We often advise people with diabetes to exercise because it is an important part of their diabetes care. But how does exercise affect diabetics, and how do diabetes and sports nutrition factor in?
Factors in your care
Factors such as muscle contraction, increased blood flow and increased body temperature cause the body to be more “sensitive” to insulin during and after exercise. Also, when muscles are working hard, they tend to use glucose from the bloodstream independently of insulin.
Regular monitoring is a key component to managing your blood sugar during exercise. Because every person’s body may respond to exercise in a different manner, it is important to check your blood sugars often to make sure you are not going too low or too high.
Check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise. Check with your diabetes educators on what would be appropriate blood sugar goals for you when you exercise.
Whenever starting a new exercise, especially if you are new to exercise, watch your blood sugars closely. If you do experience a low blood sugar, the rule of 15 applies: check your blood sugar, take 15 grams of quick-acting sugar, wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again to make sure you are in a safe range.
Nutrition sources for controlling diabetes
Here are some carbohydrate sources for fuel and to aid in hypoglycemia treatment:
Glucose tabs – 4 grams of carbs per tablet
Sports drinks – 15 grams of carbs per 8 ounces
Gels – 23-30 grams of carbs per packet
Energy bars – 10-27 grams of carbs per bar
Be sure to read labels closely as individual products may vary in amount of carbohydrates.
Maintaining good control of your diabetes can be tough even in the best of situations. Exercise can be a key piece of the puzzle. Check with your diabetes educator if you have questions or concerns about exercise and remember: Eat right, play hard!