A Few Factors that Affect Your Blood Glucose Normal Levels

Apr 1, 2011 by

When you eat, carbohydrates in your meal are the main reason why your blood glucose level goes up but there are many other factors in addition to food that affect your blood glucose normal levels. Here are a few:


Your level of activity

Usually, the more physical activity you do, the lower your blood glucose levels will be. There are exceptions, however: if the activity has been too stressful or your sugar levels were too high to begin with. This is how exercise can increase your blood glucose level:

  1. When you exercise too hard and stress your body, your system releases stress hormones, which antagonize the action of insulin and stimulate glucose release from body stores. This causes your glucose levels to go up.
  2. If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood glucose level was too high before you started exercising it could mean your level of insulin was too low. As you exercise, your muscles want to burn glucose but they can’t because they don’t have enough insulin to help move glucose into the cells. For this reason, if you have diabetes type 1 you should not exercise if your blood glucose level is above 250 mg/dl and ketosis is present. If you have diabetes type 1 don’t start exercising if your blood glucose level is above 300 mg/dl ketosis or not.


The time of day

Blood glucose levels are commonly higher in the morning. The reasons are as follow:

  1. If you take insulin, your blood glucose will raise if you didn’t take enough to keep your insulin level up through the night.
  2. The dawn phenomenon. This is a normal physiological process where certain hormones in your body raise your blood glucose levels before you wake up.  These hormones include glucagon, epinephrine, growth hormone, and cortisol and they work against the action of insulin. They stimulate the release of glucose from the liver and inhibit the body from using glucose. The result: higher blood glucose in the morning.


Emotional stress

When you go through intense emotional stress it triggers the release of adrenaline as a part of your body’s “fight-or-flight” response. This causes the release of glucose from the liver to make sure the muscles have enough “fuel” to do their job.


You may have just a cold or a sore that is not healing. Either way, your body is in defense mode and tries to keep glucose in the blood as fuel to fight infection.


Intense heat and cold

These are both physical stressors that can increase your body’s insulin resistance and raise blood glucose levels.


Pain and surgery

Physical pain increases your blood glucose level through the effect of stress and stress hormones.


A hot shower

A hot shower or bath increases peripheral blood flow and can lower your blood glucose.



Alcohol reduces glucose released by the liver, which can result in lower blood glucose levels many hours after consuming it. a problem with too much alcohol consumption can be hypoglycemia.


Menstrual cycle

Blood glucose levels can vary depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle.



Blood glucose levels will usually rise during pregnancy.


Your testing technique

Check if your meter is accurate. Make sure your hands are clean and free of soap or hand cream because this factor might affect the result.


Bottom line

I know it is scary to see a high reading in your glucose meter, but before you panic check some of these factors. Of course, if the reading is too high or too low take the necessary steps to remedy it. One main goal in diabetes is to have your blood glucose under control because it is the only way to prevent complications.

To your health!

Emilia Klapp, R.D.,B.S.


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