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Normal Blood Glucose Levels: What They Are and How to Monitor Them

March 16, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey
Reviewed by
Cheri B.
RD

Everyone’s talking about blood glucose levels (or blood sugar levels), but do you know enough about what they are and why they’re essential to focus on? And even with all the information available about them, do you know what “normal” blood sugar levels mean?

If not, don’t worry. It can be challenging to sift through everything to figure out precisely what a good range is for your blood sugar levels, why you should focus on them, and how to monitor them. Luckily, we’re here to help!

First, you should know that glucose is the main sugar found in your blood. The simple carbohydrate is your body's primary energy source and comes from many foods, such as bread, fruits, and vegetables. A target range for blood glucose levels is important because the amount of glucose in your blood changes throughout the day. 

Here’s more about blood glucose and what normal blood glucose levels look like. 

What is Blood Glucose (aka Blood Sugar)?

Glucose (C6H12O6 if you’re ever on Jeopardy!) is a simple sugar—the most basic of all carbohydrates. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the sugar that circulates in your bloodstream and provides your body with energy.

Your body constantly regulates your blood sugar levels to keep them within a normal range. Glucose levels, in particular, are regulated by the hormone insulin released from the pancreas. While insulin can help reduce blood sugar levels, hormones like glucagon and cortisol can raise blood sugar.

When your blood glucose levels are too high, your body releases insulin to bring them back down. When your blood glucose levels are low, your body releases glucagon to raise them. 

Here’s a fun fact: the average person has about one teaspoon of sugar in their bloodstream at any given time. If your blood sugar levels rise too far above or below that one teaspoon, your pancreas releases hormones to keep the balance. 

When you have too much sugar in your blood, it leads to elevated blood glucose levels, also known as hyperglycemia. It can happen after a meal or if someone has diabetes. Things like excessive thirst, fatigue, and blurred vision are often symptoms, leading to severe complications like ketoacidosis if left untreated.

What are Normal Blood Glucose Levels for People without Diabetes?

Blood glucose levels vary from person to person and depend on various factors, including medical conditions like diabetes. For those who don’t have diabetes, a normal range can vary according to whether you have a healthy diet and lifestyle factors like sleep hygiene and blood pressure.

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Typical blood glucose levels can vary depending on age, weight, and activity level. Stress, illness, and certain medications can also affect your blood sugar levels—everything from a heart attack to a new weight loss goal can impact them. So if you're wondering what average blood glucose levels look like for you, it's best to talk to a healthcare provider. 

The NutriSense Nutrition Team recommends a daily average glucose of  <105 mg/dL for a healthy individual, with fasting values between 70-90 mg/dL. It’s also best to avoid repeated spikes of  >140 mg/dL. 

Here are some general guidelines for average blood glucose readings.

Fasting Blood Sugar Levels

The medical definition of a “fast” is when you go more than eight hours without food and drink only water. So, first thing in the morning after eight hours of rest, for example. It's why fasting blood glucose levels are usually recorded just before breakfast. 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) describes average fasting blood glucose as anything under 100 mg/dL. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a similar fasting range of 70-100 mg/dL.

But a fasting blood glucose level near 100 mg/dL isn’t always ideal. Research shows that people with fasting blood glucose levels consistently between 91-99 mg/dL are more likely to develop diabetes.

The ADA recommends seeing your healthcare provider if you get two consecutive results above 100 or below 70 mg/dL.

Blood Sugar Levels Two Hours After Eating

It’s also important to know how your body responds to the foods you eat. Glucose is a simple carbohydrate, so the carbs in your diet like bread, beer, and potatoes can cause higher spikes in your blood glucose.

Balancing your meals with proteins and fiber-filled foods is a great way to balance those carbohydrates out and keep your levels stable. It’s also an excellent way to nurture a healthy diet to optimize your health.

The scientific term for this post-meal test is a postprandial glucose test (PPG). The ADA says that for those without diabetes, a two-hour postprandial glucose test should show blood sugar levels between 70-140 mg/dL.

Some research suggests the sweet spot for PPG two hours after eating should be under 100 mg/dL.

Maximum or Peak Glucose Levels

Eating provides your body with the energy it needs for the next five to six hours of your day. So, it’s not surprising that your blood glucose levels spike immediately after a meal.

As a healthy adult, your readings directly after a meal should be <140 mg/dL. Remember, keeping your blood sugar levels below this threshold can also help minimize the risk factors for medical conditions like prediabetes.

Regardless of mitigating factors like eating patterns, any two tests (taken two hours apart) that show blood sugar levels over 200 mg/dL can be concerning. And, if you have readings over 200 mg/dL, it’s a good idea to contact a healthcare provider without delay.

What are Normal Blood Glucose Levels for People with Diabetes?

While everyone should focus on optimizing their blood glucose levels, it’s often part and parcel of the treatment plan for those with diabetes. Diabetes, known medically as diabetes mellitus, is a group of disorders related to an abundance of glucose in the blood. 

If your body cannot produce enough insulin, your healthcare provider will likely diagnose you with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body cannot properly regulate and use blood glucose due to issues like insulin resistance.

The average blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes are slightly different from those without diabetes. And pregnant women who may develop gestational diabetes have different ranges too.

Individual factors such as age and medical history can also change what an average level looks like for you.

It’s always best to find your ideal range from a doctor, but if you’re curious about what average blood glucose ranges look like for those with diabetes, read on.

Fasting Blood Glucose Levels

Proper diabetes management requires regular testing. For many people with diabetes, that means taking a fasting blood glucose test before breakfast. 

According to the ADA, fasting blood sugar levels of 99 mg/dL are normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicate the possibility of prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.  

Two-Hour Postprandial Blood Glucose Levels

The two-hour PPG test is another benchmark for those managing diabetes. The ADA says a two-hour PPG blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL or lower is considered normal.

Much like the blood sugar guidelines for those without diabetes, the ADA’s postprandial blood glucose level recommendation should serve as the upper limit. 

Our dietitian, Cheri Bantilan adds, “For healthy individuals striving for optimal levels, we like to see two-hour postprandial blood glucose values  <100 mg/dL, and/or a return to preprandial values. A good response would be <120 and/or a return to preprandial values.” 

Peak Glucose Value

With or without diabetes, blood glucose levels usually peak around 30 to 60 minutes after eating. For those with diabetes, a good target range is blood sugar levels less than 80 mg/dL higher than a test taken before the meal.

The closer your post-meal and pre-meal blood sugar readings, the better. Readings over 240 mg/dL can be dangerous, so it’s best to consult a doctor if you see those.

A1C or Average Glucose Readings

The Glycated hemoglobin, or A1C test, is a medical blood test result used to gauge how much glucose has been in a person’s blood over three months. It reflects an average of the ups and downs of blood glucose levels over a longer time.

Most people with diabetes can expect an A1C test anywhere between twice and six times a year and aim for levels below 7 percent. A1C test results are also known as Estimated Average Glucose (eAG) Level tests. An A1C level of 7 percent correlates to an eAG of 154 mg/dL.

How to Check Your Blood Glucose Levels

Blood sugar levels can vary, but the guidelines and resources in this article can help you determine if you’re within a healthy target range. If you're still confused by all the numbers, here's a handy list of blood sugar charts by age!

And if you're struggling with unstable blood glucose levels or want a deeper understanding of your body’s metabolic health, try these tools.

Glucometer

A glucometer is a medical device with which you can measure the sugar level in your blood. Small, portable, and easy-to-use, it involves pricking your finger, touching a drop of blood to the test strip, and letting the machine do the rest. 

The most obvious drawback of this blood sugar meter is the finger prick. Glucometers also need a constant supply of testing strips, and while some come equipped with onboard memory, most do not. You'd need to keep a journal to write down the time of each test and the corresponding blood sugar level.

Continuous Glucose Monitors

CGMs continuously measure and record a person's blood sugar levels. They are a sensor placed on the skin, usually on the “fatty” part of your upper arm. They have a small filament that gets inserted under the skin and are an excellent option for those looking to get real-time readings to understand their blood glucose trends.

Hemoglobin A1C Test

The A1C hemoglobin test is a physician-ordered test that involves a blood sample. Because A1C levels aren’t as dependent on immediate external factors such as recent diet and exercise. These tests provide a bigger-picture look. A1C tests are a helpful way to see how dietary and lifestyle changes have affected blood glucose levels over time.

Pros of A1C Tests

  • Provides a big-picture by capturing a three-month average blood sugar level
  • Better at diagnosing hyperglycemia than fasting glucose
  • Better marker for side effects of diabetes like kidney disease 
  • No fasting is necessary  
  • Less prone to individual genetics

Con of A1C Tests

  • Misses spikes and valleys in blood sugar and only captures the average
  • Often fails to diagnose asymptomatic diabetes
  • It can be a lagging metric for catching early deviations in glucose levels
  • Red blood cells often vary in length, making standards for A1C tests unreliable
  • Poor predictor of cardiovascular risk

Fructosamine

Fructosamine is a compound produced in the body when glucose combines with protein. Like A1C hemoglobin, measuring fructosamine levels provides another stable benchmark. For those diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor-administered test can reveal how diet and lifestyle changes affect blood sugar in as little as two weeks. Because fructosamine testing does not rely on hemoglobin, it can provide more accurate results for those with atypical blood cells.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

The oral glucose tolerance test is a doctor-prescribed test that gauges how your body reacts to an influx of glucose. They are a standard test during pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes. The test begins with a blood draw to determine a baseline blood sugar level. Then, the patient drinks eight ounces of liquid glucose—usually a total of 75 grams of carbohydrates. After a few hours, the test requires another blood draw to see how your body handles the influx of glucose.

A Note on Hypoglycemia and Diabetes

With all the talk of high blood sugar, it’s easy to forget that low blood sugar can also be an issue—especially for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Too much insulin can lead to hypoglycemia or unhealthily low blood sugar levels. For those with diabetes, blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dL are hypoglycemic levels.

Learn more about very low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) here.

Learn More About Your Blood Glucose Levels With NutriSense

Are you curious about your blood glucose levels? With a NutriSense CGM, you can easily monitor your glucose levels and make sure they're staying within a healthy range. The CGM sensors are easy (and painless) to apply, help track your blood glucose levels throughout your day and transfer the data to an innovative app.

NutriSense also has a team of registered dietitians who will help you read and interpret the data. If you’re interested in learning more about what foods your body needs, sign up for the Nutrition Coaching Program. It can help you dive deeper into your routines and habits and create a plan to optimize your health.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
Normal Blood Glucose Levels: What They Are and How to Monitor Them
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Preparing for a Healthy Ramadan
Preparing for a Healthy Ramadan

From April 2 to May 2, people worldwide observe Ramadan, a time of fasting and spiritual reflection. Learn more about the traditions, and how to healthily break a fast during this holy month with tips from one of our dietitians.

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6
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Obesogens: What Are They and Do They Affect Blood Glucose and Weight Gain?
Obesogens: What Are They and Do They Affect Blood Glucose and Weight Gain?

Obesogens are in everything, from the products we use and the food we eat, to the air we breathe! Learn more about what these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are and how you can avoid exposure to them.

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11
min
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Pairing Your Food: Are there Good and Bad Combinations?
Pairing Your Food: Are there Good and Bad Combinations?

Are eggs and beans bad for you? Should you forgo the fruit juice with your cereal at breakfast? The NutriSense Nutrition Team tells you more about how healthy some common food pairings are for you.

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8
min
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Eating for Endurance
Eating for Endurance

Learn everything you need to know about eating if you are an endurance athlete.

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12
min
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A Closer Look at Heart Rate Variability
A Closer Look at Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability is the variation in time between your heartbeats. Learn more about it, why tracking your trends matters and how it can give you insights into your fitness, stress, diet, and overall health.

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8
min
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Multiple Sclerosis
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Multiple Sclerosis

Living with an autoimmune condition can be challenging. Continuing our series on these conditions, learn more about detecting, treating, and managing Multiple Sclerosis.

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6
min
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Reading Nutrition Facts Labels Like a Pro: Dietitian Tips and Tricks
Reading Nutrition Facts Labels Like a Pro: Dietitian Tips and Tricks

When you're looking to buy a specific food product, the nutrition facts label can help you make informed choices about the foods you eat. Our dietitians put some tips together on what to look for on nutrition labels to make the best choices for your health.

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46
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FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball
FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball

Molly Downey, RDN, LDN, nutrition manager at NutriSense, delves into all things glucose and wellness, and how devices like these can inform us about our health, on this episode of FUELED with Molly Kimball.

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8
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Are Sardines Good for Your Health?
Are Sardines Good for Your Health?

Sardines are small, but they pack a big nutritional punch! Learn more about the health benefits associated with eating them and check out some fun facts about this flavorful, nutrient-dense food.

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9
min
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9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)
9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)

Most fitness tracking metrics involve stepping on the scale, but they don't always have to! Here are nine other ways to track your fitness.

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14
min
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Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes
Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes

There are many food items that can worsen the effects of prediabetes. Here are some foods you should avoid or limit your intake of throughout your day.

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11
min
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How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?
How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?

What's the perfect time to eat, and how many meals should you eat in a day? Explore how eating at different times and frequencies each day impacts your body and blood glucose.

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6
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks

Looking for a way to add apple cider vinegar into your diet? Start with some of these delicious glucose-friendly ACV drinks, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

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8
min
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Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 
Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 

Find out how taking a walk after your next meal can benefit various aspects of your health, including your blood glucose levels.

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55
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I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology
I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology

Molly explains how using a continuous glucose monitor is what personalized health care means. If you want to fine-tune your health, tune in to this special episode of I Think, I Can.

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10
min
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My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles
My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles

My Day | My Life explores the lives of people who have, in one way or another, mastered the art of aging. In this episode, meet Carlee Hayes, dietitian and Nutrition Manager at NutriSense.

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9
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Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Worried about getting injured during your next workout? Learn about the most common workout injuries, how they can affect blood glucose levels, and some tips to help you prevent them.

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6
min
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Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day
Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day

Would eating the same meal, at the same time, have the same blood glucose response for three different people? See what our team found out after sampling a delicious corned beef and cabbage dish in preparation for St. Patrick's Day!

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7
min
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Build Healthy Habits During Lent
Build Healthy Habits During Lent

Do you know what you're giving up for Lent this year? For those who observe it, this can be a good time to give up bad habits, and add healthy ones into your routine! Read on to find out more about how to build healthy habits this season.

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11
min
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Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?
Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?

Cereal is one of the most popular breakfast foods out there—but how healthy is it, really? Review the nutritional content of some popular breakfast cereals, and learn how to choose a healthy option for your individual needs.

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9
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Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition
Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition

Did you know that more than two in five adults have obesity? Find out more about the pressing public health issue, review some new research that is shedding light on the condition, and learn how to diagnose and treat it.

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7
min
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Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim
Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim

Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.

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9
min
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Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?
Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?

Read on to find out what impact, if any, vinegar really has on our body’s ability to balance blood sugar.

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8
min
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Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?
Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?

If you have insulin sensitivity, is eating two large meals a day or three to five smaller meals better? Find out more about the relationship between meal frequency and insulin sensitivity, and how many times you should be eating in a day.

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9
min
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Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis
Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common yet often ignored condition. Learn more about the symptoms to watch out for, how you can seek treatment, and read first-hand accounts from two women who have dealt with endometriosis.

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8
min
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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7
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Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?
Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?

Pizza can be challenging to enjoy eating without worrying about how it affects your health. But while it may be indulgent, it is possible to prepare or order it in a way that won’t wreak havoc on your health or blood sugar levels. Read on to find out more!

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8
min
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Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?
Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?

Review our post on the impacts artificial sweeteners have on blood glucose, insulin, and other areas of your personal health.

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8
min
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What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels
What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels

Recent research has shown that sleep and blood glucose are intricately connected. Read on to learn more about what this means for your blood sugar levels and overall health.

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8
min
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Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health
Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health

Did you know that menopause can affect your metabolic health, and vice versa? Read on to understand the relationship between metabolic health and menopause, and how to manage metabolic health during your menopausal journey. 

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57
min
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How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet
How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet

In this episode learn the truth about how we react to certain foods in regards to our blood sugar response and how you can tailor your diet according to your CGM results.

Podcast
66
min
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All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN
All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN

This week, dive into how to eat your carbs and manage your blood sugar, too with Molly Downey, RDN, LDN.

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8
min
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A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples
A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples

Food can be fun, pleasurable, and nutritious all at the same time. Read on to learn more about the two nutrient-dense kitchen staples one of our dietitians swears by to help optimize her health!

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10
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10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World
10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World

Instead of the type or amount of food you eat, you should focus on the amount of nutrients you're adding to every meal. Here are some of our favorite nutrient-dense foods from around the world to help you get started.

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7
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Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

Learn everything you need to know about pineapples, your health, and your blood glucose levels, and see how our dietitians like to eat the sweet, tropical fruit. 

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14
min
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Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]
Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]

Learn more about the relationship between prediabetes and your diet, and see how to build a diet plan that works for you with some great tips, tricks and recipes from our nutrition team!

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9
min
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What You Should Know About Acupuncture
What You Should Know About Acupuncture

Learn more about the research on, as well as the benefits and risks of acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting needles into your body for pain and stress relief.

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6
min
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Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]
Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]

Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.


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5
min
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A Guide to Ayurveda
A Guide to Ayurveda

From acupuncture to chiropractic treatments and homeopathy to holistic healing, complementary and alternative medicine is increasing in popularity. Read on to learn more about Ayurveda, a healing system that originated in India thousands of years ago.  

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7
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Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?
Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?

Learn about the impact sugar has on your cholesterol levels and ways to manage your sugar intake.