Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pool-side drinks

Every morning at the pool starts off the same way.

We all shuffle from the locker room to the supply room to grab a pull buoy and a board. We all shuffle to the dry-erase board to check out what our warm-up will be. We all place our pull buoy and board at the edge of the pool next to our drink of choice. In my case, that's also where I leave my flipflops and my ziplock back containing my juice box and my emergency gel (which, after 13 months, I have still not needed!).

For the first few months of Masters class, I was the only one without a poolside drink. Everyone else had their favourite energy/electrolyte drink at the ready. I didn't because I refused to drink or eat anything that might mess with my blood sugar and I wanted to avoid taking insulin before my swims if I could help it.

Weeks into the class, and weeks of being gently asked by Christine why I never had a drink with me, I suddenly remembered that I had a sample pack of NUUN in my sports cupboard. NUUN is an electrolyte drink with almost zero carbohydrates in it. Which means no blood sugar spike. I had bought it to try as a running drink but had, at the same time, discovered edisks and found them much easier to carry than a bottle. So the NUUN sat neglected...until last week.

Early one morning, on the way out the door, I grabbed one of my running belt bottles, tossed a NUUN tablet into it and filled it with water. It immediately began fizzing which was shocking after the rather boring non-fizzy eload I was used to. (Mind you, at 5am, anything out of the ordinary (like seeing my own shadow against the wall) is rather shocking. I startle easily in the wee hours.) I tried to put the lid on the water bottle but the fizzing caused some pressure to build up and bubbles started oozing out of every little opening.

Day one lesson: mix drink immediately upon entering the kitchen to allow tablet to dissolve before trying to put the lid on the bottle. It makes the walk to the car much less awkward.

I arrived and proudly put my bottle poolside next to my pull buoy and board. I make a point to stop and take a sip every few minutes. It was tasty and certainly nice to have something to drink but I'm not sure I noticed much difference. I had no more energy but, then again, I didn't really expect to since there aren't any carbs. I felt no less dehydrated or tired after the workout. I'm sure it's doing me some good - just quietly, in the background, keeping my electrolytes in their happy place. I have been drinking it during every swim for the past two weeks.

Happily, my blood sugars continue to remain wonderfully stable during my swims. That alone is reason enough to stick with my new friend NUUN. Still, it's worth tossing a question out to the DOC. My dear pancreatically-challenged swimming friends - do you have any other magic drinks or snacks that you recommend? Unlike running, my blood sugar doesn't drop when I swim so I want to avoid high carb things like gels or powerbars.


  1. I'm a somewhat fan of NUUN. I don't like it when I run or cycle because it always tastes "alcoholic" to me (no idea why) but I use it for pre and post hydration. I just leave the water bottle tip open when I put the lid on so the gas escapes.

    I don't know of anything else because I'm in the same boat as you. Don't want the carbs.

  2. Thanks for reminding me that I need to start bringing my bottle to the pool with me! I am wicked thirsty whenever I'm done with practice, and drinking water (with or without NUUN) would be so nice between sets. Alas, I am also wicked forgetful.

    If you have something that works with your blood sugar, there's no need to change it. Unless you're doing it for blood glucose management, there's no physiological need for carbohydrates during a workout that lasts an hour or less. You usually have enough glycogen in your muscles to last that long.

  3. I have never tried Nuun but may give it a go for some of my longer swims. I have been hesitant to try anything that might mess with my BG's. I have gone low in the pool once or twice so I do keep juice nearby which works a charm. Other than that I have a few sips of water here and there.