Reducing postprandial blood glucose levels

Here are simple ways to lower postprandial blood glucose levels as well as the benefits that comes along with it.

What are postprandial blood glucose levels?

Postprandial means after a meal so postprandial blood glucose levels is your glucose level after eating a meal.

Glucose is the primary source of energy for your body and the cells in your body rely on this energy to function. Balancing your blood glucose levels can contribute to manage cravings, fatigue, hormonal and fertility issues, skin conditions, ageing/wrinkles, poor sleep, menopause and mental health symptoms.

Glucose control isn’t only necessary for people living with diabetes. Everyone needs to improve their knowledge and implement skills to ensure optimal blood glucose control and prevent spiking glucose levels that contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation, which have a magnitude of negative implications on human health. 

How is glucose metabolised?

When you eat a meal, the carbohydrate gets broken down into simple sugars (glucose). The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream which can either result in a stable release or a spike (often referred to as hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose) of glucose, depending on the type and quantity of carbohydrate you consumed.

As the blood glucose level rises, so does the level of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that carries glucose from the blood into the cells so that it can be used where it’s needed for energy.

Why should blood glucose spikes be avoided?

Hyperglycaemic spikes can impact inflammation by contributing to an increase in inflammatory cytokine concentrations more significantly than continuous high blood glucose levels. These up and down, roller-coaster blood glucose levels may lead to cravings, fatigue, poor sleep and low mood which can affect you on a daily basis.

The consequences of increase in inflammation are being highlighted as a key concern when assessing overall health because the associated inflammatory response and oxidative stress are root causes of lifestyle diseases that develop when there is a constant state of chronic inflammation.

Moreover, prolonged high blood glucose levels after meals is usually the first indicator of a defect in glucose tolerance which may pose as a contributing risk factor in the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.

With persistently high blood glucose levels, protein glycation occurs which further contributes to complications, such as vascular dysfunction (damage to retina, kidneys, nerves) and the generation of free radicals which cause further harm to the cells, fibrosis and skin aging.

The effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels

Carbohydrate-rich meals are the main drivers of glycaemic spikes throughout the day. The quality and quantity of carbohydrates can be categorised according to their effect on blood glucose. This measurement of how a certain carbohydrate will impact blood glucose levels is known as the glycaemic index (GI).

Carbohydrate food items are compared to glucose and can be categorised into the following groups: high-, medium- and low-GI; with high-GI foods (white bread roll) exerting a higher effect or spike on the blood glucose level when compared to eating a low-GI food (rolled oats).

The portion of carbohydrate consumed is just as important as the quality of the carbohydrate, as the quantity ingested will contribute to the amount of glucose available for absorption.

Tips to reduce postprandial blood glucose levels

  1. Carbohydrates: quantity and quality

Be mindful of the type of carbohydrate and portion eaten at a sitting. A portion of starch is normally about ½ cup of cooked starch. Give preference to low-GI foods over high-GI foods. For example, unprocessed high fibre carbohydrates (more than 6g of fibre per 100g) will generally have a lower effect on blood glucose levels.

Aim to eat foods in their natural, unprocessed form. Give preference to eating fresh fruit as opposed to having fruit juice or uncontrolled portions of dried fruit. Be cautious with dried fruit; all the fluid has been removed, and the portion size equivalent to 1 fresh fruit is a whole lot smaller.

  1. Adding natural food adjuvants

Mulberry leaf (ML) and mulberry leaf extract (MLE) have numerous biological properties, such as regulating glucose and lipid metabolism, reducing blood glucose, and increasing insulin secretion. These benefits may be attributed to the phytochemicals they contain. Mulberry leaf extract is best taken with a meal as you want the MLE to reach your small intestine at the same time as the carbohydrate so that it can compete for glucose absorption. MLE has been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose and HbA1c in a recent systemic review. Taking mulberry leaf extract preparations pre-meal appear to be safe and tolerable solutions in preliminary studies, longer term research is required.

  1. Apple cider vinegar

Add to your meals or salads as a dressing, or consume apple cider vinegar (diluted with water) prior to meals. This may aid in stabilising the glucose and insulin response. However, evidence supporting the long-term use is lacking; one of the concerns is the demineralisation of teeth and therefore it’s recommended to avoid taking in large amounts.

  1. Whey protein

Eating this 30 minutes before a meal lowers the glucose peak by delaying gastric emptying without stimulating insulin secretion whereas eating whey protein with a meal leads to a lower postprandial glucose level by increasing the insulin secretion. Therefore, more insulin is available to carry glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.

  1. Cinnamon

Adding to your meals may lower the postprandial blood glucose response by increasing the insulin sensitivity.

Leveraging food combinations

Adding slow-release carbohydrates, more fibre, protein or fat to a higher GI carbohydrate slows the absorption of the glucose from the carbohydrate and leads to a lower postprandial blood glucose level.

  • If you do eat a high-GI carbohydrate, combine it with a low-GI carbohydrate to slow the glycaemic response of the meal. For example: add milk and berries to instant oats porridge and other high-GI cereals.
  • Pair carbohydrates with proteins or fats. For example: serve an egg or avocado with a slice of wholemeal toast instead of with butter and jam or serve meat/chicken/fish/eggs/plant protein with grains/pastas/potato mash and prepare the meal with olive oil.
  • Add more fibre to your meal by adding a salad or vegetables (colour) to the plate; topping breakfast cereals with oat bran, nuts or seeds; or adding lentils, beans or pulses to soups and stews, or all in one dish.

Food order

Eating foods in a particular order, for example, eating the vegetable/salad/protein/fat portion before the carbohydrate portion on the plate appears to reduce the postprandial glucose release when compared with other meal patterns by stimulating a lower insulin and higher glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) response which plays an important role in maintaining glucose homeostasis.

Physical activity

A non-dietary way that is known to help reduce the postprandial blood glucose rise includes exercising after eating. Only 10 minutes of activity: walking; bench stepping; taking the stairs or clearing the table and cleaning the dirty plates instead of being sedentary is an effective way to burn the glucose that has been absorbed into the bloodstream. The exercise duration and intensity will no doubt impact the glucose response, however, it’s evident from research that moderate exercise is sufficient to improve the glucose response to a meal.

The benefits

The overall benefits of keeping blood glucose levels more stable include less cravings, improved energy and sleep, slower ageing due to reduction in inflammation, improved gut and mental health, improved glucose tolerance, reduced risk for disease and promoting remission from Type 2 diabetes.

In summary

Eat for more fibre, protein and fats with all meals. Give preference to unprocessed carbohydrates in sensible quantities. Pre-load with add-ons (apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, whey or mulberry leaf extract). Eat the carbohydrates last, start with vegetables and protein and opt for a walk after your meal.


  1. Alpana P Shukla et al., “Effect of food order on ghrelin suppression,” Diabetes Care 41, no. 5 (2018): e76-e77,
  2. “Impact of nutrient type and sequence on glucose tolerance: Physiological insights and therapeutic implications,” Frontiers in endocrinology 10 (2019): 144,
  3. Bellini, Alessio, et al. “Walking attenuates postprandial glycemic response: What else can we do without leaving home or the office?” International journal of environmental research and public health, vol. 20, no. 1, (2022): 253,
  4. Patrick Wyatt et al., “Postprandial glycaemic dips predict appetite and energy intake in healthy individuals,” Nature metabolism 3, no. 4 (2021): 523-529,
  5. Biplab Giri et al., “Chronic hyperglycemia mediated physiological alteration and metabolic distortion leads to organ dysfunction, infection, cancer progression and other pathophysiological consequences: an update on glucose toxicity,” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy, no. 107 (2018): 306-328,
  6. Zheng Zhou et al., “Glycemic variability: adverse clinical outcomes and how to improve it?,” Cardiovascular diabetology 19, no.1 (2020): 1-14,
  7. Chezem, J., Fernandes N., et al “Effects of Ground Cinnamon and Apple Cider Vinegar on Post prandial Blood glucose levels in healthy adults.Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol 112, issue 9, suppl: A43,
  8. Singh VP, Bali A, Singh N, Jaggi AS. Advanced glycation end products and diabetic complications. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2014 Feb;18(1):1-14. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2014.18.1.1. Epub 2014 Feb 13. PMID: 24634591; PMCID: PMC3951818.
  9. Gheldof, N.; Francey, C.; Rytz, A.; Egli, L.; Delodder, F.; Bovetto, L.; Piccardi, N.; Darimont, C. Effect of Different Nutritional Supplements on Glucose Response of Complete Meals in Two Crossover Studies. Nutrients 2022, 14, 2674.
  10. Mohamed M, Zagury RL, Bhaskaran K, Neutel J, Mohd Yusof BN, Mooney L, Yeo L, Kirwan BA, Aprikian O, von Eynatten M, Johansen OE. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study to Evaluate Postprandial Glucometabolic Effects of Mulberry Leaf Extract, Vitamin D, Chromium, and Fiber in People with Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Ther. 2023 Apr;14(4):749-766. doi: 10.1007/s13300-023-01379-4. Epub 2023 Mar 1. PMID: 36855010; PMCID: PMC10064401.
  11. Lown M, Fuller R, Lightowler H, Fraser A, Gallagher A, Stuart B, et al. (2017) Mulberry-extract improves glucose tolerance and decreases insulin concentrations in normoglycaemic adults: Results of a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0172239. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0172239
  12. Takahashi M, Mineshita Y, Yamagami J, Wang C, Fujihira K, Tahara Y, Kim HK, Nakaoka T, Shibata S. Effects of the timing of acute mulberry leaf extract intake on postprandial glucose metabolism in healthy adults: a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2023 Apr;77(4):468-473. doi: 10.1038/s41430-023-01259-x. Epub 2023 Jan 17. PMID: 36650279; PMCID: PMC10115625.
  13. Phimarn, W., Wichaiyo, K., Silpsavikul, K. et al. A meta-analysis of efficacy of Morus alba Linn. to improve blood glucose and lipid profile. Eur J Nutr 56, 1509–1521 (2017).
  14. Kamruzzaman M, Horowitz M, Jones KL and Marathe CS (2021). Gut based Strategies to Reduce Postprandial Glycemia in Type 2 Diabetes. Front. Endocrinol. 12:661877. Doi:10.3389/fendo. 2021.661877.