What Foods Spike Blood Sugar?

What Foods Spike Blood Sugar?

The management of blood glucose level is key to diabetes management. In evaluating how different foods directly influence post-meal blood glucose levels, the glycemic index is commonly used. The glycemic index indicates how much a carbohydrate-containing food raises postprandial (ie, post-meal) blood glucose level.1,2 

Foods that are rapidly absorbed and easily digested have high glycemic index values and can cause temporary spikes in blood sugar levels.3 How a food is cooked can also influence the glycemic index, as well as other foods consumed along with it.4


What Are Examples of Foods that Spike Blood Sugar?1,4,6,7


  1. Sugary Drinks

Soft drinks such as coke contain high amounts of easily digestible sugar and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Sweetened iced tea, certain types of fruit juice, and sports drink have high glycemic index values. Alcohol, especially beer, can also rapidly increase blood glucose levels.


  1. Desserts and Baked Goods 

Certain types of desserts such as cakes and cupcakes with icing have high glycemic index values. Baked goods have varying effects on blood glucose, but muffins, pancakes, doughnuts, scones, and white bread can cause spikes in levels. Bread and baked goods made from whole wheat and multigrain take longer to digest and typically have lower glycemic index values.


  1. White Rice 

Typically, white rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice which takes longer to digest. However, please note that rice has varying values of glycemic index depending on the type. For instance, certain brands of basmati white rice have significantly lower values than certain brands of jasmine white rice.


  1. Potato

Potatoes are known to have a high glycemic index, and this is true of various forms and cooking methods of potatoes. Boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, French fries, and baked potato chips all can spike blood sugar levels.


  1. Certain Types of Fruit

Fruits typically have higher glycemic index values – for instance, fresh peaches, pineapples, and bananas have high values. Dried fruits such as raisins, dates, and figs are high in sugar and can also cause temporary spikes in blood glucose levels.


  1. Sugars and Syrups 

Table sugar, corn syrup, rice malt syrup, glucose syrup, maple flavored syrup, and certain types of honey can cause rapid increases in blood glucose levels.


Should You Avoid These Foods?

Individuals with diabetes have diminished ability to control postprandial blood glucose levels.8 Although how rapidly a food raises blood glucose may not necessarily equate to long-term fasting glucose levels or hemoglobin (Hb) A1c levels,5 studies have found that low glycemic index diets can improve various parameters of diabetes.1,8–10 Considering the importance of glycemic control in diabetes management, it may be beneficial for individuals with diabetes to reduce or avoid the consumption of foods that may cause spikes in postprandial blood sugar levels.



1. Chiavaroli L, Lee D, Ahmed A, et al. Effect of Low Glycaemic Index or Load Dietary Patterns on Glycaemic Control and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Diabetes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. BMJ. 2021;374:n1651. doi:10.1136/bmj.n1651
2. Esfahani A, Wong JMW, Mirrahimi A, Srichaikul K, Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC. The Glycemic Index: Physiological Significance. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009;28(sup4):439S-445S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2009.10718109
3. Dominiczak M, Logue J. Nutrients and Diets, Chapter 32. In: Baynes J, ed. Medical Biochemistry. Elsevier; 2022:471-487.
4. Gray A, Threlkeld RJ. Nutritional Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Endotext. MDText.com, Inc.; 2000. Accessed February 16, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
5. ElSayed NA, Aleppo G, Aroda VR, et al. 5. Facilitating Positive Health Behaviors and Well-being to Improve Health Outcomes: Standards of Care in Diabetes—2023. Diabetes Care. 2022;46(Supplement_1):S68-S96. doi:10.2337/dc23-S005
6. Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239
7. Atkinson FS, Brand-Miller JC, Foster-Powell K, Buyken AE, Goletzke J. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values 2021: A Systematic Review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021;114(5):1625-1632. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqab233



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