Exercise and jelly beans; how does this work?

I see on this website where a good many people use jelly beans for treating lows while exercising. How do you judge how many to eat and how often if you are being active for several hours?

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Comment by susan on December 19, 2011 at 9:25am

Remember to always have glucose available for safety reasons. You can use tabs or Gluco Sticks--a new form of rapidly dissolving glucose!!

Comment by Buckley83 on December 19, 2011 at 10:17am


This will vary depending on person to person and from jelly bean to jelly bean ha.

Generally if I am running at a decent pace I need 10g of carbs an hour to keep me steady, I also turn the basal down on my pump to 60% an hour before. 10g of carbs = 10 jelly belly beans, take a bag of 20 and munch whilst you run.

It is trial and error and each of us will be different..


This is a good site for getting to grips with exercise and T1

Comment by acidrock23 on December 19, 2011 at 3:39pm

It might be that I am all over these threads selling jelly beans but the little runs run about 1G/ bean, I weigh them out beforehand in little bags. I am not a huge fan of glucose tablets, even though they work faster, because the powdery fuzz gets all over everything. It also tends to sort of produce "fumes" in my mouth that are uncomfortable to boot.

It may be counterrecommended but if I sprint, it will also usually fire off some adrenaline and I've done that a few times when I forgot the other bag of beans or otherwise ran low on carbs. I wouldn't use it to replace sugar entirely but it works ok to stretch out a run so you don't have to quit. I hate quitting.

Comment by Gerri on December 20, 2011 at 2:06am

Hard to say because it's such an individualized thing. One jelly bean raises me 10 pts, so I don't need much. Eating some protein before exercising helps me from bottoming out. I also eat a small amount of protein after to head off the inevitable after exercise lows I get.

Comment by Brian (bsc) on December 20, 2011 at 5:08am

I think that the answer is "it depends." Anaerobic exercise raises my blood sugar, aerobic exercises lowers it. Pre workout nutrition and the amount of insulin on board determines the base levels of how much glucose I have available and how it is taken up. If I eat properly before a session and don't have excessive insulin on board, I may have no need for a any uptake of jelly beans (but I don't go on marathon runs like AR). If you are having dramatic lows during exercise, requiring glucose tabs and serious carb levels, it is probably time to rethink your nutrition and insulin regime supporting your exercise.

Comment by Bradford on December 20, 2011 at 6:07am

I agree w/ others that it's a very "it depends" sort of answer, which factors in the type of exercise, the intensity, the duration, your current insulin on board, the time of day (for me, at least, b/c I'm more insulin resistant in the mornings), etc. For me it's unfortunately been a lot of trial and error in figuring out "what works". The beans have about 1g/bean, like AR mentioned, so you can use that to factor the possible use of the beans into your exercise based on what you think you might need per hour for extended activities, etc.

Comment by Unknown Diabetic on December 20, 2011 at 10:06am

Sounds like I have a lot of experimenting to do. I have been using glucose tabs but already tired of the taste.

I have been playing disc golf and a round normally takes over 2 hours. I am having a hard time believing that I go low playing this since we play at such a leisurely pace.

I want to start riding my bicycle again and am worried about going low since I normally ride solo.

When I reduce my basal rate during excercise I always end up going high afterwards. Is this normal? When I realized this was happening i quit reducing the basal rate and try to guess how many carbs I need.

Would it be a good idea to try 5 jelly beans every 20 minutes of exercise for a starting point?

Thanks for your input.

Comment by Bradford on December 20, 2011 at 10:15am

remember when changing your basal that any changes need to take place about 60 min beforehand (b/c basal you're "getting now" really is metabolically going to be "seen" after about 1 hour from the time of change on the pump). So if you're going to play at 4 pm, change your basal at 3 pm. Since you're just walking and throwing the disc some, I'd maybe recommend only a -15 to -25% change in your basal (assuming your starting BG is within your target range and you don't have any active IOB). And make the change for the duration of the activity. So set it for a reduced basal for about 1.5 or 2 hours. So the basal will "go back to normal" about 1 hour into your activity, and you'll have 1 hour left. This way when you get done playing, you'll have your normal basal "active" in your system again. This should help alleviate some of the highs that you saw from earlier basal adjustments. You could start there, and make adjustments up or done if you need more of less basal. As far as riding your bike, I don't know your pace/intensity or your duration, but I typically drop my basal a minimum of 40% (-40%, or 60% normal), and depending on my duration or intensity, I may go as much as -75 or -85%. I also take in 30-50 g carbs per hour on the bike.
With regard to your carb intake (in addition to your basal reduction), you might also try to take in 15g or so (roughly 15 beans) per hour, and then you could make adjustments (eating more or less beans) depending on your numbers. The key is that you're testing frequently when you first start experimenting so you can see trends and identify patterns. So testing when you make your basal adjustment, testing at the beginning of the activity, testing 30 minutes in, testing 1/2 way, testing afterwards, testing 30 min after to see if you're trending, etc. You'll use more strips in the beginning, but once you get the basic plan figured out, it will be really beneficial for you in the long run. Hope that helps some!

Comment by Bob on December 21, 2011 at 2:47am

This thread makes me want to ask a question that has not yet been answered to my satidfaction. If you only have basal insulin on board and are doing a long ride/run/etc... and do replace glucose with jellybeans or other low GI carbs, how does the glucose get back into the skeletal muscles to replenish your glycogen stores? Does this happen through alternative (non-insulin dependant) cellular glucose transport or through some other pathway? The reason I am curious is that I wonder if it makes more sense to do insulin/carb bolusing on long workouts or just maintain small glucose dosing such as discussed here. Any thoughts?

Comment by acidrock23 on December 21, 2011 at 5:23am

I think that it works well to run on a cut bolus for larger servings? I am not sure about the chemistry (although I'm maybe 40% through "Good Calories Bad Calories", full of interesting info but I'm not sure how much it will stick to my head...). I have a hard time telling if the post run spike are from "adrenaline" or "jelly beans" so I brought my meter along and noticed that the CGM lag seems apparent as I can read 60s-70s CGM and be at 80-90 (or going up...) w/ a couple of miles to go. Whatever the spike is from, that's where I take action to stop it. The "Diabetics Who Run Marathons" thread has a lot of resports and sometimes it seems like the gel solution (20-25G of carbs...) can lead to spikes from which I'd infer that they are more than you "need"? I also think that it's a pretty fine line and the best solution is to do lots of experiments.

Another thing I'd add is that the more I ran, the less I'd need to cut my insulin. When I first started running like > 6 miles, pushing out to 8/10/13.1, etc. I'd cut my basal to 20% but these days, I've been at it for a few years and cut to like 60-70%, very much depending on the situation. I don't bother cutting for 3 milers at all, just run it off, have maybe 1/2 c of skim milk for "fuel" and usually stay flat for 25-30 minutes of running.

Sorry that doesn't exactly answer your question however I am not a science person.


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