In my pre-paleo, pre-diabetic days I ran a lot. I was one of your classic chronic-cardio types. I’m not built to be a runner, I’m not graceful and every step is a chore. But I did it nonetheless because the prevailing wisdom, then and now, decrees that we must engage in moderate to heavy cardio to be healthy. Pound the pavement lad!
After taking the cure and going full paleo, I pulled back on the running and started doing a lot more walking. Living in a beautiful part of the UK helps, since I can stomp off into the countryside whenever I want.
So it’s all good right? Wrong. The problem for me, and I’m guessing other diabetics, is that the other aspect of the paleo/keto lifestyle is to do vigorous sprint work about once a week.
The theory on sprinting is logical and dovetails well with the evidence we have about hunter-gatherer societies. Most of the time our ancestors would do a lot of walking either stalking quarry or moving to a new location. Humans sprinted to capture or kill something or to run away from animals trying to eat them. They would not be running five and ten kilometre runs every day. Simply put, we are made to walk a lot and sprint a little. Jogging? Probably a little bit, but not like modern man.
So what’s the problem with sprinting? I’ve written about it before. Sprinting shocks the system and releases hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which can raise blood glucose. Moreover, the liver can get into the act as well and pump the body full of sugar. My pancreas can’t compensate, so my blood becomes full of sugary badness after a sprint session.
So what do I do? Well, I don’t sprint that much for starters. Maybe once a month at best. Before my gym was shut due to the so-called pandemic, I would also do some mini-sprints on the elliptical during my regular walking-pace elliptical workout. This didn’t seem to affect my blood negatively? Why? Don’t know. I’m guessing that elliptical sprints are not as intense as proper sprinting.
What about since the lockdown? I’m still going for walks at the weekend (typically for two or three hours), but who has that time during the work week? I’ve actually gone back to running two or three times a week, and I’m really loving it. The endorphin kick that lasts for an hour or two is fantastic and my blood glucose comes down significantly after a 5k.
I think this is one area where I have to part ways somewhat with the paleo-lifestyle at least for the moment. Sprinting raises my blood sugar too much. Whatever health benefits I would gain from aping my hunter-gathering ancestors is surely offset by higher than acceptable blood-glucose levels.
With all of that said. I am going to do some experimenting in the coming weeks and see if I can find a way out of this morass. What if I do some intense sprint work and then follow it up with a 5k jog? Will that quickly bring down any sugar spikes? We shall see dear reader.