Morning Exercise - Blood Sugar Spike

Hello all I’m new here.

So I normally don’t work out in the morning, but this morning I did. I had a protein shake at 6:20am (24grams protein, 3 grams carb, no fiber). Blood sugar at 120. No insulin.

Began workout at 6:45am, cardio and weights till about 7:30am. Blood sugar spiked to 200. Took 2 units of humalog. No food.

Half an hour later, blood sugar at 225.

Grrrrrrr. What gives. I’m trying to my diabetes a favor, and it stabs me in the back. I really want to start working out in the mornings, but I don’t wanna deal with this morning hormonal “dawn phenomenon” effect. Any suggestions?

I have a similar problem with exercise, whether it is weights or cardio, and no matter the time I do it. During a long work-out with cardio only (45 minutes), I will lose about 80-100 points on my BG. Within 10 minutes of stopping the exercise, I start climbing again, and rapidly. If I am low at the end of the exercise, but not lower than 55, I will not treat the low, because I know that 100 points is coming back, and quickly.
The drop in BG with a weights work out is not as pronounced, but the post work-out rise is the same.
As a pumper, to counter the rise, I start a 125% temporary basal for twice the exercise duration a little bit before I start the exercise. I have about a 90 minute delay from when I take my dose to when it starts to have an effect, so I hopefully am timing the increased basal to kick in when the exercise ends. It does not work perfectly, but it does.
There is also the “dawn phenomenon” at work possibly. You may be going up just because that’s what happens to a lot of us in the morning (just another reason to sleep late, in my book).
Also, you may be getting the effect of the late digestion of your protein shake without the insulin to address it, since you do not take anything with the shake. I used to use a protein shake that had 7 grams of carbs in it and would go up a huge amount (with or without exercise) compared to what happened if my carb ratio was working. It was too hard to figure out what to do for that particular shake, so I gave it up.
I would not go without some insulin for your protein shake – humalog may not be right, because it will peak too soon, but you should probably have something.

Hi Dino,
The problem with the rise in the blood sugar for me would be in not shooting the insulin when i drank the shake. I too use a protein shake, but would not give it up because I cannot replace the amount of protein or the amino acids i get in my shake any other way. I would also shoot my basal at the same time I shot the Humalog to cover on down the line. I think the trick here is timing and the amount. Your exercise and the shake are both good things. I wouldn’t give up either.

The morning rise might also be the glycogen your liver has stored up.My morning basal rate is the highest of all my rates.I am at .175 normally, but the in the morning it’s .225.Try exercising in the afternoon if possible.

Have you considered that you could be running out of insulin? I had a problem like this and had a big spike during and after exercise. I then had a hard time bringing my blood glucose back down into the target range. I stopped exercising because my blood sugar was so volatile. After starting again, I bolus and eat breakfast before exercise. I bolus again and have a protein shake after exercise, and the numbers are pretty good.

Thanks so much to all who replied. I’m gonna give it a go again tomorrow morning with a little shot and the protein shake, and maybe a little sugar to boot. This community is AWESOME by the way…so much better than the Type1 diabetes forum on Yahoo!

Grrr is right. This phenomenon is well documented and will probably moderate itself after your body gets used to your routine. The most common explanation is that your liver is releasing glycogen in response to the stress of exercise. I was under the mistaken belief at first that hard exercise ALWAYS ate up glucose - not true, especially in Type I’s.

All you can do is keep testing and trying different combinations of food and insulin around your exercise routine. I get different reactions at different times of day - morning exercise tends to make me go low, afternoon exercise is more manageable. For me. YMMV.

Here are some links you might find useful.


Well…I did the same routine today. This time I took two units of humalog prior to the protein shake. I woke up at 152.

30 min into my workout I was 165. Hmm. Post workout, I’m at 209. Argh.

I find that working out in the morning helps regulate my blood sugars for the whole day, so I don’t wanna give it up. But if I end up sabotaging my morning readings every day, I don’t know if its worth it.

Maybe I should up my Lantus. I will give it a go again manana.

Hi Dino,
Your morning readings are a little high when you first get up. Are you shooting the Lantus at night before bed? I shoot mine before bed and again in the morning. And I also shoot the Humalog for each meal. You also might need to increase the amount of Humalog for that shake by just a little. I have to do that for any protein I take in. I still say the exercise and the shake are both really good things. I really think you are on target and with a little tweaking it will work for you. Don’t get discouraged. You will make this okay.

Thanks Saundra. Just checked again and I’m up to 255. What the heck?!
It’s weird because I feel great, full of energy after cardio and weights…not how I normally feel when I’m 255. Maybe my liver is freaking out because it used to be asleep at 6:30am, and now its doing the liver bench press.

I hope Terry is right about my body moderating itself after it gets used to my new routine. I will not get frustrated :slight_smile:

Dino: Always incredibly frustrating. This morning, I started my workout at 72, with 3 zone bars (total carbs – 72 g – there goes most of my day’s carbs), with a bolus for just 48 carbs. Throughout the work out (cardio to start, then weights for 45 minutes), I’m between 85 and 90. Three hours later, 220.

The biggest problem I have found with all of this is that there are a couple of thousand people on this site, and each of us is a little different. Keep trying different things until you find something that works, then don’t change your routine, or get sick, or travel outside your current time zone, or do anything stressful, or…

I have had this problem for many years. Say I wake up at 100 on Saturday. If I were to take a brisk 3 mile walk I could easily be at 300 when it was over. If I went back to sleep, I’d almost certainly have a hypo a couple of hours later, say 10 a.m.
To deal with this: 1) I almost never exercise before noon. 2) if I do, I have to take some rapid acting insulin to accomodate the spike. 3) if I sleep in on weekends and test in range, I have to eat 30 grams of carbs to avoid a drop.
It’s a pain to deal with this, but it is actually one of the most consistent patterns that I have - very predictable, and very responsive to the proper action.

Hi Jonathan,
This reply has nothing to do with blood sugars or workouts. It is just to tell you that i really enjoy your sense of humor. It is always a pleasure to read your posts. My son works hard to make me laugh as much as possible. He says that the one thing that is absolutely necessary for us diabetics is laughter. When he just “happens” to drop by during one of my exercise times, I know that i will end up on the floor laughing until the tears run. He says we can’t call my exercise a work “out” for me it is always a work “off”. He teases me and laughs at me and I feel absolutely wonderful by the time he leaves. During his visit with all the laughing I do you would think I couldn’t get much done. But I wind up having the greatest work “off” of my entire week. So ,thanks for the smile. I enjoyed it.

For exercise first thing in the morning for me, I don’t usually need any carbs if it is pre breakfast, otherwise I generally need carbs every 45 mins (around 30 -40grams) or I will go low.

However sometimes my body will react really differently to exercise. I find that when I am racing I need much more long acting insulin on board than I would if I was just training for the same time but at lesser intensity (I do triathlons lasting anywhere from 1-10 hours), I put this down to adrenalin.

I also find that sometimes I don’t need any carbs at all during training and if I have any my blood sugars will get quite high (I know most of you are prob american so a reading in the 20s prob means nothing to you). It’ll do this for a while and then get back to ‘normal’.

Thanks again for all the insight everyone. Well my blood sugars have improved after a few tweaks, and it seems that my body is getting more accustomed to the morning regimen. I hope it levels off even more next week.