I’ve been seeing posts on Twitter and Instagram with hashtags (#) for the Big Blue Test (#bigbluetest) ever since I started using Twitter at the beginning of the year. The posts never really describe what it is, and I didn’t get curious enough to click on it until now. I love the goal, and the idea of the Big Blue Test. What’s the Big Blue Test? It’s something designed to motivate people to get active, and improve their diabetes, while teaching them responsible habits about diabetes and exercise. Watch the video below to see exactly what the Big Blue Test is trying to accomplish.
So you can see that the Big Blue Test is:
- Raising funds for people with diabetes who otherwise wouldn’t receive proper care.
- Teaching diabetics about the importance of exercise in your treatment plan.
- Teaching diabetics the importance of testing both before and after exercise.
- Motivating diabetics to get active, while building community and support around it.
- Raising awareness for both type 1, and type 2 diabetes.
- Promoting World Diabetes Day, which is November 14th.
What the video doesn’t have time to explain is exactly “why” your blood sugar drops after exercise, and how it helps control your diabetes. It does this same thing for everyone, not just diabetics. I’ll try to explain this for you now, from the perspective of a diabetic first, and then explain why it helps a non-diabetic.
First, I need to explain a little science. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. I promise. You see, when you exercise, depending on what kind of exercise you do, you’ll burn either glucose or fatty acids. Aerobic exercise (running, biking, cardio) burns mostly fatty acids, because it provides the body with oxygen, a necessary component for burning fat. Anaerobic exercise (weight lifting, HIIT training), burns mostly glucose, because there’s little oxygen available.
Now for insulin’s role here. More science, I’m sorry. I just a geek at heart I guess. So insulin is an anabolic hormone, which means it’s kinda like a carpenter, because it builds things. Muscle, fat, cholesterol, and much more. There are also catabolic hormones like glucagon that are like demolition experts, who’s job is to burn fat. They don’t co-exist well. If insulin is present, glucagon won’t be, and vise versa. Remember this for later.
When you eat carbs, they’re turned into fuel (glucose) and then insulin is like a key to the muscle cell so that fuel can get inside, providing the muscle what it needs to operate and grow. Type 1 diabetics have no insulin, so we inject it. Type 2 diabetics have worn out their natural insulin pump, or plugged up that key hole in the muscle cell from overuse, and they’re insulin is low, or doesn’t work very well anymore. Non diabetics have a perfectly functioning checks and balances system for insulin, that keeps them supplied with just the right amount of insulin for what they eat.
I know, I know. What does all this have to do with the Big Blue Test? Here’s the secret behind the importance of the Big Blue Test. When you exercise strenuously (remember what I said about anaerobic exercise), your body doesn’t need insulin to get glucose into the muscle cell. This . . . is . . . huge. For EVERYONE. Here’s why.
You do some HIIT training like Insanity or maybe some strenuous weight lifting, leaving you out of breath. You do this for 20 – 40 or so minutes. After your workout, diabetic or not, your blood sugar’s gonna drop . . . . . and it can keep dropping for up to 8 hours. (A great time for P90X Results and Recovery formula with 40 grams of dextrose) Your need for insulin is reduced because that strenuous exercise can allow your muscles to utilize glucose without insulin for up to 8 hours after your workout. Sounds good right? But why? Because reduced insulin for up to 8 hours means you have improved insulin resistance (type 2 diabetics might reverse their diabetes), you burn more fat because insulin is low (remember what I told you about glucagon), you can’t store fat because insulin is required to store it (remember what I said about insulin), less daily insulin means less money spent on diabetic supplies, and the almighty blood sugar will be lower leading to a better A1C score. Reducing insulin levels in your blood stream improves your health in to many ways to list in this article.
How do you optimize this for fitness and diabetes? Don’t eat carbs for 3 hours before your workout, diabetic or not. That leaves low insulin amounts in your blood stream. If you’re type 1, of course you may not have a choice sometimes if you go low in that 3 hour window. Such is life. Anyway, you’ll burn fat like crazy during your workout with low insulin levels. After your workout, take a good protein recovery shake with a 2/1 ratio of carbs/protein for serious athletes, or 4/1 for everyone else. This is the only time of day a diabetic will want to eat high glycemic carbs. Everybody will want that in your blood stream ASAP. This will help a diabetic recover from the ensuing low blood sugar, and it just plain makes everyone heal and feel better. It’s also important for non-diabetics to do this. This will help in your weight loss results, but the reason why is another whole blog article.
So the Big Blue Test is doing a great deal more for you than they are able to tell you in a short 1 minute video. I hope this article has helped you understand what’s going on behind the scenes in the Big Blue Test.
If you have any questions about what I’ve explained here,
find me on my social networks in the right hand column.
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Now for my first #bigbluetest results: