question to our team of health care professionals.

Current Question

See what's on the mind of the community right now.

Meet the Team

Learn more about our world-renowned team.

CWD Answers Archives

Review the entire archive according to the date it was posted.

November 24, 2008

Exercise and Sports, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Athens, Greece:

I have been swimming for two months now and it is helping me in different ways, including weight loss, an energy boost, and better control of my diabetes. I would really appreciate some general guidelines for the appropriate nutrition to adopt during practices. Should I eat before or after practices? Is it true that we must eat some carbohydrate and protein within the first 30 minutes after practice?

I take two units of NovoRapid at breakfast, six to eight units of NovoRapid at lunch and two units of NovoRapid at dinner, which is about one hour before going to the pool. I take four units of Lantus at bedtime. Usually, I eat a light dinner of a glass of milk, a light sandwich and a serving of fruit. I don’t usually eat anything after swimming but I wonder if this the right thing to do.


From: DTeam Staff

It sounds like you’re swimming is reaping all the benefits we know it can, but few are determined enough to follow through. The beginning stages can be tough, but it sounds like you’re in the part where you seeing its true impact. Congratulations!

Your question about nutrition is great and it really depends on when your last meal was. You don’t want to go swimming on a completely empty stomach, and if you’re able to eat prior to swimming and it doesn’t bother you, then that’s fine. But, you should think about a small snack afterwards to recharge — nothing heavy, a piece of fruit and some yogurt would be great. The reason is because you don’t want to go to bed energy depleted – it’ll drain you while you sleep and make the following day that much harder.

Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:
We certainly would advise that you not swim alone (good advice whether or not one has diabetes – but perhaps that much more important in the patient with diabetes on insulin or oral hypoglycemics).

I’d also have you check your glucose immediately before and just after swimming for a bit so you can see how your exercise is affecting your glucose.


[Editor’s comment: One of the reasons that people with type 1 often eat a small snack after exercise is to prevent post exercise hypoglycemia. A small amount of carbohydrates and some protein, such as the fruit and yogurt suggested above, is usually recommended. Your diabetes team should be able to advise you further.

You might also want to read some of the tips about exercising at our Sports Corner.