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October 2023
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Timing is everything

As you’re aware, in my spare time, I’m an insulin kineticist. That means I study the impact of artifically given insulin on the human body.

The title is putting it mildly. Timing matters, it’s not necessarily what you do but when you do it.

Take today. After a very lazy Christmas, I’m starting to exercise again and that means my flat blood glucose levels are taking a hammering. I walked back from my retinal screening (with very dark glasses on as it’s a lovely sunny winter’s morning) with flat levels all the way home and poured myself a glass of orange juice and sat down.

Now, resting after exercise is the wrong thing to do if you’re looking to maintain blood glucose levels as it can start muscle filling. That’s the process of taking glucose from the blood stream and stowing it in the muscle reserves. While you’re exercising the opposite process happens which can lead to high blood glucose readings albeit temporarily.

Anyway, while I love the taste orange juice, it is a terrible hypo treatment. It is slow to absorb and heavy in sugar when it does hit the system, which can lead to rebound highs. You basically have to sit out being hypo, waiting for the levels to rise. Not great! Compared to my favourite treatment, coca-cola, orange juice takes twice as long.

Plus, the orange juice may overshoot. At 25g of CHO, it is a big hit – in my case raising my blood glucose levels by 6.25mmol/l. Think about that, if I’m a little low say 3.8mmol/l, that’s going to make me 10.05mmol/l which is technically speaking hyper.

Of course, if I have the orange juice 15 minutes before I stop walking, the levels are all seemlessly perfect. The low never happens, the bump of the high is avoided too.

Timing is everything.

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