Preventing exercise-induced hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes using real-time continuous glucose monitoring and a new carbohydrate intake algorithm: an observational field study

Diabetes Technol Ther. 2011 Aug;13(8):819-25. doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0052. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: Real-time (RT) continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) offers the possibility to better manage glucose levels during exercise in active individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). However, studies have yet to determine the appropriate actions to take when glucose levels are trending toward hypoglycemia. The purpose of this observational field study was to test the effectiveness of RT-GCM and a new carbohydrate intake algorithm designed for maintaining euglycemia during sports.

Methods: During a 2-week sports camp, 25 adolescents (8-17 years old) with T1DM were fitted with a RT-CGM device and instructed to ingest fast-acting carbohydrates (8-20 g, depending on the concentration of glucose at the time of RT-CGM alert and rates of change in glycemia) when glucose levels were trending toward hypoglycemia. Rates of change in glucose were measured before and after algorithm use, and the incidence of hypoglycemia was documented.

Results: With RT-CGM and algorithm use, euglycemia was largely maintained with modest amounts of carbohydrate intake, even when glucose levels were initially dropping at an elevated rate (>0.55 mmol/L per 5 min). Mild biochemical hypoglycemia (3.0-3.9 mmol/L) occurred just twice out of 22 uses of the algorithm (9%) when trend arrows alerted the subjects that glucose levels were dropping. When glucose levels were already below target (<5.0 mmol/L), mild hypoglycemia occurred five times out of 13 events (38%), despite 16 g of carbohydrate being ingested. Average glucose levels during sports in the 60 min following algorithm use were 5.8 ± 1.2 mmol/L, 5.3 ± 1.0 mmol/L, and 6.2 ± 0.8 mmol/L in the 20-, 16-, and 8-g carbohydrate intake protocols when glucose levels were initially on target but dropping toward hypoglycemia.

Conclusion: When coupled with RT-CGM, a new carbohydrate intake algorithm prevents hypoglycemia and maintains euglycemia during exercise, particularly if patients ingest carbohydrate when trend arrows alert them of a drop in glycemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / methods*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / standards
  • Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control*


  • Carbohydrates