How To Implement The Research Findings
Aside from me finding this super fascinating, what can we do with this information?
I think that this is a great piece of knowledge to have for trained athletes, those who are just starting out, and for parents managing their kids diabetes. It can serve as a guide when determining the amount of insulin and carbohydrates to safely administer prior to and post an activity.
The scientists compared interval training to sports like basketball and soccer where you have intense bursts of activity. I would add newer sports such as CrossFit, HIIT and HIT . It could also be boot camps, spinning classes, or if you just do a lot of cardiovascular interval training and heavy resistance training.
Armed with this scientific knowledge , I know that I dont need to reduce my insulin as much before and after an interval training or a resistance training session ), while I will need to make reductions if I do 40-60 minutes of steady state cardio.
For me, steady state cardio can be a long walk, a bike ride, or walking on an incline, Stairmaster or elliptical. With all of these activities, Ill see an almost instant drop in blood sugars. However, the improved glucose utilization wears off pretty quickly after I stop exercising, so I know to lower my insulin prior to steady state cardio but not after.
How Working Out Impacts Your Blood Sugar When You Have Diabetes
Working muscles are sugar-burning powerhouses. Here’s how one bout of physical activity impacts your blood glucose, even hours after you stop sweating.
Being active is one of the key ways to help manage diabetes, stay healthy, and lower high blood sugar. Yet, navigating changes in blood glucose when you’re active can seem daunting, especially if you are on insulin or other blood-sugar-lowering medications. Knowing how and why your blood sugar changes can go a long way to help you recognize what’s normal and what’s not. And just how great of a management tool physical activity can be.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty to help you move more and keep your blood sugar under control.
Related: 12 Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar
Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels When Exercising
Some days you might do exactly the same type of activity and eat the same foods, but your blood sugar levels may be completely different to what youd expect. This is completely normal, but we know it can be really frustrating.
Although everyone manages their diabetes differently, these tips can be a useful starting point to build your confidence and get you moving:
- if you normally check blood sugars, keep a record of what happens when youre being active and show this to your diabetes nurse or doctor
- if youre at risk of hypos, keep hypo treatments handy, as well as a snack with some carbs in e.g. a sandwich, a piece of fruit or a cereal bar
- wear your diabetes ID so people around you can help if they need to
Don’t Miss: Does Insulin Inhibit Glucagon
What You Can Drink With Meals
Add a low-calorie, low-sugar drink or choose water. Proper hydration is essential to helping your body remove excess sugar.
Some drinks that are good for keeping your blood sugar level low include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Unsweetened coffee
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Flavored water or sparkling water without added sugar
- Diet soda or other diet drinks
How Exercise Impacts Glucose In The Moment
When you exercise, your body relies on two sources of fuel: glucose and fat. How your blood sugar changes during exercise depends on the intensity level of your workout and the fuel source your body is using.
Steady-state cardio exercises, like jogging or gentle swimming, donât rely on your body having to produce quick bursts of energy. In these cases, it gets more of its energy from fat, so your blood sugar will usually stay at the same level or decrease.
Higher-intensity exercises like HIIT, strength training, and sprinting cause your body to release a surge of adrenaline. To ensure that you have enough energy readily available for this, your body releases glucose from your liver, increasing your blood sugar levels.
Put more simply, your body works through exercise using supply and demand. During high-intensity exercises, it doesn’t have the supply of energy on hand to fuel your workout. So, it releases glucose, immediately meeting the energy demand to fuel your workout while causing a short-term spike in blood sugar. During low-intensity exercise, your body has enough energy on hand to meet the demand, so blood glucose typically stays steady or decreases.
Short-term level changes like these are not harmful, just a standard part of our physiology.
Read Also: How Much Does Metformin Lower A1c
Who Should Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar regularly will help you understand how medication like insulin, food, and physical activity affect your blood glucose. It also allows you to catch rising blood sugar levels early. It is the most important thing you can do to prevent complications from diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.
Other people who may benefit from checking their blood glucose regularly include those:
- Taking insulin
Fyi Blood Sugar Can Rise Immediately After Exercise
I was surprised to attend a lecture just three weeks ago where a doctor told diabetics to exercise to lower their immediate blood glucose readings.
After the lecture, I informed the doctor privately that this is not what I have actually observed over the last 15 years, and after some initial dispute, he expressed surprise. Obviously, this response is what I encountered 15 years ago when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, but I was surprised that the consensus view hasnt changed since then given that patients are readily armed with their own glucose meters.
Turns out the American Diabetes Association continues to spread this incomplete information, too, without actually talking about how exercise might work against getting a low reading in the short term. According to their site:
There are a few ways that exercise lowers blood glucose:
- Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.
- When your muscles contract during activity, your cells are able to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not.
This is how exercise can help lower blood glucose in the short term.
For the record, I went running while in Germany yesterday morning. Here was my blood sugar reading before .
And here it was after .
Also Check: What Are The Side Effects If You Stop Taking Metformin
How Does Exercise Affect Blood Sugar
When you exercise, your body needs extra energy from blood sugar, also called glucose.
When you do something quickly, like a sprint to catch the bus, your muscles and liver release glucose for fuel.
Exercise usually lowers your levels. If you take insulin or diabetes meds, a boost in workout intensity or length can mean youâll have to adjust your snacks, medication, or both. Talk to your doctor about whatâs right for you.
The big payoff comes when you do moderate exercise for a longer time, like a hike. Your muscles take up much more glucose when you do that. This helps lower your blood sugar levels. If you’re doing intense exercise, your blood sugar levels may rise, temporarily, after you stop.
Exercise thatâs too hard can raise your blood sugar by making it harder for your muscle cells to use insulin. A workout helps pump you up by causing small tears in muscle fibers. When they heal, your muscles are stronger. But if you arenât used to super-tough workouts like HIIT , they can do so much damage that days go by before you feel like moving again. During that time, your muscle cells canât use insulin well, and that will boost your blood sugar.
It may also rise if you skip workouts. If youâre so sore you canât make your next gym session, you probably need to dial it down. Thereâs no rush: Itâs better to build intensity slowly as you get used to a new routine. Youâre more likely to stick with it if you donât feel like youâve been through the wringer.
How Exercise Affects Blood Sugar
The body relies on two sources of fuel during physical activity: glucose and fat, according to Harvard’s Joslin Diabetes Center. Prolonged or intense forms of exercise deplete blood glucose and glycogen stores as follows:
- During the first 15 minutes of exercise, the body relies mainly on blood glucose or muscle glycogen for fuel.
- As exercise continues, the body starts re-converting liver glycogen into glucose.
- After 30 minutes, the body starts to rely more on body fat.
- The body will eventually rebuild its glycogen stores , but exercise can lower blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours.
Exercise also makes the body more sensitive to the effects of insulin, meaning that more glucose is moved out of the blood and into the cells, according to the American Diabetes Association. Additionally, exercise prompts the cells to take in more glucose to meet the increased energy demands. This can also lead to lower blood sugars.
Exercise does not normally cause problematically low blood sugar for people without diabetes. In fact, reducing blood sugar levels through regular exercise is one of the best strategies to help prevent the development of diabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Read more:6 Amazing Things Exercise Can Do for Your Brain and Body
Don’t Miss: Dosing Of Metformin
Why Your Blood Sugar Rises During Lifting Weights
When you lift weights or engage in other anaerobic or strength-training types of activity, your body is actually breaking down muscle, which includes the breakdown of glycogen.
Glycogen is essentially stored glucose in your muscles. Your muscles need that glycogen to fuel and feed themselves especially when youre exercising or when youre not eating.
That glycogen, explains Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., author of The Diabetic Athlete, then breaks down into lactate and pyruvate before being cycled into providing ATP and energy for muscular work.
Hormones like glucagon are produced while strength-training which tells your liver to release its own stored glycogen, which is converted into glucose.
It may also be impacted by any ongoing digestion of food and whatever level of insulin resistance is in effect at that time of day, adds Colberg.
In a non-diabetic body, this would be accompanied by extra insulin from the pancreas.
In your body, you have to take that extra insulin manually. Some people do this by taking 1 unit at the start of or during their workout.
If you notice a consistent increase in your blood sugar during your weightlifting workout where you start out, for example, with a blood sugar of 100 mg/dL and are 220 mg/dL by the end of it, and you cant blame that spike on food then youre likely experiencing this basic physiological response to anaerobic exercise.
Get Your 30 Minutes In The Pool
Your community or club pool can be a great place to start your exercise routine. Swimming is excellent aerobic exercise because it gets both your upper and lower body moving. And if youre overweight, it can feel great to spend time in a pool, where buoyancy makes it easier to move. Some ideas:
- Dive in with a group. Try water aerobics, swimming laps with friends, or even a little water volleyball.
- Use a kickboard for extra lift in the water, especially if you are a less-than-confident lap swimmer.
- Work on increasing your time spent swimming. Each time you visit the pool, swim a bit more, resting as needed. To steadily improve your aerobic fitness, swim three times a week.
However you decide to fit swimming into your life, be sure to test your blood-glucose levels before and after you exercise, and adjust the intensity of your routine if it is getting too high. And never swim alone.
Also Check: Does Crystal Light Raise Blood Sugar
Why Your Blood Sugar Rises After Lifting Weights
Okay, you have finished your workout. Your glycogen stores are depleted because your body broke down that glycogen and converted it into glucose for your muscles to use as fuel during your workout.
Guess what? Your body wants to replenish those glycogen stores immediately! Without glycogen, your muscles will become catabolic which means they will start eat themselves if there isnt sufficient energy to maintain them.
Youve probably heard that muscle burns more calories to maintain itself when youre resting than fat burns? But the other issue is that your body will choose to burn muscle first if you arent eating sufficient calories and giving your muscles the fuel they need to rebuild and sustain themselves.
Exercise Tips For Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise is sure to be on your to-do list if you have diabetes. Get started with these go-to tips:
1. Make a list of fun activities. You have lots of options, and you don’t have to go to a gym. What sounds good? Think about something you’ve always wanted to try or something you enjoyed in the past. Sports, dancing, yoga, walking, and swimming are a few ideas. Anything that raises your heart rate counts.
Adventure sports like rock-climbing or scuba-diving should be safe if youâre in good health aside from diabetes. Make sure to get the right training. Donât do these activities alone, because you may need help if your blood sugar gets too low . Take some fast-acting carbs like a sports gel, glucose tablets, or even a tube of cake icing with you.2. Get your doctor’s OK. Let them know what you want to do. They can make sure you’re ready for it. They’ll also check to see if you need to change your meals, insulin, or diabetes medicines. Your doctor can also let you know if the time of day you exercise matters.
3. Check your blood sugar. Ask your doctor if you should check it before exercise. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, check your blood sugar levels regularly during your workout, so youâll know if you need a snack. Check your blood sugar after every workout, so that you can adjust if needed.
4. Carry carbs. Workouts can lower your blood sugar. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack, like fruit or a fruit drink, on hand in case your blood sugar gets low.
Also Check: Can Diabetics Eat Macaroni And Cheese
Why Does My Sugar Go Up After Exercise
Answer: why does my sugar go up after exercise ? If an inadequate amount of insulin is present in the blood allowing the BG to rise to about 250 to 300 mg/dl, then exercise may cause a further rise in BG rather than the expected drop. Low insulin coupled with physical activity stimulates the secretion of several other hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, glucagon, and growth hormone. Collectively these hormones trigger the liver to release glucose into the blood, thereby increasing the BG rather than decreasing it. The hormones also increase the breakdown of fat but limit the uptake of fat by muscle cells. The liver converts some of the fats to strong acids called ketones. The ketones may build up in the blood producing a state called ketoacidosis. This event is far more likely to occur in people with type I diabetes.
To prevent the problem the BG should be checked before exercise and if the level exceeds 250, then exercise should be delayed until it decreases well below 250. The urine should be checked for ketones and if they are present, exercise at this time will exacerbate the problem.
Glucose Metabolism During Moderate
Skeletal muscle is responsible for most of the uptake of glucose after a meal, and transport of glucose into the muscle is considered the limiting step in glucose disposal., Glucose transport occurs primarily by diffusion utilizing glucose transporter carrier proteins . Both exercise and insulin regulate glucose transport mainly by the translocation of the GLUT4 isoform from an intracellular compartment to the plasma membrane and transverse tubules., GLUT4 levels are considered an important determinant of insulin sensitivity,
At rest and postprandially, glucose uptake is insulin-dependent, with the major purpose being the replenishment of muscle glycogen stores. Insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation is generally impaired in type 2 diabetes. During exercise, muscle utilizes glucose made available by intramuscular glycogenolysis and by increased glucose uptake. Both aerobic and resistance exercises increase GLUT4 abundance and translocation, and hence blood glucose uptake by a pathway that is not dependent on insulin. Glucose uptake into contracting muscle is therefore normal even in the presence of type 2 diabetes.,, Following exercise, glucose uptake remains elevated with the contraction-mediated pathway remaining active for several hours.
You May Like: Max Dosage Metformin
Why Does Exercise Sometimes Raise Blood Sugar
Exercise can trigger the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline can stimulate the liver and the adrenal glands to release glucose and cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin. Strenuous activity, like competitive sports, can trigger even more stress hormones, in which case blood glucose usually increases .
In general, we know that different exercises affect us differently. And we also know that we’re all very unique, and the same exercise affects different people differently. Our blood sugar response will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of running brings different results than an hour of cycling, swimming or even boxing. The intensity of the activity is often as important as the duration.
Finally, even though it can be unsettling, we must be persistent! High blood sugar is annoying, especially after exercise. Nevertheless, exercise and activity are very good weapons against your diabetes monster and they work in your favor in the medium to long-term, even if you’re struggling against those BG boosting stress hormones in the short term.
Typically, the post-exercise blood sugar spike settles down and returns to normal after an hour or two, so check again after some time if you’re able to. And the exercise itself pays dividends for much longer than that, so the tradeoff is well worth it.
Good info, Markus! Thanks!