What To Do When Exercise Causes Hypoglycemia

Exercise is good for you they said...


Your health will improve they said...


But what about when it makes your blood sugar drop too low? What do they say about that?

It's true, exercise is good for you. It has many benefits, including reducing fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood sugar, and the need for medication and insulin. But if it's causing your blood sugar to drop too low, then that can be a big problem. Not to mention, scary.


As a refresher, here's the list of hypoglycemia symptoms you might experience.

  • irritability

  • headaches

  • brain fog

  • trembling or shakiness

  • sweating

  • dizziness or feeling light-headed

  • rapid heartbeat

  • pale skin

  • weakness

  • anxiety

  • tingling around the mouth

  • disrupted sleep

In a previous article I mentioned a few causes of hypoglycemia, including not refueling after exercise. Today, let's dive deeper on why exercise can cause hypoglycemia.


How Your Body Responds To Exercise

During exercise your body releases hormones. One of the hormones is adrenaline. It signals your body to increase blood sugar so that your body is properly fueled. You store this fuel in your liver and muscles.


Remember exercise is a form of stress to the body so in addition to adrenaline it also releases cortisol, your stress hormone. Cortisol tells your body to release insulin because it wants to refuel your liver and muscle storage so that it's ready for the next time you need it. Cortisol is also known to make you more insulin resistant.

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Other Factors To Consider

Acute hypoglycemia may occur during exercise for several reasons. Some factors that may be influencing your body's response to exercise are:

  • medications

  • supplements

  • timing of your last meal

  • quality and macro ratio of your last meal

  • intensity of exercise

  • duration of exercise


How To Prevent Acute Hypoglycemia

While it might take a little trial and error, it's worth your time to find a way to keep exercise in your routine. There are many benefits, some of which are listed here.


When working through finding the best approach to exercise, always keep an emergency snack nearby. And as always, consult your doctor or trusted medical professional before making any changes.

Eat Before Working Out

Exercising immediately after eating will reduce your risk of hypoglycemia. If you can't exercise immediately after a meal, try having a snack before hand. For some ideas, check out the snack examples in this article.


Balance Your Meals and Snacks

Eating balanced meals and snacks is key to keeping your blood sugar steady. When you eat high-carb, your blood sugar increases rapidly and then insulin is released causing it to plummet. Especially when you're insulin resistant.


Be Consistent

Try exercising at the same time every day. This can be helpful for knowing how and when to fuel for exercise. For example, if your fasting blood sugar is low in the morning, you may want to wait until after you've had breakfast or later in the day. It may be even better to have a snack, workout, then have dinner. Everyone is different, this is where the trial and error comes in.



Make A Switch

Sometimes the form of exercise makes all the difference. High-intensity workouts will cause you to use more glucose, and burn through your muscle storage more quickly.


Changing the duration of your high-intensity workout, or changing the form of exercise all together (think walking instead of running), may be your best bet.



It may not be forever either. Sometimes your body just needs some time to adjust, especially if you're taking medications.


Adjust Medications

I think it goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway.

Always, work with your doctor or trusted medical professional to make adjustments to your supplements and medications.

Sometimes it's necessary to adjust the timing and/or dosage of medications and supplements. It is critical to work closely with your doctor as you implement diet and lifestyle changes. And always, make sure you are testing your blood sugar regularly so you can provide this information to your doctor. It's extremely important since you're unique and recommendations should be specific to you.


Bottom Line

Everyone needs to exercise. It's important for our health in many, many ways. It may require a little detective work, but you'll be so grateful you spent the time learning about YOU.


You'll know exactly how your body responds to the different factors, which can be helpful in many other ways. You may even avoid the need for medications or reduce the medications you're currently on. I don't know anyone who would be mad about that!


Be empowered,

Amanda

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