Fueling For Exercise

Anna Albritton, MS, RD, LD shares her food philosophy and goals for Diabetes Strength Members

Fueling for Exercise – Diabetes Management

As you strive to reach fitness goals through daily Diabetes Strength workouts, you likely realize that exercise is a vital part of maintaining health and fitness goals. You also likely realize that, as with many other aspects of life with diabetes, preparing for exercise requires a few extra steps when diabetes is involved. You may need to add in an extra snack depending on your pre-workout blood sugar, how long you plan to work out, how your blood sugar reacts to physical activity, and the type of diabetes medications you take.

Understanding How Your Blood Sugar Reacts to Physical Activity

Is your blood sugar highly sensitive to physical activity of any kind? Does a specific activity trigger large drops in your blood sugar? Generally speaking, physical activity lowers blood sugar. For some, specific activities like weightlifting may actually raise blood sugar levels. As you embark on your Diabetes Strength journey and try new exercises, it’s important to pay attention to your blood sugar reactions with each new exercise you try.

Where Should My Blood Sugar be Before Beginning?

Always remember to check your blood sugar prior to exercise! Consult with your endocrinologist when deciding on a pre-exercise blood sugar target. They will keep in mind all diabetes medications you take, but be prepared to share the length of your workouts and how you think your blood sugars react to exercise.

How Do I Know if I Need a Pre-Workout Snack?

If your pre-workout blood sugar is below your target level, you’ll want to consume a source of fast acting carbohydrate to boost blood sugar into an appropriate range. Fifteen grams of fast acting carbohydrate such as juice, glucose drinks, and gels and glucose tablets will do the trick. Once your blood sugar is at target, follow with a source of protein to help blood sugars remain at your target. However, if your blood sugar is already at target, yet you know your sugars plummet during exercise, you may consider eating a small snack 30-60 minutes prior to working out that combines complex carbohydrates and protein or fat.

What if My Blood Sugar Drops During My Workout?

Be sure to have your blood sugar meter and strips accessible throughout the workout if you need to stop and test your blood sugar. Should your blood sugar run low at any point, carry low blood sugar treatments consisting of fast acting carbohydrate.

Post-Workout Snacks and Snacking Throughout the Day

Knowing your body’s reaction long after exercise is completed is important as well. For some, blood sugars may not be greatly affected during exercise, but may quickly drop in the hours after completing exercise. For this reason, it may be smart to consume a snack consisting of complex carbohydrate and protein or fat shortly after a workout.

Whether fueling for exercise or fueling to fend off hunger throughout the day, it’s important to keep a steady intake of carbohydrates. Stay tuned for next week’s post on specific snack ideas to meet your pre- and post- workout needs! Keep up the great work, DS family!


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