Ideal Blood Sugar Levels for Weight Loss From a Registered Dietitian

In the ever-evolving landscape of weight loss trends and fad diets, another diet “trend” that has recently emerged is the relationship between blood sugar and weight loss. Maintaining ideal blood sugar levels is not only crucial for overall health but also plays a significant role in achieving sustainable weight loss.

Have you been thinking to yourself?

Do blood sugars play an important role with weight loss? Is there an actual connection? And are there any strategies that can help you achieve and maintain optimal blood sugar levels?

Let’s start with defining what blood sugars are.

Understanding Blood Sugars

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the body’s primary source of energy. It fuels our cells, providing the necessary energy for daily activities. Even amidst popular fad diets like the carnivore or keto diet, understanding and managing blood sugar levels remain paramount.

If you’re looking to enhance your performance in a sport, lift heavier weights in the gym or simply have enough energy to carry out your to do list, carbs are your friend.

The Pros & Cons of Monitoring Your Blood Sugars

Various tools, such as continuous glucose monitors and glucometers, provide valuable insights into blood sugar patterns. While these tools are essential for individuals with diabetes, they can also offer valuable data for those interested in optimizing their health.

There is a huge trend where individuals WITHOUT prediabetes and/or diabetes have been monitoring their blood sugars for weight loss. As a dietitian, it is important to note that you should be using a tool like a glucometer with a trained professional. If you have no formal education on appropriate blood sugars or the WHY behind the importance of peaks and valleys (within the normal limits), I highly recommend you learn HOW to use the glucometer from a professional.

The goal is NOT to have the lowest blood sugar. If this occurs, your body cannot function appropriately and long term, can lead to irreversible consequences. Remember, you need the peaks and valleys to live a healthy life. Peaks are meant to provide you with energy for your daily activities.

Fasting & Post-Prandial Blood Sugars

Understanding fasting (pre-meal) and post-prandial (post-meal) blood sugar levels provides insights into metabolic health. Monitoring these levels helps individuals make informed decisions about their dietary choices and exercise routines.

Fasting blood sugars should range from 70-100 mg/dL upon waking with NO food or beverage prior. Post-prandial, or post-meal, should be less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating a meal.

Anything over these numbers can indicate that you are experiencing insulin resistance. IF this is the case, please see your primary care provider.

Again, as you can see, there is a range of appropriate blood sugars you CAN have that are within the normal limits. This is called homeostasis.

The Connection Between Blood Sugar and Weight Loss

Having ideal blood sugar levels is pivotal for effective weight loss. High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can impede weight loss progress. When our bodies struggle to regulate blood sugar, it becomes challenging to shed those extra pounds.

This is usually seen in those who have a hx of prediabetes and/or diabetes. With insulin resistance, your body has a more difficult time to digest and utilize carbohydrates, therefore, making it more difficult to lose weight.

It is also more difficult to absorb nutrients as elevated blood sugars can cause gastroparesis, which is a condition that affects how you digest your food. And if your body is unable to absorb nutrients, it won’t work at the more efficient level that you desire when trying to lose weight. For example, elevated blood sugars can cause fatigue, which then indirectly affects motivation to go grocery shopping, cook a healthy meal, and/or exercise.

Factors That Impact Blood Sugar Levels

Mainstream diet culture is all about blaming carbohydrates on elevated blood sugars, which is true, but there are other factors that can have a negative impact on your body. Several factors, including stress, inadequate sleep, dehydration, and hormonal changes, can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. 

Processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy eating habits can lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Also, making it increasingly more difficult to stay motivated when your blood sugar crashes, you have NO energy, and then crave more carbohydrates to go through the same negative cycle.

How Do You Achieve Optimal Blood Sugars for Weight Loss?

Achieving and maintaining optimal blood sugar levels involves mindful eating and regular physical activity. Here are some, not all, practical strategies:

1. Portion Control

Monitor your carbohydrate intake and focus on whole, nutrient dense foods. Limit your consumption of candy, sweets, and sugary beverages and monitor your portion sizes of these foods when you do have them.

2. Balanced Meals

Eating carbohydrates alone can cause your blood sugar to spike, and abnormally high for those with diabetes or prediabetes. Pair carbohydrates with lean proteins and healthy fats to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. 

3. Regular Exercise

Engage in physical activities to enhance insulin sensitivity and support blood sugar regulation. Even just a quick 15 minute walk can positively impact your blood sugar level.

4. Monitor Stress

This one is easier said than done, but there are techniques and coping skills that you can use to manage your stress, including, but not limited to meditation, taking deep breaths, yoga, listening to music, going for a walk, hikes, coloring, and therapy.

5. Adequate Sleep

I will always recommend what the CDC says – 7-9 hours a night. I know this is NOT always feasible for those working overnight shifts, those who have children, or those that just have a lot on their plate, HOWEVER, just do the best you can.

Your situation might not change, but going to bed 30 minutes or an hour earlier, instead of mindlessly scrolling on social media, can make a big difference in the long run.

Dietitian’s Perspective on Blood Sugar Monitoring

In my opinion, daily blood sugar monitoring is not be necessary for individuals primarily focused on weight loss. Instead, you should emphasize on building sustainable habits, such as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, stress management and so on.

In my career, I’ve helped those with diabetes, who did not have access to a glucometer, dramatically reduce their blood sugars and lose weight just by changing the way they eat.

Monitoring your blood sugar is NOT the big weight loss secret you’ve never heard before. Focus on creative healthy habits that will eventually create the lifestyle and physique you desire.

Achieving and maintaining ideal blood sugar levels is not just about numbers; it’s about understanding your body is more complex than a machine that loses weight. By understanding the impact of our habits (food choices, exercise, and stress) on blood sugar levels, individuals can empower themselves to make healthier choices. So, let’s embrace balanced nutrition, mindful living, and regular physical activity – the cornerstones of maintaining optimal blood sugar levels and achieving lasting weight loss success. Remember, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about gaining health and vitality for life.

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