Expert Advice, Healthy Eating

What happens to your blood sugar after eating

June 25, 2021

The topic of blood sugar is commonly discussed these days, and for good reason! It’s estimated that about 88% of the population is metabolically unhealthy, meaning they’re insulin resistant or have chronically high blood sugar.

When you think about it, that number is staggering. The result of this metabolic inflexibility? Diabetes, weight gain, low energy, and more. Today, we’re breaking down what happens to your blood sugar after you eat, and what exactly a blood sugar crash is.

And just as an overall note, we’ll use the terms ‘blood sugar’ and ‘blood glucose’ interchangeably throughout.

What Happens to Your Blood Sugar After You Eat?

When you eat carbohydrates (and to a much lesser degree, protein), they are broken down into glucose (aka sugar) in the bloodstream. Through the bloodstream, the glucose is transported to your cells. But in order to get into the cells, where the glucose can be used for energy or stored, your body needs insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. Think of insulin as the key that helps open up the cell to glucose. In this way, insulin helps keep your blood sugar from getting too high or too low.

But, when the sugar levels in your blood are chronically high, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin. This means it takes more and more insulin to help transport glucose into your cells. Over time, this leads to chronic conditions like diabetes.

Carbs aren’t the only thing that raises blood sugar, though. Poor sleep and chronic stress can also greatly impact blood sugar. That’s why a holistic approach to health is so important! It’s truly about more than the food.

What’s a Sugar Crash?

You’ve probably heard the term “sugar crash” before, but what does it actually mean? When you eat too much sugar or too many grams of carbs at a time, you’ll have a blood sugar spike that results from your body having to process that load of sugar. Of course, what goes up must come down. Once your blood sugar reaches its high peak, your body will want to get back to a good baseline. But depending on how high the spike was, it may overcompensate, meaning your blood sugar actually bottoms out, far below the original baseline.

Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar often leads to symptoms like fatigue, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, hunger, irritability, and shakiness. Ever have the feeling after a meal that you need to take a nap, or hit 3 pm and feel the slump come on? That could be a blood sugar crash at work. This often happens with excess coffee consumption, too. As an aside, it’s important to keep in mind that this is largely individual since we all will have slightly different carb tolerance.

Curious about what you can do to help lower your blood sugar? We’ve got a blog post with 6 different ways you can lower your blood sugar. Want to watch your carb intake but don’t want to spend time reading labels or prepping yourself? We’ve got you covered with an array of low carb and keto meals, all ready in 3-minutes or less.

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