Fuel Smart: How To Eat Right When You Exercise

    Fueling up for workouts is important for anyone, but more so if you need to keep a close watch on your blood sugar levels. As our nutritionists explain, people with diabetes need to strike a balance between diet, activity, and medication. For instance, increasing your activity may lower your blood sugar and your healthcare provider might need to adjust your diabetes medicine. Similarly, you need to adjust your meal plan so you have the right fuel for your body. 

    Here are 4 aspects to keep in mind to fuel smart.

    What To Eat Before A Workout

    • It is important to have a small snack before any exercise. Choose something that contains protein along with carbohydrates to help power the workout.  
    • Before you work out, do check your blood sugar to ensure it is between 100 and 250 mg/dL, the normal range. If not, measure again after the snack. If it is still low, you may need an additional portion (about 15gm) of carbohydrates.  
    • Here are some snacking options: 
      • Fruits like pears or apples along with yogurt or a nut butter
      • A handful of berries along with yogurt
      • Nuts and berries
      • A small portion of lean protein like chicken or fish with a slice of multigrain bread
      • A banana
      • Crackers and cheese
      • A smoothie
      • Lean protein in a lettuce wrap

    What To Eat During A Workout

    If you are exercising for an hour or longer, you might require additional carbohydrates during the workout/activity to prevent low blood sugar. Sometimes, you may experience signs of a sugar dip during a shorter or more intense workout as well.  

    Check your blood sugar levels and, if they are not in the normal range, have a small carbohydrate-based snack to avoid hypoglycemia. You will need some fast-acting carbohydrate to raise your blood sugar quickly, so opt for these: 

    • Hard candy/toffees 
    • Glucose tablets 
    • Fruit juice 
    • Soft drink (not diet versions) 
    • Honey 
    • Sugar 

    What To Eat After A Workout 

    Your body becomes more sensitive to insulin after you work out. Due to this, your blood sugar may remain low for several hours and as much as a day after you have exercised. Check sugar levels again after a workout to ensure it’s in the normal range.  

    If your workout has been strenuous/intense/long (more than an hour), you should definitely plan a post-workout snack on the same lines as the pre-workout one. Low-intensity exercise doesn’t usually require a snack unless your sugar levels have dipped below 100 mg/dL. 

    Stay Hydrated 

    Regardless of your pre/post-workout routine, you need to stay hydrated throughout your workout. Drink fluids before, during, as well as after any activity or exercise. Water is fine for a regular workout, but if the weather is hot or you have been working out for a length of time, you may need an electrolyte replacement drink.