How many carbs should I eat prediabetic? When we talk about carbs, we typically think of things like white bread and pasta. These are the types of foods that people tend to avoid on a low-carb diet. In truth, however, carbohydrates come in a lot of different forms. This can make it difficult to determine exactly how many carbs you should be eating each day.
Carbohydrates have been getting a lot of bad press from nutritional experts who claim they elevate insulin levels and cause weight gain. But while not all carbs are created equal, they’re also not without their nutritional value. If you’re fighting prediabetes, you need to know how many carbohydrates you should eat every day.
There are plenty of diet tips for people living with prediabetes. However, the reason why these diet tips for prediabetes haven’t been effective for you is that the tips were generic and not specific to your condition. That’s where I come in. I’ll give you the exact diet tips that helped me reverse my diabetes and restore my health but first what exactly is prediabetes?
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What exactly is prediabetes?
What exactly is prediabetes? Prediabetes is a warning sign that you’re heading toward Type 2 Diabetes. The good news is, you’ve caught it early enough to turn the train around and avoid letting your condition become worse. Before we start to make lifestyle changes, it is helpful to know exactly what prediabetes is. According to the American Diabetes Association, you have prediabetes if:
- Hemoglobin a1c is between 5.7-6.4%
- Fasting Blood Glucose is between 100-125 mg/dL
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test 2 hours after eating reads between 140-199 mg/dL
Not familiar with this terminology? The a1c % is the percentage of your red blood cells carrying sugars. Blood sugars can also be measured in absolute terms, through a fasting glucose blood test or an oral glucose test.
So what does this mean?
These statistics typically measure insulin resistance, which means that your body is not using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to glucose. When your body is using insulin properly, the process looks like this:
Think of insulin as a key and your cells as a lock. In someone who does not have insulin resistance, insulin unlocks the cells so that glucose exits your bloodstream and enters the cells for energy.
In someone with insulin resistance, it’s as if the cells have changed the locks. Insulin can no longer interact with cells and be used as energy. Instead, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to remain high. As a result, these blood sugar levels appear on your lab tests.
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How many carbs should a person with diabetes have in a day?
Studies have shown that many different levels of carb intake may help manage blood sugar, and the optimal amount of carbs varies by individual.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) used to recommend that people with diabetes get around 45% of their calories from carbs.
However, the ADA now promotes an individualized approach in which your ideal carb intake should take into account your dietary preferences and metabolic goals.
It’s important to eat the number of carbs at which you feel best and that you can realistically maintain in the long term.
The typical American diet provides around 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of them coming from carbs. This is equivalent to 275 grams of carbs per day.
A severely restricted intake of fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day appears to produce the most dramatic results and may reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin or diabetes medication. This represents 9–10% of daily calories on a 2,000–2,200-calorie diet.
When tracking carb intake, experts sometimes recommend focusing on your net carbs instead of the total amount of carbs you eat. Net carbs are total grams of carbs minus grams of fiber.
People with diabetes can also benefit from diets that allow up to 26% of their daily calories to come from carbs. For people who eat 2,000–2,200 calories a day, this is equivalent to 130–143 grams of carbs.
Since carbs raise blood sugar, reducing them to any extent can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Therefore, figuring out how many carbs to eat requires some testing and evaluating to find out what works best for you.
For instance, if you’re currently consuming about 250 grams of carbs per day, reducing your intake to 150 grams should result in significantly lower blood sugar after meals.
How Many Carbs Should I Eat Prediabetic
Lifestyle changes are the most effective way to control blood sugar. Many people can keep their blood sugar level in the target range without taking medication, but those who can’t will be advised to take drugs by a professional. But, it doesn’t mean that we should ignore our diet and eating habits, even if we are under medication.
There are many factors that determine what is the right diet for you. This article will help you understand how many carbs should i eat prediabetic and how to stay healthy with it. Should you low-carb it? Actually… Maybe, or maybe not. Research shows that there is no single best answer to how many carbs should you have per day.
Need a low-carb food guide?
Grams of Carbs per Day for Prediabetics
Here are some common numbers for the recommended carb intake for prediabetics per day. As you can see, they vary quite a bit!
- Under 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day: very low-carb ketogenic diet.
- 130 grams: “Adequate Intake” (the amount considered adequate for most people).
- 150-200 grams per day, or 30-40% of total calories on a 2,000-calorie diet: the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) description of a standard “low-carb” diet.
- 244 grams per day: average daily intake of Americans over 20 years old.
- 300 grams per day, or 60% of total calories on a 2,000-calorie diet: the daily value (DV) that you see on nutrition labels.
Low-carbohydrate diets could work, but they may not work any better than other careful diets for weight loss, lowering blood sugar levels, or for preventing diabetes.
For more on planning your best prediabetes diet, read more here!
Pros and Cons of Low-Carb Diets
- They can help you lose weight.
- They can discourage sugary foods.
- They can discourage low-nutrient, refined starches, such as white bread and pasta, and potatoes.
- They can help lower blood sugar, especially in the short term.
- They can discourage processed foods.
- They can be hard to follow over the long term.
- They can be high in unhealthy choices, such as fatty and processed meats, butter, and cream.
- They can exclude healthy foods, such as whole grains, beans, and fruit.
- They could raise cholesterol or cause harm to your kidneys or bones.
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Carbs to Lower Blood Sugar in Prediabetes
Regardless of the total number of prediabetes carbs per day that you have, you will get better results if you choose healthier sources and stay aware of portion sizes. Look for high-fiber, high-nutrient sources, and know that a serving size may be smaller than you think!
Healthy Carbs for Prediabetes
(listed in serving sizes with about 15 grams of carbs each)
- ½ whole-grain English muffin or small pita pocket
- 1 whole-grain slice of bread, mini-bagel
- ½ cup wheat flakes or all-bran cereal
- ½ cup cooked oatmeal (½ instant oatmeal packet) or cream of wheat
- 1/3 cup brown rice, whole-grain pasta, or quinoa
- ½ oz. whole-wheat pretzels or crackers
- ½ cup cooked or low-sodium canned lentils, split or black-eyed peas, or garbanzo, black, pinto, fat-free refried, northern, or other beans
- 1 cup chili
- 1 cup cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, or raspberries
- ¾ cup blackberries or blueberries
- ½ cup pineapple
- 1 small apple, orange, pear, or nectarine
- ½ medium banana
- ½ cup corn, peas, or sweet potatoes
- ¾ cup winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup milk
Carbs to Limit
Occasional treats are fine, but in general, your blood sugar (and your weight and overall health) will be better if you limit certain carbs. In general, limit carbs with added sugars, refined grains, and processed, packaged, fried, and fast foods. Often, your gut reaction is right.
Harvard Medical School suggests that you try to limit:
- Desserts, such as ice cream, pie, muffins, cakes, cookies, and brownies.
- Refined grains, such as white bread, pasta, and rice.
- Candy and sugar-sweetened chocolate (choose 100% chocolate).
- Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages, such as flavored coffee, juice drinks, sweet tea, and energy and sports drinks.
- Fried foods, such as fried chicken, onion rings, french fries, hash browns, and doughnuts.
- Sugar-sweetened cereal and flavored yogurt.
- Greasy fast foods, such as pizza, fried rice, and burgers.
Carbs for Prediabetic Meals and Snacks
here is something else to consider: meal planning. It’s not only a question of how many carbs to have each day, and which ones to have but when to have them. The best bet for controlling blood sugar and hunger is to spread them throughout the day.
For most meals, aim for 2 to 3 servings (about 30 to 45 grams of carbs). Add a large portion of non-starchy vegetables (at most meals) and some healthy fat and lean protein, for a full meal. For example…
- A turkey burger on a whole-grain bun with a lean turkey burger, lettuce, tomato, and avocado, with a side of baby carrots.
- ¾ cup of Wheaties with ½ oz. of sliced almonds, ¾ cup blueberries, and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk.
- 2/3 cup cooked whole-wheat pasta tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, fresh basil, 2 cups of spinach, and 3 oz. cooked salmon.
For most snacks, you might aim for 1 to 2 servings (about 15 to 30 grams of carbs). Then add a source of protein and/or healthy fat, and always keep non-starchy vegetables in mind! For example…
- ½ cup fat-free, low-sodium refried beans with diced tomatoes and 1 oz. melted cheese.
- 1 small baked sweet potato topped with broccoli and Greek yogurt.
- ½ sliced large apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
Diet Tips for Prediabetes
There are many that have poor eating habits. They consume more than their recommended daily allowance of food. As much as possible, they should eat foods that are fresh and less processed. They should focus on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and healthy fats like nuts, avocados and fish oil supplements.
What are some diet tips for prediabetes? Diet is one of the most important factors you need to keep in mind if you have prediabetes. Fortunately, a good diet and exercise can help lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
1. Cut your daily carbohydrate intake
Counting and reducing carbs is a mainstay of managing prediabetes, Cipullo says. She explains that the amount of daily carbohydrates you need varies based on your sex, body size and activity levels. (Men, larger individuals and those who exercise need more carbs.) However, a 2014 review published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, which concluded that going low-carb is beneficial for both weight loss and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, defined low-carb diets as those in which less than 45 percent of daily calories come from carbohydrates.
Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, that translates to eating a maximum of 225 grams per day. (Each gram of carbohydrates contains four calories.)
2. Focus on whole carbs
While some people emphasize the importance of choosing complex carbohydrates over simple ones, an easier, and maybe even more healthful, strategy for those with prediabetes is to emphasize whole, naturally occurring carbs (like whole grains, produce and dairy) over refined, processed ones (like white pasta, soda and sugar), says Dr. Patricia Salber, a board-certified internist and founder of “The Doctor Weighs In” blog and podcast.
That’s not to say complex carbs aren’t great; found in foods such as whole grains, beans and vegetables, they are, well, complicated in their molecular structure, meaning your body has to work hard to digest them. As a result, they have a lower glycemic index, or GI, ratings, which are values assigned to foods based on how quickly they increase blood sugar levels compared to simple carbs, she says.
However, simple carbs are also found in healthful, natural foods such as dairy and fruit that can and should be part of your diet, according to Salber. Just watch your portions: “The recommended serving size for fruit is one small piece of fruit (think the size of a small fist) or one-half cup of fruit,” says Emmy Bawden, a registered dietitian at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “Berries, including strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, and melon are a bit lower in sugar and, as such, the serving size is 1 cup.” FYI, while fresh and frozen fruit are both great options, canned fruit often contains added sugar.
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3. Mix up your macros.
“Macronutrients” refers to the three calorie-containing nutrients that people need in large (hence, macro) amounts to live and thrive: carbohydrates, protein and fat. And when you eat these three macronutrients together in a single sitting, it influences how your body digests them, says Cipullo, who recommends making every meal and snack a mix of all three.
“Eating mixed meals and snacks, pairing carbs with protein and fat, slows the digestion of carbohydrates and the release of glucose, or sugar, into the bloodstream,” Cipullo says. So if you want to have the occasional splurge of a high-GI food with simple carbs such as a sugar-laden doughnut, eating it alongside scrambled eggs, which provide both protein and fat, will help lower its glycemic index and its effect on your blood sugar levels. Remember that many foods such as milk, cheese, nut butters and quinoa contain high levels of more than one nutrient, she says.
Also worth noting: While fiber is technically a type of carbohydrate, it can also help slow the digestion of simple carbs in a way that’s similar to protein and fat. That’s why, when it comes to fruit, you should eat the whole fruit, including the peel, rather than drinking fruit juice, which is devoid of fiber.
4. Eat every few hours.
“Eating a small meal or snack every four to five hours can help in achieving glycemic, or blood sugar, control,” Bawden says. Cipullo adds that the stomach empties itself every three to four hours, so if you go much longer without eating, your blood sugar levels could nosedive, causing you to overeat at your next meal.
What’s more, by eating regularly throughout the day, you can more easily spread out your carbohydrate intake. “This way, you are never eating a lot of carbohydrates at a time, so your blood sugar doesn’t spike,” Cipullo says. She recommends eating roughly 45 to 60 grams of carbs at every meal and between 15 and 30 grams at every snack.
5. Eat breakfast (one hour after waking).
Start your day off right. In a 2015 Diabetes Care study, when people with Type 2 diabetes skipped breakfast, their lunchtime and dinnertime blood sugar levels were 37 and 27 percent higher than on days when they ate breakfast. Interestingly, it wasn’t because they were eating more than usual for lunch and dinner. In the study, participants ate the same lunches and dinners.
However, you don’t need to roll straight out of bed to the kitchen. Blood sugar levels can commonly spike upon waking, so you don’t want to eat carbs right then, which could make your blood sugar and insulin levels go even higher, Cipullo explains. Scheduling an hour between an alarm clock and omelets (go ahead and take a shower and get dressed) gives your body time to level out before you increase your blood sugar with breakfast, she says.
6. Avoid both sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners seem like a great way to cut your sugar habit. “However, research now shows that artificial sweeteners may have indirect metabolic effects that can be detrimental to one’s efforts to lose weight or slow the progression of prediabetes,” Bawden says.
For example, research presented at the 2017 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes shows that artificial sweeteners, when consumed in large amounts, may impair the body’s response to glucose, or sugar – increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Salber explains that artificial sweeteners may alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can impact blood sugar control. They are also linked to decreased satiety and, contrary to what you might think, increased calorie consumption and weight gain, she says.
Benefits of Low Carb Diet
we are going to talk about the benefits of a low-carb diet. Low-carb diets have been used for a long time as part of a good weight-loss plan but they are now being looked at in a different light.
This is an advanced dietary method and it helps people lose more calories, it increases their daily metabolism activity, losing fat through the ketosis process, using other methods together, like drinking coffee or tea with the right amount of calories in their daily routine.
1. Prevention or management of type II diabetes:
Studies report an increased risk of type II diabetes with diets rich in carbs, particularly refined carbs.
Maintaining stable blood glucose levels is critical for preventing diabetic complications. Therefore, limiting the consumption of carbohydrate-containing foods will minimize the quantity of glucose entering the bloodstream.
This explains why this diet has traditionally been used in the prevention and treatment of type II diabetes.
Recent research suggests that following a low-carb diet consistently results in improved blood glucose management and weight loss. It also suggests that the low-carb diet has a high adherence rate after 12 months, implying that it is a long-term sustainable diet.
2. Help loses weight while reducing your hunger:
As a ketogenic diet emphasizes fats over carbohydrates, it suppresses your appetite, which means you won’t be hungry as frequently. This indirectly aids in quick weight loss.
People who follow a low-carb diet tend to lose weight faster than those who follow a low-fat diet.
Carbohydrates increase the production of insulin, the body’s primary fat-storing hormone. By lowering the quantity of insulin in your bloodstream, your body will be prompted to burn its existing fat reserves rather than create new ones.
Low-carb and keto diets are heavy in fats and proteins, which have been reported in studies to lower appetite and reduce calorie intake.
Many studies have suggested that low-carb diets cause fast weight reduction in the first 6 to 12 months. Weight reduction is not just due to water loss but also due to fat loss. In terms of long-term diet maintenance, research suggests that a low-carb diet is the most efficient approach to losing weight and keeping it off.
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3. Reduce triglyceride levels:
Low-carb and keto diets help reduce a variety of risk factors for heart diseases. They have an important role in lowering the levels of triglyceride in the blood, which is a well-known and significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Triglycerides are a form of lipid (fat) present in the bloodstream. When you eat, your body converts any extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in your fat cells to be used as energy between meals.
Eating more calories than you can burn, especially from high-carbohydrate meals, causes triglyceride buildup and increases your risk of heart disease.
4. Increase good cholesterol levels:
It is well known that low-carb diets boost high-density lipoprotein, a type of cholesterol. Before you assume that cholesterol is harmful, consider that this is healthy cholesterol that should be present in your body because it lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.
To maintain high levels of this healthy cholesterol, it is necessary to consume a low-carbohydrate and good-fat-rich diet.
5. Improve cognitive performance:
Consuming a lot of carbs implies loading your body with sugars, which it will then consider as the first option when attempting to convert anything to utilize as energy. This causes the classic sugar crash.
As your sugar levels aren’t stable, your brain has difficulties managing what it needs to be focused and awake.
Some studies report that a low-carb diet may even be beneficial in preventing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in youngsters because lower sugar consumption helps control the body’s energy levels and boosts the brain’s capacity to focus.