How Long Does Sugar Stay in Your Body?

Many of us have sweet tooth and sugar cravings. Instead of eating vegetables, we are attracted to cookies, candies, ice cream, and sweet foods. Yet, even when we are making these choices, we understand that they may not be healthy.

The dopamine release from sugar keeps us coming back for more.

Sugar undoubtedly affects our health, but many of us don’t know exactly how it does so or how long it sticks around.

Below, you will find a basic introduction to blood glucose, and the answers to the question; how long does sugar stay in your body?

Understanding Blood Glucose Levels and More

Not surprisingly, after we eat a meal, we see a change in our blood sugar level. Depending on the foods that we just ate and our sugar intake, this change could be subtle or a dramatic spike.

The size of the change could also hinge on other factors, such as our underlying health. For example, if you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels could swing more wildly after a meal than those who do not have diabetes. 

This blood glucose level has a fancy name; it’s sometimes called postprandial blood sugar. But, all it means is what your blood sugar is after you eat. 

How Long Does the Postprandial Spike Last? 

Naturally, blood sugar levels will go up after eating, but this surge is not immediate. It usually takes about 15 minutes for blood sugar to inch up, and the highest spike likely will not happen until approximately 1-hour post-meal.

If you had a candy bar snack, carbs or other sweet sugars, this spike could drag on for hours before your blood sugar begins to plummet.

Many doctors think it takes three hours or more for your blood glucose levels to return to normal after sugary candy snacks or lots of carbohydrates.

How Can You Get Your Blood Sugar Back to Normal?  

The best advice, of course, is to avoid foods that are high in sugar, starches, and especially foods chock full of high-fructose corn syrup.

Because corn syrup is made up of glucose, it quickly enters the bloodstream and immediately spikes your blood glucose levels.

Over time, if you continue to eat large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, you may develop insulin resistance and, in turn, could become more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes.

Natural sugar, on the other hand, like what is found in many fruits, is slower acting on blood sugar levels.  

But, sometimes, even when knowing the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, it’s challenging to say no to the sugary temptation of a Snickers bar. 

Fortunately, if you snack on a candy bar, there are ways to minimize the blood glucose spike that you are likely to feel and help keep your energy level on an even keel. Some of these possible solutions are outlined below: 

There’s also another option of a full sugar detox. After three to four weeks of a clean diet full of whole and unprocessed foods containing zero sugar, your system should be cleared of sugar.

It’s important to note that a sugar detox might cause withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, crankiness, and fog.

#1 Hydrate Well

Water helps solve lots of different health problems, such as flushing glucose out of your system. So, if you have gone on a sugar bender, drinking water will help lower blood sugar after a spike.

blood glucose water
A few glasses of water will do wonders to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

#2 Get Moving

Exercise can also help bring your blood sugar spike back under control. This is because when you exercise, your muscles need glucose to feed them. Therefore, the excess glucose will move out of the bloodstream and to your muscles, which brings your blood glucose level back into a normal range.  

#3 Balance Out Your Diet 

If you have had excess sugar or high sugar foods, particularly ones that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, you’ll want to balance it out. You can try to balance out your food for the day with whole grains and high protein options, like lean meats, eggs, and low-fat cheese.  

Increasing your healthy fat intake can also help focus your diet away from excess sugar. Nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut, and avocados are a few examples in foods with plenty of healthy fat.

Why Should You Worry About Your Blood Glucose Levels? 

The answer to this question seems relatively straightforward. If you let your blood glucose levels get too high and remain high for prolonged periods, there’s a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.

This health condition currently affects more than 10 percent of adults in the United States. The number of affected individuals continues to grow with each passing year, and many rely on expensive diabetes medications to balance insulin and blood glucose.

In Type 2 diabetes, even though your body produces enough insulin (unlike in Type 1 diabetes), your body stops responding to the amount of insulin secretion. When this occurs, it means you’ve become insulin resistant.

As a result of this, your body goes into overdrive, attempting to address the problem. Your small intestine releases hormones that trigger the endocrine system to release insulin.

The beta cells clustered in your pancreas start producing more and more insulin, hoping to get a normal and healthy bodily response. 

This link between high and uncontrolled blood sugar levels and Type 2 diabetes is relatively well understood. But, unfortunately, many people do not know or understand the harmful effects of high blood sugar levels and the potentially devastating health consequences. 

What Are The Health Consequences of High Blood Sugar? 

There are numerous healthcare consequences associated with prolonged increases in blood sugar levels. One of the most common consequences is heart disease and especially high blood pressure.

Blood pressure generally spikes because high blood sugar levels damage our blood vessels. Over time, blood vessels become less pliable or flexible.

They become rigid, and this rigidity leads to higher blood pressure. Also, more elevated blood sugar can cause fluid retention.

Fluid retention makes the heart work harder, and, in turn, this can also lead to higher blood pressure, weight gain, and a cascading list of other health issues. 

But, this is not the only health problem associated with higher blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can also cause a severe condition in your kidneys. And these elevated glucose levels have also been linked with vision loss.

Decreased energy levels, fatigue, and reduced alertness are also associated with big spikes and drops in the amount of glucose in your system. This is due to insulin buildup, which can starve blood of glucose it’s trying to send to cells.

Given all of these problems, many people are naturally motivated to find ways to keep their blood sugar in check. Not surprisingly, one of the best ways to do this is by adopting a healthy diet. 

How to lower your blood sugar fast

Not All Sugar Is Created Equally

It is important to remember that not all sugar is created equally. There are, in fact, many different types of sugar. Earlier, we talked about the danger of high fructose corn syrup, a sugar found in candy, soda, breakfast cereals, and many types of processed food.

Generally, though, sugar is divided into four broad categories, which are: 

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Lactose 
  • Sucrose

Glucose is a sugar that is found when carbohydrates are digested and broken down in the human body. The body stores glucose as glycogen, mainly in the liver. Your body can only store a certain amount of glycogen, so the excess is converted to fat and stored in fat cells.

Fructose is the sugar that is found in fruits. Some fruits, like berries, are shockingly high in sugar, whereas others are significantly lower in sugar.

Lactose, on the other hand, is the sugar that is found in dairy products, ranging from milk to ice cream. Fructose and lactose are generally referred to as natural sugars. The human body takes longer to metabolize and break down natural sugars versus refined sugars.  

Sucrose is an interesting sugar that bridges the divide between natural and added sugars. Sucrose is a sugar naturally found in various food products, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. When sucrose is consumed directly from this food, it is considered to be natural.

However, sucrose is also added to a wide range of packaged food. In these products, it is considered an added sugar. For dietary concerns, it’s a good idea to check nutrition labels for sugar content.

You’d be surprised by the types of foods that contain a lot of sugar and the severe side effects that go along with it.

No matter the source or type of sugar you are eating or drinking, most Americans eat too much sugar. Recommendations suggest that the average woman should be consuming fewer than six teaspoons of sugar every day.

In addition, men should only eat nine teaspoons per day at a maximum. Unfortunately, many people far exceed these recommendations, not recognizing the hidden amount of sugar in many common foods. 

Hidden Sugar Foods You Should Be Aware Of

If you are concerned about high glucose levels, obesity, or have been working on weight loss, it’s important to know what foods contain a high level of sugar. Some examples of hidden sugar foods that you should know about include: 

  • Yogurt
  • Pasta sauce 
  • Ketchup 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Many common salad dressings 

This means that when you venture to the grocery store, you need to have your eyes open. Keep these hidden sugar foods in mind, and also make sure that you check labels.

Sometimes sugars are clearly labeled with recognizable names, like fructose and glucose. But, sometimes, sugars can lurk under different names on food labels.

If you drink alcohol or energy drinks, I would recommend being aware of the long-term side effects of too much glucose in your blood. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are the best thing for getting your blood glucose levels back to a normal level and healthy range.

Avoiding unhealthy foods, however, is only one part of the battle. It is also essential to incorporate healthy foods that do not negatively impact blood glucose levels into your diet. These foods generally fall low on the glycemic index.

This means that it takes your body a long time to digest them and break them down into sugar, and they do not spike glucose levels. Examples of these healthy and delicious food choices are yams and sweet potatoes. 

Pay Attention to Your High Blood Glucose Levels with Regular Testing

Part of taking control of your health is knowing what your blood glucose levels are. This requires blood testing to see if you have Type 2 diabetes or fall into the at-risk category of being pre-diabetic.

Depending on your age and other risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend checking these blood levels yearly or even more frequently. 

If you are going to have your blood levels checked, you want to make sure that the results accurately reflect what is happening in your body. And while you’re checking for high blood glucose levels, keep an eye out for low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, which can also be harmful to your body from too much insulin.

The best way to do this is to fast overnight and have your blood drawn on an empty stomach. This will ensure no unusual spike caused by a temporary blip in what you ate or drank. 

Sugar Debunked

The average American diet, unfortunately, is less healthy than it should be. Often, people consume large amounts of food that contains high fructose corn syrup, and these sugary foods spike our blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately, this can set us up to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance, in turn, leaves us susceptible to Type 2 diabetes and a wide range of additional health challenges, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney problems, and vision challenges.

To avoid these problems, we need to become more informed about sugar consumption and cut out refined sugar from our diet. Lastly, we also need to actively look for more healthy food, such as yams and sweet potatoes, in our diet. This change is not easy, but it is essential for our longevity and overall health.  

What are Important Foods to Have in Your Healthy Diet? 

We all want to eat a healthy diet, but this is not easy to do in reality. Numerous hurdles stand in the way between us and a healthy diet.

Healthy foods are often dramatically more expensive than less healthy alternatives. For example, it is cheaper to buy a bag of chips at many stores than fresh whole fruits and vegetables.

And sadly, many people are not informed about what is or is not part of a healthy diet. 

Solving the issue of nutrition education and high food costs is complicated. It will not be solved overnight. However, giving people information about what they can and should eat is much simpler. 

Sugar is Not a Treat – Jody Stanislaw

Leave a Comment