Medically reviewed by William Dixon, MD.
After you apply a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and it calibrates, you’ll see your glucose line graph in the Signos app for the first time. You should also see the general suggested glucose range to stay in for weight loss. Over the next few days, as the app calibrates your individual optimal glucose range for weight loss, you may wonder: What are glucose ranges? What’s standard and what is out of the ordinary?
Also, how does sticking to these glucose ranges impact weight loss? What can be done about meals that cause you to go above your ideal glucose range for weight loss? So many questions, but we have some answers!
We measure blood glucose, aka blood sugar, in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). As with body temperature, each individual’s regular blood glucose range varies. The numbers below are only a guide for non-diabetic individuals and should not replace any specific recommendations from your doctor.
If your blood sugar is outside of either of these two ranges, you may need to analyze your diet and other factors like age, health conditions, stress, illness, sleep, physical activity, and menstrual cycle for women.
Does a spike over a certain level mean that you are diabetic? Generally, no—there are a number of ways to determine if you may be diabetic, but occasional high spikes do not mean that you are diabetic. In fact, this is a normal response to a lot of the foods we can eat on a daily basis. Just because our bodies are equipped to handle high glucose spikes doesn’t make it healthy.
It’s also worth noting that not only do people have unique glucose responses to different foods1—for example, milk can cause one person’s glucose to spike and another person won’t spike from milk—but also that generally healthy people spiked above 140 mg/dL for a median of 26 minutes2 per day during a 12-week study. Eighty non-diabetic participants with very low levels of baseline fasting plasma glucose were selected to have their glucose monitored over three months and 10% of the 80 spent a considerable amount of time at glucose levels considered to be prediabetic.
This research suggests that exposure to moderately elevated glucose ranges remains underappreciated when people are categorized by isolated glucose measurements.
Most blood sugar charts show recommended levels as a range, allowing for differences between individuals. People with diabetes will often have higher blood sugar targets or “acceptable” ranges than those without the condition, although a standard treatment goal in diabetes is to keep your blood glucose in a normal range as much as possible.
Abnormal blood sugar occurs when there’s either too much or too little sugar in the blood.
If you compare the average glucose levels to your personal weight loss glucose range in the Signos app, you’ll notice that your optimal weight loss glucose range is likely lower than these ranges. We know; this is intentional. To find out why, keep reading to learn how sugar impacts your glucose level, which can ultimately impact weight gain.
According to an article published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, high-glycemic carbs promote fat storage5—especially when carbohydrates and fats are eaten together. Elevated insulin levels result from both hypersecretion (excessive release of a hormone such as insulin) and hyperinsulinemia (amount of insulin in your blood is higher than normal).
High insulin levels can occur both at baseline and after a meal. Even slightly elevated insulin levels past your normal promote fat storage and play a “key role” in obesity for many.
High-glycemic foods result in quick spikes in glucose and insulin production as your body tries to return your blood glucose back to a normal level. Examples of high-glycemic foods6 include:
When your glucose spikes and you don’t burn the excess energy, your body converts the extra glucose to glycogen that gets stored in your muscle tissue and liver and, with the help of insulin, gets converted into fat, which is stored in your adipose (fat) cells. Meanwhile, the fat that you ate at the same time is pushed straight into fat cells, since your body loves to burn carbohydrates for quick energy.
By preventing your glucose from spiking outside of your weight loss range, you not only limit an increase in insulin that can lead to weight gain but also promote expenditure of energy from your stored body fat.
Keeping your glucose in range requires you to carefully consider diet and exercise choices, to learn continuously, and pay attention until you’ve found what works the best for you. This process entails making healthier choices and eating fewer calories overall (even if you aren’t trying to!).
People often use the terms “blood sugar” and “blood glucose” interchangeably to describe the level of glucose in the body. Glucose is simply the most basic type of sugar and the one that your body commonly uses to make energy.
Several types of sugar exist (for example, simple sugars found naturally in fruit, and processed sugars that are added to foods). When we eat or drink a lot of sugar at once, our glucose tends to rise sharply. Consider the amount of sugar in typical treats or everyday-for-some indulgences found in most American shopping centers, mega malls, or every few blocks in cities:
Keep in mind that we often consume these sugar bombs with a meal or after a meal that can contain even more sugar.
What about less obvious sources of added sugars, such as sugar that’s added to condiments, sauces, salad dressings, flavored chips and crackers, dips and salsas, nut butters, flavored yogurts, frozen waffles, packaged and flavored oatmeal, and more?
Read the ingredients list on food labels to uncover sources of added sugar. Become a “hidden” sugar sleuth; if you see the following on ingredients labels, the product contains added sugars:
Cutting back or removing sources of added sugar from your diet will help you control glucose spikes. Real talk: This will be hard for most, especially for those with daily soda or sweetened coffee house latte habits, and people who crave “a little something sweet” at the end of meals.
Understandably, many choose to use sugar substitutes or “diet-friendly” treats made with artificial sweeteners to ease the transition. Make informed choices about artificial sweetener and sugar substitute use.
As you learn more about the way food, combinations of foods, amounts of food, sleep, stress, meal timing, exercise, and more impact your glucose, you’ll inevitably experience glucose spikes. Again, it can be completely normal to have high glucose spikes! But as you start to see what foods make your glucose go high, you’ll start to see patterns (and we will teach you!) about which foods are the most unhealthy.
Some ways to lower your glucose:
Scientists who conducted this study found that meals with a higher protein, fiber, and fat content induced a smaller increase and slower decrease of post-meal glucose. Experiment with eating a high-protein meal with some fat and fiber in it—an example could be a chicken salad made with avocado oil mayo served on a mixed greens salad with avocado. Vary the amounts of protein, fat, and fiber you include each time you eat the meal (add more chicken one day, toss your salad greens in olive oil the next day, and swap lettuce for kale the following day). Does your post-meal glucose change at all on the different days?