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Exercise also causes glucose spikes, but they’re actually good for you!

While exercise does cause temporary glucose spikes, they are not damaging to your health. In addition, exercise will usually cause your overall glucose levels to fall over the next 24 hours.

The size and intensity of exercise-induced glucose spikes depends on the type, intensity and duration of the exercise you do. Generally speaking, the more intense your workout the larger the spike.

Here are a few tips to improve your exercise performance:

  1. Fuel-up correctly for the type of exercise you intend to do, and avoid working out on an empty stomach. Eat a protein and carbohydrate based pre-workout meal 45-60 mins prior to your workout. A protein shake with fruit and/or oats mixed into it is a good example of this type of meal because it will ensure that the right amount of nutrients get into your system before you begin a workout.

  2. If you workout early in the morning and aren’t able to have a pre-workout meal, eat a fistful of healthy nuts along with a fruit or a slice of multigrain bread with nut butter. They will help blunt your glucose spike.

  3. If you exercise at some other time of day, and if you can’t fuel-up right before your workout, try and eat a quality pre-workout meal at any time but no more than 3 hours before you begin; even that will give you the energy you need for an efficient workout.

  4. Consume between 15 and 35 gm of protein (based on individual need), within an hour of completing your workout to ensure a quicker recovery.

During exercise, the glucose stored in the muscles and liver is released into the bloodstream, leading to spikes. However, the type of exercise, its intensity and duration, together influence your body’s glucose response. For example, as the accompanying graphs evidence, playing football causes a larger and steeper glucose spike than playing golf because of the former’s higher relative intensity level.

Exercising activates muscles which burn glucose and improve the way insulin works. That’s why blood glucose usually drops while exercising, but then rises again after the workout has been completed.

High intensity or longer duration workouts such as weightlifting, sprints, and competitive sports, cause a release of stress hormones like adrenaline. Adrenaline raises blood glucose levels by stimulating the liver to release glucose which is utilized by the exercising muscles.

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