dried fruit
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Plan Ahead

Have a light bite about 15 minutes before you lace up your sneakers. That’ll help you ward off hunger and keep your blood sugar levels stable. If have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, you may be more likely to have a drop in blood sugar during a workout. Take a reading before you start. If it's lower than 100 mg/dL, have something sweet like a handful of dried fruit or 4 ounces of juice, and wait until the number starts to rise before you get moving.

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avocado and cheese
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Get Creative

If your blood sugar is under control, how much you need to eat depends mostly on how long and hard you plan to exercise. Start with some healthy carbs. Your body will digest them slowly. Mix in a little protein, healthy fats, and some fiber. That should keep you -- and your blood sugar -- revved up for the length of your sweat session. Try a dollop of tuna salad with a few whole-grain crackers, a frozen banana topped with almond butter, or avocado and cheese in a lettuce-leaf wrap.

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man making smoothie
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Try a Smoothie

If you’d rather sip than chew, a pre-workout smoothie is a great choice. Blend chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry-flavored whey-protein powder with unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, or skim milk. Or pair Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of nut butter and half a frozen banana or one large carrot.

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fruit leather
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In Case of Emergency

Exercise can make your blood sugar levels drop, so keep something on hand that can bring them back up quickly. One or two all-natural fruit strips (a.k.a. fruit leather) are easy to keep in your gym bag for a quick burst when you need it. You can also try glucose tablets, a juice box, or a full-calorie sports drink.

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mature couple biking
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Fuel Up for Long Sessions

If you plan to do a lot of moving for more than an hour, you'll need something to keep you powered up. A meal-replacement bar with 30-50 grams of carbs is a good choice if you'll really be pushing yourself, like with a long hike or bike ride.

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glucose test
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Post-Workout Eats Are Optional

If you had a snack before you started moving and your workout wasn’t quite up to the level of a 10K or back-to-back cardio classes, then you might not need anything right after. Check your blood sugar about 15 minutes after you call it quits. If your reading is OK, you can go without.

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half turkey sandwich
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Heed Your Hunger

If your tummy is rumbling, your blood sugar is low, or you didn't have a snack before your workout, then by all means eat something. A small, balanced meal can help you recover more quickly. Try a granola bar and an apple or half a turkey sandwich.

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yogurt and blueberries
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Power Up With Protein

A cup of plain Greek yogurt is another smart post-workout pick. It has more protein than regular types, and that’s what helps you build muscle when you're done exercising. Top it with some berries for natural sweetness and fiber. Or try a smoothie made with 2/3 cup fat-free milk, half a large frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, a few drops of vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt. That combo gives back the good things you just sweated out.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/01/2020 Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on June 01, 2020


1) Getty Images

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5) Getty Images

6) WebMD

7) Getty Images

8) Getty Images



Lakewood Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic Hospital: "Type 2 Diabetes Pre-Exercise Blood Sugar Guidelines."

Michael Dansinger, MD, director of lifestyle coaching for diabetes weight loss, Tufts Medical Center; weight loss and nutrition advisor, The Biggest Loser.

Joslin Diabetes Center: "Exercise Snack Options."

Toby Smithson, RDN, CDE, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; founder, DiabetesEveryDay.com

Sonya Angelone, RDN, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Scott Isaacs, MD, medical director, Atlanta Endocrine Associates; adjunct professor, Emory University School of Medicine.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist; author, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook, American Diabetes Association, 2007.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on June 01, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.