Fuel Your Workout with These Diabetes-Friendly Snacks

Category: Diabetes | Diet & Fitness | Exercise

Man getting healthy snacks before a workout

The right pre-exercise snack can give you the fuel you need to power through your workout.

 

Staying active is a great way to naturally lower your blood glucose levels. However, when you have diabetes, sometimes exercise can lower your blood sugar too much. That's why finding diabetes-friendly snacks for your pre-workout is so important. Fueling your body with the right foods before exercise can provide busy muscles with the energy they need, while additionally protecting them against dangerous lows.

Just like carbohydrate needs vary substantially among people with diabetes, so do snacking requirements for exercise. Here are some special considerations to keep in mind before hitting the gym or pavement.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Your snacking needs before exercise depend on many factors, such as your blood glucose level, your medication regimen, and how long and hard you work out. For example, if you don't require medication for blood sugar management or you have ample blood glucose, it's unlikely you'll need a snack at all. On the flip side, if your blood sugar has been known to drop rapidly or you take insulin or medication such as glyburide, glimepiride, or glipizide, a snack may be critical for preventing dangerous lows.

Know Your Numbers

Before grabbing a snack, the first thing you'll want to do is check your blood glucose level. Knowing your blood sugar is the very best way to match the snack to your nutrient needs and workout routine. Suppose that you're going for a quick bike ride. In that case, you may only need a few carbohydrates for fuel. Working out longer? You may require more carbs and possibly even some protein to slow down carbohydrate digestion.

If you have type 2 diabetes, these guidelines can help you determine the best snack based on your glucose levels and exercise regimen for optimal blood sugar management:

If Your Glucose Is between 100 and 150 mg/dL, and You're Exercising for:

  • Thirty minutes: Choose a snack with fifteen grams of carbohydrates.
  • One hour: Choose a snack with fifteen to thirty grams of carbohydrates.
  • Two hours or more: Choose a snack with thirty grams of carbohydrates plus protein.

If Your Glucose Is between 150 and 200 mg/dL, and You're Exercising for:

  • Thirty minutes: No snack needed.
  • One hour: Choose a snack with fifteen grams of carbohydrates.
  • Two hours or more: Check your blood sugar every hour and eat a carbohydrate choice, if needed.

If Your Glucose Is between 200 and 250 mg/dL, and You're Exercising for:

  • Thirty minutes to an hour: No snack needed.
  • Two hours or more: Check your blood sugar every hour and eat a carbohydrate choice, if needed.

Try These!

Whether you're going for a short jog or a long hike, these snacks can deliver the fuel your body needs.

Snacks with Fifteen Grams of Carbohydrates

  • One medium orange
  • Seventeen grapes
  • Eleven strawberries
  • Twelve small pretzels
  • Two rice cakes
  • One small granola bar
  • Ten baby carrots and three tablespoons of hummus

Snacks with Thirty Grams of Carbohydrates

  • Two six-inch tortillas
  • Half a bagel
  • One medium banana
  • One large apple
  • One cup of cooked oatmeal
  • One whole wheat English muffin and one teaspoon of jam

Snacks with Thirty Grams of Carbohydrates and Ten Grams of Protein

  • One six-inch tortilla and a half cup of mashed black beans
  • A single-serve protein shake
  • Three-quarters of a cup of whole grain cereal and 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • One container of nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt and half a diced pear or apple
  • One hard-boiled egg and twenty small whole grain crackers
  • Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • A half cup of edamame and half a cup of cooked rice

When planning snacks and workouts, keep in mind that these guidelines aren't a substitute for professional advice. Whether you're a novice at exercising or an avid marathon runner, be sure to speak about diabetes-friendly snacks for your pre-workout with your doctor or diabetes educator to develop a plan that's right for your unique needs.

By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN

 

Sources:

Joslin Diabetes Center, Why Is My Blood Glucose Sometimes Low after Physical Activity?

Diabetes Forecast, How Do I Fuel for Exercise?

Lakewood Hospital, Type 2 Diabetes Pre-Exercise Blood Sugar Guidelines


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.