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Don't Cut too Many Calories

While implementing healthy eating habits and performing regular exercise can help you shed those unwanted pounds or achieve improved overall health, limiting calories too much or skipping meals can have devastating effects.  Eating an appropriate amount of calories is essential to maintaining adequate fuel for daily activities as well as an exercise program.  Without providing enough calories, it’s much like trying to drive on an empty tank.  While we sleep our bodies must utilize available fuels in order to maintain normal body processes which will reduce the amount of stored energy.  Breakfast is important to restore necessary fuels and allow us to participate in daily activities.   All too often as physical therapists we hear patients that say they are not “breakfast eaters” and try to participate in treatment and/or exercise.  By skipping breakfast and/or going long hours without eating, you deny your body the fuels necessary for daily activities and exercise; however your body will continue to utilize fuels as long as you are active.  This can lead to the depletion of necessary blood sugar which is referred to as hypoglycemia.  If prolonged, hypoglycemia can have significant effects on your health and well-being.  The signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in the early stages include:

  • General discomfort or malaise
  • Cold sweats
  • Confusion
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Trembling

As blood sugar continues to drop, more severe symptoms can appear including:

  • Fainting
  • Memory loss
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Diabetes does NOT have to be present in order to develop hypoglycemia and even the healthiest of individuals can also experience these symptoms.  Typically providing foods with high sugar content such as juice or other snack can immediately reduce symptoms of hypoglycemia.  Medical assistance is necessary if symptoms are not improved with food and greater concern should be paid to those persons with a history of diabetes.  

What Can You Do?

  • Always eat breakfast and avoid skipping meals
  • Do not exercise following a period of fasting.  Eat a snack 60-90 minutes prior to exercise to avoid a sudden drop in blood sugar
  • If you are diabetic, always consult your physician or health professional prior to beginning an exercise program, especially if you are taking insulin or insulin-like medications
  • Some medications may increase the risk of hypoglycemia and therefore a consultation with your physician may be necessary
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms stated above especially during exercise or higher intensity daily activities.  Do not disregard these symptoms as immediate attention is necessary to avoid more severe complications

Stephen DiGiambattista PT, DPT is a physical therapist with ProCare Physical Therapy in Moscow.  If there are questions, concerns or you have ideas about future column please contact Stephen at steved@procare-pt.com

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles, Diet and Exercise, General Health

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