T1D Athlete on a Budget

Hi there, my name is Theresa (26 y.o.) and I’m a runner. I am also a broke graduate student trying to find cheap alternatives to those fancy protien bars, energy gels, and electrolyte drinks to fuel my runs. I’ve been relying on simple glucose tabs for when I go low in the middle of a run, but the hard, dry and chalk-like feel has prompted me to make this post to find possible alternatives. Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

Theresa @taldrich, although I’m far, very far, from being a runner I can relate to your need. I will say that the glucose tabs do not need to be dry and chalky; rather than crunching I nibble at the edges and let the TAB somewhat dissolve in my mouth - I feel as if the slightly dissolved tab may work quicker. But tabs may not be your best solution because of the spike and short duration of the glucose.

What I have used, long before the tab came along was to always have a few hard candies in my pocket - these can be purchased in large bags at the dollar stores. Just make sure that the candies HAVE sugar - many now-a-days have reduced sugar.
What I keep handy in my bike bag and belt case when exercising are granola - protein bars that have 7 grams of quick acting sugar and the balance of the 16 - 19 grams of carb for longer duration of BGL made up of chocolate, nuts, and grains. Walmart Great Value brand has variety pack boxes pf 20 bars available for around $5 - $6.

Best wishes for your continued studies!!!

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I like Clif Bloks entry chews. They’re a gel and available in a number of flavors. Some have caffeine or added sodium so check the label of those are issues for you. I find them at a sporting goods store. I’ll let you check out the price on your area.

Gatorade/Powerade also work, but are lower in carbs than some other options. You can get dry packets of then to mix into your water bottle when needed. I also carry glucose tabs, hard candy and even jelly beans on me when I exercise. A small juice box is also handy, if you’ve got a place to carry one.

That’s what I do. Really any form of carbohydrates will do the trick. So will act faster than others though. So, it’s really trial and error to find what works best for you!

Pam K.
T1D 58.10 years and counting!

Jelly-beans. I keep some in a zip-lock snack bag. They work good for me.

I make sure to eat a snack like a peanut butter sandwich before exercise without dosing, and drink a Glucerna shake - it keeps the carbs steady for about an hour and change. And it’s tasty!

I second granola bars. I am an avid cyclist and I find one of them will usually get me through when I go low in the middle of a long ride. (Although jelly beans are probably a good idea as well if you want something a little faster acting. I find a small handful of jelly beans will spike my sugar like nobody’s business in fairly short order.)

Hi @taldrich,

I’m a dance graduate student, so I can sympathize! Are you looking for inexpensive fueling ideas to keep your numbers up during exercise, or for treating the lows when they happen? I’ve gotten to the point where I know pretty well how many additional carbs I need before participating in a dance class, but it’s not perfect.

For “I need sugar now” moments, the glucose tablets are the easiest and fastest acting thing for me. However, I spent many years filling the refillable 10-tablet carrying tubes with plain table sugar (Just always put them in a separate zippy bag. Getting sugar everywhere if they pop open is not fun!). This is cheap and works pretty well if you don’t mind eating plain sugar. One of those tubes holds roughly 30g of sugar, if I remember correctly.

If a plain granola bar doesn’t do it for you, have you thought about making your own energy bars? There are endless recipes online that you could alter for your needs. That would be an inexpensive way to make something that could be tailored to what you want and need in a bar. Make a big batch and let it toast while you study! Think oats, dried fruit, peanut butter, nuts, etc. to start.

You could even make your own electrolyte drinks. Mixing things like lemon or lime, a sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.), and a touch of salt will give you something similar to an athletic drink at a fraction of the price. Again, endless ideas on the internet :slight_smile:

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Thanks everyone for these great ideas!

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I always hated glucose tabs. I just use cheap fruit snacks (like what people use as desserts for kids lunches) for lows. They come in pouches that are compact, light, and mostly waterproof, and taste good but not so good that I want to snack on them when I don’t need them. I’ve eaten a few when having a low during a run and it allowed me to continue. If you use a pump, just try to have close to no insulin on board when starting a run to minimize the need.

Frances idea of table sugar gave me one more idea - - sugar cubes. They’re easier to carry/eat when you’re low and will do the trick! I’ve also taken some sugar packets (like restaurants have on the table for coffee/tea) and “chugged” them when needed. Either of these might be a less expensive option for you - - I’ve been known to put 3-4 packets in my purse when at a restaurant to have just in case, especially when I’m on vacation.

Pam K.

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