Home Diabetic Runner Tips Athletes with Diabetes Nutrition Guide

Athletes with Diabetes Nutrition Guide

Athletes with diabetes nutrition planning is essential to maintain the energy level needed during training and workouts.

Running with diabetes means letting go of carbohydrate intake due to blood sugar risks. Keep to your regular diabetic diet but should eat pasta the night before your race. Then make sure to follow-up with a banana or toasted bread with jam as a carb source the next morning.

A diabetic runner is different from a regular runner because the former cannot load up on carbohydrates. Also, your blood sugar must tested before you do the race. A reading of 200 to 300 mg/dl after a meal means there is no need to eat anything.

Check your ketone level, too. If your ketones are 250 or higher, then do not exercise.

Emergency Food for Athletes with Diabetes

As a diabetic runner, you already know how sudden diabetes attacks could get. Without proper treatment, it could lead to incoherence, weakness, fatigue, anxiety, and even shock.

This is why it is important to fill your emergency pouch with the following –

  • A high source of quick-absorbing sugar such as a glucogel packet
  • Glucose sweets or jelly babies

Couple these emergency sweets with a blood glucose meter and some test strips. Be sure to include a card that contains your name, phone number, and other contact details. The cell phone number of a trusted friend or family can also be written on that card since running with diabetes requires vigilance.

Write also what the emergency responder should do if you are found unconscious. Write instructions on the card that the packet of glucogel must be squeezed into your mouth and then rubbed onto your gums and cheeks.

When you feel like passing out when running, down a can of Coke or glucose sweets. Eat a sandwich after finishing off this glucose source.

Pre-Exercise Snacks

The following easy to prepare snacks provide 15 grams of carbohydrates –

  • Fresh fruit (about 4 oz.)
  • A slice of bread (about an oz.) or a six-inch tortilla
  • 2/3 cup of yogurt (the fat-free variety or sweetened with sugar alternatives)
  • Half cup of oatmeal

These have a higher carbohydrate content (30 grams) –

  • A half slice of peanut butter sandwich plus a cup of milk. The bread has to be the whole wheat variety with a tablespoon of peanut butter spread.
  • ¾ cup of ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal eaten with a half cup of zero fat milk.
  • One English muffin and a teaspoon of margarine (low-fat)

Any athletes with diabetes can benefit from these 5-gram carb foods when you get a reading of <150 mg/dl and you plan on running for an hour –

  • 15 pieces of almond
  • One hard-boiled egg
  • One piece of string cheese
  • One tablespoon of peanut butter

Long Session Snacks for Athletes with Diabetes

Running with diabetes, whether in a marathon or long run, also requires some take-along snacks. Of course, food is not that easy to carry around so pocket some glucose gels or tablets.

It is also crucial that you conduct hourly checks of your blood sugar.

After Workout Food

 Do a test once again. A reading of <100 mg/dl requires a snack. If you are about to eat (about half an hour to an hour later), then any food with 15 grams of carbs would do.

Having a meal that’s more than an hour away needs the same 15 grams of carbs plus 7-8 grams of protein-rich food.

A word of caution: Sugar levels tend to drop for a diabetic runner after a moderate to intense workout. If by the time that you go to bed, the reading is still below 100 mg/dl, then be sure to double your snack. If you are taking insulin, then ask a physician if you can lower your bedtime dose. More guide and info on workout diabetes here.

athletes with diabetes

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Sofia Lee
Running enthusiast, blogger, mom, fitness advocate. Loves to share health tips!

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