Postprandial blood glucose level
Metabolic Health

What Is Postprandial Blood Glucose Levels?

Measuring Blood Glucose Levels is an essential step in managing diabetes. One such important tool used for glycemic control is Postprandial Blood Sugar (PPBS). Postprandial or Post-Meal Blood Glucose Levels refers to the blood sugar levels after having a meal. Currently, Diabetes screening uses the fasting metabolic state to determine the risk of metabolic health. But recent studies have stated that one criteria for a test to be considered as an acceptable and reliable way to predict metabolic health, is that the test should be able to detect the preclinical stage of condition which is often missed when checking fasting blood sugars.

This is where Post-Meal blood sugar becomes an important factor in assessing the body's ability to respond to sugar spikes, thus providing you with a better picture of your metabolic health. Let's see and learn why Post-meal sugar levels are critical in the management of Diabetes.  

Imporatnce of Postprandial Blood Sugar

Be it people with diabetes or without diabetes, managing postprandial blood glucose levels is a must. If you have diabetes, it will form an essential part of your overall diabetes management. Consistent results showing high blood sugar levels mean your current treatment plan needs modification, as it isn’t working correctly. Leaving it unattended can increase the risk of heart diseases, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and other health conditions. 

If you’re non-diabetic, you should still pay special attention to postprandial blood glucose because it gives you a clear idea about your metabolic health. If your glucose levels remain significantly high even after hours of having food, it indicates you may have insulin resistance. But if the sugar levels rise after having food and then come down, there is nothing to worry about. However, for better results, we suggest checking with a doctor. 

There are various reasons why postprandial blood sugar is essential, and we’ve covered below some of the most common ones:

  • Mood Changes

According to a clinical study, huge blood sugar spikes are related to a 38% higher score for depression. It also indicates a 55% increased score for mood disturbances. 

  • Inflammation

Elevated post prandial blood sugar level promotes short-term inflammation, eventually leading to serious long-term health implications.

  • Increased Appetite

People who experience sudden increases and dips in their everyday blood sugar levels are more likely to feel hungry at rapid intervals. It translates to higher calorie consumption than those with moderate changes.

  • Type 2 Diabetes

Consistent high blood sugar levels can most probably damage your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to type 2 diabetes

You should also keep checking the post prandial blood sugar level to avoid any development of obesity, chronic inflammation, heart disease, etc.

Postprandial blood sugar levels

Category Postprandial (mg/dl)
Just after eating 2 hours after consuming glucose
Normal 170-200 Less than 140
Early diabetes 190-230 140-200
Established diabetes 230-300 More than 200

The blood sugar PP normal range in healthy individuals is less than 140mg/dl. The diabetes PP test range is between 140 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl. In elderly patients and patients with established diabetes, the values of postprandial blood sugar can be more than 200 mg/dl. In the case of pregnant women with diabetes, 1-hour postprandial blood glucose values are less than 140 mg/dl, whereas 2-hour postprandial blood glucose values are less than 120 mg/dl.

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What Test are used to measure Postprandial Blood Sugar Levels?

There are two common methods used to perform the postprandial glucose blood sugar test.  

1. Post-Meal Blood Sugar Check

    Eat a normal meal lasting no longer than 20 minutes and then check your PPBS exactly 2 hours after the start of the meal.

2. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

    After fasting overnight, drink the high sugar beverage (usually 75g Glucose) given by your doctor, finish it within 20     minutes and then check your PPBS exactly 2 hours after the drink was started. Diabetes is diagnosed at 2 hour blood     sugar of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl

Who Should Test Their Postprandial Blood Sugar

As discussed above, a postprandial blood sugar level test is for everyone, irrespective of the existing medical health conditions. Even if you are not already diagnosed with diabetes, you should still go for a postprandial blood sugar test as it gives you better clarity of your metabolic health. If you experience an unusually high blood sugar spike consistently after a meal, a pp blood sugar test can help identify problems faster. Since nutrition is personal, different items can increase blood sugar levels. So anyone concerned about their health should test their postprandial blood sugar levels.

What are the ideal values for Postprandial Blood Sugar Levels?

American Diabetes Association (ADA) Recommended PPBS Target Levels

A 1-Hour PPBS below 180 mg/dL indicates that your Beta cells are still preserved and can be brought back to a healthy state.

Why is it problematic to have continuously elevated Postprandial Blood Sugars?

Elevated levels of sugar even after 4 hours may indicate that insulin is not working to uptake the sugar back into the cells. Too much sugar in the blood is not desirable, and if this condition persists, the person becomes susceptible to Diabetes. This compromises glucose metabolism and has a huge impact on other parts of the body. It gives rise to a wide array of complications causing weakening of the nerves, kidney dysfunction, and eye damage.


Too much blood sugar induces oxidative stress in the body, leading to the production of free radicals. These free radicals damage the body cells, creating the imbalance capacity of the body to counter this effect via antioxidants. Increased levels of oxidative stress damage the blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular complications, like atherosclerosis and heart damage. Recent studies have pointed out that postprandial blood sugar level is also an important indicator of heart-related issues in comparison with fasting blood sugar.

Are High Postprandial Blood Sugar an issue for Non-Diabetics?

Glucose levels in the blood elevate when food is introduced into the body.  The pancreas then releases insulin into the bloodstream.  Insulin assists the body in transferring glucose from the bloodstream into tissue and fat cells, where it can be stored for energy.  When the system is working, blood glucose levels should be back to normal within 2 hours of eating.  

In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas may not produce the proper amount of insulin, or there may be insulin-blocking cells that stop the insulin from transferring the glucose.  In this case the glucose level would still be elevated 2 hours after eating. Increased levels of blood sugar or hyperglycemia, even if you are not diabetic, can increase your chance of contracting this condition in the future.

What Might Affect Postprandial Blood Glucose Test Results?

If you’re going to take a postprandial blood glucose test anytime soon, we suggest following the doctor’s instructions to ensure you get 100% accurate results. These results can easily be influenced if you are under extreme stress, have exercised during the testing period, smoked cigarettes during the testing period, had a snack after your meal and just before the test, etc. So it is fairly suggested to stay away from these practices during the testing period to ensure the test results remain unaffected.

Bottom Line

Diabetes can usually be managed with insulin, medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.  Early detection and continued vigilance in monitoring of blood glucose levels is imperative when treating diabetes.  If diabetes is left untreated, the elevated levels of insulin in the blood can result in a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, organ failure, foot ulcers, and blindness.  

Postprandial glucose levels are soon becoming the ideal way to assess the functioning of your beta cells. The 1-hour measurement is more sensitive than the 2-hour value for identifying high-risk individuals, predict risk of diabetes complications, mortality, and hence may end up replacing the traditional 2-hour test in clinical practice.

PPBS is required to manage diabetes and identify impaired blood glucose levels. The levels are also influenced by diet types, frequency and sleep cycles, making it all the more critical to get yourself screened even if you're not diabetic. In fact, even apparently healthy individuals should test for diabetes, and those who are at higher risk like obesity should be tested more frequently.

FAQs

What should a postprandial blood glucose level be?

Postprandial blood sugar is one of the tools to control glycemic levels. An ideal postprandial sugar level is different for different age groups of people. Ideally, for people having diabetes a normal blood glucose level should be less than 180 mg/ dL. However, the ideal glucose level for people without diabetes should be 140 mg/dL. Although to know the ideal glucose level according to your age you should get yourself tested.

What should blood sugar be 3 hours after eating?

The blood sugar level post 3 hours of having a meal should be ideally under 100 mg/ dL. If you have your sugar levels under control then post having a meal your blood glucose should be 90-130 mg/dL for four hours after having a meal. However, if you are a non-diabetic person then your blood sugar can be around 140mg/dL after having meals.

What is a normal 2 hour postprandial blood glucose level?

Postprandial blood glucose level post having a meal varies for the different age groups. Normally, if you haven’t had any meal for around 8 hours then your blood glucose levels will be less than 100 mg/ dL. Though levels tend to be lower before eating meals, for those who have diabetes mellitus their blood sugar levels after 2 hours of having a meal should be less than 180mg/ dL and for a non-diabetic person the level should be less than 140mg/dL.

Does the postprandial blood glucose levels test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with the help of a needle always comes with certain risks. Feeling lightheaded, bleeding, bruising, and risk of infection are some of the risks associated with this test. Moreover, when the needle is pricked, you may feel slight discomfort or pain in and around the area.

How is the postprandial blood glucose test done?

It is conducted in a reasonably similar manner to the normal blood sugar tests. However, the only difference is the person taking the test is required to fast for at least 12 hours before the test. Food worth 75 grams of carbs can be taken after the test. Another point to note is that during the two-hour waiting window, you are not supposed to exercise, smoke, have sugary food, or stress too much about things.

How do I get ready for the test?

To get your postprandial blood sugar test done, you must fast for at least 12 hours before taking the test. If you are pregnant, you may not keep a 12-hour long fast, but consulting the doctor is the best option. And to get the most accurate results, make sure you don’t stress about anything or exercise during the two-hour waiting period during the test phase.

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