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Exercise and Diabetes: What to Eat Before and After Your Workout

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Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, getting enough exercise is crucial for improving insulin resistance and maintaining overall health.

For people with diabetes, it’s not as simple as suiting up and hitting the gym. You need to think about your blood sugar both before and after a workout. To prevent extreme highs or lows, make sure you’re eating properly and fueling your body at the right times, with the right foods.

If Your Blood Sugar Is Low

Blood glucose levels may vary depending on what type of exercise you’re doing, how long you’re doing it for, and how hard you’re working.

Some people might experience a drop in blood sugar levels during or after exercise, so it’s important to check your insulin levels before, during and after a workout. If your levels are low before exercise, the American Diabetes Association recommends having a small carbohydrate snack (about 15 grams) to raise your blood sugar – especially if you will be exercising longer than 30 minutes. You might also need to lower your insulin dosage.

Also, be sure to bring along a carbohydrate food or drink that can raise your blood sugar if necessary.

If Your Blood Sugar Is High

High-intensity exercises can increase levels of your stress hormones, which raise glucose levels. If your blood sugar is high before a workout, you might need to check your blood or urine for ketones and avoid vigorous activity.

To avoid high blood sugar, focus on having a protein-rich snack an hour or so before your workout. High blood sugar after a workout also means you should be careful about carbohydrate intake until you’re in a safe zone.

Remember that intense workouts can also cause carbohydrate cravings, too – in general, diabetics are better off off exercising at a moderate level to avoid this response.

If you find you’re experiencing extreme highs or lows in blood sugar when you work out, check in with your doctor about putting together an eating schedule that will support a healthy exercise routine.

Source: American Diabetes Association

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