June 21, 2017

Blood Glucose Charts to Help You

A blood glucose chart identifies ideal blood glucose levels throughout the day, including before and after meals.

Doctors use blood glucose charts to set target goals and monitor diabetes treatment plans. Blood glucose charts also help those with diabetes assess and self-monitor blood glucose test results.

What is a blood glucose chart?

Blood glucose charts act as a reference guide for blood glucose test results.  As such, blood glucose charts are important tools for diabetes management.

Keeping blood glucose levels in check often requires frequent at-home tests.
Most diabetes treatment plans involve keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal or target goals as possible. This requires frequent at-home and doctor-ordered testing, along with an understanding of how results compare to target levels.

To help interpret and assess blood glucose results, the charts outline normal and abnormal blood glucose levels for those with and without diabetes.

In the United States, blood glucose charts typically report glucose levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).  In the United Kingdom and many other countries, blood glucose is reported in millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

A1C blood glucose recommendations are frequently included in blood glucose charts. A1C results are often described as both a percentage and an average blood glucose level in mg/dl.

An A1C test measures the average glucose levels over a 4-month period, which gives a wider insight into a person's overall management of their blood glucose levels.

Most blood glucose charts show recommended levels as a range, allowing for differences between individuals.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA), Joslin Diabetes Center (JDC), and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) also offer slightly different blood glucose guidelines for those with diabetes.
Time of check
Blood glucose levels for those without diabetes
Target blood glucose levels for those with diabetes
Fasting (before breakfast)
less than 100 mg/dL
80 - 130 mg/dL (ADA)
70-130 mg/dL (JDC)
less than 110 (AACE)
Before meals
less than 110 mg/dL
70-130 mg/dL (JDC)
2 hrs after meal
1-2 hrs after meal
less than 140 mg/dL
less than 180 mg/dL (ADA & JDC)
less than 140 (AACE)
less than 120 mg/dL
between 90 - 150 mg/dL (JDC)
A1C levels
less than 5.7 percent
less than 7 percent  (ADA)

Interpreting blood glucose meter results
Interpreting blood glucose meter readings depends a lot on individual norms and targets.
A good blood glucose level for one person may be too high or low for someone else. 

However, for people with diabetes, some ranges of blood glucose levels are preferable over others.

Blood glucose level
Before meal
72 - 109 mg/dL
110 - 144 mg/dL
145 - 180 mg/dL
2 hours after meal
90 - 126 mg/dL
127 - 180 mg/dL
181 - 234 mg/dL
Certain forms of temporary diabetes, such as gestational diabetes, also have separate blood glucose recommendations.
Time of check
Blood glucose level in mg/dL
Fasting or before breakfast
60 - 90 mg/dL
Before meals
60 - 90 mg/dL
1 hour after meal
100 - 120 mg/dL
Anyone who has very high or low fasting blood glucose levels should be concerned.
Fasting blood glucose level
Risk level and suggested action
50 mg/dL or less
Dangerously low, seek medical attention
70 - 90 mg/dL
Possibly too low, get glucose if experiencing symptoms of low blood glucose or see a doctor
90-120 mg/dL
Normal range
120-160 mg/dL
Medium, see a doctor
160 - 240 mg/dL
Too high, work to lower blood glucose levels
240-300 mg/dL
Too high, a sign of out of control diabetes, see a doctor
300 mg/dL or above
Very high, seek immediate medical attention
As long as levels aren't critically dangerous, there are ways to reduce blood glucose levels when readings are too high.

Ways to lower blood glucose include:
  • limiting carbohydrate intake but not fasting
  • increasing water intake to maintain hydration and dilute excess blood glucose
  • increasing physical activity to burn excess blood glucose
  • increasing fiber intake
These methods are not a replacement for prescribed treatment but rather an addition to any treatment plan. If blood glucose readings seem unusual or unexpected, consult a doctor. Various user and device factors can influence blood glucose readings, causing them to be inaccurate.

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