Recommended Blood Glucose Numbers

What are the Right Numbers?

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Depending on where you look, recommended blood glucose levels can vary. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) numbers differ from the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) guidelines. The ACE recommendations happen to be a bit more strict than the ADA's. If you are someone with diabetes, how do you know which to follow?

Be sure to ask your healthcare provider which goals are right for you. Blood sugar targets should be individualized based on a variety of factors, including things like, age, life expectancy, blood sugar control, medicine, other health issues, etc.

 The table below compares the general recommendations of the two sets of guidelines for both blood glucose pre and post meals as well as hemoglobin A1C (three month average of blood sugar). 

How Many Times a Day Should You Check Your Blood Glucose Levels?

Checking your blood glucose levels throughout the day will help you to figure out how to keep your blood sugar in good control. Your numbers can help you pattern manage and learn how to identify how food, exercise, stress, and illness, to name a few, affects your blood sugar control. First thing in the morning (when you are fasting for at least 8 hours) before breakfast, two hours after a meal and before bed are good times to test. Other recommended times include before, during, and after an exercise session, especially if it is strenuous or if you are feeling like your blood sugar may be low or high. Your certified diabetes educator or health care provider will help you develop a routine that makes sense for you.

Typically, people who take insulin or are on other glucose lowering oral medicines that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or those with poor glucose control, should test their blood sugar more often. 

Another Measurement of Blood Sugar-What is the A1C?

The hemoglobin A1C test is a a blood test that helps you and your doctor monitor your overall glucose control.

It gives an average of the amount of glucose in your blood over a few months' time. It is typically ordered 2 to 4 times a year. If you are newly diagnosed or having trouble maintaining good day-to-day control, it may be ordered more often. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Care suggests: 

  • A reasonable A1C goal for many non-pregnant adults is: <7%

  • More stringent A1C goals (patients on no medicine or oral medicine only, who have a long life expectancy, or no significant cardiovascular disease) is; <6.5%

  • Less aggressive glucose control for patients who has a history of hyperglycemia, limited life expectancy, advanced micro or macrovascular disease) is: <8% 

Blood Sugar Targets and Other Important Numbers Should be Individualized

Diabetes treatment should be a patient centered approach, taking into consideration many different variables, including things like age, length of diagnosis, other health issues, lifestyle, etc. Some people benefit from having lower blood sugar and A1C targets, while others benefit from having targets that are more lenient.The following chart is a general guideline for most people with type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind that these values do not represent targets for children or women with gestational diabetes.


Comparing Values From the ADA and ACE 

A1Cless than or equal to 7%less than or equal to 6.5%
Before Meals80-130mg/dLless than 110mg/dL 
1-2 Hours After Mealsless than 180mg/dLless than 140mg/dL



American Diabetes Association. All About Blood Glucose.  

American Diabetes Association. Standards in Diabetes Care 2017 Jan; 40 (Supplement 1). S3-S130. 

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology. Consensus Statement by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology on the Comprehensive Type 2 Diabetes Management Algorith-2017 Executive Summary.