Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


How to Boost Energy for Diabetes and Prevent Fatigue

Article Overview

sign reading energy boost with arrow

Many people with diabetes struggle with fatigue symptoms so I’m sharing my top tips to boost energy for diabetes!

Having your blood sugar go up and down and up and down all day long is exhausting and can leave people with unmanaged blood sugars feeling very tired. So one of the best ways to boost energy for diabetes is to focus on regulating blood sugars.

The truth about blood sugar levels and tiredness

Many people don’t realize that your energy levels and how tired you feel (or don’t feel) is very closely related to your blood sugar levels. If you look up the symptoms of both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and you’ll see tiredness and fatigue listed as symptoms for both conditions. So, over long periods of time, poorly managed blood sugars can definitely lead to unexplained tiredness, fatigue, and exhaustion. 

The importance of glucose control

In addition to having consistently low or consistently high blood sugars, erratic (or frequently/rapidly changing) blood sugars can also cause fatigue and exhaustion. A rapid rise or a rapid fall in blood sugar can leave someone feeling irritable and tired very quickly. 

woman drawing insulin into syringe types of insulin

Common diabetes fatigue questions answered!

  1. Are blood sugar and exhaustion related?
  2. Can diabetes cause exhaustion?
  3. Does diabetes make you tired?
  4. Does diabetes make you sleepy?
  5. Does insulin make you tired?
  6. What can people with diabetes drink for energy?
  7. Is coffee OK for people with diabetes?

Before we jump into ways to boost energy for diabetes, let’s answer some common questions to set the stage for the most important factor in boosting energy levels when you have diabetes: blood sugar control.

Are blood sugar and exhaustion related?

Yes, 100%. Rapidly changing blood sugars, erratic blood sugars, consistently low blood sugars, and consistently high blood sugars can all cause feelings of exhaustion.

Can diabetes cause exhaustion?

Diabetes itself isn’t going to cause you to be exhausted, but poorly managed diabetes will. I have lots of tips on managing blood sugars that will help with this too. 

Does diabetes make you tired?

Again, diabetes itself isn’t going to make you tired. If your blood sugars are generally well managed, you shouldn’t experience tiredness any more than the average person without diabetes. But if your blood sugars fluctuate a lot or run chronically high, tiredness can be a side effect.

bed with pink blanket and wood frame boost energy for diabetes

Does diabetes make you sleepy?

Intense feelings of sleepiness can come on when blood sugars are rising or falling at rapid rates.

Does insulin make you tired?

If your insulin is dosed correctly, it should not make you tired. However, if you take more than is needed and experience hypoglycemia, you will most likely feel tired.

What can people with diabetes drink for energy?

People with diabetes can safely drink lots of things to help boost energy levels, so long as it isn’t too high in added or refined sugar. Some options include:

  • Ice water or warm water
  • Hot tea
  • Iced unsweetened tea
  • Coffee (hot or cold)
latte in glass coffee cup with whipped cream and caramel sauce energy boost for diabetes

Is coffee OK for people with diabetes?

Yes, most people with diabetes can safely consume coffee. Remember that it matters what you put in your coffee as well. Try to avoid large amounts of sweeteners, or creamers with high amounts of added sugar. And, make sure to try my Low Sugar Caramel Brulee Latte!

How to get energy for type 2 diabetes

  1. Take medications on time
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Get adequate sleep
  4. Do not over-consume alcohol
  5. Do some form of movement every day
  6. Eat fat, fiber, and protein at each meal
  7. Don’t eat carbohydrates by themselves
  8. Don’t skip meals

So some of my top tips for increasing energy levels are:

Take medications on time

Not taking your medications at the correct time or even skipping them can lead to erratic blood sugars. As we discussed above, erratic blood sugars can lead to exhaustion and tiredness.

Drink plenty of water

All the different cells in our bodies need adequate fluid to do their jobs! And if your cells can’t work well, you may experience excessive tiredness or fatigue.

Get adequate sleep

This one is kind of obvious, I know. But, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (at a minimum).

Do not over-consume alcohol

Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, so while you may be getting an adequate number of hours of sleep, it won’t be very good quality sleep. This means you may wake up not fully rested.

Do some form of movement every day

Exercise and purposeful movement are great ways to boost energy. A quick walk can help wake you up in the moment. And long term, consistent exercise has been shown to increase energy levels.

Eat fat, fiber, and protein at each meal

Boosting energy levels when you have diabetes is largely tied to making sure we’re doing everything we can to promote stable blood sugar levels. This goes for people with type 2 diabetes and any other type of diabetes. This is where balancing our meals and snacks with fat, fiber, and protein comes into to play.

“Don’t totally ditch carbs with meals and snacks. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. It is ok to add fruit, beans or rice to a salad. A salad with chicken is great but your body may need a bit more than that to keep you going,” says KeyVion Miller RDN, LD/N, Food and Nutrition Blogger of The Miller’s Kitchen.

Don’t eat carbohydrates by themselves

Our bodies process carbohydrates quickest and without any “buffers” in place (those would be our fat, fiber, and protein), blood sugars can rise very quickly. Colleen Christensen, RD and founder of No Food Rules, says, “Energy boosting snacks that have protein paired with carbs are a great option!”

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals is another behavior that can lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels and impact how much energy you do or don’t have.

“Skipping meals and needed snacks will deplete your energy and make your hormones and blood sugar levels go awry. Making some healthy choices will provide you with sustainable energy to work and to make it to your next meal or snack,” according to Wendy Kaplan, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN. (Wendy specializes in oncology, weight management and diabetes in the Long Island and New York City area.)

And if you’re looking for more resources on living with diabetes make sure to head over to the Diabetes 101 page and don’t forgot to order a copy of my cookbook The Easy Diabetes Cookbook!

how to order the easy diabetes cookbook

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13 Responses

  1. i am a truck driver what can i drink or eat while on the road i cant stop and prepare a meal is ensure good for energy or boost for a meal replacement

    1. My husband is diabetic and when he isn’t able to make a meal, he drinks the Boost meal replacement, in the Diabetic formula.

  2. I like to golf , but I run out of gas towards the end , what can a diabetic consume fir extra energy ?

  3. Very educative. My mother has lost a lot of weight within 2 weeks after changing her medication. She is also fatigued. Should she discontinue the medication as a home remedy as we make arrangements to take her to the hospital?

  4. Definitely learned something I was told I have pre-diabetes and lately on my way to work I felt like someone sucked all my energy out it was hard just to lift my arms I drink 3 large bottles of water everyday an apple 1 banana 1 pack of crackers 2 granola bars. My loss of energy has only happened twice in the morning. I have learned alot from your site think you my doctor didn’t even talk to me about it when I told him about my student energy loss

  5. My daughter is a juvenile diabetic trying to breastfeed her 5 week old and doesn’t have energy. BS are all over the place. She is trying to eat and drink in between feedings need healthy snack ideas that are quick and easy as she also has an active 3 yr old and 18 month old.

  6. Thank you very much for the information,im also diabetic and i use insulin..most of time i would skip my meal especially when im at work i dont like to eat at all and i can see sometimes it affects my eye sight and concentration as a forklift driver I’ve been asking myself what could be the cause of this .

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