Physical activity makes your body more sensitive to insulin – a positive side effect that can help you better manage your diabetes. But how much exercise is enough for a diabetic, and when are you in danger of “overdoing it”?
A general rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, according to WebMD. Regular aerobic exercise for diabetics has been demonstrated to improve insulin efficiency and lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, exercising lowers your risk of developing diabetes-related health issues, such as heart disease.
Understanding the right foods to eat before and after exercise is also important in ensuring your safety and regulating your blood sugar levels. Keep reading to learn more about diabetic-friendly foods to eat before and after working out, as well as what types of workouts are best for T1D’s!
Diabetic-Friendly Foods to Eat BEFORE Exercise
It’s important to understand what you should eat before your workout to prepare your body and not feel deprived of nutrients.
First, check your blood sugar, especially if you take insulin! (CDC.gov) If your levels are under 100 mg/dL, you’ll need a healthy snack or ideally 15 grams of glucose which is precisely formulated in a Transcend glucose gel pack to prevent your levels from dropping too low while you’re exercising.
If your levels are normal, it’s still a good idea to fuel your body about an hour before your workout. Smart options are:
- Sliced apples with two tablespoons of peanut butter
- 4-5 whole grain crackers
- Low-fat yogurt with ¼ cup of unsweetened granola
You might ask your doctor about lowering your mealtime insulin dose if you know you’ll exercise right after eating. How much less insulin you require with that meal depends on your chosen activity (walking or running vs. lifting weights), the time you’ll be exercising, and the intensity.
Diabetic-Friendly Foods to Eat AFTER Exercise
After exercising, you’ll want to check your blood sugar several times over the next few hours. Exercise affects each person’s blood sugar levels differently, so it’s essential to work with your doctor to determine where your levels should be before, during, and after a workout.
Exercising pulls from your sugar stores in your liver and muscles, so if your levels are low after working out, eat a small snack such as crackers or fruit, or pull out one of Transcend’s tasty orange glucose gel packs.
Different workouts call for different post-exercise snacks and meals. If you take insulin, you might need to lower your dose for the meal you eat a few hours after working out, depending on how strenuous your workout was.
Your insulin requirements for exercise can still vary depending on several different things. To find out if and how to modify your insulin dosages before and after exercise, speak with your doctor.
Short workouts may not require a snack afterward, but for more strenuous exercising sessions, here are some excellent options to try:
- ½ cup of oatmeal
- ½ of a medium-sized sweet potato, cooked
- A handful of nuts
- String cheese
Remember, the more prolonged and more strenuous a workout session is, the higher your chances of raising your blood glucose levels. Be sure to check your blood sugar before eating a hefty post-workout meal!
Best Types of Exercise For T1Ds
Several types of exercise are excellent for people with type 1 diabetes. Here are a few that the ADA lists as beneficial.
- Aerobic exercise – Increases insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness and improves immune and lung function.
- Resistance exercise – Improved muscle mass, strength, and overall function, increased insulin sensitivity, and reduced risk of exercise-induced hypoglycemia.
- Stretching – Increases joint mobility and overall range of motion.
- Tai Chi – Improved glycemic control.
For anyone with diabetes, exercise is essential! The majority of aerobic and cardiovascular exercises will drop your blood glucose levels. However, weightlifting and high-intensity training will increase them.
Exercise can help you control your blood sugar levels once you understand your individual patterns (frequent blood glucose readings and a consistent schedule for mealtimes, snacks, and time spent exercising). And as usual, always talk to your doctor to create an exercise plan that works for you and adapts to your condition and needs.
Be sure to check out the blog for more T1D-related content and to stay up to date on the latest information that can help you better manage your condition!