A good exercise plan is a major part of diabetes management. But it can be tricky to know what to eat and drink before and during a workout to avoid blood sugar spikes or crashes.

You may have considered taking pre-workout supplements. They contain caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and other ingredients that increase energy, focus, and strength. But can diabetics take pre-workout?

Some people with diabetes can have pre-workout without problems, while others could experience side effects.

This article will address in-depth how safe it is to take pre-workout if you have diabetes. It’ll also go through the ingredients to look for and avoid in a pre-workout supplement and offer tips on how to reap all its benefits.

Pre-Workout: A Brief Overview

Pre - workout supplements are the rage in the fitness world. These supplements promise to give you extra energy so you can push yourself harder in your workouts. 

So, what are the ingredients in pre-workout supplements that make them so effective? Here are a few of the most common components in pre-workout:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that helps improve alertness and focus. It can also increase energy levels and promote fat burning.
  • Creatine: Creatine is a substance that naturally exists in the body. It provides energy for muscle contractions.
  • Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is an amino acid that improves muscle endurance. It does this by increasing the production of carnosine, which buffers lactic acid buildup in the muscles.
  • Nitric oxide boosters: Nitric oxide is a compound with a significant role in relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow. It increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscles, which could lead to improved performance.

Is It Safe for People with Diabetes to Take Pre-Workout Supplements?

The answer is yes but with caution. Pre-workout supplements can be a helpful way to improve workouts for people with diabetes, but they may also have side effects if they have certain ingredients. 

Most pre - workout ingredients might interfere with blood sugar control. These components involve artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and high amounts of caffeine.

Such ingredients could expose diabetics to numerous health risks, including:

  • Increased blood sugar: Many pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, which raises blood sugar levels.
  • Heart problems: Pre-workout supplements tend to increase heart rate and blood pressure—a dangerous scenario for people with heart problems.
  • Insomnia: These energy-boosting supplements can interfere with sleep. Insomnia can be a problem for people with diabetes who need regular sleep to manage their condition.
A Man Sitting On A Bed Suffering From Insomnia

If you have diabetes and are considering taking pre-workout supplements, do your research on what ingredients to avoid first.

You should also talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you assess the risks and benefits of pre-workout for your condition to ensure it's safe.

Factors to Consider Before Taking Pre-Workout

Usually, your doctor will assess the following points to determine whether or not pre - workout is suitable for you:

  • Your blood sugar control: If your blood sugar is not well-controlled, you may be more likely to experience negative effects from pre-workout.
  • Your medication: Some medications for diabetes can interact with pre-workout supplements
  • Your health history: If you have heart problems or other health conditions, you may want to avoid pre-workout.

Which Features Should Diabetic Patients Look for in a Pre-Workout?

When shopping for pre-workout, focus on the following points to keep its side effects to a minimum:

Being Stim-Free

If you're sensitive to caffeine or if it spikes your blood sugar levels, look for a stim-free pre-workout. 

Typically, this type of workout supplement still contains ingredients that can boost your energy and performance. It just comes with the benefit of not including added caffeine.

Having L-citrulline

L-citrulline is an amino acid that is a precursor to nitric oxide, which helps improve blood flow. 

This can be great for people with diabetes, as it can deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. 

As a result, it can boost performance and reduce fatigue, keeping you going for hours!

Including Added Vitamins and Minerals

Diabetes can take a toll on your overall health, so you should make sure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals. 

Look for a pre-workout supplement that contains added vitamins C, zinc, and magnesium. All these nutrients can support immune health and help reduce inflammation. Other components you should focus on are:

  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Beet root extract
  • B12

Low Sugar Content

Diabetic Person Using Blood Glucose Meter

In addition to these ingredients, shop for a pre-workout supplement that is low in sugar and calories. 

This way, you can avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes during and after your workout.

Which Ingredients Should a Person with Diabetes Avoid in a Pre-Workout?

There are some pre-workout common ingredients that you shouldn’t have, besides caffeine. Here are a few examples of harmful components to watch out for:

Creatine

Creatine is a popular pre-workout ingredient that can help to improve strength and power. However, it can also raise blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes. 

This is because creatine increases the amount of glucose stored in the muscles. When the muscles release this glucose, it can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy, but similar to creatine, they lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. That’s why it's a must to avoid pre-workouts that are high in carbohydrates.

Your body turns simple and complex carbs into glucose. As a result, this scenario can lead to complications such as hypoglycemia.

Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Alcohols

Finally, you should steer clear of pre-workout supplements that have high amounts of artificial sweeteners. We know that they’re often promoted as better, healthier alternatives to sugar, but they have drawbacks that don’t work well with people who have diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are sometimes found in pre-workouts to sweeten them without adding calories. 

However, they can also cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly in some people with diabetes. Artificial sweeteners can be metabolized by the body in different ways, which can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

In addition to that, they could influence insulin sensitivity. As a result, they could lead to many complications for diabetic people, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Elevated inflammatory markers
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Visceral adiposity
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Hyperuricemia

Tips for Using Pre-Workout for Diabetic Patients

If you have diabetes and you're looking to use pre-workout to improve your workouts, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and healthy:

1. Choose the Right Pre-Workout

Of course, the first step is to choose a pre-workout that is specifically designed for people with diabetes. Thankfully, many pre-workouts on the market are low in sugar, calories, and caffeine. They also don’t have any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. 

Some examples of diabetes-friendly pre-workout supplements involve:

  • PEScience High Volume
  • ProSupps Dr. Jekyll Signature
  • Pre-Series STIM-FREE
  • Six Star N.O. Fury Pre-workout
  • Gorilla Mode Nitric

These pre-workouts can be a safe and effective way to improve energy and performance without raising your blood glucose levels.

2. Start with a Small Dose

Even if you choose a pre-workout designed for people with diabetes, start with a small dose and gradually increase it as needed. 

This will help you determine how your body reacts to the pre-workout to avoid any negative side effects.

A Pre-Workout Complex In The Kitchen, Closeup

3. Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels

It's also important to keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar levels before, during, and after physical activity. 

This ensures your blood sugar levels stay within a safe range. If your blood sugar levels start to rise, you may need to take a break from your workout or eat a snack.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

Keeping hydrated is essential for everyone, but it's especially important for people with diabetes who are working out. 

Drinking plenty of water will help prevent dehydration, which can lead to high blood sugar levels.

5. Eat a Healthy Pre-Workout Snack

Eating a nutritious snack before your workout can keep your blood glucose levels from dropping too low during exercise. 

A good snack option would be a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, or a whole-wheat granola bar.

At the same time, you should avoid snacks with fast-acting carbohydrates and medium-acting ones. Steer clear of the likes of wheat bread, full-sugar energy drinks, or anything with potatoes.

Conclusion

So, here’s everything you need to know about using pre-workout safely if you have diabetes.

Just remember to choose the right pre-workout, start with a small dose, and monitor your blood sugar levels. You should also drink plenty of water and eat a healthy snack before your workout to manage your sugar levels.

If you ever feel lost or confused, reach out to your doctor or a certified personal trainer. They can help you create a suitable workout routine tailored to your individual needs.

With a little planning and preparation, you can enjoy the benefits of pre-workout without risking a healthy lifestyle. Now, start your exercise plan and wait for the results!

Sources

To ensure that we give you correct, accurate, and relevant information, all articles on Diabetic & Me are backed by verified information from academic research papers, well-known organizations, research institutions, and medical associations.

  1. Bio Med Central The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength
  2. WebMD Beta-Alanine - Uses, Side Effects, and More
  3. Medical News Today What to know about nitric oxide supplements
  4. CDC Manage Blood Sugar
  5. WebMD L-citrulline
  6. Health Central Caffeine and Diabetes: What You Need to Know
  7. Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition and Immunity
  8. Medical News Today Everything to know about carbs and diabetes
  9. National Library of Medicine The truth about artificial sweeteners – Are they good for diabetics?
  10. Diabetes.co.uk Dehydration and Diabetes

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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