Knowing Your Numbers

When it comes to controlling your diabetes, knowing your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) numbers is important. Keeping track of your blood sugar helps you see how food, physical activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels over the course of several months.

Blood sugar monitoring

If you take insulin, you will most likely need to check your own blood sugar. To do this, you'll use a device called a blood glucose meter or blood glucose monitor. This device measures the sugar in the drop of blood you provide. Learn more about how to check your blood sugar.

Blood sugar changes throughout the day

There are 2 terms you will hear when testing your blood sugar, fasting blood glucose (FPG) and postprandial glucose (PPG). These are the daily checks you do with your blood glucose meter. Since you can’t always “feel” if your blood sugar is high or low, checking your blood sugar several times a day is often the best way to make sure it’s under control. Always follow your health care provider’s instructions about when and how often you should check your blood sugar. 

FPG–This is your “fasting plasma glucose.” This means your blood sugar when you have been “fasting” (not eating) for at least 8 hours. You may be checking this in the morning when you wake up.

PPG–This is your “postprandial plasma glucose.” This means your after-meal blood sugar number that you check about 1 to 2 hours after you eat. It measures blood sugar spikes that happen after you eat. It is possible that blood sugar spikes that are too high after you eat may be preventing you from reaching your A1C goal.

The readings from your blood glucose meter can help you understand your insulin needs for these different times of the day. The chart below shows the FPG (morning) and PPG (after-meal) blood sugar goals that are recommended by the American Diabetes Association (called the ADA for short).

Fasting plasma glucose (FPG)

(checked daily, before breakfast
after not eating for 8 hours)

80 to 130 mg/dL
Postprandial plasma glucose (PPG)

(checked 1 to 2 hours after meals)

Less than 180 mg/dL

People with diabetes often test blood sugar before and after meals. They may also check first thing in the morning or at night before they go to bed. To know more about how often to check your blood sugar, ask your health care provider.

Keeping track of your blood sugar

You should also keep a record of your blood sugar monitor readings and review them during doctor visits. A Blood Sugar Tracker can help you do this. You can download one today. It’s one of several diabetes management tools and tips you’ll find at Registration is free, quick, and easy!

The A1C test

An A1C test is a blood sugar test that helps you and your health care provider understand how well your treatment plan is working over time. The results of the test are given as a percentage and will show how well your blood sugar has been controlled over the past 2 to 3 months.

The ADA recommends that your A1C be less than 7%, but you’ll want to talk with your diabetes care team to find out what your own goal should be. If your result is 7% or more, it may be necessary to change your treatment plan in order to manage your diabetes more effectively.

When A1C results come back from the lab, there may be a blood sugar reading next to it. This is another way of showing the average blood sugar using the same measurement that is used in blood sugar meters, mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

A1C = FPG and PPG

Your A1C is made up of your FPG (fasting blood sugar) and your PPG (postmeal blood sugar) over the last 2 to 3 months. If your FPG is fine in the morning, but you aren’t reaching your A1C goal, it could be that your mealtime blood sugar spikes (postprandial blood sugar or PPG) are not in control.

Controlling blood sugar throughout the day (your FPG) and at mealtime (your PPG) is important to help you get closer to your A1C goal and manage your diabetes. 

A1C levels and average blood sugar
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