Eating right is very crucial and important if you have type-2 diabetes (the most common type of diabetes). However, your healthy diet also should be followed with regular exercise in order to get adequate physical activity and to maintain your fit status. Are there any specific types of foods you should eat before exercise?
If compared with non-diabetics, people with diabetes are more likely to experience hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) during and after exercise. Because diabetics have insulin resistance (a condition of when the body cannot use insulin effectively – as a result, glucose from the bloodstream cannot be optimally absorbed by cells of the body in order to be used for energy). Therefore, there are some crucial points you need to clearly understand!
Healthy diet or eating right is one of the primary treatments to manage and control this disease. When it comes to the diet for diabetes – carbohydrates, salts, fats, and fibers are the major things you need to concern as well.
Carbohydrates are not only found in pasta, bread, potatoes, cereal, or rice. They also can be found in yogurt, milk, starchy veggies (such as beans and corn), and even in fruits. Generally, they can be divided into two main categories; complex and simple carbohydrates.
As well we know, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body. The body gets energy in the form of glucose (a simple substance of sugar that can be absorbed by the cells of the body which then can be used to produce energy) – and carbohydrates are high in glucose.
Simple carbohydrates can be digested faster than complex carbohydrates.
In general, complex carbohydrates are healthier since the digestive system digests them slowly – as a result, you can have a steady and longer source of energy. Furthermore, they are also loaded by some fiber. Therefore, they are commonly more recommended than simple carbohydrates.
Though proteins and fats also can affect the level of your blood sugar, but carbohydrates that you eat have much more contribution. Even they can cause the most immediate effect since they can be broken down directly to become glucose /sugar which then can affect the quantity of glucose in the bloodstream.
How much carbohydrates you should eat if you have type-2 diabetes? For this issue, you will be referred to a familiar term called ‘carbohydrate counting’. It is a method to control and keep monitoring the amount of total carbs you consume every day.
Counting grams of your carbohydrate intake and evenly spreading them at your meals can help manage the level of your blood sugar. The ideal amount of carbohydrate a day for diabetes can vary from patient to patient – ask your registered dietitian for more in-depth information.
Did you know that high blood sugar also can put you at higher risk of having hypertension /high blood pressure?
That’s why, it is also crucial to maintain your blood pressure level. Don’t eat salt too much from your diet, because salt can increase blood pressure!
The following are some high-salt-foods that you need to restrict in your diet in order to maintain your blood pressure:
- Any foods that contain too much salt must be avoided!
- The use of MSG or monosodium glutamate also must be restricted!
- Steak sauces.
- Snack foods that high in salt – read the label of nutrition before you eat them!
- Packaged gravies & soups – you need also to limit pickled foods!
- Canned vegetables or soups, because they are usually high in salt.
- Boxed mixes of pasta, potatoes, or rice.
You can still enjoy your favorite foods with low in salt – there are a lot of low-salt recipes that you can explore!
One of common complications from type-2 diabetes is heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, you need to choose foods low in fat (particularly low in saturated fats)!
Baked foods, milk (particularly high-fat milk), and beef are some foods that high in saturated fats. Don’t only focus to the saturated foods! Tans-fat foods (baking & frying foods) also should be restricted in your diet!
The following are some helpful tips:
- All vegetables & fruits are low in fat – they should be prioritized in your daily menu! However they also contain little amount of carbohydrate – therefore don’t forget to include them in the daily carbohydrate count of your meal plan.
- If you want to use liquid vegetable oils, it’s much better to choose one that also contains mono /polyunsaturated fats. Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats are considered healthier because they also can help control and reduce your LDL /bad cholesterol.
- Choose gravies, margarines, vegetable cooking-spray, and salad dressing that also low in fat!
- Choose healthy meat such as lean meats (fish, plant-based proteins, and lean red-meats). And don’t fry them!
- If you want to consume dairy products, choose some that low in fat such as skim milk (or skim milk products) and low-fat cheese. And again, remember to include these foods in your carbohydrate count a day.
There are a lot of functions of fiber for your digestive system. It is indigestible part of food (particularly plant foods). It is important to help move digested foods along the tract of digestive system and add bulk in the stool (for easier bowel movement).
What are the other reasons of why you need to get adequate fiber a day?
- Fiber can help control your blood sugar level.
- It provides a lot of essential minerals and vitamins.
- It also can help reduce LDL cholesterol.
- It helps lower your risk of certain digestive problems – especially such as constipation.
- It helps decrease your calorie intake, make you full longer, and therefore also can be great choice if you want to lose your weight or just for maintain your healthy weight.
- Moreover, many studies confirm that eating adequate fiber a day is linked to the lower risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.
Most people need fiber for at least about 30 grams a day, including for those with type-2 diabetes. To boost your fiber intake as part of your diabetes diet, consume more foods high in fiber such as bran products, crackers /cereals /whole grain breads, brown rice, dried beans & peas (cooked), and of course vegetables & fresh fruits.
Exercise in people with diabetes can provide a lot of health benefits which can include to:
- Improve the sensitivity of insulin (the action of insulin in regulating glucose in the bloodstream can be better).
- Help build more confidence (self-esteem) and team work.
- Promote a good lifelong healthy habit.
- And of course exercise also can help improve the fitness status and promote well-being.
However one thing you need to always remember – if you have type-2 diabetes, your blood sugar is relatively easier to change extremely (too low or too high) during or after exercise!
In normal body, insulin is made by pancreas which then will be released into the bloodstream if the amount of glucose /sugar increases in the bloodstream (this usually occurs after eating). When exercising, the body requires more fuel /energy to move muscles. In the case of short exercises (such as running to catch the bus), the stored glucose in the liver can be released to produce extra energy.
And in the continuously moderate exercising, the body can require more glucose (about 20 times higher than normal) to make extra energy – and at the same time, the release of insulin in the bloodstream is reduced in order to prevent the risk of hypoglycemia. This helps reduce the amounts of glucose in the bloodstream (therefore, exercise is also important for non-diabetics in controlling the levels of blood sugar).
But intense workout can be potential to cause hyperglycemia in people with type-2 diabetes.
So, if you have diabetes and your blood sugar is being pretty high – exercise is temporarily not recommended!
Episodes of hypoglycemia are more common in type-1 diabetes, but did you know that sometimes they also can occur in type-2 such as after exercise?
As noted before, exercise can make your body use more glucose for energy. This may make your blood sugar to fall too low during & after exercise (immediately after, several or a couple hours afterwards), especially if you are not eating right before you exercise.
The major issue of food you need to eat before exercise is carbohydrate. However, sometime it’s confused with the right amount of carbohydrate before exercise.
If you eat carbohydrate too much before workout, you are at greater chance of hyperglycemia – on the other hand, if you go too low then you are at greater chance of hypoglycemia during or after workout. So, it’s very crucial and important to get appropriate carbohydrate before exercise (don’t eat too much and don’t eat too low)!