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Blood Sugar Imbalance: Signs and Causes of Imbalances

January 3, 2022
Reviewed by
Cheri Bantilan MS, RD, CD

You may already know that blood sugar levels affect you whether you suffer from diabetes or not, but do you know why? Blood sugar is produced when you eat foods with carbohydrates, and your body breaks those down into glucose to use as fuel [energy]. 

Your blood sugar levels will change throughout the day based on your activity and the foods you consume. Those diagnosed with diabetes are familiar with monitoring and maintaining blood sugar levels regularly, but what if you aren't diabetic? Does it matter?

Yes, it does! Keeping your blood sugar levels in a good range will prevent long-term health effects and keep your body running more efficiently on a day-to-day basis. 

Why Keeping Your Body's Blood Sugar Balanced is Important 

Blood sugar balance is essential because it can affect your energy levels, weight gain/loss, mental performance, and mood. Blood sugar [or glucose] is regulated by hormones called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. When you consume food or drinks, your blood sugar naturally rises due to the sugars and carbs. Your insulin will then get to work in a big way to maintain your blood sugar levels. 

If you consume too much sugar or too many carbs [that will break down into sugar] too quickly, your body will release too much insulin. This is because your blood sugar levels are rising too fast in these instances. As a result, your blood sugar level will be too low. And in case you didn't already know: when blood sugar levels are too high, you experience what's known as hyperglycemia. When they're too low, you can experience what's known as hypoglycemia

Many seemingly healthy adults experience blood sugar imbalances due to an unbalanced diet and certain lifestyle habits. Maintaining a lifestyle that prevents blood sugar imbalances will help improve your energy levels, sleep, moods, and athletic performance. It can also prevent insulin resistance from developing and keep you from getting various associated chronic conditions.

Signs of a Potential Blood Sugar Imbalance


Your brain needs the right amount of glucose to provide energy to maintain proper body function. It's essential to maintain a steady blood sugar range as your brain could cease to function properly if your levels are too high or too low. A "normal" blood sugar range is between 70 mg/dl and 140 mg/dl. Clinical hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar drops below 55 mg/dL and a person has symptoms like tiredness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, blurred vision, hunger, shakiness, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and sweating. Remember there is some nuance here—some people can have low blood sugar but be symptom-free. Things like consuming too much or too little sugar can affect this too. Here's a handy chart to help you figure out if this is the case for you: 

These are just some symptoms that indicate that you are consuming either too much or too little sugar. Many people with blood sugar imbalances may experience both due to an unbalanced diet. This can lead to swings in-between symptoms that may seem unexplainable until you balance your diet. Want to know why certain symptoms of blood sugar imbalances occur? Here's a little more about some of the most common symptoms of frequent blood sugar imbalances:

Anxiety, Depression, and Moodiness

Do you feel anxious or depressed regularly? Is your mood suddenly up-and-down, but you can't tell why? Your brain is fueled by glucose, so it makes sense that it can react poorly when you don't give it enough fuel (or overfuel it with excess sugars). Glycemic regulation has been shown to have links with mental health symptoms. Depression, irritability, and anxiety are all symptoms that are related to glucose regulation. By regulating the glucose in your body, you may find that those symptoms go away. Dietary and lifestyle changes may help with some of these symptoms. However, if you're struggling to manage your mental health, it's a good idea to consult a healthcare professional. 

Struggling to Lose Weight / Seeing Excess Fat Around The Belly



When your blood sugar levels are imbalanced, you may struggle to lose weight or begin to gain weight. Both low blood sugar and high blood sugar can result in weight gain. When your blood sugar is frequently too low, your body will begin to store fat and sugar. You may also start to crave carbs and sugary foods more often.

When your blood sugar is frequently too high, your insulin works in overdrive. Essentially, your cells are receiving more glucose than they need. As your body works to store those nutrients and fuel sources, you may discover that you have an increased appetite.

Experiencing Sugar Cravings

We've already told you how blood sugar or glucose is one of your body's primary fuel sources. Your body depends on it for everyday functions. Low blood sugar often leads to sugar cravings because your body isn't getting enough fuel to properly function. As a result, your brain will overcompensate and tell you that you need more sugar than you really do. 

Experience Fatigue or a High After Eating Carbs


Foods rich in carbohydrates can often lead to a sleepy post-meal feeling. Carbohydrates directly break down into sugar, which releases a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is an essential chemical that your brain releases to make you feel happy. 

Uncontrollable Hunger or "Hanger"

Low blood sugar levels directly affect your brain. As a result, your brain may release hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline. Your brain does this to raise your blood sugar levels and rebalance your body. So while "hangry" may be a trendy term, the feeling it's derived from is actually a chemical reaction caused by your brain due to low blood sugar levels.

Factors that Impact Your Body's Ability to Balance Blood Sugar


These are some of the factors that will impact your body's ability to properly balance its blood sugar levels:

  • Being overweight: Having too much visceral fat in your body may prevent the insulin you create from working improperly. This may lead to the long-term effect of insulin resistance. 
  • Having an unbalanced diet: Having a diet that is either too high or too low in carbs and sugars can lead to prolonged periods of blood sugar imbalance.
  • Stress [prolonged stress in particular]: Prolonged periods of stress may cause a hormone release that elevates your blood sugar levels. 
  • Nutrient deficiencies [think: Vitamin D, magnesium, chromium]: Vitamin deficiencies have been linked to diabetes. If you are not getting the recommended amount of vitamins in your diet, you can consider supplements. Remember to consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
  • Living an inactive lifestyle: Physical activity can lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours after exercise. If your blood sugar is too high and you don't have a set exercise routine, you should consider creating one. 
  • Unreliable sleep schedules: When you sleep, your body takes that time to reset your hormone levels. If you don't get enough sleep, your brain may be led to compensate for your lack of energy by consuming more sugar. 

How to Test For Imbalances


There are several different ways to monitor and test your blood sugar levels, and here are some of the most common:

Blood Glucose Meter

Blood glucose meters often come to mind first when thinking about testing your blood sugar levels. This device requires you to pick a finger and place a sample of blood on a test strip. 

Continuous Glucose Monitor

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) may be the most accurate and thorough way to begin understanding any blood sugar imbalances that you may have throughout the day. CGM's are applied to your skin and stay on for about two weeks, reading your blood glucose levels every few minutes. With the NutriSense CGM, you can see those data points in an innovative app that helps you track and monitor your blood sugar fluctuations all day long.

Urine Test

Urine tests can also be an effective way to test your blood sugar levels. You will need to put a test strip into a urine sample. This method is one of the least reliable methods of testing your blood sugar levels. It can also be one of the most inconvenient due to the need for a fresh urine sample. 

A1C Test

An A1C test is a test done in a laboratory. Your doctor will take a blood sample, and the lab will then analyze the results for you. 

Understanding Your Blood Sugar is Easy with NutriSense

As you can see, avoiding blood sugar imbalances is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle regardless of whether or not you are at risk for diabetes. CGMs are one of the most thorough and easy-to-use methods to know your body and its reaction to diet and lifestyle habits. 

NutriSense offers a continuous glucose monitor program and a Nutrition Coaching Program to help you learn how to optimize your health. NutriSense will pair you with a dietitian to help prioritize your lifestyle needs using the CGM data. Your dietitian will be able to help you make small, manageable, sustainable lifestyle changes to help optimize your health.


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Blood Sugar Imbalance: Signs and Causes of Imbalances
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How Nutrisense Can Help You Personalize Your Diet
How Nutrisense Can Help You Personalize Your Diet

In this week’s episode, Nathalie talks to Carlee Hayes about how CGM’s and the Nutrisense app can support individuals to personalize their diet and reach their goals.

Podcast
42
min
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Improving Insulin Resistance, PCOS, and Overall Health with Continuous Glucose Monitors
Improving Insulin Resistance, PCOS, and Overall Health with Continuous Glucose Monitors

In today's episode, Amber talks with Molly, one of the dieticians at Nutrisense, a health technology company that specializes in Continuous Glucose Monitors.

Podcast
56
min
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How To Use A Continuous Glucose Monitor To Master Glucose Response and Avoid Disease: Carlee Hayes
How To Use A Continuous Glucose Monitor To Master Glucose Response and Avoid Disease: Carlee Hayes

We talk about tracking blood glucose and why it's important to see your individual glucose response to meals, stress, exercise, and even during sleep.

Podcast
74
min
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Understanding Blood Glucose Measuring For Fat Loss and More on Keto & Carnivore with Kara Collier
Understanding Blood Glucose Measuring For Fat Loss and More on Keto & Carnivore with Kara Collier

This episode is about how to understand blood glucose numbers for fat loss on Keto & Carnivore with Kara Collier, RDN, CNSC.

Podcast
73
min
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Hack Your Goals with Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
Hack Your Goals with Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring (CGM)

Achieve Your Goals with Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring: Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC. Nutrisense Director of Nutrition.

Kara is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LDN), and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) who specializes in glucose control and metabolism. She graduated from Purdue University and previously worked at Memphis VA Medical Center, as a clinical dietitian at Providence Hospital, and in a management role at Nutritionix.

Podcast
76
min
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The Power of Monitoring Glucose Levels with Kara Collier
The Power of Monitoring Glucose Levels with Kara Collier

Kara Collier is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician with a background in clinical nutrition, nutrition technology, and entrepreneurship.

Podcast
73
min
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The Power of Monitoring Glucose Levels
The Power of Monitoring Glucose Levels

Kara Collier is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician with a background in clinical nutrition, nutrition technology, and entrepreneurship. After becoming frustrated with the traditional healthcare system, she helped start the company NutriSense where she is now the Director of Nutrition. Kara is the leading authority on the use of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology, particularly in non-diabetics for the purposes of health optimization, disease prevention, and reversing metabolic dysfunction. Kara oversees the health team and product development and has personally interpreted thousands of complex glucose datasets.

Podcast
58
min
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Optimizing Health Through Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Optimizing Health Through Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Metabolic health involves staying within a controlled glucose level and avoiding repeated “swings” in your glucose levels.

Podcast
50
min
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Continuous Glucose Monitors for healthy individuals looking to improve their glucose stability
Continuous Glucose Monitors for healthy individuals looking to improve their glucose stability

Information from Kara Collier about glucose and sleep: how are those two things connected, and what can we glean from monitoring this area related to improving sleep?

Podcast
48
min
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Optimizing Your Health Using NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitoring with Carlee Hayes
Optimizing Your Health Using NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitoring with Carlee Hayes

In this episode, Dr. Renee is joined by Lead Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Nutrisense Continuous Glucose Monitoring, Carlee Hayes, as they take a deep dive into monitoring

Podcast
45
min
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The Lowdown on the NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitor
The Lowdown on the NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitor

Listen in to hear the breakdown on who this CGM is good for, who it’s NOT good for, and how it can be a beneficial step to help some who are looking to take their established healt

Podcast
42
min
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What Glucose Data Says About Your Health
What Glucose Data Says About Your Health

In this episode, we sit down with Kara Collier from NutriSense to discuss continuous glucose monitors (CGM).

Podcast
41
min
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The Change Maker! Kara Collier on The Surprising Benefits of Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
The Change Maker! Kara Collier on The Surprising Benefits of Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

The latest in nutrition, exercise, and dietary supplements. Guests include world record holders, documentary film makers, best selling authors, and health experts from all...

Podcast
34
min
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NutriSense Discusses CGMs on Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast
NutriSense Discusses CGMs on Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast

Kara from NutriSense joins the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast with Christopher Kelly to explain why everyone should wear a CGM at least once

Podcast
27
min
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NutriSense is the very best
NutriSense is the very best

Dan and Kara from Nutrisense talk to Kyle Kingsbury about all things health and CGM technology.

Podcast
23
min
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Tips to Balance Blood Sugar and Optimize Metabolic Health - Part 2
Tips to Balance Blood Sugar and Optimize Metabolic Health - Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our metabolic health episode! Here you’ll learn more strategies to support your insulin and blood sugar levels.

Podcast
20
min
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Rusty Humphries Weight Loss - lessons learned
Rusty Humphries Weight Loss - lessons learned

On this episode of The Nisha Jackson Podcast, Nisha talks with co-host Rusty Humphries about his successful weight loss journey of 30+ pounds and improving.

Podcast
22
min
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NutraCast: NutriSense on glucose monitoring
NutraCast: NutriSense on glucose monitoring

NutraCast's Danielle Masterson speaks with NutriSense Director of Nutrition, Kara Collier, on the benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) technology and the NutriSense app.

Podcast
18
min
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NutriSense CEO Alex Skryl on Bootstrapping In America
NutriSense CEO Alex Skryl on Bootstrapping In America

Some of the most interesting stories around are from entrepreneurs willing to take an idea and turn it into a business...

Podcast
14
min
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STOP making losing weight so hard!
STOP making losing weight so hard!

We will dive into how to not make every attempt at weight loss so hard, it really shouldn't be… and you truly have the control over this.⠀

Podcast
24
min
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14 Weight loss tips
14 Weight loss tips

14 tips to help you get the weight loss momentum going and provide you with a guide to lose weight and keep it off.⠀

Podcast
54
min
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Can Continuous Glucose Monitoring Support Your Health Goals?
Can Continuous Glucose Monitoring Support Your Health Goals?

Blood glucose holds keys to many important health markers including metabolic health, insulin levels, and our risk for chronic disease.

Podcast
57
min
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Learn to Better Regulate Blood Sugar All Day Long
Learn to Better Regulate Blood Sugar All Day Long

We're back with a brand new interview on our Conversations with Cabral podcast that centers on the topic on of controlling blood sugar for maximum body transformation and wellness results!   I’ve invited Kara Collier, co-founder of NutriSense, to share what she has learned from thousands of customers’ data wearing continuous glucose monitors…   For all the details on learning how to better regulate blood sugar all day long tune into today’s #CabralConcept 2099 - Enjoy the show and let @KaraCollier1 and me know what you thought in the comments!