There's nothing sweet about what too much sugar can do to your health. It has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, wrinkles, and can accelerate signs of aging. According to the Cleveland Clinic, high blood sugar can lead to excessive hunger and thirst, headaches, rapid heartbeat, vision problems and other symptoms. Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems. But how do you know if you have high blood sugar?
There are a few blood tests to check if your sugar is too high, and they depend upon whether you've fasted or not. According to the Mayo Clinic, a random blood sugar test should be under 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
A fasting blood sugar test is taken after you haven't eaten anything the night before. A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it's 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you most likely have diabetes.
Other tests your healthcare provider may recommend include an oral glucose tolerance test, as well as a glycosylated hemoglobin test.
To control blood sugar, health experts recommend losing weight if you need, and eating moderate-sized meals and snacks that are rich in fiber and other beneficial nutrients and low in low-quality calories like saturated fat and added sugars.
Saturated fat should be limited to no more than 10 percent of total calories, and according to the American Heart Association, women should limit daily added sugars to 25 grams and men, 36 grams per day.
When it comes to eating fast-food, these menu items are often loaded with calories, saturated fat, and sugar, and should be avoided when possible if you're managing your blood sugar. But if you want to enjoy fast food on occasion or more frequently, here are six fast-food orders to avoid and some foolproof ways to choose fast-food meals that won't blow your daily added sugar or calorie budget.
Then read 4 Best Foods for High Blood Sugar for helpful diabetes tips.
Carl's Jr. Spicy Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger
Weighing in at 1,400 calories per burger, this is one of the highest-calorie burgers on any restaurant menu. Unless you're running a marathon or completing an Ironman, this burger won't fit within your daily energy budget, since most adults need around 2,000 calories per day.
What's more, it has 75 grams (300 calories) of total carbohydrates and 20 grams of sugar—that's equal to 5 teaspoons of sugar! The saturated fat counts in this burger are soaring at 36 grams, which is more saturated fat most adults should eat in a day. If you're craving a burger, opt for the Big Burger at Carl's Jr., which will have 480 calories, 56 carbs and 13 grams of added sugar—a fraction of the Spicy Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
Papa John's The Meats Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza
When it comes to enjoying a slice, the worst pizza choices are those rich with double crust, added meats, or cheese. One of the worst options for your health and blood sugar is The Meats from Papa John's. This pizza packs in about twice the calories per slice as a more veggie-rich, thin crust option from the same chain. To enjoy pizza without sending your blood sugar into the stratosphere, opt for thin crust pies with half the cheese and veggie toppings like extra peppers, mushrooms, arugula, and any of your favorite veggies.
Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple
This is one of the highest-calorie burgers available at all of the major fast-food chains. The calorie count alone is enough to make it a hard stop for anyone seeking to eat a balanced diet and to manage blood sugar, not to mention the whopping 44 grams of saturated fat and 1890 milligrams of sodium. The pretzel bun adds additional carbohydrates, compared to a traditional bun. If you're craving a Wendy's burger, opt for a Double Stack. It has a reasonable 410 calories, 26 g carbohydrate, and 6 g sugar.
Panda Express Fried Rice
Fried Rice may seem like a better-for-you option at this popular Chinese fast-food chain, but it's one of the worst options to keep your blood sugar from soaring. It has 85 grams of carbs and very little fiber to help slow digestions, and at 520 calories, it's one of the higher-calorie choices that would take a 5-mile run or walk to burn off. Better options from this chain include the Mushroom Chicken that has just 170 calories and 11 grams of total carbs and just 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar. Plus, it packs in nutrients from mushrooms, zucchini, and chicken. Another? Black Pepper Chicken that weighs in at 280 calories and 14 grams of total carbohydrates.
Starbucks Crispy Grilled Cheese on Sourdough
By now you know that many of Starbucks' signature drinks are health disasters, packing in more calories and added sugar than a couple cans of Coke. But you may not think that the grilled cheese on sourdough is another menu item that can blow your best intentions to eat well and control your blood sugar.
The reason this option is such a disaster is due to its calories and saturated fat, which combined with the carbs from the bread, makes it one of the worst menu items if you are watching your blood sugar. The amount of saturated fat in this sandwich provides almost 100% of what you can have in an entire day, thanks to all of the cheese and the parmesan butter spread.
Taco Bell Double Beef Grilled Cheese Burrito
When you're craving Taco Bell, steer clear of the Double Beef Grilled Cheese Burrito. This new menu addition is overstuffed with calories, saturated fat, and carbs, thanks to the beef, cheese, and tortilla. The 94 grams of carbohydrates will flood your bloodstream with sugar, making your body pump out more insulin to shuttle the sugars out of the bloodstream. A better bet? Ask for your favorite burrito to be in a bowl rather than a carb-rich tortilla.
You don't need to give up fast food if you want to keep your blood sugar levels in check, but you do need to read the nutritional information before ordering and stick with menu items that keep overall calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sugars in check.
More content from Healthy Eating
- – 5 Best Superfoods That Support Liver Health
- – 3 Dietitians Explain Your Sugar Addiction
- – 6 Healthy Ingredient Swaps Nutrition Pros Swear By for Their Holiday Recipes
- – Sweet! Honey May Improve Blood Sugar & Cholesterol Levels, New Research Finds
- – 11 Keto-Friendly Foods That Are Also High in Fiber, Says Dietitian
- – Your Low-Carb Diet May Increase—Not Decrease—Diabetes Risk, New Study Suggests
- – 5 Eating and Drinking Habits That May Lead to Dry Skin
- – 4 Tips for Damage Control After Eating Too Much