What Is the Best Prediabetes Diet For You? Three Important Considerations

Do you have prediabetes? Are you scrolling the internet for the “best” prediabetes diet? Are you overwhelmed and flat out confused about what you should eat for prediabetes? Low carb? Keto? Vegan? Are you begging Google to make it make sense?

You are not alone. The number one question I get asked as a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator is: “what is the best diet for prediabetes?”

In today’s blog post, I will teach you three important considerations when choosing the best prediabetes diet for you. Get ready to leave today’s short read with specific actions you can take today to kick prediabetes to the curb!

1. There is no one-size-fits-all prediabetes diet.

Please consider this. You might have prediabetes and high blood pressure. Your neighbor might have prediabetes and be allergic to fish. Your co-worker might have prediabetes and high cholesterol. People have individual needs and goals based on their personal health and food preferences.

Here is the good news – there are several diets or “eating patterns” that can help people with prediabetes and it’s related health risks (1).

So let’s talk about you. Given your personal health needs, which one of these diets/eating patterns might work best for you?

  • Mediterranean: evidence supports type 2 diabetes prevention, decrease A1C, decrease triglycerides, decrease cardiovascular disease
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: evidence supports type 2 diabetes prevention, decrease A1C, weight loss, decrease LDL cholesterol
  • Low-Fat: evidence supports type 2 diabetes prevention, weight loss
  • DASH: type 2 diabetes prevention, weight loss, decrease blood pressure
  • Low and Very-Low Carbohydrate: decrease A1C, weight loss, decrease blood pressure, increase HDL cholesterol

Which of these eating patterns might support your personal health needs?

I go into more detail on these diet/eating patterns in my free guide: “Discover Five Eating Patterns To Improve Your Blood Sugar”. So, if you want to dive a little deeper, you can grab the free guide here.

2. There is no “ideal” amount of carbohydrate for prediabetes.

Carbohydrates include fruits, certain vegetables, complex and whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), milk/dairy products, as well as foods like desserts (muffins, doughnuts, pastries), sugar-sweetened drinks, candy and other “sweets”.

While there is no proven ideal amount of carbohydrate we should consume, reducing our overall carbohydrate intake has been shown to improve blood sugar. Give this strategy a try:

  • Over the next week, take a look at your total carbohydrate intake. 
  • Next, target 2-3 carbohydrate foods that you can reduce the portion sizes or swap for a lower carbohydrate choice. Example: instead of two pieces of toast with your eggs, can you have one piece of toast and toss some spinach and mushrooms into your eggs?

Eating less total carbohydrate is a strategy that can be practiced across a variety of eating patterns for prediabetes. Example: If you follow the DASH diet, can you prioritize non-starchy vegetables (such as leafy greens) over starchy vegetables (such as corn and peas)?

For most people, Very Low-Carbohydrate diets (such as keto) are difficult to maintain beyond 6 months (1).

Regardless of the amount of carbohydrate in your prediabetes diet, focusing on high fiber choices such as whole grains, legumes and fruits is an effective diabetes prevention strategy (1). Example: top pancakes with fresh or frozen berries versus syrup.

3. There are paths to type 2 diabetes prevention that do not focus on choosing a specific prediabetes diet. 

You may not want to follow a special diet. Do you have a lot of upcoming travel for work or vacations planned? Or do you have a history of an eating disorder or other health issues that are best served without following a specific diet at this time? If this describes you, rest assured that there are plenty of other type 2 diabetes prevention lifestyle strategies where you can focus your attention right now.

For example, achieving 150 minutes of physical activity per week, such as brisk walking, can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 44% (2)?

Other activities, including resistance training, yoga, tai chi and stretching, can have positive impacts on A1C, flexibility, muscle strength and balance (1).

Decreasing alcohol consumption, smoking cessation, stress management, and improving sleep quality are all excellent non-diet approaches that help improve blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes and related health risks (1).

Action Steps for Choosing Your Best Prediabetes Diet

“A year from now you will wish you had started today” ~ Karen Lamb ~

Ok, now it is time to put all of this into action! First, don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis”. You can choose 1-2 of the ideas discussed and start working on those today. 

If you are ready to try one of the diet/eating patterns listed above, then my free downloadable PDF guide, “Discover Five Eating Patterns To Improve Your Blood Sugar”, is for you. You can grab it by clicking here.

Next, give it 2-3 months of consistent effort and then reassess to see if these changes are working for you. How will you know if they are working for you? Here are a few easy ways to decide:

  • How do you feel? (how is your stress level, energy and confidence?)
  • Are you meeting your goals? (check your current A1C and fasting glucose, how many physical activity minutes are you averaging per week?, what is your current weight?)

Remember, you can always try something new! Return to this blog post and pick a different strategy or two.

Finally, I would love to hear from you. Let me know one strategy you are going to try today. You can comment below or send me a message here.

P.S. If you are ready to learn more about the proven eating patterns to prevent type 2 diabetes, I created a special guide that you can download for free by clicking on this link: Discover Five Proven Eating Patterns to Improve Your Blood Sugar 

Wishing you all the best on your journey!

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Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash