Diabetes and the dawn phenomenon


What does the movie Dumb and Dumber (pictured above) have to do with blood sugar? Let me explain.

Do you ever wonder why blood sugar goes up in the morning – when you haven’t eaten for a long time? This happens to everyone, but it’s often very apparent in people with type 2 diabetes. On a low-carb diet, when the blood sugar does not go up much after eating, morning blood sugar levels can be the highest of the entire day.

This is called “The Dawn Phenomenon”.

How it works

The reason is that the hormonal levels in the morning tell the body to get ready for the new day. This makes the liver release stored sugar. And if the liver is totally stuffed with sugar – common in type 2 diabetes – the release can be massive.

This is especially true if the brake for the blood sugar rise is not working well. If there is insulin resistance – also common in type 2 diabetes. Then there is a huge release, and not much holding it back. The result? Well, something like the picture above, metaphorically. Only in this case it’s about the liver dumping sugar into the blood.

This new post by Dr. Fung explains it well:

Dr. Jason Fung: The Dawn Phenomenon

So what can you do to avoid the Dawn Phenomenon? Get the excess sugar out of the liver, and reduce the insulin resistance. How do you do that? An LCHF diet or intermittent fasting… or preferably both.


Weight Control – A Question of Calories or Insulin? – Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt
The 2 big lies of type 2 diabetes – Dr. Jason Fung
The Key to Obesity – Dr. Jason Fung
Diet & Diabetes – How to Normalize Your Blood Sugar
Losing Weight and Reversing Diabetes – Maureen Brenner
How to Cure Type 2 Diabetes – Dr. Jay Wortman


How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Why Insulin Resistance Is GOOD

New Diabetes Cases, at Long Last, Begin to Fall in the United States!

Get the Effect of Bariatric Surgery Without the Side Effects, Without the Surgeon, For Free

Doctor in the House – Watch Diabetes Reversed Using Low Carb on BBC, While Old-School Dietitians Freak Out

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee Shakes Up Type 2 Diabetes Treatment On Breakfast TV



  1. tz
    Monthly hypoglycemia
    Note the recommended foods are grains, so it is hard to do low-carb
  2. mike
    Great article! I've never had t2d. Since lchf 7-8 months ago, I've had DP. Not sure why for me. My carbs are under 50 everyday no cheat days. Most of the time I'm 30 carbs. No junk just real food. My sugar one morning was 114 then 2 hrs after breakfast 88?
  3. MarciOnline
    Mike, do you have fatty liver? Have you had that checked out?
    Reply: #7
  4. Jason
    Surprised he doesn't mention the well-known & studied use of vinegar at night to prevent or at least reduce dawn problems. Why doesn't Fung know this?
  5. Brad
    Great timing. Since my T2D mom went LCHF we couldn't understand why her morning blood sugars have been really high. Now that we know, we can try adding IF to the routine. Thanks!
  6. chris c
    A late night snack including nuts and/or red wine is also often used. Theory is that things that are slowly digested/metabolised convince the body it is not actually starving to death and does not need to dump glucose.
  7. mike
    Is that done by a blood test because if so I don't. What does that have to do with it? Thanks
  8. LunaC
    even if he had fatty liver the treatment would be the same right?
    IF and LCHF diet.
    I wish their was more on DP as it freaks me out in the morning. I can wake up
    at 8.0 if I dont take metformin before bed. or 6.4 usually when I take it .
    I am doing IF and LCHF strictly but not noticing weight loss--that is very very
    hard for me. Think I might just drink water for 21 days and see what happens.
  9. Patricia Rainwaters
    what is IF?
    does not matter what my diet I can get FBS high then low the earlier I get up and check the lower it is .I can get a FBS of 87 and an hr later before eating it is 187!
  10. Lincslass
    IF =intermittent fasting i.e. I eat in a 6hr window in every 24 hrs!

    T2 diabetic diagnosed 4 months ago, self test BG brought HbA1c down from 84 to 50 in 13 weeks doing very LCHF [eating under 20g of carbs try to stay under 12g tho]. I have a fatty liver and more weight to lose 24lbs so far! Through self testing found I have DP, my BG was in the 10-12 range in the mornings but after 12 weeks of LCHF was in the low 7's. I've now been doing IF for the past 2 weeks my average daily BG now high 6's to 7 BUT morning my BG has now risen to 8-9 with IF!!

    Although discouraging in one aspect,especially after seeing lower results, if it wasn't for the DP my daily average BG would be great, however I'd like to think the liver dumping the glucose overnight, is speeding up the reduction of the fat in my liver and the long term goal of getting the fatty liver resolved as doing very LCHF has now cut off any excess glucose being stored in my liver as fat.

    My Dr took me off the Metformin I was put on 4 tablets daily for life 4 months ago, only ever took one. However I think he is sceptical re LCHF diet, wants me to come back in a few weeks for another HbA1c test, in-case stopping the Metformin causes HbA1c to rise [I have 20 tabs still left to take so not the reason my DP has risen] i.e. the drugs were controlling my BG, just hope the just hope the increase in my DP figure due to the IF won't mess my results up, otherwise GP will think they're right!

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