Alissa's Fitness Blog

Alissa's Diabetes and Fitness Blog


Discussion of Diet and Fitness as a tool to manage Diabetes

I was so excited to be with Ryan Reed at the Texas Motor Speedway, where he was getting ready to race in the XFinity NASCAR series in Fort Worth, Texas. He was kind enough to talk with me about the process of testing his blood sugar, what he eats before a race, how he monitors his blood sugar and what his protocol is.

For National Diabetes Awareness month, please consider donating to Ryan Reed’s DriveToStopDiabetes.

Ryan Reed preparing to race!

From Ryan’s website:

Reed began his first full NASCAR Xfinity Season at the start of 2014.  He finished 9th in overall standings, with 1 top 5 finish and 14 top 15 finishes.  His season best took place at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished 4th.  He will start his 2nd Season in the NASCAR XFinity Series with the No 16 team in 2015

Reed’s racing career began at a young age, capturing the Kid’s Kart Track Championship at the age of four.  The Bakersfield, California native followed that up by becoming the Junior 1 Comer and HPV Karting Track Champion at age eight.

Read the rest of his bio at DriveToStopDiabetes

Alissa:   Can you tell me a little bit about your schedule, diet and what you typically eat before a race?

Ryan:     Like many athletes, you need to develop an eating plan – which is really about consistency and making things simple enough so that it becomes routine. I usually have a turkey sandwich with mustard on whole wheat bread as a pre-race meal. I might change it up here and there, but not too much. It makes my blood sugar more consistent.

Alissa:   Racing can cause a lot of anxiety. Does this stress impact your blood sugar?

Ryan:     Yes, from time to time.

Alissa:   What is your routine checking your blood sugar and how do you self manage?

Ryan:     I check my blood sugar frequently. Even though I’m on Dexcom, I always like to start right around 100. The lowest I want to be is 90. The highest I'd want to be is about 120. I usually end a race right around 200. That seems to be a comfortable zone for me where I feel good the entire race.  (Ryan’s blood sugar pre-race was 107 and post-race 154).

Alissa:   How are you able to monitor and control your blood sugar during a race?

Ryan:     I have Dexcom in the car so I can watch my blood sugar throughout the entire race.  I keep a drink that is high in carbohydrate and sugar nearby in order to prevent or treat low blood sugar. It is important to replenish carbohydrates throughout the race.

Dexcom and high carbohydrate drink in Ryan’s No 16 Ford Mustang

Alissa:   Do you change your insulin to carbohydrate ratio or your 24 hour basal?

Ryan:     I am on long-acting insulin.  Knowing that adrenalin and stress on a race day can be hard, I reduce my insulin across the board. The worst case scenario is having low blood sugar inside the race car. Reducing the insulin is a safeguard that errs on the on the side of caution. Reality is that the race burns so many calories; a person doesn’t need as much insulin.

Alissa:   While you're racing, because it's so hot in the car, what do your blood sugars tend to run? What do they usually run after the race?

Ryan:     Dehydration during a race can result in the loss of up to five pounds due to perfuse sweating. Couple that with adrenaline, my blood sugar does gradually climb.  Since it is cool today, I'll probably end around 160-170. However, it can reach between as high as 200-210 on a hot day.  It really depends on the weather. After the race, my blood sugar drops pretty quickly.

Alissa: How does Dexcom work to your advantage when you're racing? How do you treat your blood sugar using Dexcom as recourse?

Ryan:     Dexcom tracks your blood sugar is at all times, including inside and outside of the race car. It IS the device that allowed me to get back on the track with NASCAR! This is my safety net for informing my crew of my blood sugar levels. I have a target on my fire suit that permits my crew to administer insulin, if I am too high. I also have a drink blend in my car in case it is too low. I try to monitor it the best I can during the race, but I may not check for 40 or 50 laps.

Alissa:   When you started racing again, were you on Dexcom from the start?

Ryan:     Yes, I was on Dexcom the first time I sat back in a race car.

Alissa:   How would it impact you if you were not on Dexcom while racing?

Ryan:     I wouldn’t be allowed to race professionally at my current level.

Alissa:   We're both athletes, and I try to really advocate showing fitness, diabetes and living a healthy lifestyle as a positive, not a negative. What advice would you give to a non-athlete with diabetes?

Ryan:   For me, the biggest thing was being able to find a doctor who works closely with me on managing my diabetes, both inside and outside the race car. You're the one who has to manage your diabetes. You have to take responsibility for it, but your doctor still plays a huge role by managing diabetes around the rigorous schedule of training and how an athlete eats. It can be frustrating. There can be times where you feel like it's defeating almost, but if you keep pushing through and persevere, it's definitely worth it.

Alissa :  This is National Diabetes Awareness Month and you're doing some fabulous things with Lilly Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association on the No 16 Ford Mustang. Do you want to share a little bit about what your charitable organization Drive to Stop Diabetes has done for National Diabetes Awareness Month?

Ryan:     One of the cool things is we have a special paint scheme here in Texas. You'll see a bunch of stars all over our car. The stars represent the entire population of Texas. You'll see red stars mixed in amongst those, and those are the fourteen percent of Texans living with diabetes. We also have a My Diabetes Pit Crew Sweepstakes going on this weekend. People, who sign up and get selected as the Pit Crew Champions, are going to have their names featured on my pit crew's fire suits. Just a really cool way to give back to people in the diabetes community that are living with this disease day in and day out, just gives them a way to be a part of the race team. We hope that they enjoy it.

Alissa:   Thank you so much for this opportunity - I'm excited to be here, especially during National Diabetes Awareness Month. I'm looking forward to seeing you race and do great.

Ryan:     Awesome.

Alissa:   Thanks so much.

Congratulations to Ryan for finishing the race in 15th place.Ryan is currently 10th in the NASCAR XFINITY series championship standings after one win and 17 top-15 finishes.  His next race is at Phoenix International Raceway(PIR)


Showing 0 Comment

Comments are closed.