Blood glucose, or commonly referred to as blood sugar, is the form of energy circulating in your blood stream. Food is absorbed and metabolized by the organs in your body, by your enzyme and hormonal systems and eventually nourishes your body. Certain foods, such as carbohydrates and smaller parts of protein, are broken down to blood glucose. When you eat, insulin from your pancreas is activated to release glucose from the blood and transport it to the cells of the body to produce energy.

In a normal state, the body can carefully balance the amount of insulin and glucose and thus regulate blood glucose levels. Normal blood glucose levels are: fasting (before eating) 70-99mg/dl and 140mg/dl or less two hours after a meal. Normal A1c blood sugar test is 4-6 percent.

This complex regulation of blood glucose goes awry in diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin, so blood glucose is very high (hyperglycemia) and cannot get into the cells that need fuel. People with type 1 diabetes need an exogenous (outside the body) source of insulin through insulin injections.

With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but maybe not enough, or the insulin is unable to adequately transport the glucose into body cells. The blood glucose remains higher than normal. Diabetes is a progressive disease, so a combination of diet, exercise, oral and injectable medications can be used to control blood glucose levels.

The goal of diabetes treatment is to normalize the blood glucose levels with diet, exercise and medication. Your doctor may give you specific blood sugar goals based on your particular medical situation. However, there are two different sets of recommendations to guide your clinician. Your doctor may set higher levels goals in an attempt to “step down” your levels gradually, to avoid hypoglycemia episodes. Be sure to know your goals so you can assess your progress in controlling your diabetes.

American Diabetes Association - Blood glucose goals for people with diabetes:
1. Before eating (pre-prandial) 70-130mg/dl
2. 1-2 hours after eating (peak post-prandial) <180mg/dl
3. A1c blood glucose test (3 month blood glucose indicator) <7 percent

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists - Blood glucose goals for people with diabetes:
1. Before eating (pre-prandial) <110mg/dl
2. 2 hours after eating (post-prandial) <140mg/dl
3. A1c blood glucose test < 6.5 percent

Learn much more about blood glucose monitoring and testing by watching the following videos from the Video Library:

How to Check Your Blood Glucose
The Need for Blood Glucose Monitoring and Record Keeping
Choosing and Caring for Your Blood Glucose Meter
Knowing When to Check Your Blood Glucose Levels

Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13