Tips for Avoiding Post-Meal Blood-Sugar Spikes


Avoiding post-meal blood-sugar spikes is something every person with diabetes wants to do. However, it can be a challenging part of managing diabetes. That is why we have throw together these tips (see below) for avoiding post-meal blood-sugar spikes.

For avoiding post-meal blood-sugar spikes, a variety of strategies can help you match the timing of your insulin with the digestion of your meal. However, it’s hard to know which strategy to use or how to realistically apply them to real life with diabetes.

Here are three tips that may help you avoid post-meal blood-sugar spikes.

(Always consult with their medical provider before making changes to their diabetes management)

1. How Pre-bolusing Can Help Avoid Post-Meal Blood-Sugar Spikes

If you’re taking fast or rapid-acting insulin via pen/syringe/pump/inhaler, the “pre-bolus” is the standard recommendation for meals that are moderate in carbohydrates, dietary fat and protein.

A pre-bolus means you take your pre-meal insulin dose approximately 5 to 15 minutes before eating.

After injections, today’s fast- or rapid-acting insulins take 15 minutes to start working in your bloodstream and usually peaks at approximately one hour post-injection.

The goal here is to time the action of your insulin with when the majority of your meal is digested and hitting your bloodstream.

By giving your insulin a head start in your system, it can help you avoid post-meal blood-sugar spikes—and help you stay within your goal range.

When pre-bolusing won’t help

Pre-bolusing works well for meals that are moderate in carbohydrates and low-to-moderate in fat and protein.

However, pre-bolusing it can be dangerous for other types of meals.

If you’re eating a high-carb/high-fat meal (e.g.  pizza, cake, Chinese food, etc.), a pre-bolus can lead to a severe low within the hour or two after eating. That’s because these meals often take many hours to digest.

Pre-bolusing might also be unnecessary—and unsafe—if you’re eating a low-carb/high-fat/high-protein meal. That’s because the digestion of the fat and protein is slow, and the digestion of the minimal carbohydrates will also be slower.

Talk to your healthcare team to determine when pre-bolusing is right for you.

2. How Inhaled Insulin Can Help Avoid Post-Meal Blood-Sugar Spikes

Inhaled insulin is one of the lesser-known strategies to improve mealtime control.

  • Inhaled insulin starts working fast—within 12 minutes
  • Inhaled insulin is out of your system within 90 minutes to three hours—depending on the dose

Using inhaled insulin with your meals means you don’t need to worry about pre-bolusing. This is especially helpful if you can’t always predict when you’ll eat (e.g. when ordering at a restaurant, or fitting mealtime into a hectic work schedule).

Talk to your healthcare team about adding inhaled insulin to your diabetes toolbox!

3. How Going for a Walk After the Big Meal Can Help Avoid Post-Meal Blood-Sugar Spikes

Walking after your biggest meal of the day can have a big impact on those post-meal blood-sugar highs.

However, knowing how to safely add it to your routine takes some careful thought.

If you don’t take mealtime insulin, a 15- to 30-minute walk after eating is a generally safe way to help your body burn up the carbohydrates from your meal.

If you take long-acting insulin or other medications that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), you should always carry fast-acting carbohydrates with you, like juice, glucose tabs or jelly beans.

Talk to your healthcare team about safely adding a post-meal walk to your diabetes management regimen.

This content was made possible by Lilly, a Founding Partner of Beyond Type 2.

Beyond Type 1 maintains editorial control over its content.

WRITTEN BY Ginger Vieira, POSTED 10/27/21, UPDATED 03/14/24

Ginger Vieira is an author and writer living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. She’s authored a variety of books, including “When I Go Low” (for kids), “Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes,” and “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout.” Before joining Beyond Type 1 as digital content manager, Ginger wrote for Diabetes Mine, Healthline, T1D Exchange, Diabetes Strong and more! In her free time, she is jumping rope, scootering with her daughters, or walking with her handsome fella and their dog.