Are Endurance Athletes More Susceptible to Diabetes?
The counterintuitive theory has pervaded books, studies, and Reddit threads and is something of a rally cry for LCHF converts. But while there may be some benefit to monitoring insulin levels, there's no need to cut out all carbs quite yet.
It was a hard bonk during a 16-mile race up New Zealand’s 6,000-foot Avalanche Peak in 2013 that made Felicity Thomas, an undergraduate engineering student at the nearby University of Canterbury, begin thinking about her blood sugar levels. She’d tried to follow the usual sports nutrition advice, sucking down sugary gels to replenish the carbohydrates that her muscles were burning and to keep her blood sugar levels stable, but she struggled to get the balance right and ended up crawling to the finish before throwing up in an ice-cream bucket. Surely, thought Thomas, there must be a better way of managing in-race fuel.
As it happened, Thomas was an intern that summer at the university’s Center for Bioengineering, which was researching the clinical potential of continuous glucose monitors, or tiny sensors inserted under the skin of the abdomen that track blood sugar levels in real time. She took one of the expired monitors lying around the lab. If I could spot impending blood sugar lows before they happened, she wondered, would I be able to ward them off with a well-timed gel? Could I make myself bonk-proof?
A week of self-experimentation convinced Thomas that the technique might be useful, and she soon embarked on a PhD studying the potential uses of glucose monitoring in athletes. But the outcome of her initial pilot study on ten r Continue reading