What should I eat after exercising if I have diabetes?

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The intensity and duration of the workout dictate if additional nutrients are needed. Diabetes experts typically encourage controlled amounts of carbohydrate and protein after an intensive workout of long duration. Low intensity workouts for a short duration may not always require additional nutrients. If they're not needed, they will just add extra carbs and calories.

It's a good idea to talk with a registered dietitian who is familiar with diabetes management. He or she can help you establish an individualized meal and exercise plan that would include appropriate amounts of snacks to match your nutrient needs.
Amy Campbell
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

It actually depends on how your diabetes is treated. For example, if you have type 2 diabetes and control it with meal planning or medications that don't increase your risk for low blood glucose, you may not need to eat anything. In fact, if you're exercising as part of a weight loss program, eating would somewhat defeat the purpose! However, if you take insulin or certain types of diabetes pills, you may need to eat a snack after working out, depending on your blood glucose level. Generally, if your blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dl after exercise, you'll need to eat a snack that contains carbohydrate, such as whole grain crackers, a piece of fruit or a yogurt to prevent your glucose from dropping and also to help replenish your muscle glucose stores.

Do you feel hungry after exercise? If you have diabetes, choose your nosh carefully. Post-workout snacks can have a big impact on how your body uses insulin.

Your best bet? Refuel with a handful of nuts. A little lean protein or some healthy fats can help make your body more insulin sensitive. Translation: Your body absorbs and uses blood sugar more effectively.

Insulin sensitivity is important because the more insulin sensitive you are, the less likely you are to develop diabetes. In a recent study, carbohydrate-rich post-workout meals (think pasta, bread, chips, and sweets) seemed to have a negative effect on exercisers. Their muscle cells refilled quickly with a sugar-based fuel called glycogen, which seemed to reduce insulin sensitivity. All of which led researchers to conclude that post-workout meals should include fats and protein (ideally, healthy versions of each).

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.