Know Your Numbers: Type 2 Diabetes

Last Updated on by Kari Garner, MS RDN LD CDCES

Today, we are talking about blood sugar goals! Answering questions such as where should blood sugars be and discussing both A1c goals and targets numbers for type 2 diabetes.

By the end of this post, you’ll have the target range for blood sugars and steps you can take to reach your goals.

Keeping your blood sugars within range is important to prevent the progression of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes while also preventing other health problems such as kidney disease or cardiovascular complications.

It is my goal to empower you with the education, resources and support you need to know your numbers so let’s get started!

Signs of Diabetes

Before we jump into glucose targets, let’s review common signs of diabetes, screening recommendations and terms you are likely to encounter in diabetes management.

It is extremely important that you are mindful of your health and how you are feeling each day, even if you don’t think you are at risk of developing diabetes.

These signs could indicate the need to see your health provider for a Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) or Hemoglobin A1c blood test.

  1. Any random blood sugar over 200 mg/dL
  2. Any fasting blood sugar over 126 mg/dL
  3. A1c > or = 6.5%
  4. Frequent urination
  5. Excessive thirst
  6. Unintentional weight loss
  7. Blurry Vision
  8. Fatigue

Related: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors: What You Need To Know

Screening Type 2 in Adults

Now, you may be wondering…I don’t have any of those symptoms, am I in the clear?

Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes can develop without any of the above symptoms, which is why screening at age 45 for anyone with BMI >25 and 1 or more of the following risk factors is recommended.

  1. First degree relative with diabetes
  2. Member of a high risk ethnic population
  3. Habitual inactivity
  4. Pre-diabetes
  5. History of heart disease
  6. HTN or BP >140/90
  7. HDL<35
  8. Triglycerides >250
  9. History of GDM
  10. Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  11. Acanthosis nigricans

Understanding Diabetes

The definitions below are how I explain the following concepts to my clients to enhance understanding and eliminate confusion around diabetes care.

Insulin

A hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy. It is the hormone that brings elevated blood sugar down to normal levels.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the sugars we eat that make blood sugar go up.

Blood glucose

Blood glucose or blood sugar is the amount of sugar in our blood stream at any given moment.

Pancreas

An organ that makes insulin and other hormones needed to regulate blood sugar levels.

Liver

An organ that stores sugar and can affect blood sugar by putting sugar into the blood stream if there is not enough.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia (also known as low blood sugar) occurs when there is not enough glucose in your bloodstream for your body to optimally function. Blood sugar is under 70mg/dL.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia (also known as high blood sugar) is a condition when there is too much glucose in the bloodstream. Blood sugar is over 180 mg/dL.

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)

A blood test to measure a person’s blood sugar level after fasting for at least 8 hours.

Hemoglobin A1c

A hemoglobin A1c is a blood test to determine what your average blood sugar has been over the past 2-3 months. This is an insight into how your blood sugars have been controlled and your risk for adverse effects of diabetes.

eAG

eAG stands for Estimated Average Glucose and provides insights to your average blood sugars over the period of 2-3 months. Unlike the A1c, the eAG will be reported in mg/dL instead as a percentage.

individual testing blood sugar with glucometer

How Do I Know My Numbers?

Blood tests are needed for you to know your numbers. You can use a glucometer or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to check your blood sugar daily.

A hemoglobin A1C blood test can be taken to check your average blood sugar over a 2-3 month period. These results will indicate your current numbers and provide insight to determine a target range.

What Are Blood Sugar Targets?

Blood sugar targets are going to be a range of values to work toward to maintain or even improve your health.

The targets below are general recommendations for majority of adults. Keep in mind that there is not a one size fits all target. You will need to work with your diabetes care team to determine your specific target range for blood sugars.

A1c Goal for Diabetes

Hemoglobin A1c will be reported as a percentage since it is a calculation of your average blood sugars over the past 2-3 months.

If your blood sugars have been high over the past few months, the percentage will be higher. If your blood sugars have been lower and/or controlled, then the percentage will be lower.

  • If your A1C is less then 5.7%, you are in the normal blood sugar range.
  • If your A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4%, you are in the prediabetes range.
  • If your A1c is 6.5% and greater, you are in the diabetes range.

Blood Sugar Goals for Diabetes

  • Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
  • Two hours after start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL

How Can I Treat Blood Sugars Out of Range?

Work with your diabetes care team! This team is essential for diabetes management as it is this group of providers that should be working to support you each and every day. This team may include:

  • Endocrinologist
  • Nurse(s)
  • Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator
  • Dentist
  • Podiatrist
  • Counselor
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Social Worker

Sharing your daily numbers and monitoring your A1c with your team, can help you determine the best actions to take to stay within your blood sugar range. Your diabetes care team should know your routine and challenges in life and be there to support you in finding your approach to diabetes management.

They may recommend any of the following actions:

  1. Increasing activity – Walk outside for 20 minutes each day.
  2. Eating more vegetables – Add 1 cup of non-starchy vegetables at lunch each day.
  3. Bump up the water – Drink 8oz more water each day.
  4. Take medicine as prescribed – Work with your physician to create a plan that works with your lifestyle.
  5. Find a meal plan – Download my 25/75 Method Meal Planning Guide

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Flourish with Diabetes!

If you are ready to take the leap and transform your health, check out my Resources Page. I can help you grow & flourish with diabetes!

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Springtime Nutrition, LLC was founded on my passion to partner with individuals to eliminate the stress, frustration and overwhelm of changing their nutrition lifestyle. I am committed to supporting you at every step of your journey. Ready to transform your life?  Get started today!


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Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist/ Registered Dietitian/ Owner / Springtime Nutrition, LLC

Kari is a diabetes expert with more than 18 years of experience. Kari currently works as a diabetes educator with a large hospital system in Charleston, SC and is committed to improving the lives of people with any type of diabetes.

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