“Alert Before Low” AFTER Exercise

Navigating the delicate balance of blood sugar levels during and after physical activity is a well-known challenge for those of us living with diabetes. The fear of experiencing a low (hypoglycemia) or a spike (hyperglycemia) can sometimes be daunting, making exercise a bit of a tightrope walk. However, with careful management and a bit of luck, it’s possible to achieve that sweet spot where everything aligns just right. In this blog post, I’ll share my recent experiences with managing my blood sugar levels during exercise, highlighting the surprising effect that stopping exercise had on my glucose trends.

A Tale of Two Days: Navigating Exercise with Diabetes

Over the past few days, I’ve experienced what I can only describe as good fortune in managing my blood sugar levels around exercise. Last week’s glucose management felt like navigating a roller coaster, with ups and downs that tested my resilience and adaptability. However, the last two days have painted a different picture—one of surprising stability. I chalk this up largely to menstrual cycle variation and different levels of progesterone.

Bag of Craisins Whole & Juicy

The Strategy: Pre-Exercise Quick Carbs

Exercise and diabetes management require a thoughtful approach, especially when it comes to pre-exercise nutrition. Yesterday, anticipating the physical exertion, I consumed a handful of dried cranberries before starting my workout. This small but strategic decision aimed to provide a quick source of carbohydrates to prevent a potential drop in blood sugar during exercise. It worked wonders! Checking the nutrition label, a quarter cup has 30 grams of carbs — so a handful may have been about 20 grams. The cranberries are coated with quick acting cane sugar!

The day before was a bit different. I felt confident enough in my blood sugar levels that I didn’t supplement with any snacks before exercising (although I did carry snacks with me, incase!). This decision was based on my continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) trends—demonstrating the importance of using technology to guide our choices.

“Alert Before Low”: A Timely Warning

Insulin Pump with "Alert Before Low" Warning

On both days, my CGM played a crucial role in my exercise routine. After completing my workouts, I received an “Alert Before Low” warning from my device. Pictured above is my Medtronic 780G Insulin Pump with the “Alert before low” message of “Sensor glucose approaching Low Limit. Check BG.” This timely notification serves as a preemptive measure, warning me of potential hypoglycemia before it happens. Remarkably, on both occasions, simply stopping the exercise was sufficient to halt the downward trend of my blood sugar.

Sensor readings are a bit delayed and can be inaccurate when blood glucose is changing fast, which is why it says to “Check BG.” A blood glucose test via a fingerprick will provide more timely information.

In this case, I had already stopped exercising by the time I received the alert. If I had still been exercising, I certainly would have had a juice box, fruit gummies, or glucose tabs, to prevent a low. As it turns out, no low blood sugar arrived. Choosing not to treat was the right action here. However, having a small amount of glucose would certainly have been alright too, and certainly a wise decision as the future is unknown, and my pump’s predictions are often accurate. Sometimes I do go low after exercise, which is really why I give credit to having had good fortune here.

The Unexpected Outcome

What happened next was both surprising and serendipitous. Without any further intervention, my blood glucose levels stopped their descent and rebounded back into a perfect range. This experience highlights the dynamic and sometimes unpredictable nature of diabetes management, where sometimes less is more. Stopping exercise proved to be an effective strategy, allowing my body to naturally stabilize my blood sugar levels.

Note that I had little to no insulin on board. With insulin on board, I’d be much more likely to go low during or after exercise.

Conclusion: Embracing Flexibility in Diabetes Management

These experiences underscore the importance of flexibility and attentiveness in managing diabetes, especially around physical activity. While it’s crucial to prepare for exercise with appropriate nutritional adjustments, it’s equally important to listen to our bodies and respond to the feedback provided by our CGM devices.

As we continue to navigate our diabetes journey, let’s celebrate these small victories and the insights they provide. Whether it’s choosing the right pre-exercise snack or knowing when to pause our physical activity, each decision brings us closer to understanding our bodies and mastering our diabetes management.

Please Share Your Experiences Below

Have you had similar experiences with exercise and blood sugar management? What strategies have worked for you? Share your stories and tips in the comments below. Let’s learn from each other and continue to support our community in finding balance and success in our diabetes care.

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