2 Ways to Hack Your Blood Sugar

The usual advice is to cut back on foods that are rich in carbohydrates. But there may be a way to keep blood sugar down without eliminating carbohydrate-rich foods.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Episode #444

It’s perfectly normal for your blood sugar to rise after a meal, as your body converts the food you eat into energy. This is known as your post-prandial glucose response. But you don’t want your blood sugar to rise too high or take too long to come back down.

This is particularly important if you’re diabetic. But all of us can benefit from avoiding excessively high blood sugar levels after eating. This week, I’ve a got a simple hack that can help you minimize your post-prandial glucose levels.

What Happens When You Eat

Your blood glucose (or sugar) levels begin to rise within about ten minutes of beginning a meal, reach a peak after 1 to 2 hours and should return back to baseline within 2 to 3 hours. How high that peak is and how long it takes for your blood sugar to return to normal depends on many factors, including what and how much you eat, whether you’ve exercised recently, and how well your body responds to the insulin produced by your pancreas.

See also: What is High Glucose?

High post-prandial glucose levels can be a warning sign that your body is becoming less responsive to insulin, which means you may be heading towards full-blown Type 2 diabetes. If you’ve already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it suggests that your diabetes is not being well managed.

Can you reverse diabetes with diet?

If you use a blood sugar monitor, you can test your blood sugar 2 hours after eating to see how you’re doing. The American Diabetes Association recommends that your post prandial glucose should be 180 or lower if you have diabetes and 140 or lower if you don’t.

How to lower post-prandial glucose

If your post-prandial glucose is high, the usual advice is to cut back on your portion sizes--in particular of any breads, grains, potatoes, fruit, baked goods, sweetened beverages and other foods that are rich in carbohydrates.

Certainly, eating these foods in excessive quantities isn’t a good nutrition prescription for anyone. But assuming that the portions are reasonable, there may be a way to keep those post-meal blood sugar levels under control without having to further reduce or eliminate carbohydrate-rich foods.

Hack #1 Eat your carbs last

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College found that the order in which we consume foods may have a substantial impact on our blood sugar response to the entire meal. In the study, subjects were given the same meal–consisting of chicken, vegetables, salad, bread, and orange juice–on two different occasions. The first time, they ate the high carbohydrate foods (the bread and orange juice) first, followed by the chicken and veggies.  The second time, they reversed the order and ate the chicken and veggies first, followed by bread and orange juice. In the usual nutritional analysis, these two meals would be considered identical. But it appears that even small differences in timing make a big difference.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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