Delayed Sugar Metabolism and Glucose Tablet Alternatives

Hello folks! As someone who is allergic to corn (all glucose tablets/gels are made from it), can you share if you’ve found any good alternatives to glucose tabs? I have been using maple syrup and/or honey for a long time, both of which are about 50% glucose. Here of late though, they take FOREVER to bring my sugar up. It’s causing major sleep disruptions, and I find myself overtreating unwillingly. For example, you would think a spoon of maple syrup with 7+ grams of sugar would at least START to raise your bloodsugar within an hour, but often this in not the case; and will almost always result in an overtreatment/high sugar a few hours later. (I try to follow Dr. Brownstein’s chart so I don’t overtreat.) Fruit juice seems to have the same problem. The curious thing is, this delayed effect doesn’t happen during the day. It seems that something about being horizontal is making it so the sugar doesn’t metabolize or something. How is that even possible?

For example, last night just before midnight I dropped below 55, got up, took 1.5 tsp of honey, then went back to bed. Knowing the sugar delay has been an issue, I shut off my bluetooth cause I just wanted to get some sleep. I wake up about three hours later, turn the bluetooth back on, and look at the chart to discover my blood sugar never got over 60 the entire time. So I went and took another 1.5 tsps of honey. So of course at 6:15, less that 3 hours later when my alarm goes off, I’m at 251. It’s like all 3 tsps of honey took effect all at once.

This never used to be an issue, so I would love to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences or has any suggestions. (And yes I have been calibrating to make sure the CGM is correct). I have been at this 40 years now, I’m not a novice, and am thoroughly befuddled. Thanks all!

Maybe sucrose is the answer. I know honey and maple syrup have to be broken down so it takes a little longer. Sucrose needs to be broken down too but not as much.

You could try cakemate icing or another One that comes from powdered sucrose.

My insulin needs and response to sugar is different depending on the time of day. I use a pump with 4 different insulin sensitivity settings.
Being horizontal might be an indicator to your body to
Lower your metabolism.

Many people have an opposite issue in the morning,where sugar spikes when you stand up.
It’s actually a normal process for your body to get ready to start moving, but as diabetics we need to dose that with insulin, and it’s not always predictable.

I use got my current pump for the main reason I have this predawn phenomenon of going high at 5 am. And now it’s resolved. Not sure if you want to go that route.

Pumps have a steep learning curve, for me it’s exactly what I need, but not for everyone.

Thanks Timothy. I am well versed in dawn phenomenon and am confident that’s not what’s going on here. I have my pump basals set to compensate for that, and on nights I don’t have the overcorrection issue, my basals cover it perfectly. This nighttime thing happens all hours of the night. (Like the resulting high blood sugar will happen after the second treatment, whether it’s midnight, 2 am or 6 am).

Sucrose is a mix of glucose and fructose, for what it’s worth. There are so many things in icing I’m allergic to, unfortunately that would not be an option…

I use Swedish Fish as each fish brings my BG up 10 points and they take only 15 minutes to kick in. Really easy to control lows, or even before going low.

Corn syrup. She is allergic.
It’s a very tough place to be.


So sorry, my bad.

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Fruity bears!!! (Vegan gummy bears). About 2 carbs each and they carry around well. They pretty much don’t seem to get bothered by much except getting wet. They work really fast especially when I suck on them versus just chewing. Sugar packets will also work.


@Sarah_K1 That’s really a problem. You might be in trouble if you have to receive a glucose IV in hospital. I did some searching for rice, wheat and tapioca syrups and solids hoping to find one that was mostly glucose. The problem is these ones I looked at were a combination of sugars, and glucose is the fastest acting without the need for digestion.

You might try an invert sugar. This is sucrose that is broken into its too component sugars, glucose and fructose. While it’s only 50% glucose neither sugar needs to be digested.

I hope you find something that works for you.

I use this. Raises my bg by about 75 pts. for the whole pack in about 15 min it starts. Everyone is different

While I know candy and whatnot are popular options, I prefer liquid sugar. I swear, when it’s dissolved, it’s like pre-digested and absorbs faster.

My go-to recently has been Tang powder. I’ve got mason jars of it all over the house. Just need to dump a little in my water cup when necessary. I don’t know if it’s made with corn ingredients, though, but I’m sure there are drink mixes without it. It used to be juice boxes (look for organic, none of them will have corn syrup), but I felt like I was making too much trash.

Also, if you really need speed, you can keep the sugary whatever in your mouth, either under your tongue or in your cheeks. You’ll absorb the sugar faster than trying to get it through your stomach. It goes right into the blood vessels of your mouth.

If I were you, I’d fill one of those squeezey condiment bottles with simple syrup (equal parts table sugar and water), and just squirt it under my tongue when necessary. It’s hard to measure of you want to treat with exact carbs, but I’ve never found that exact sugar dosage necessary… So long as I have restraint. They general rule doesn’t count if I feel bad enough to eat my way through the pantry.

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Hammer Gel may be a problem for @Sarah_K1 because the first ingredient is maltodextrin, a polysaccharide that may be made from corn.

@Sarah_K1 I found a source for invert sugar syrup. If I am correct, it will work faster than regular table sugar or other sweet stuff because it is sucrose (table sugar) that has basically been predigested into glucose and fructose. Not made from corn, but beet or Cane sugar.

I was on another thread about a year ago and took some grief for my low blood sugar treatment. I used it a lot when I was doing long-distance runs - still use it with 1-2 hour bike rides. If you’re in an event you never want to stop & wait 15 minutes for it to take effect. I bring along empty meter test strip vials filled with unrefined cane sugar - about 1 tablespoon with the smaller ones and 1.5 with the larger. It’s always a predictable dose and it’s a quick tip of your head. I keep a few of them in every car, backpack, & coat. If they sit for 6 months unused, no big deal.

I really hate table sugar but found that the unrefined granulated cane sugars like Sucanat dissolve & work very fast. Even if the reading doesn’t change right away, I can feel it working almost immediately in my system. Turbinado is OK but it does not dissolve as well. Sucanat also has all the good flavor of molasses.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the tips everyone! I will look further into these ideas.


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I am a big fan of powders. This is the one I am using at present.

Sarah, my alternative to glucose tablets is Bob’s Sweet Stripes, individually wrapped soft peppermint candies. They do have red dye, as do almost all peppermints, but other than that, the ingredients are sugar and peppermint oil. Period. 5 grams of carbs per piece. I like them because they dissolve more quickly than hard candies, and once they’ve been in your mouth for a few seconds, you can just chew them up, so they get to work fairly quickly. My CGM alerts me at 80, so I have a little margin to work with, but I often turn off the basal delivery on my pump and wait, so I don’t overcorrect all the time. Can’t do that at night, but it works pretty well for me during the day.

Thanks Rick and MamaB!

You could submit your query to that living legend Dr Richard K Bernstein (author of “Diabetes Solution”). At rising 90 y.o., sharp as a tack and a living testimonial to the efficacy of low carb, he still offers a Q&A session every month on Youtube as part of his “Diabetes University”. You have missed the boat for August but the next session is on the last Wednesday in September. Well worth a listen. Questions to:
Watch at Teleseminar 67. August 2021. Special topic: gestational diabetes - YouTube

In reading through all of the suggestions, I thought of a couple of things you might try. Marie20 mentioned that sucking on her gummy bears worked faster to raise her BGL. I’ve read that some absorption of sugars can occur through the gums, so you might consider holding some of the honey or maple syrup inside your cheek a bit before swallowing it all for faster absorption when that is needed. (May need to swish with water after to preserve your teeth.) Although I use MDI, I have had a similar situation with needing to take multiple correction doses of carbohydrates at night recently. One thing that I’ve tried with some success is adding a little protein to the snack which has helped to prevent later hypos. I sometimes will mix 2 “alt milks” - oatmilk and protein-fortified almond milk - roughly 1/2 cup of each. The oatmilk seems to pick me up pretty fast and the p-f almond milk has 5 grams of protein in just 1/2 cup to stick with me. There’s a wide range of carbohydrate density among these alt-milk brands though, so you’d need to find one(s) that work best for you. Also, if nuts are among your allergies there are several pea and bean milks available now to consider. Good luck with your experimenting!

When someone referenced a previous thread, I remembered they said they couldn’t consume citric acid either because it’s usually derived from corn. The fruity bears and the Elovate both have citric acid in them so I suppose it depends how allergic to corn you are.

I am mildly allergic to corn… .but mostly only fresh, frozen whole corn in a certain quantity. I get blotches all over. But I can consume a small amount in things with no issues. White corn chips don’t bother me at all either. The fruity bears don’t bother me but I’m not super sensitive.

I also use Reeds Crystallized Ginger which is purely only ginger and cane sugar. But you have to like ginger as they are strong! Great for upset tummies too! About 2 carbs each chunk, but chunk size varies and there are other brands out there that are more uniform and don’t seem quite as strong. Ginger people is one.