Fast Acting Carbs aren't fast

Does anyone have a problem when going low that fast acting carbs take 30 - 60 minutes to kick in? If I take fast acting carbs for a low, and test 15 minutes later, I am still falling. I usually don’t see any improvement for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes almost an hour to recover.

When I am very low (say under 50) and keep falling, I panic, eat everything in sight, and then go hyperglycemic. Anyone else out there who has the same problem?

I have found this too, but I have slowed digestion. Have you talked to your doc about this? You might want too. In the mean time I find that glucose gel and sodas raise me quicker than anything.

Happens to me also. Though they give us that 15-15 rule, it doesn’t work for everyone. Really does take longer to get the full effect. I think a lot of people over-correct because it doesn’t happen in 15 minutes (aside from the wanting to devour everything in sight!).

Like Krystal, I have slow digestion. Have to work hard to be patient to wait.

Tastes horrible, but glucose gel that Krystal mentioned works faster than most things.

I have always been told it can take as long as 30+ minutes. What do you use for fast acting carbs? Lucozade or gatorade is good if you swiggle it around your mouth for a while - the sugars get absorbed through the gums and bi-passes most of the digestion so makes it alot quicker - has anyone else ever heard this?

I have had this happen a few time though not regularly…
One time I remember this happening vividly was in the middle of the night… .and I was really mad because I just wanted to sleep…so I ate 3 tablets…waited 20ish minutes… tested and it hadn’t gone up at all …ate 3 more… waited 30 minutes this time… and it went up a bit but was still in the 50s… then ate 3 more and waited for another 20-30 minutes and finally I could safely go back to bed. I had wondered at the time if maybe there was some delay …but when I woke up it was in range…
In this case I think it was more that the initial 15 grams wasn’t enough… and that liver wasn’t kicking any glucose out yet either.
Do you find that when this happens that the 15 grams is enough and it just takes awhile to act…cause then the problem seems to lie either with what you’re using or how it gets absorbed/digested into your body.

Thanks everyone. It sounds like I have slowed digestion, something I never heard of. I guess I’ll have to talk to the endo or CDE about it. Also, I guess it’s time to keep some very good records about what happens.

I have used the get, but didn’t pay enough attention to see if it works better. My wife likes to have it on hand to treat me if I go low and am so out of it I can’t chew.

I usually use glucose tablets when I am severely low, hoping to get a quick fix from pure sugar. When I am moderately low, and have it available (like at home), I use yogurt. Yogurt or milk is my CDE’s treatment of choice.

Xanthasun, I know what you mean. One morning I was very low and took tablets. I checked 15 later, and I was still dropping. More tablets, 15 later, still dropping. So I panicked, and ended up consuming about 16 tablets in total. When they kicked in, I ended up in the 300’s. Sigh.


Hi Bradley,

My gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) was diagnosed because I had lows after eating. Two hours after meals my numbers drop & 4-6 hours after eating they soar (when my stomach empties & the insulin is gone). Makes timing of bolus to meals rather difficult. Don’t know if you experience this.

I take digestive enzymes with meals & space meals 5 hours apart. I also can’t eat too much at once. Really high fiber meals make it worse by slowing digestion even more.

My endo changed me to Regular insulin because rapid acting is too fast. I bolus 15 minutes after eating.

liquid is almost always faster-acting than tablets or solid foods, in my experience. milk and yogurt are also not fast enough for most because of the protein and fat content. soda and juice are best (IMO) with glucose tabs as a close second IF you drink plenty of water with them to get the glucose in solution with the water. then test in 15 mins (and yes, sometimes I need to wait about 20-25 mins) and then if BG is within range, eat a combination food (milk, yogurt) in combination with insulin to sustain BG until meal.

Hi Gerri,

That’s got to be a real pain! I don’t think this is happening to me. I am generally OK when I eat, I’m “just” having problems when I go low and am trying to turn it around fast.

If you are on a pump, have you tried an extended bolus? I have messed around with mine, but haven’t figured out yet what foods require an extended bolus. I keep hearing that pizza does, but I haven’t had any since I started pumping.

Good luck with timing your bolus!


Hi Bradley,

My guess for your slow response time to eating the fast-acting carbs is that when you realize you’re going low, your BG is dropping rapidly. So while you eat your first dose of fast carbs and wait, you’re getting lower, but the rate has likely slowed. Sort of like skydiving. When you jump out of the plane, you’re falling really fast. When you open your chute, it slows you down, but doesn’t stop you.

It sounds like you are using the 15-15 rule (eat 15 g carbs, wait 15 minutes, test again). Since this doesn’t seem to be working for you, why not make YOUR RULE the 30-15 rule?! Eat 30 g carbs, wait 15 minutes, then test again. The larger amount of carbs up front would likely give you better peace of mind that you are adequately dealing with the hypo, and might tend to keep you from overeating.

And by the way, I always use glucose tabs to treat my lows. Anything with protein (dairy) slows down absorption.

Cheers, Mike

30-15 sounds like a plan for when I am really low; so I am going to try it. It certainly can’t be any worse than what I am currently doing!

I think that my CDE likes dairy because it should prevent crashing on the backside. If I am only moderately low, dairy works well for me, so I’m going to stick with it for moderate lows.

Thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully I won’t need to test it out soon! lol



Very glad you don’t have delayed stomach emptying problems. It is a real pain! Makes everything even more unpredictable.

No pump. I just test constantly after dinner. Gastroparesis seems to strike in the evening & I’m grateful I only have to deal with this for one meal.

Worst part is treating lows knowing that I’m going to be high later when the food hits, but have to treat the lows anyway.