When I was a child, I had an addiction to sweets so extreme that I would hoard packets of pure cane sugar and pour them down my throat on the sly. But I am proud of having beaten that habit after a prediabetes diagnosis in 2012 drove me to cut most carbohydrates out of my diet.
I was inspired by the rapid slide in my A1C from 6.3 percent (on the borderline of diabetes) to below 5.7 percent (normal), which came with an unexpected weight loss of 25 pounds within fewer than six months. So I decided to keep the momentum going by training for my life-long dream: running the New York City Marathon. I imagined myself powering up Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn or sprinting around the final bend in Central Park, cheered on by chilly, raucous spectators who were every bit as inspired as I had been from the sidelines, year after year.
1. Don’t Cut Carbohydrates Completely From Your Diet
“Always make sure you consume enough carbohydrates to compensate for the glucose that is burned during physical activity,” says Robert Graham, MD, of Physio Logic in Brooklyn, New York. Monitoring blood glucose levels is also important for people with diabetes. “Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body utilizes glucose. Therefore, you must be aware of changes in blood glucose before, during, and after exercise."
2. Keep Diabetes Medication in Mind When Exercising
"Being wary of potential blood sugar fluctuations is especially important if you take certain diabetes medications that may increase the risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), including insulin or diabetes medications that cause insulin secretion,” says Dr. Graham. Examples of the latter type of medication include sulfonylureas, such as Amaryl (glimepiride), and glinides, such as Prandin (repaglinide) and Starlix (nateglinide). The Joslin Diabetes Center recommends avoiding exercise when blood glucose levels are at 250 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) or higher if ketones are present.