What’s better for lowering blood sugar? A walk before or after eating?

Ask the Pritikin Health Experts

Generally, exercise will lower blood sugar levels whether you walk before or after eating, says the health experts at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami.

Walk Before of After Eating to Lower Blood Glucose

Instead of asking, "Should I walk before or after eating?" a better question for people with diabetes or prediabetes to ask is: "What is my blood sugar before and after exercise, and is it safe to exercise?"

Should I walk before or after eating?”

A walk, no matter when you take it, will generally lower blood sugar (glucose) levels. But because there are many variables involved, it is difficult to say exactly how much a person’s blood glucose will drop. These variables include walking intensity and walking duration, as well as the quantity and type of food that you’re eating.

Instead of asking, “Should I walk before or after eating?” a better question for people with diabetes or prediabetes to ask is: “What is my blood sugar before and after exercise, and is it safe to exercise?”

Is it safe to exercise? As a general rule:

Avoid exercising if fasting glucose levels are greater than 250 mg/dL and if ketosis is present. Use caution if glucose levels are less than 300 mg/dL and if no ketosis is present. Ketosis is a metabolic process your body undergoes when it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates (glucose) from food for energy. Symptoms of ketosis include:

  • Breath that smells fruity or like nail polish or nail polish remover
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Confusion
  • Ingest added carbohydrates, such as whole fresh fruit, if glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL before exercise.
  • Identify when changes in insulin or food intake are necessary.
  • Learn your glycemic response to different exercise conditions (exercise time and intensity).
  • Consume added carbohydrate as needed to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Carbohydrate-based foods (again, fresh fruit is a great choice) should be readily available during and after exercise.
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