Tara Gidus

How To: Prevent Hypoglycemia During A Long Run

Early fatigue? Light headed? Blurred vision? Can't seem to concentrate? These are far from what you want to experience during a long run. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, interferes with performance and it can be dangerous! Hypoglycemia can occur if you are not supplying your body with the right type of fuel. Fueling right means being consistent and balanced.

Consistency is one of the key elements in preventing a low blood sugar. To feel and perform at your best, your body needs fuel about every 2-3 hours. For most this doesn't come naturally--you must make time to eat. Pack trail mix, dry cereal, or a banana into your gym bag. Don't ever work out or go for a run without proper fuel.

What you eat is important for keeping blood glucose steady. If you reach for high sugar foods, you may find yourself with a short-lived energy boost, but it also puts you at risk for hypoglycemia, or blood sugar taking a nose dive. Make sure your meals and snacks are balanced with complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. Complex carbs don't spike the blood sugar as fast, and proteins digest slower, providing you with more sustained energy.

  • Carbohydrate + Protein combos:
    • Bagel + Peanut Butter
    • Cereal + Milk
    • Chocolate Milk
    • Banana + Peanut Butter
    • Whole Grain Crackers + Cheese
    • Fresh Berries + Greek Yogurt
    • Toast + Scrambled Eggs

During a long run you'll want to make sure to take in some form of sugar, or simple carbohydrates. As you are running, the body is drawing from your stored glucose for energy, and your blood sugar can drop if you are not taking in additional sugar. Your brain needs glucose to function, and your mental energy and focus can wane as your blood sugar plummets.

  • Sugar during exercise
    • Sports drinks
    • Dried figs
    • Gels
    • Honey Sticks
    • Banana
    • Sports Beans or Blocks
    • Energy Bars
    • Gummy Bears

If you're diabetic or prone to getting low blood sugar, exercise with someone else that is familiar with the symptoms of hypoglycemia and always carry sports drinks another source of sugar with you.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.