Are Your Workouts Telling You That You're Hypoglycemic?

Jan 23 , 2020

Dustin Baker

Are Your Workouts Telling You That You're Hypoglycemic?


     According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ten out of a thousand people are hypoglycemic, and ten to fifteen people a year receive emergency room treatment related to issues caused by hypoglycemia. Now, ten to fifteen people a year may not sound like much, but that is only the few who have pushed themselves to the limit of the condition, where there are ten for every thousand who may not even know they are hypoglycemic. The U.S. itself has a population of 326,766,748 as of June 25th 2018. That means that there are a possible 3,267,667 people who are hypoglycemic which makes up roughly 1% of the U.S. population alone. Ten out of a thousand may not sound like much, but do you know if you’re one of them? Maybe your workouts have been telling you this whole time.

     During exercise our bodies have processes in which they create energy. When a demand on the body is very brief, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is broken down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) by breaking phosphates apart to create energy. When the body has oxygen it can spare, because the exercise is low intensity, the body will oxidize fat breaking it down into a useable energy source to power the movement of the body. When oxygen becomes in high demand because the intensity of the workout has become too much for the oxidization process, the body will then look for quick fuel sources like glucose (consumed sugars and broken down carbohydrates).

     However, when you are hypoglycemic your blood sugar tends to stay low because of overactive insulin. This means if you don’t eat adequately enough before a workout, you could find yourself feeling some of the following symptoms:

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred/impaired vision
  • Weakness or fatigue

For a full list of symptoms make sure to visit the links in my sourced material.

     Now there are those who can eat before their workout, and still suffer from these effects, in fact this could be the guy who sits next to you in the gym eating gummy worms. That’s when you got to ask yourself, is he eating gummy worms because that is just something some bodybuilders do, or is he hypoglycemic and he is treating the condition by accident with what he thinks is a bodybuilder habit?

     Here are a few ways you can tell if you’re hypoglycemic. If most pre workouts don’t sit well with you this can be because of the effect pre workouts tend to have on insulin levels in the human body. The sugar alone (artificial or not) can cause people with hypoglycemia to release too much insulin, as overactive insulin is the defining trait of hypoglycemia. When large amounts of insulin are released into the blood stream with little to no substance to feed it, the insulin can wreak havoc as it looks for work to justify its presence. This can leave you feeling dizzy or sick during your workout because your body is trying to make energy, but insulin is trying to steal that energy-yielding material for itself. It’s like having a war over resources taking place in your body when this happens.

     Large doses of caffeine can also be the culprit in your pre workout. Of course, even someone with hypoglycemia can develop a caffeine resistance just like anyone else, but if you go beyond that tolerance you can find yourself in twice the amount of insulin chaos if you get tag teamed by the presence of sugar as well. This combo can leave you with the shakes or feeling sleepy. Overall, stimulus based pre workout supplements can be a bad idea for people who have hypoglycemia, but there are still many stimulus-free pre workouts that even most people with hypoglycemia can tolerate.

     If you find yourself showing any of the symptoms of hypoglycemia mid-workout this could be your body trying to tell you through your workouts that it is hypoglycemic. Some hypoglycemics don’t have as overactive insulin as others do, but in the end the outcome is the same. Since the insulin doesn’t spike in the body as fast for some their blood glucose levels can last longer before they start to deplete. People with hypoglycemia cases like this tend to get mid way through their workout before the symptoms start to sneak up on them. Hypoglycemia like this will sneak up more subtlety in stages. You may first feel warm followed by slight shaking of the hands, but you’re just having a good workout session right? Well if the symptoms progress to a slight feeling of being light headed or feeling sick then there is a good chance you might be hypoglycemic as long as you didn’t try to pull off a hardcore workout on a empty stomach.

     Ultimately just pay attention to what your body is telling you. Your body could very well be trying to tell you through your workouts that it is hypoglycemic, and that you need to start paying attention to all the signs it’s putting out there. If you think to any degree that the symptoms of hypoglycemia may apply to you well here is something to take into consideration. First, GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR! Self diagnosis can be a dangerous thing especially when it comes to hypoglycemia, because it can be a pre cursor to becoming diabetic.

     Those who deal with hypoglycemia tend to have sugar cravings that are far worse than the average Joe’s, because of their overactive insulin. This can lead to binging on sugary foods which can lead to developing diabetes, and just becoming a large obstacle down the road for your health and fitness goals. Overall just don’t take the risk if you think you’re hypoglycemic and go see a doctor. If you catch hypoglycemia early you can prevent it from becoming an obstacle for your health and fitness goals.

Source Material

American diabetes association, signs of hypoglycemia

Centers for disease control and prevention

United states census bureau

American diabetes association, understanding the effects of exercise on blood glucose