What to eat or drink to get your blood sugar up quickly

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

When it comes to rescuing low blood sugar, it is vital and smart for everyone to know what to eat or drink to get blood sugar up quickly. This post is helpful for all people-with or without diabetes.

What to eat to get blood sugar up

Know what to eat or drink to get blood sugar up when it is low

It is essential to know how to rescue low blood sugar if you have diabetes, are on a low-carb diet, have blood sugar fluctuations, or are around someone at risk of low blood sugar. So, this is basically everyone, right? Read on for helpful information for everyone, whether or not you have diabetes.

Low blood sugar (also called hypoglycemia) can be identified, corrected, and prevented

Have you or someone you know ever experienced the quick onset of peculiar symptoms, even over the course of minutes? The symptoms from the list below could mean low blood sugar (low blood glucose).

Common symptoms of low blood sugar

These symptoms do not always mean low blood glucose - sometimes, other conditions or situations can cause them. For instance, excessive caffeine intake may cause shakiness, anxiety, impatience, or rapid heartbeat. Also, in diabetes, a sudden drop in blood glucose can cause the above symptoms when the blood glucose is actually still within the "normal range."

Common causes of low blood sugar

Hypoglycemia treatment guidelines when you don't have diabetes

If you do not have diabetes but are experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms, stop any activity, sit down, and eat a quick-acting carbohydrate food or drink. It will take about 15-20 minutes for the unpleasant symptoms to go away, so resist the urge to overeat carbs to feel better immediately.

Try these snacks of just 15 grams of quick-acting carbs

Remember, the fastest way to get your blood sugar up is to consume a quick-acting carb (sugar) without added fat, protein, or large amounts of fiber. After you have the quick-acting carb, then eat your next meal or snack.

Hypoglycemia treatment guidelines when you have diabetes

The unpleasant symptoms of low blood sugar are the body's way of telling you that something is wrong. Low blood sugar is termed hypoglycemia when the blood glucose level falls below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L). People who take certain types of medications for diabetes are more likely to experience low blood sugar- for example, insulin or insulin-enhancing medications.

The symptoms of low blood sugar are very unpleasant, and they should be! They alert you that something is wrong. If you are unable to feel or notice the symptoms of low blood sugar, then you may have a dangerous condition termed "hypoglycemia unawareness." This can happen over time with repeated bouts of low blood sugar.

For basic safety and to preserve brain function, diabetes educators typically recommend that people who take diabetes medications use the 15/15 rule to identify and treat low blood sugar. This rule assumes you have a blood glucose meter and know how to test your blood sugar.

The 15/15 rule

Ingest 15 grams of quick-acting carbohydrate (e.g., 4 ounces soda or juice, 1 tablespoon sugar or honey, 3-4 glucose tablets, or one tube of glucose gel), rest 15 minutes, then measure blood glucose again to ensure the level has risen to 70 mg/dL or above. If it hasn't, repeat the process. Then eat your next mixed meal, that is, one that contains carbs, fat, and protein.

If you have diabetes with frequent episodes of low blood sugar, it is critical that you seek advice from your healthcare provider. You likely need an adjustment in your diabetes treatment plan. You also need to alert and educate those around you about your low blood sugar risk, so they know what you should eat to get your blood sugar up quickly and effectively, if necessary.

Remember, you and those around you can help you prevent and manage low blood sugar!

Related topics

Learn how to master your blood sugar!
Do you know your A1C test result and what it tells you about blood sugar control?
Choosing healthy carbs for diabetes and diabetes prevention

Contributions by Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES

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Diabetes->Blood glucose
Sep 10, 2021
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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