High Blood Sugar Despite No Dietary Sugar

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/12/2024

Managing balanced blood sugar levels is a critical aspect of maintaining overall health, particularly for individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Hormonal fluctuations and metabolic processes can cause elevated morning glucose levels, increasing the risk of insulin resistance.

Learn how to balance blood sugar levels throughout the day and discover why sugar-free foods may cause elevated blood glucose.

Understanding High Blood Sugar in the Morning

Are you waking up to high blood sugar levels? This is a widespread issue and is typically caused by a metabolic process referred to as gluconeogenesis.

What is Gluconeogenesis?

Gluconeogenesis is the process of your liver producing glucose from non-carbohydrate sources like proteins, ketones, or fats.

When carbohydrate intake is low, gluconeogenesis helps the liver maintain healthy blood sugar levels by producing glucose from alternative sources.

Word hormones on wooden cubes

The Role of Hormone Fluctuations

Hormones like cortisol and growth hormone can also cause high blood sugar in the morning. These hormones peak early, increasing gluconeogenesis and elevated blood sugars.

While slight rises in blood sugar are standard, elevated levels may indicate a deeper health problem, such as insulin resistance or hormonal imbalances.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Avoid Artificial Sweeteners Like Splenda

If you're struggling with consistently high blood sugar levels, it's crucial to examine your diet closely. One common culprit that many people overlook is artificial sweeteners like Splenda.

What Is Splenda?

Splenda is a brand name for sucralose, an artificial sweetener commonly used as a sugar substitute in processed foods and beverages.

While it may seem like a healthier alternative to regular sugar because it has zero calories, research suggests that consuming too much of this chemical can adversely affect our health.

How Does Splenda Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

While sucralose doesn't raise blood glucose levels directly, some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners can still affect insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

Even if you don't see an immediate spike in your blood sugar after consuming something with Splenda, the long-term effects could harm your overall health. If you are practicing intermittent fasting, Splenda can break a fast.

One study found that people who consumed more than 21 servings of artificially sweetened beverages per week had double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who didn't consume any at all.

Natural Alternatives To Artificial Sweeteners

  • Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has zero calories and does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.

  • Xylitol: Xylitol is another natural sweetener commonly used as a sugar substitute. It has fewer calories than regular sugar and does not raise blood glucose levels.

  • Monk Fruit: Monk fruit is a natural sweetener derived from the monk fruit plant. It has zero calories and does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.

What Causes Elevated Blood Sugar Levels in The Morning?

Ever wake up with high blood sugar levels and wonder why? It's called the dawn phenomenon, and it's not just you.

Hormones like cortisol, glucagon, and epinephrine are released in the early morning, causing your liver to release glucose into your bloodstream.

While this typically isn't an issue, it can be a problem for those with insulin resistance or diabetes.

Causes of Dawn Phenomenon

Insulin resistance is often linked to the dawn phenomenon. Hormones released in the morning trigger the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

People without diabetes adjust by producing more insulin, but those with diabetes may experience persistently high glucose levels.

Impact on Insulin Resistance

If left unmanaged, the dawn phenomenon can worsen insulin resistance, making it harder for your body's cells to use available insulin effectively.

Higher fasting glucose concentrations and intensified metabolic issues, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, can result from not managing high morning blood sugar levels.

The Role of Insulin In Blood Sugar Regulation

Insulin is a hormone that helps manage blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to enter cells where it can be used for energy. This process prevents excess gluconeogenesis - the creation of new glucose from proteins or fats by the liver.

How Does Insulin Work?

In healthy individuals, insulin production and release are tightly regulated to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.

When you eat, especially carbs, your body breaks them down into simple sugars like glucose, which enters your bloodstream. Your pancreas then releases insulin to help move this glucose into cells throughout your body.

If there's more glucose than needed immediately for energy, insulin helps store it in your liver for later use. By doing so, insulin effectively lowers high blood sugar levels post meals and keeps them within a normal range.

Understanding Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance disrupts the delicate balance between blood sugar and insulin levels. This condition occurs when these tissues become less responsive or 'resistant' to insulin's effects, causing higher amounts of circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia).

Here's the impact of insulin resistance on different cells throughout the body:

  • Muscle cells: They start resisting taking up extra glucose even with an adequate amount of circulating insulin.

  • Liver cells: Instead of storing extra glucose, they continue with excessive gluconeogenesis, dumping more unwanted sugars into circulation.

  • Fat tissues: They resist stopping breakdown and release fatty acids, further contributing towards hyperglycemia.

This imbalance often results in elevated morning blood sugars due to uncontrolled overnight gluconeogenesis by the liver.

Interpreting Your Blood Sugar Levels

An average fasting blood sugar level should be around 80 mg/dL. For every 10 points above that mark, you've got an extra half gram of glucose in your bloodstream.

Normal vs. Elevated Fasting Blood Sugars

The American Diabetes Association suggests a fasting blood sugar level between 80 and 130 mg/dL.

But if your readings are consistently above this range in the mornings, it could indicate a problem with insulin regulation or other health issues like the dawn phenomenon.

Elevated fasting sugars can lead to long-term complications like nerve damage, kidney disease, and heart problems, and maintaining steady blood sugar levels is vital for overall health.

Implications Of Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Persistent high morning blood sugars are often symptomatic of conditions like prediabetes or diabetes.

It might also suggest excessive gluconeogenesis happening overnight due to stress hormones or inadequate insulin production.

In some cases, higher than normal morning glucose levels may not necessarily imply poor glycemic control but rather reflect natural hormonal fluctuations during sleep cycles known as the dawn phenomenon.

Managing High Morning Blood Sugar Levels

Are you worried about high morning blood sugar levels? Don't fret. You can take plenty of steps to balance your blood sugar levels.

Adopting a Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting

Low-carb, high-fat keto diets can help your body shift from burning glucose to burning stored fat, potentially lowering morning blood sugars.

Similarly, intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.

The Importance of Essential Nutrients

Optimal levels of essential nutrients are crucial for managing high morning blood sugars.

Potassium aids insulin secretion, magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, zinc enhances insulin action and production, and vitamin B12 helps decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise increases insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar levels, including in the morning. Engage in physical activity regularly - be it taking a walk, biking, swimming, or weightlifting - and persist with your chosen workout plan.


Several factors contribute to high morning blood sugar levels, including gluconeogenesis and hormone fluctuations.

Adopting a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet and practicing intermittent fasting is an excellent strategy to promote steady blood sugar and insulin levels.

The ketogenic diet also helps to lower your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, thereby improving your overall well-being.

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