The food people consume everyday is broken down into its different components through the digestive process. Amongst the different elements that are released, sugars are a prime component that is responsible for providing the cells and tissues with the energy that it needs to function optimally.
In individuals who are normally fit and healthy, but sugar levels range between a particular value and remain within that during any form of activity. In individuals who have high blood sugar levels i.e. diabetes, sugar levels can be variable.But how exactly do blood sugars fluctuate during exercise? Here we take an overall look at this.
When we exercise, sugars have to be released into the blood in order to provide the cells and tissues with the energy that it needs. The sugar that we consume in our diet is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. During times of exercise, this glycogen is broken down to release the sugars into the bloodstream. This should is then transported through the blood to the muscles and other tissues ready provides it with the energy for the required function. In other words, during exercise, the glycogen breakdown can increase the blood sugar levels in order to provide the energy the body needs.
Sugar levels in patients with diabetes
In patients who suffer from diabetes, the blood sugar levels are already elevated. Therefore, during exercise, the glycogen breakdown can release more sugar into the bloodstream as the cells do not recognise and utilise the sugar that is already available. It is therefore recommended that patients who have high blood sugar levels at rest ensure that the levels are safe (as advised by their health care professional) before they embark on an exercise program. Consuming products with a high glycaemic index i.e. those that release a large amount of sugar into the bloodstream is not advised in patients wishing to perform exercise.
Keep an eye out for low sugar levels
Of course, it is important the bear in mind that it is not just high blood sugar that can cause a problem. In individuals in whom the glycogen stores are completely burnt off, there may not be sufficient amount of sugar to supply the muscles with the nourishment that it needs during exercise. This means, the blood sugar levels can drop significantly following an exercise routine and patients can start to feel dizzy and light-headedness. This phenomenon is due to hypoglycaemia i.e. low blood glucose levels and is usually seen in patients with diabetes.
However, in individuals with diabetes, over exertion without sufficient nourishment and sugar intake can result in complete depletion of glycogen stored and low blood sugar levels which can cause an individual to collapse.
Blood sugar values can fluctuate during exercise. Depending upon the stores and the amount of exercise performed, they can either increase or decrease and each of these have their own problems. Patients must make sure they have a balanced and healthy diet when performing exercise in order to obtain the maximum benefit from it.