Hereditary low blood sugar and electrolyte loss

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by winstonlim8, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    I'd be grateful for any advice about my problems with these two things when I play.

    I am not diabetic but my blood sugar level drops very quickly when I play. If I warmed up for just 15 minutes, for example, I'd be showing the first symptoms of low blood sugar by the 6th game of a singles set - the 4th if it's a hard fought one with many deuces in each game.

    I've also discovered that some of it might be due to the rate at which I lose electrolytes when I sweat during a game.

    While I have been dealing with the problem by simply eating more before I play and drinking lots of sports drinks, this isn't an ideal solution because I am getting FAT!!!
     
    #1
  2. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Messages:
    6,157
    One assumes you've made measurements of your blood sugar and electrolytes at these times, or is this idle speculation? (Blood sugar is easy -- a diabetic friend of mine measures his during changeovers when we play -- but I'm not sure how you'd be measuring electrolytes)
     
    #2
  3. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    The reference book, Advanced Sports Nutrition, Dan Benardot, includes detailed discussions of when and what to eat, electrolyte loss, etc.. 330 pages of detailed information on this complex subject...........

    Generally research these issues.

    1) selecting low glycemic index food to control how fast the calories become blood sugar. Research: glycemic index
    Eat lower glycemic index foods before playing. If you eat higher glycemic index foods before playing they may be stored as fat before you can use them. On the other hand, I have found that eating high glycemic index foods during a match gives me a pick up when running out of energy. I heard that bananas and maybe all fructose (?) from other fruits does not supply fast calories. Why do players eat bananas? Andy Murray said that pretzels might be better for fast calories than bananas. I have not checked some of these points in some time so double check.

    2) the loss of 'electrolytes' might be dominated by the loss of sodium in sweat. It is suggested to replenish sodium during the activity by sports drinks or other method to keep sodium at the needed levels. The percentage of sodium needed in sports drinks has been studied with regard to 1) needed sodium blood levels and 2) how much sodium still tastes OK in a sports drink (6-8% ?). Other electrolytes such as potassium are also discussed but apparently they are not lost nearly as rapidly as sodium is in sweat. Sodium loss probably depends strongly on temperature and rate of sweating.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
    #3
  4. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks for the replies, guys. Yes, I have blood sugar checks done regularly. That's how I know that I'm not diabetic.

    It's sometimes hard to know which problem causes the sudden inability to think or react on court but the symptoms follow a certain order - after the mental dumbing down, I get very grouchy and then my hands and legs start to tremble and if I bend my knees for a low ball, I can't always come up again. By then, if I don't start drinking something really sweet, the next thing that happens is I black out and crash on to my face.

    My family doctor says it's probably a hereditary condition as the same condition has been observed in other members of my family and for the most part, the condition doesn't affect my ability to function at work. It's only when I'm playing tennis or swimming a lot that it shows up.

    I'll look up some more on the internet about stuff I can take before playing that'll release the sugar more slowly and regularly into my bloodstream as that seems the most obvious solution though I have been told to try eating more only when I really need it, like before playing and then snacking on fruits and nuts in between games. I also drink a special salts solution that's normally prescribed only for people suffering from bad malnutrition and that helps some though it does wear off too quickly during hard games.
     
    #4
  5. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Sorry I forgot to add that the first symptom - before my mind sort of freezes up and my IQ starts dropping - is that my timing goes horribly awry. My serve goes first and then my backhand which is my best shot but does require a greater sense of timing since I like to take it on the rise mostly.

    I've been known to stare at a dink serve until it hit me in the face and I once backed my car in and out of a parking lot 15 times because I sort of went into an OC fugue state of mind and wanted to get it into the exact centre of the space, when my sugar was low.
     
    #5
  6. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    "fruits and nuts" ?

    Nuts are a low glycemic index food - slow to get into the blood stream.
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/430470-glycemic-index-for-nuts/

    Fruits - see if fruits supply fast calories. Fruit has some structure, picture the small cell structure of an orange. That structure (fiber?) slows down how fast fruit can supply calories. (One issue with eating a lot of fruit, say, before a match might be gas.)

    Do you have any direct measurement that your electrolytes get low? That is a complex subject.

    Do you get out of breath? If so, a blood oxygen meter might be useful, it also measures pulse rate.
     
    #6
  7. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Get a blood oxygen meter. I recently had pneumonia and my blood oxygen got low. I could not think straight at times.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
    #7
  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW
    My guess is your prediction as to the cause of your observations is incorrect. One way to get a bit of information would be to see what happens in a mtch if you wear a dark/black cap or headband and let it dry out. There are those who are salt sparing sweaters. Myself I can see a white band of salt on a headband, so I salt load before big matches. This is quite easy to do, but is done before the match with foods like pretzels, chips etc, not drinks (like Sports drinks).
     
    #8
  9. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Messages:
    6,157
    We're seeing zero evidence here to support the low blood sugar hypothesis. Symptoms of low blood sugar -- lightheadedness, tachycardia, sweating -- occur ordinarily when some people play tennis. Do you stop playing and draw blood at these moments to measure your glucose? This sounds sketchy and half-baked.
     
    #9
  10. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #10
  11. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    I really don't know anything for sure except for the symptoms I described.

    I do get out of breath after a hard or protracted rally but I recover quickly before the next point begins.

    I don't need a dark headband. If I don't towel off after playing or sometimes during a set on very hot days, I find salt crystals forming on my forearms even before I drink any of my sports drinks or electrolyte replacement salts.

    Sorry if anyone thinks I'm being a self-medicating quack doctor. I just want to know how to deal with the symptoms when I am playing.
     
    #11
  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW
    Well, the point wasn't the cap, the point was you are not a salt sparing sweater. You are a salt losing sweater. You are therefore vulnerable to electrolyte imbalances in long matches.

    If you wait until the match has started to do something (like drink electrolyte sports drinks) you are too late and you are using a product too weak to make an impact.

    You need to salt load before the match. There are no shortage of sodium rich products on the market, shoot, I can buy a dozen of them at a gas station.

    If you actually get cramps during a match, despite salt loading (or more likely because you didn't salt load) you have two options: salt tabs (no players actually carry these) or pickle juice, which is not uncommonly used in the South among those in the know who are vulnerable.
     
    #12
  13. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks, Lucky. I've never heard of salt loading pre-match before. I'll try it tomorrow when I play.
     
    #13
  14. GrandSlam45

    GrandSlam45 Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Messages:
    241
    I'm an excessive sweater and have had major problems with running out of gas by the 2nd set. Recently I discovered that eating dates (which are high in natural glucose) before a match helps tremendously. For me, they work way better than bananas. There's actually a recipe you can make in a food processor that blends dates, coconut oil and sea salt so you can make your own energy bars.

    Try this and see if you notice a difference. The glucose in the dates may help to balance your blood sugar.
     
    #14
  15. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW
    Luckily you body is already set up to "balance" your glucose levels. You don't need to do that seperately. What you are probably noticing is running out of glycogen, not glucose. This is remedied by carb loading before important matches. Typically the night before. The typical US diet has ready access to high carb foods, so you don't need anything fancy.

    For the Club player and below, it would be the rare circumstance where you would need more caloric intake than what you can carry pre-match if your glycogen stores are replete.
     
    #15
  16. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Hi GrandSlam and Lucky,
    Thanks for the tips. I haven't had time to get the dates yet but I did try the salt loading today. I ate 3 small bananas and had a packet of the oral rehydration salts (6 g is one does) an hour before going out to play and mixed up an extra batch of 12 g with 500 ml of water in 2 bottles of 250ml each) for sipping on between games. I was fine even though I played continuously for an hour.

    Next time I go to town, I am going to buy dates to keep for when I play tennis.

    Tomorrow I'll be playing mixed doubles so I think I'd better eat five bananas. LOL

    Incidentally, I made it a point to eat a normal-sized lunch of about 600 calories just to see what happened. So now I suspect it isn't so much my blood sugar giving me problems most of the time but my electrolyte levels. I know that Mondays and Wednesdays when I play 4 or 5 sets of doubles from 5pm to 9pm at the club, I definitely need at least a power bar around 7pm but in the past it didn't really work and now I think I know why.

    So once again, thanks for the tip, Lucky.

    PS
    I don't normally get cramps while playing but I do often get mild cramps when driving home on Mondays and Wednesdays. So I'll be testing things out again this week to see what happens and if the salt loading I'm doing is sufficient.
     
    #16
  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Bananas are a source of Potassium. How many bananas would you guess are required for the recommended daily requirement?
     
    #17
  18. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    LOL I really wasn't thinking about the potassium content at all. In fact I was just worried about not getting hungry or letting my blood sugar drop if I could help it.
     
    #18
  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #19
  20. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks, Chas. Much appreciated.
     
    #20
  21. LafayetteHitter

    LafayetteHitter Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Messages:
    2,954
    Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Lookup some reviews online about a product called Electrolyte Stamina, it is the first thing I've found in years to help with this. With a deficiency you can't drink enough drinks or eat enough bananas to catch up. It has also finally ended my dry mouth and fatigue after I play also.
     
    #21
  22. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks, Lafayette.

    Just to follow up. It stopped raining yesterday (Monday) and I made it to the courts but as I was rushing from work, I didn't have time to buy any extra food. I did manage to have ne packet of my oral rehydration salts before playing and one in-between games.

    What happened by the time I started playing my second set of Doubles after playing a singles set (45 minutes) and a Doubles set (40 minutes)was -

    1.my timing went awry.

    2.any ability to think started going completely. I couldn't even tell when my ball toss was too low for service and when I tried to hit an overhead I simply missed the ball completely.

    3.my reflexes and ability to respond to the ball slowed down until towards the end, I got set for an overhead and then watched the ball frozen in the ready position until the ball dropped on my face.

    So now I think I can be sure that it isn't just electrolyte loss from sweating that's screwing up my game. LOL Looks like I'll have to eat a lot less on days when I'm not playing to make up for having to eat a little more when I do...at least if I don't want to get any fatter than I am now.
     
    #22
  23. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Location:
    Iowa
    I am a diabetic and have been for about ten years. (I am 41 now) My problem is that I do not have the classic "spider sense" to know when I am going downhill. Most people have a blood sugar of 90-100 all of the time. You should start to feel funny when it gets into the 70's with sweats, shaking and disorientation. For me, that doesn't happen until I get into the 40's and your body puts you into a diabetic coma shortly after so I have very little time to do something about it before I simply can't. It is VERY scary. I have been in a situation before where I went downstairs in the middle of the night knowing I had to eat to get my blood sugar up. My brain derailed me and I ended up lying down on the couch where I went in and out of consciousness for a few hours until my ex wife dropped my son off in the morning and had to call an ambulance. When I went in and out, my mind knew I had to go 30 feet to the fridge to get some orange juice, but my body wouldn't listen. I was just a super tensed paralyzed person with a cloudy mind. It's like being in a dream world where you are trying to escape but you can't run or scream. Those diabetic seizures will leave you feeling like you were hit by a truck for a few days. Your body has emergency mechanisms to release glucose from the liver to help out, but mine couldn't get me to a point where I could think and function clearly enough to help myself.

    During tennis, if I don't check it, I know I am getting there when I start playing like crap and not thinking clearly since sweating is masked by normal sweating from exertion. There was even one match where I was swinging and totally whiffing on easy groundstrokes. I tell everyone I play with what to look for so they aren't caught by surprise. I always have glucose with me.

    You really need to talk with a doctor about chronic hypoglycemia. I am not diagnosing you by any means, but when you talk about not being able to perform or think clearly, those bring back all too familiar situations for me. It is dangerous and I know first hand. I always drink Gatorade during matches because it is far more dangerous to be low than high and for two hours, being a little high isn't a big deal.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
    #23
  24. kevin-af

    kevin-af New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Canada
    [​IMG]

    Here are the quantities of each type of fruit you need to be in the Glycemic Load "zones" you are looking for.

    Feel free to get the pdf chart http://aceformula.com/GL
     
    #24
  25. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW
    Don't mention it. Many find salt in high doses nauseating, so I salt load the night before using nothing more exotic than a bowl or two of chips.
     
    #25
  26. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks again, Kevin, Steve and Lucky. I had my latest blood test done and the results were a bit better for the sugar.

    I've found that carbo loading with rice and veggies (just a bit of chicken or fish, too) no more than 90 minutes before playing and drinking one packet of oral rehydration salts just before every set seems to be working okay for me now. I try to save most of the animal protein intake mostly for after playing assuming that my body will need it and some vitamin and mineral supplements for repair and recovery.

    My sugar problem resurfaces if I don't have a little carbo boost (wholemeal bread and peanut butter) after the second set. Thereafter, I need another sandwich between sets every subsequent set.

    Sorry if I forgot to mention that I live in a tropical country and normally start playing tennis around 5 pm when the temperature is around 30-32 Degrees. Any time before 5pm, it can be as high as 36+ Degrees. So I sweat like crazy even if I play until 10pm when it's around 24-27 Degrees.

    I think I never realised that I actually have two problems and not just one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
    #26
  27. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Sounds as if you are making progress! Great!

    A nutritionist or other medical specialist might be able to perform tests and identify your problem and help you find the be most effective treatments.

    The book that I recommended earlier, Advanced Sports Nutrition, is full of detailed discussions of how the various body nutritional needs apply in athletics. The book discusses the loss of sodium from sweating in some detail.

    If you could, please keep us updated, as it might help someone else.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
    #27
  28. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Thanks, Chas. All my annual blood tests usually come back okay except that my fasting blood sugar levels are usually low.

    You're right about maybe being of help to others who might experience similar problems.

    I forgot to mention that my between-sets sandwich snacks are just a single slice of bread spread with peanut butter and occasionally a bit of tomato pesto for spaghetti. Sounds weird, I know, but it tastes great!
     
    #28
  29. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    pastas and rice come with different glycemic indexes

    Pastas come in whole grain versions, whole grain spaghetti, etc., which should digest more slowly. I believe that brown rice has a lower glycemic index than processed white rice. Get whole grain bread for lower GI. Check GI of "whole wheat" breads, that may be high.

    Maybe slow digesting carbohydrates 1 1/2 hour before tennis and fast digesting carbohydrates during the match. ?
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
    #29
  30. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    At this stage I'm not really sure if a lower GI or a higher one is what I need since my blood sugar drops and I need a quick pick me up between sets. But I did indeed notice that the whole grain breads (I like to switch) seem to last me longer. Whole grain pastas are not so easily come by where I live and they are very expensive when I do get them.

    I'm still going by the tried and true method of trying different types of food at the moment, to see what helps me last longest on the court but I have learnt to cut down on the meat and dairy products for the most part. And I so loved my cheese sandwiches, too...
     
    #30

Share This Page