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If you're diagnosed with prediabetes or you’re already a diabetic, a prediabetes diet can help you enjoy what you eat while still getting the right nutrition and keeping your diet on track.
In this article:
- What Is Diabetes?
- How Sugar Functions in the Body
- Fats Versus Carbohydrates
- Increasing Fat Intake
- Proper Eating and the List of Foods for Diabetics
What to Eat on a Prediabetes Diet
What Is Diabetes?
There are three types of nutrients you can get from what you eat: fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. One of these is the reason your blood sugar levels increase, which leads to an illness endured by about 50% of the population: diabetes. It is a disease in which your blood sugar levels have been too high for a prolonged period of time.
There are two types of diabetes: Type I and II. Type I involves a disorder in the immune system. The immune system abnormally attacks the cells that produce insulin in your pancreas, damaging your ability to create insulin. In many cases, Type I diabetes affects children or young adults.
Type II deals with insulin resistance and affects mostly older people. With this condition, the cells in your pancreas cease to produce insulin. This makes your body take sugar from your blood to be used as fuel for the cells. The process can lead to the need to take insulin medications.
How Sugar Functions in the Body
Sugar or glucose comes from the food you eat. These are carbohydrates-rich foods like bread, cakes, sugar, pasta, and any other stomach-filling, starchy foods you can think of.
The sugar in your body produces insulin. This is the hormone that lowers the blood glucose level in your blood. When you consume more sugar than what the body needs, insulin stores it as fat.
Contrary to what we may think, the fats we eat do not cause diabetes. Your fat intake does not increase your blood sugar levels. Protein may, but when you consume the right amount, it does not increase your insulin. The one thing that makes your insulin level increase is the high level of carbohydrates you consume.
Fats Versus Carbohydrates
According to the American Diabetes Association, a person needs an average of 40 to 60 grams of carbohydrates in a day. This is insane because the body needs zero carbohydrates. You may have heard of the benefits of essential fatty acids or essential amino acids, but there is no such thing as essential carbohydrates. The body doesn’t need carbohydrates. In fact, we are better off without carbohydrates.
Sugar in carbohydrates stimulates hunger. It starves you. So, you’ll have the tendency to eat more and crave for more after. When you spike your carbohydrate intake, you also spike your insulin intake, and then, it plummets down because your insulin worked so hard to push all the sugar out. You end up having hyper-reactive low blood sugar.
Like a cycle, you again crave for more food, and you become dizzy and thirsty. Then, you wonder why you gained an additional two pounds the next day. You now know why.
In the last 50 years, people eliminated fat in the average diet of a person because of the misconception that it triggers insulin growth. So, people replaced fats with carbohydrates, but it only made the situation worse. It resulted in the increase of illnesses associated with high carbohydrate intake, including heart diseases like high blood pressure and, of course, diabetes.
Increasing Fat Intake
If you have diabetes or prediabetic conditions and want to solve your problem with your insulin, you should increase your fat intake. Aside from not contributing to your insulin level, it actually helps in the absorption of other essential minerals in the body. Eating a high-fat diet, like the ketogenic diet, actually helps lower your blood sugar level. Fats also suppress your hunger and provide the fuel you need.
Benefits of Removing Carbohydrates in Your Prediabetes Diet Plan
- Contributes to Successful Weight Loss
The reduction of carbohydrates in the diet for prediabetes contributes to successful weight loss. When you get rid of the sugar from carbohydrates, your body primarily loses water weight. If you are one of the people with diabetes who want to lose excess body weight, high fat intake is necessary to burn fat from your entire system.
- Provides a Direct Result of Lowering Sugar and Insulin Levels
Eliminating carb intake from your prediabetes diet can provide a direct result in reducing levels of sugar and insulin. Your body can control blood sugar levels and minimize insulin. This benefit is great for people with Type II diabetes.
- Helps Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Without carbs in your prediabetes diet, your body can increase concentrations of good cholesterol and reduce triglycerides, one of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Because high blood sugar can damage the nerves that control your heart and your blood vessels, you can avoid this condition if you cut carbs in your diet. You’re hitting two birds with one stone in this case.
Triglycerides Definition: A type of fat present in your blood that gives your body energy and keeps unused calories.
If you are not diabetic, you have to take a lower amount because you can burn fat from your diet and not from your own body.
Proper Eating and the List of Foods for Diabetics
While there is no total cure for diabetes, you can still correct and maintain a good sugar level to avoid complications. Start by trying to eliminate your carb intake from your prediabetes diet. You can eliminate diabetes if you cut sugar out.
They say you are what you eat. Thus, you should also be responsible and logical with what you are putting in your mouth because it affects your total well-being. Make good judgments on what to eat. Just because we are accustomed to the negative connotation of fat doesn’t mean it is bad for the body.
The fat we used to hate is actually an ally in keeping our blood sugar level balanced. So, eat more meat, fish (herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and salmon), eggs, and other natural fats like butter. Eggs, for example, are rich in vitamins and minerals, containing a little bit of almost all of the nutrients we need, such as:
The yolks are high in fat, which is the reason you need to eat these in the first place.
If you are a vegetarian, eat more fruits, vegetables, and seeds or nuts growing above the ground. One medium avocado, for example, contains 23 g of fat, mostly monounsaturated fat. You can replace 1/5 of a medium avocado with sour cream, butter, or mayo. One important thing to remember though is fruit is also high in calories, so you may want to consume 1/4 or less of an avocado at a time.
Monounsaturated Fat Definition: A healthy dietary fat that can provide benefits to a person's heart health when consumed in moderate amounts.
More vegetarian-friendly high-fat foods you can include in your prediabetes diet are:
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Ground flaxseed
- Olive oil or olives
- Nuts and seed butter
By knowing more about diabetes, the health benefits of staying away from carbs, and the list of foods you can add to your prediabetes diet, you can now create an eating plan for diabetes prevention. Just remember that carbs negatively affects blood sugar and insulin levels, which can affect your battle with prediabetes and diabetes. Again, it’s also important to avoid sugar and stick to non-starchy vegetables and foods if you want to stay on track with your diet plan.
What other high-fat foods do you eat to prevent diabetes? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below!
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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.