Diabetes-Friendly Tips to Fuel Your Fitness Regimen – Part 2

See part 1 of this article to first learn when and if you need to snack based on your blood glucose levels. Now that you know more about the importance of checking your blood glucose levels before, during, and after a workout. Here’s what you need to know about how to fuel your fitness regimen before or after a workout.

Carbohydrate reference guide for exercise

Having a quick reference guide on hand for different portion sizes of snacks can be helpful. You can create your own list based on your food preferences and see what fuels you best. Whether you choose a 5, 15, or 30-gram carbohydrate serving before or after your workout will be based on your individual needs and blood sugar levels. This will also depend on your risk for hyperglycemia, and if you’re working out harder and longer.1,2

Carbohydrate Reference Guide for ExerciseCarbohydrate (15 g)Carbohydrate (30 g)Protein (12 g)Fat (10 g)1 slice of bread1 cup shredded wheat or bran cereal5 oz plain Greek yogurt1 tbsp nut butter6 Saltine crackers½ cup granola1 scoop protein powder¼ avocado½ cup of fruit1 cup of whole wheat pasta2 hard-boiled eggstbsp olive oil½ cup of hot cereal1 cup of sweet potato½ cup cottage cheese1 tbsp chia seeds1 small corn tortilla (6”)1 pita bread (6”)½ cup tofu6 walnut halvesMeasuring food portions before exerciseMeasuring food seems tedious at first, but if you keep dishwasher-safe measuring cups/spoons readily accessible, it doesn’t seem as much of a chore. But if they’re not for you, you can try these visuals to ensure that you are consuming appropriate portions, without relying on measuring cups.3Golf ball or large egg: ¼ cup of dried fruit or nutsTennis ball: 1 cup of pasta/cereal/fruit/vegetablesThumb tip: 1 teaspoon of nut/seed butterRounded handful: ½ cup cut fruit/vegetables/baked chipsDeck of cards/palm of hand (minus fingers): 3 oz protein (tofu, poultry, meat, etc.)4Low-intensity workouts and blood glucose levelsFor low-intensity workouts at the targeted blood glucose level per the chart in part 1, you may not need anything. However, you do need to consider the duration and intensity of your workout to determine if a small serving of carbohydrates is required. Factor in past experiences, and track and trend your sugar levels to see what works for you.5-10 grams of carbohydrates will keep your blood sugar levels from dropping and may help avoid post-workout high blood glucose.A half-cup of skim milk, 1 date, or 2-3 crackers is around 5-6 grams.Match your post-exercise meal/snack to your exertionAfter a workout, the amount you fuel ultimately depends on its duration and intensity. For instance, a light workout may only require a light snack. But, for moderate to strenuous workouts, it’s important to refuel the body with the nutrients it needs to recover, such as protein, carbohydrates, and adequate calories. If your next meal is quickly approaching, that can be the perfect solution to refueling without taking in extra calories.2Certain medications can also impact your risk for exercise-induced hypoglycemia. Even if your medications don’t impact your risk, tracking and trending your blood glucose will help you determine how much carbs you need before, during, or after a workout. Create a log for the type of exercise you do and the results. How does a yoga class, a long walk, or jog impact your blood glucose?Know the signs of low blood sugar when exercisingAvoid a possibly dangerous situation by knowing the signs of hypoglycemia, especially during exercise. As previously mentioned, hypoglycemia can occur during or even several hours, or up to 24 hours, after physical activity. For precautionary purposes, keep an easy to access carbohydrate snack for a quick blood sugar boost. Remember, if you experience hypoglycemic symptoms, stop exercising immediately, and verify your blood glucose levels. If they are below 70mg/dL, consume a carbohydrate choice (15g) and wait 15 minutes. Repeat these steps until blood glucose levels are within a normal range.1Recall, signs, and symptoms of hypoglycemia can include. They can often be masked by the body’s natural response to exercise.ShakinessDizzinessFast heartbeatSweatingInability to concentrateHeadacheBy tracking and trending your blood glucose levels in response to the duration, intensity, and types of exercise you do, you’ll achieve the fitness level you desire without the worry! Exercise helps with mental health, weight management, blood glucose control, restorative sleep, brain health, and lowers heart disease risk. I have found it to be one of the most positive forces in my life and my clients! Enlist your family or friends to get the support you need for your new exercise adventures. Consider making an appointment with a registered dietician to work together to assess the right amount, types of foods, and food combinations you need to support your fitness plan.

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