I have talked in this blog about both blood glucose & ketones, and the possibility of measuring these for yourself. In general, if you are otherwise healthy i.e. non-diabetic, and starting out with LCHF, there is no need to measure either. However, there may be times when you may want to measure, and when indeed it may be beneficial to do so. In this post I hope to provide you with some guidance on if, how &when to measure blood glucose. In my next post, I’ll talk about measuring ketones.
Measuring Blood Sugar (glucose)
Blood sugar is exactly what it says it is; the amount of glucose in your blood stream and, whether you are LCHF or not, this will spike almost as soon as you ingest any food. It is usually measured in mmol/L or mg/dl. You can measure this for yourself at anytime using a blood glucose meter, similar to the one shown here. However, for the purposes of keeping a record of your basel or baseline blood glucose, it is recommended that you always use fasting values. In practice, this means going without food for at least ten hours. Therefore, the best way to do this is to do the test first thing in the morning, before breakfast. Test kits come in 3 parts: meter, test strips and a lancing device. The entire kit can be purchased for as a little $20 or so, including 10-15 test strips. Further test strips may be purchased separately.
To conduct a test, you simply load the lancer with a fresh lance and open up a fresh test strip from its packet, ensuring that it is still in date. You then place the test strip into the slot in the meter, as shown above. This also turns the device on, ready for testing. Place the lancer next to your finger tip and press the trigger. Squeeze the finger tip gently to exude a small drop of blood and offer it up to the free end of the testing strip. A small amount of blood will be dawn up into the strip by capillary action and the test will start automatically. After about 10 seconds or so, the device will beep and the result is displayed. The device memory stores all previous tests, together with date & time stamp.
What values constitute high & low blood sugar?
A normal blood sugar level is up to 6 mmol/l (108 mg/dl) fasting, or up to 8.7 (156 mg/dl) after a meal. A marginally elevated blood sugar level may indicate pre-diabetes. Above 7.0 mmol/l (126 mg/dl) fasting, or 12.2 (220 mg/dl) after a meal, indicates that you are diabetic.
However, at this point it is important to note that having spoken to and personally knowing several doctors, these devices ARE NOT used by the medical fraternity to determine whether you are diabetic or not. Why? Simply because they are notoriously inaccurate, something that I have also noticed in my own measurements. The way your doctor measures your blood sugar is through a more accurate lab test.
If you are not diabetic, there really is no reason at all to measure your blood sugar. I only measured during the weight loss phase, and in the “interests of science”. I don’t measure any more at home, since my regular lab test results are all normal. However, if you suspect that you have any symptoms of diabetes, you may want to measure first for yourself before visiting your doctor. Regardless of the result, if you have any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor immediately.
Whether you are measuring blood glucose or not, I strongly recommend that you get a full blood lab test, including lipid profile, done every six months or so, just to make sure everything is OK. More on this in future posts..