University of Illinois Extension

How does food turn into glucose?

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To understand and manage diabetes well, you must know what happens to food when you eat. Food is made of

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all contain calories, and can all be used for energy. Too many calories can cause weight gain. Weight gain usually also results in higher blood glucose levels because the body becomes less sensitive to insulin. Vitamins, minerals, and water do not contain calories, cannot be used for energy, and do not affect blood glucose.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all contain calories

When we eat, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are digested and broken into smaller parts. Once broken down, these parts will affect blood glucose differently depending on how they are absorbed and how the body uses them. Almost all the carbohydrate eaten will be converted into glucose in the body. The only carbohydrates not changed to glucose are those that cannot be digested, like fiber.

So the amount of food that’s eaten can affect blood glucose – too much can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and higher blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates affect blood glucose, because carbohydrates are digested and broken into smaller parts that are primarily glucose units.

Back to: General Overview of Diabetes and Food

This document is a source of information only, and is not medical advice.