Post exercise blood sugar

How do I control my BG after exercise?

Post-exercise blood sugar is sometimes a challenge. A few different things can happen that will affect your blood sugar following a workout:

  • Sometimes you will see a low because you have to “return the carbs” your muscles used. Your muscles use some of the carbohydrates that have been consumed and released as glucose into the blood. This will lower your blood sugar. This can last throughout the day and night following exercise.

  • Sometimes you have to use insulin to knock down the blood sugar rise that comes from the glucose your liver released to help fuel the exercise.

  • Sometimes you will have to use insulin to knock down the blood sugar rise from the hormones that the exercise activated - cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine.

  • The order in which exercises are done can also affect the blood sugar that follows. Doing aerobic exercise first followed by anaerobic exercise, the blood sugar will be more likely to trend down after the exercise. Compared to the the opposite order, anaerobic first and then aerobic, which will trend in the opposite way of blood sugar going up. This of course depends on individual factors such as the intensity of exercise and the amount of insulin and carbs, so this concept is mainly useful for comparing the results the exercise order will have when performing different types exercise.

Additionally, what happens to your blood sugar after your exercise will depend on a variety of things - blood sugar during the exercise, intensity of the exercise, duration of the exercise, muscle glycogen level before and during the exercise, and your fitness level.

Having low blood sugar following exercise can blunt the body’s hormonal response to exercise the next day, which means that the hormones that would normally raise your blood sugar are not as active. This makes post-workout blood sugar management even more important. (See What should you consume after exercise )

As long as you have insulin and/or carbs available, you can fix it. But it is important to understand the different things that can happen, and why they are happening.

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it has taken me an entire year to learn how my body responds to exercise. but it has been a valuable lesson learned and worth every moment i have put into it. and, i am still learning. i think what is most important, at least for me, is continuing to be open and teachable, flexible, daring, committed and patient.