Post-Prandial Blood Sugar: What Does it Mean and What is its Importance?

Corporate life has never been more stressful. There’s a recession around a corner, and companies are laying off thousands of employees. Meanwhile, employees keep working long hours, and must work under exceptionally trying conditions. All this ends up taking a toll on employee health, and can lead to many lifestyle diseases. This makes it important to periodically monitor

Post prandial blood sugar, also known as post-meal blood glucose, is the level of glucose in the bloodstream after a meal. It is often used to monitor diabetes and devise the best possible treatment plan for managing diabetes.

Why Do Blood Sugar Levels Rise After a Meal?

The food that we eat comprises carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The breakdown of carbohydrates results in the formation of glucose. The hormone insulin transports this glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells, which utilise glucose to obtain energy for performing various functions and store the excess amount.

In a normal functioning body, there is only a minimal rise in blood sugar levels following a meal because the glucose in the blood rapidly moves inside the cells due to the action of insulin. However, if there is no or less insulin production or if the cells become resistant to the action of insulin, as happens in diabetes, there is a significant rise in the blood sugar post prandial.

Why are High Post Meal Blood Glucose Levels Harmful?

A study has shown that compared to fasting blood sugar, post prandial blood sugar level is a stronger risk factor and predictor of cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes. In people with type 1 diabetes, long-term high levels of blood sugar after a meal may result in earlier onset of renal dysfunction and faster deterioration of diabetic retinopathy. In people with type 2 diabetes, consistently high post prandial blood sugars increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Apart from these long-term complications, high blood sugar levels after meals may also have several undesirable short-term effects. These include slowing of brain function that causes decreased concentration, fogginess, alertness, low energy, depressed mood, etc.

It is thus important to take steps to manage our post-meal blood sugar levels.  

What Values Indicate High Postprandial Blood Sugar?

Although no universal consensus has been reached to date regarding the values that should be considered abnormally high, the American Diabetes Association recommends that post prandial blood sugar levels be maintained below 180 mg/dL for optimum control of diabetes, whereas the International Diabetes Federation and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends it to be maintained below 140 mg/dL. The value considered normal may vary slightly for each individual based on several factors; thus, our physician would be the best judge to decide normal values for us.

What are the Factors that Contribute to High Post Meal Blood Sugars?

Some of the factors that may cause blood sugars to post prandial rise significantly include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High carbohydrate meals
  • Sweets
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Skipping breakfast

How to Prevent High Post Meal Blood Sugars?

  1. Choosing the correct insulin: Rapid-acting insulins that act quickly and for a shorter duration are more effective than longer-acting insulins in controlling the post prandial blood sugar levels.
  2. Physical activity after meals: Light physical activities such as walking or doing some chores while moving around for even 15 minutes following the meals result in better-controlled post prandial blood sugar levels.
  3. Portion control: Eating less will also prevent blood sugars from rising significantly after meals, but this does not mean starving. Simply eat one portion of the meal an hour later to prevent blood sugar spikes.
  4. High-protein breakfast: Individuals whose breakfast comprises 35% protein have been observed to have lower post prandial blood sugar than those who eat high-carb breakfasts.
  5. Choose the right foods: Include low GI, fibre-rich carbohydrates such as oatmeal and wholegrains and avoid processed and starchy foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread as they cause the blood sugars to spike.
  6. Weight control: An increase in weight decreases the insulin sensitivity of the cells; thus, it is important to prevent weight gain to optimise the action of insulin.


Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can help to control post prandial blood sugar levels. These may include modifying the diet to focus on whole, unprocessed foods; exercising regularly; managing stress through exercise, meditation, or other lifestyle interventions; and consulting with the doctor regarding medication adjustments. By making these changes, it is possible to manage post prandial blood sugar levels and minimise the risk of diabetes-related complications.


Who needs to check blood sugar post prandial regularly?

Pregnant women with diabetes, people starting on a new type of insulin or diabetes medication, people with difficult-to-control diabetes, and people with newly diagnosed diabetes should regularly check blood sugar post prandial.

What does high post prandial blood sugar indicate?

A high post-meal blood sugar level may indicate the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or that the condition has already developed. The normal value for an individual depends on several factors; thus, it is important to consult a physician to see if that particular post prandial blood sugar levels fall in the high range and needs to be addressed.

What is the correct time to check the post prandial blood sugar value?

The blood sugar level starts increasing 10 minutes after starting the meal and reaches its peak in 1 to 2 hours. Therefore, post prandial blood sugar levels should be checked within 1 to 2 hours after meals to get accurate results.