Best Pre-Workout Snacks for People with Diabetes

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By : dLife Editors

By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

What you need to eat and how much before your workout depends on many factors, including the intensity of your workout, and the duration of exercise.

Snacks may be necessary for some people with diabetes on certain oral medications or insulin. For example, someone on a mixed insulin regimen may find that a morning snack after breakfast keeps blood glucose levels stable and prevents mid-morning hypoglycemia.

Other people may find they need an afternoon snack before exercise to keep blood glucose levels from dropping.

And some people just find they can control their weight and blood sugar numbers best if they eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day.

The challenge is in finding snacks that don’t raise blood glucose levels too much — in other words, lower-carbohydrate snacks. We provide some great pointers about what snacks are best to consume before your workout.

As always, be sure, to discuss your nutritional and exercise plan with your CDE or healthcare provider before starting a new regime.


Pre-workout, Power-up Snacks:

  • Try a smoothy made of Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of nut butter of your choice, and half a frozen banana.
  • For a long workout, such as biking or hiking, consider a meal replacement bar. Be sure to check how many calories and carbohydrates it contains.
  • Greek yogurt topped with blueberries.

Protein bar

Examples of snacks with around 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3 whole-wheat crackers with 2 tbsp natural peanut butter = 15g
  • 1 small pear and a small handful (12) almonds = 16g
  • 6 ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt with sugar substitute = 12g
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese = 15g
  • 1 small protein bar with around 15 grams carbohydrate
  • 1 small apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter = 17g
  • 1/2 turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with mayo = 12g
  • 4 baby carrots, 4 celery stalks dipped in 5 tbsp hummus = 15g


Examples of even lower (under 15g) carbohydrate snacks:

  • A handful of almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  • Celery stalks with natural peanut butter
  • String Cheese
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Veggies and ranch or bleu cheese dip


  • Check your blood sugar levels after your workout to determine whether or not you need a post-workout snack.
  • Be sure to carry a quick energy source in your gym-bag such as all-natural, dried fruit bars, glucose tablets, a juice box, or a sports drink.
  • Be sure to follow with a healthy meal such half a Turkey sandwich, an apple, and a boiled egg.

Updated by dLife Editors 1/19.