Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Glucose Testing: After Meals?

Should diabetics test their blood sugars after eating, too? The debate continues.

Detecting and Treating Postprandial Hyperglycemia

While the significance of postprandial testing and the standards for doing it haven't been firmly established, proponents like Goldstein and Ganda ask their patients to keep a log of blood sugars before and after a certain meal each day for a few weeks before a doctor's visit; that way, they can see whether there are any worrying spikes in the glucose levels above 140 mg/dL.

Treatment for postprandial hyperglycemia can include behavioral techniques such as exercise and weight loss, and medication. One ongoing study, the European Study to Prevent Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes (STOP-NIDDM), seems to show that treatment of people with IGT -- based on postprandial blood sugars -- with the drug acarbose (Precose or Prandase) helped prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and reduced the risks of cardiovascular problems. In his practice, Goldstein has had success using sulfonylureas and fast-acting insulins in reducing postprandial blood sugar levels.

And while the general significance of postprandial hyperglycemia is debated, there is some consensus that it is important for certain groups of people. In 2001, a panel chaired by Nathan released an ADA position paper on postprandial testing. One of the few issues that was agreed upon was the benefit of postprandial testing in pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes. Women whose postprandial glucose is monitored and reduced have fewer complications during pregnancy and their risks of having a cesarean delivery are reduced.

Nathan, who is dubious of the general uses of postprandial testing, believes it may have other advantages.

"The importance of postprandial glycemia is greater in the pre-diabetic state, where it can be a more sensitive indicator of abnormal metabolism," he tells WebMD. This may be especially true for the elderly, who may exhibit postprandial hyperglycemia that isn't detected by fasting tests.

Deciding What To Do

Obviously, there isn't any scientific consensus on whether postprandial glucose testing is an important part of general diabetes care. While proponents like Jellinger concede that we don't yet have absolute proof of the importance of postprandial hyperglycemia, he believes that the epidemiological studies are evidence enough. "I don't think that we're doing our patients any favors if we wait for a study that may never happen," he says.

However, critics like Goldstein argue that given the impending and potentially catastrophic epidemic of type 2 diabetes, "the last thing we need to put all of our energy into is postprandial hyperglycemia," he says. "We should be working on the bread and butter things."

So what should you do? The best advice is to talk to your doctor and see whether he or she suggests postprandial testing in your particular case. While treatment focused specifically on your postprandial glucose levels may not be necessary, it might be useful to know what they are.

"The study of postprandial glucose testing is just in its infancy," says Fran Kaufman, President of the American Diabetes Association. Whether it will emerge as a significant tool of diabetes control just isn't clear yet.

Reviewed on June 18, 2004

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
Woman serving fast food from window
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
are battery operated toothbrushes really better

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture