Know your Glucose Levels

Tracking and measuring your fastingg glucose levels is a very good habit. Howevver you also need to understand what it actually the level mean. In this article you will learn some of the important concepts around glucose levels.

The Dawn Phenomenon

The dawn phenomenon takes place to everyone and is a healthy response of the body secreting various hormones, such as cortisol to wake us up.

Your body secretes about 50 hormones that control many critical functions!⁠ Hormones are mady by different part of the body and are transported via the bloodstream to tissues and organs. If our hormones are not working properly this can affect many different areas, including metabolism, reproduction, mood, sexual function and so much more.⁠⠀⁠⠀⠀⁠⁠

Physiological Insulin Resistance

Another reason for higher than expected fasting glucose is something called physiological insulin resistance.  This is a phenomenon that occurs in people who’ve followed a very low carb or ketogenic diet for a significant length of time, and it’s somewhat related to the dawn phenomenon.  In people who are keto-adapted or fat-adapted—that is, they’ve adhered to a very low carbohydrate intake for a long time—most of the body’s cells run happily on fatty acids and ketones, with a much lower requirement for glucose than in people on a higher carb diet.  Since these cells are fueled effectively and efficiently by fats and ketones, they need only minimal glucose. 


The majority of glucose is spared for tissues with an absolute requirement for it, such as the brain.  With muscle tissue “refusing” the glucose in order to keep it available for the brain, the blood glucose rises, especially first thing in the morning.  This is sometimes called “physiological insulin resistance” in order to differentiate it from pathological insulin resistance, but a better name for it is adaptive glucose sparing—an adaptation some people’s bodies make as a healthy, normal, and to-be-expected response to a very low carbohydrate intake.  

Fasting glucose in isolation should rarely be used to diagnose something.  A better tool can be hemoglobin A1c.  For most people, as long as A1c is still normal, a slightly elevated FBG isn’t cause for alarm.  While the fasting level may be on the high side, the A1c is a better indicator of glucose levels throughout the rest of the day, over the course of weeks and months.  People who experience dawn phenomenon or physiological insulin resistance often find that their glucose levels throughout the day are well within the normal/low-normal range they expect on a ketogenic diet, and this can put unfounded fears to rest. However, A1c is fraught with liabilities and is not always a reliable indicator of blood glucose levels.  There may be an even better way to assess metabolic health and insulin sensitivity.  This is HOMA-IR.


The name stands for homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance.  HOMA-IR takes insulin into account—that is, how hard the body needs to work in order to maintain homeostasis: how much insulin is required to keep blood glucose in a normal range?


Fasting glucose and A1c are both measurements solely of blood glucose.  However, in a staggering number of people, FBG and A1c are normal because dangerously high insulin levels are keeping them in check.  By testing only fasting glucose and A1c, we can’t detect impaired insulin sensitivity and gauge our metabolic health.  HOMA-IR is what really tells the tale and can help with conditions where high levels of insulin is the underlying root cause. These can include PCOS, hypertension, gout, obesity, Alzheimer’s and more.

Calculate your HOMA-IR here.