Naturopathic Insights

A Health and Wellness Blog by Northern Wellness Collective.

Understanding the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of transformation, both for the expecting person and their growing baby. Amidst the wonder and anticipation, there are essential tests to ensure the well-being of both. One such test is the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT), often followed by the Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). These tests aim to screen for gestational diabetes, a condition that can affect some pregnant individuals. Let’s delve into the purpose of these tests.


The Glucose Challenge Test (GCT):

The GCT is typically conducted between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, however, if the individual has risk factors of gestational diabetes, they may be offered screening earlier. This test involves drinking a sugary solution called Glucola and having your blood sugar levels tested at the lab after a designated waiting period, usually one hour. The purpose is to evaluate how your body processes glucose.


How it works:

Preparation: before the test, you’ll be asked to fast (not eat or drink anything) for a specific period, typically overnight. This helps establish a baseline for your fasting blood sugar level.
Consuming the Glucola drink: at your local lab, you’ll drink a solution containing a specific amount of glucose. It’s important to drink this within a few minutes.
Waiting period: You’ll wait for about an hour, during which time you should remain at the lab. Avoid eating or drinking anything at this time.
Blood sugar measurement: after the waiting period, a blood sample is taken to measure your blood sugar level. Elevated levels may indicate a need for further testing.


The Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):

If the GCT results suggest elevated blood sugar levels, your healthcare provider may recommend the OGTT for a more comprehensive assessment, this involves fasting again, followed by consuming a higher concentration of glucose. Blood sugar levels are measured at multiple intervals, often at fasting, one hour, two hours, and sometimes three hours after drinking the glucose solution.


Alternative to Glucola:

While Glucola is the standard choice for the GCT and OGTT, some individuals may prefer or require alternatives. For example, patients who experience extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum) may find it challenging to consume the Glucola drink and may benefit from the following alternatives.


Licorice and Jelly Beans

Both Twizzlers red licorice and jellybeans have been researched as possible alternatives for those patients who may not be able to tolerate Glucola. These alternatives must be consumed in a specific amount to reach an equivalent glucose content to Glucola.

It is crucial to remember to discuss these alternatives with your healthcare provider or lab tech to ensure this is a viable option for you before going to the lab for your test. What works for one person, may not be suitable for another.


The GCT and OGTT play a vital role in monitoring gestational diabetes during pregnancy. While Glucola is the standard for these tests, alternatives like licorice and jellybeans may be considered in certain situations. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable approach for your specific needs, ensuring the best possible care for both you and babe.