An expert panel has proposed post-meal strategies for people using insulin to control diabetes. 

Advances in care have paved the way for better glucose management, according to the panel, convened by the Endocrine Society. These include faster-acting insulins, new drug classes, more flexible insulin delivery systems and improved continuous glucose monitoring devices. Yet post-meal glucose level management remains a challenge, they concluded. 

“[C]oncrete goals and strategies for how best to apply these exciting therapies need to be better defined,” said panel leader John L. Leahy, M.D., of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. 

As part of their report, Leahy and colleagues found that small lifestyle changes may improve post-meal blood sugar levels. These include eating protein and/or vegetables 10 to 15 minutes before carbohydrates, and walking for at least 10 minutes following a meal. New medications also show promise in helping individuals gain more control of their post-meal blood glucose levels, they wrote.

Additional research is needed to find a target blood-glucose number or range after meals and the time spent in-range that would improve clinical outcomes, wrote the authors. That’s where the growing use of continuous glucose monitoring devices will likely come into play, they suggested. These devices offer clinicians an opportunity to collect and act on real-time data. Eventually, this data should help to answer questions about the role played by factors such as meal size, nutrients and timing in blood sugar levels after meals.

The report and recommendations were published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.