Type 2 Diabetes and How to Time Meals to Exercise!

Exercising, while a must for Type 2 diabetics looking to effectively combat their condition, can be a minefield for the inexperienced gym veteran. Exercise has the perplexing potential to suddenly increase or drop blood sugar levels… leaving many newly exercising diabetics to scratch their heads and throw their glucometer in frustration.

However, for those diabetics who learn the tricks of timing meals to their exercise, working out becomes one of the most valuable parts of their lives… making them healthier, stronger, and much less reliant on harmful medications.

Here’s how to make your meals and your workout fit together like puzzle pieces:

Get Regular: No not ‘that’ kind of regular. I’m talking about eating, drinking, waking up, and exercising at about the same time everyday. This doesn’t mean that you need to be on a dead-set routine, but consistency is one of the pieces of advice that successfully exercising Type 2 diabetics, even Type 1 diabetics, pass on to newbie’s.

Consistent timing of your meals is especially crucial. There’s no specific guidelines that fit everyone, so it’s important to make your own. Once you find a mealtime that works for you, stick to it, and you’ll largely avoid unexpected blood sugar shifts.

Eat Based on Blood Sugar Levels, Not On a Hunch: Until you find a routine that works for you, your pre-workout meal should be based on your blood sugar levels. About an hour before your gym session, do a quick BSL check. If it’s at 80 mg/dL (4.4 mmol/L) or below, eat a moderate sized meal or snack. If it’s between 80 to 130 mg/dL (4.4 to 7.2 mmol/L) then eat a small snack. If you’re hyperglycemic… above 130 mg/dL (7.2 mmol/L) you may want to hold off on exercise.

However, while somewhat controversial, some diabetes clinicians recommend exercising as an approach to drop high blood sugar levels. While generally effective, this can actually backfire as exercise can sometimes increase blood sugar levels.

Meal Size Equals Exercise Intensity: The meal that you eat should be proportional to how hard and long you plan on exercising. For a quick walk around the block, you don’t actually have to do anything differently than if you were sitting and reading a book. On the other hand, if you find yourself signed up for a 2 hour power yoga class, you should definitely eat a bit more.

Account For Food and Exercise: While not easy, the timing of your meals should reflect not only when you are going to workout but on your medication/insulin regimen. Many people dole out insulin based solely on their upcoming workout, just on their meal, or vice versa. It’s important to keep both the carbs in your meal along with the timing of your exercise in mind when deciding when and what to eat.

This is where stability in your meal and exercise routine comes into play. After some initial trial and error, you will be able to know exactly how much to eat, when to eat it, and how much insulin to take… no guessing required.

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