What is the best diet for insulin resistance? [PDF included] — Jackie Topol (2023)

Have you been to your doctor for a routine check-up and were told your blood sugar is rising? Many of my clients first learned something was different about their health when they received routine lab results... and were surprised by the numbers.

Looking for answers on the best insulin resistance diet that can help you improve those labs and feel more confident and energetic without feeling lost in a Google search?

Managing your insulin resistance reduces your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Many people feel confused and alone trying to figure things out for themselves without expert guidance.

In this blog post, we discuss what diet works best for people with insulin resistance and provide a downloadable PDF guide with practical ways to start making progress starting today.

>>Download instructions as PDF<<

As a Registered Dietitian, I help my clients create personalized plans to take control of their health with an approach that feels doable and a meal plan that tastes great and includes their favorite foods. I promise you it's not too good to be true!

Let's start by figuring out what prediabetes and insulin resistance are and how you can take steps to confidently manage them.

What is the best diet for insulin resistance? [PDF included] — Jackie Topol (1)

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that your body makes in your pancreas.

Insulin plays an important role: it allows your body to get the energy it needs for each and every cell. Insulin's job is to let glucose (sugar) into your cells.

In people with insulin resistance, this process doesn't work as well as it should, which can be due to many different things - we'll cover those risk factors in a moment.

When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, from an apple to a chip to a cookie, normal digestion breaks the carbohydrates down into individual sugars. These sugars are small enough to go into every single cell in your body when insulin is there to open the door.

Sometimes, however, your body doesn't listen to insulin. Even though your body is still producing insulin, the messages are being ignored. Because sugar doesn't enter individual cells as efficiently, it can eventually lead to spikes in blood sugar. That's insulin resistance.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition where the cells in your body are notreasonableAbout insulin Your body still makes insulin, but the cells in your body don't hear the messages as well. It's like you knock on your teen's bedroom door and he has headphones on. Can't (or don't want to) hear you.

Because the process isn't running as efficiently as it should, two things can happen.

  • Your body has to produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal (meaning your body is working harder than it should).
  • Your body can't keep up and your blood sugar levels rise.

Even if your blood sugar is normal, insulin resistance means your body has to work harderholdyour blood sugar level.

In a moment we'll cover the lab tests that are important beyond your blood sugar.

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance?

While the best way to confirm a diagnosis is through laboratory markers, there are some signs and symptoms that suggest you might have insulin resistance. These include:

  • have difficulty losing weight
  • hat PCO
  • have fatty liver
  • have warts on the skin or acanthosis nigricans (dark patches on the skin, usually on the neck).

If you're wondering about your own symptoms, I recommend contacting your doctor to schedule lab tests.

How common is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is incredibly common: According to the American Diabetes Association, it affects between one-third and one-half of all adults in the United States (1).

Lifestyle changes can help anyone with insulin resistance reverse it and reduce their risk of complications.

How common is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is also widespread. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 88 million adults, or more than 1 in 3 people, have prediabetes (2).

Which labs are important?

There are many things your doctor can measure in your blood, and the labs are part of our general wellness check that shows how your body feels and is working, and how much effort it takes to feel that way.

There are a few different lab values ​​that I recommend that you and your doctor check. These are all measurements taken from a blood sample.

Note: There are differences between diagnostic blood values ​​and treatment goals, which you can determine with your medical team. These levels listed here relate to receiving a diagnosis.

fasting blood sugar

This blood sugar measurement is carried out first thing in the morning after at least eight hours of not eating. Ideally, this number should be less than 100 mg/dL upon waking or before a meal (3).

  • Normal fasting blood glucose: < 99
  • Prediabetes: 100-125
  • Diabetes: 126+

hemoglobin a1c

The next test you may have had with your doctor is your hemoglobin A1c, which may be abbreviated as HbA1c.

This lab value is a measure of your average blood sugar control based on the amount of sugar "sticking" to your red blood cells. It's a good indicator of how well your blood sugar levels have been controlled over the past three months.

Why three months? That's how long red blood cells last in your body.

Hemoglobin is a type of red blood cell. Circulating sugars attach to red blood cells as they travel through the circulatory system, much like sugar attaches to a gum bean. More sugar bound to red blood cells at the time of measurement means your average blood sugar level was also higher.

Remember that sugar has to travel in the blood to reach every cell in the body, so your hemoglobin A1c will never be zero. On the other hand, we don't want that number to get too high either, as too high blood sugar can cause inflammation and eventually damage.

  • HbA1c normal: < 5,7 %
  • Prediabetes: 5.7 – 6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6,5 %+

fasting insulin levels

This is another measure of your body's response to food sugar. How much insulin is circulating in your blood system to control your blood sugar?

As I mentioned before, you can have normal blood sugar levelsand have insulin resistance; but it means your body is working harder to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

  • The recommended normal range for fasting insulin varies somewhat from lab to lab, but most consider 2 to 20 mIU/mL to be normal (4).

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Another test available to assess how well your body is processing carbohydrates is called an oral glucose tolerance test. This is a test where you come to the lab in the morning after fasting and then your fasting blood sugar level is measured.

You will then be given a measured amount of a sweetened drink and your blood sugar will be checked an hour later and sometimes 2, 3 and 4 hours later. Targets for these blood sugar levels depend on how much sugar is in your drink and whether or not you are pregnant.

Daily blood glucose monitoring

Daily monitoring might be something to consider with your doctor. Daily monitoring gives you and your care team more information about how your body is responding to carbohydrates and provides guidance on the right amount of carbohydrates to include in meals and snacks.

Daily blood glucose monitoring is done at home using a small device called a glucometer. You insert a test strip into the meter, prick your finger with a lancet, and place a drop of blood on the test strip. A few seconds later, your blood glucose meter will tell you how high your blood glucose level is right now.

Blood glucose is usually measured in the morning (on an empty stomach) and 1 hour after meals.

Now that we know what insulin is and what insulin resistance is, as well as what the lab values ​​are to track your health, you probably want to know what might have caused your insulin resistance. let's dive in

What causes insulin resistance?

As much as I wish I could give you specific answers as to why your insulin resistance set in, there is nothing that can cause insulin resistance. Most often it is a combination of risk factors.

When it comes to insulin resistance, there are risk factors that are out of your control (like your genetics) and things that are more within your control (like lifestyle); everyone plays a role.

Things that increase the risk of insulin resistance include (5):

  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • overweight or obese
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • History of Gestational Diabetes
  • be 45 years or older
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
  • be inactive
  • your usual diet
  • Certain medications, such as steroids

Insulin resistance increases your chances of developing prediabetes and eventually type 2 diabetes.

Is there a connection between prediabetes and insulin resistance?

Developing insulin resistance means your chance of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes later is higher.

While that may be scary, it's also important to realize that knowing this about current lab values ​​is powerful. Insulin resistance and prediabetes often have no symptoms. Although both conditions are incredibly common, many people are unaware of their condition.

With the right guidance and steps, you can improve your health and reduce your risk of complications.

One of the most important places to improve your health is in your kitchen. Let's talk nutrition!

What is the best diet for insulin resistance and prediabetes?

There is no diet that is perfect for everyone with insulin resistance. And because there are so many factors at play in both conditions, there are many ways to take better control of your health and feel more energetic.

While you can't change your age or genetics, you can focus on your lifestyle. Remember how many different factors affect your risk of developing insulin resistance or prediabetes? There are many different ways to take control of your health. That's good news!

A personal approach will bring you the greatest success... not to mention the greatest joy.

It's very common for people to get a new diagnosis and try to rearrange their whole lives overnight; While I can understand the motivation for rapid changes, we cannot stick with such drastic changes.

Instead, I recommend sticking with smaller, incremental changes that you can feel comfortable with before adding new changes. Work through the changes one at a time, build trust, and move on.

>>Start Treating Prediabetes Today - Download PDF<<

The best plan is one that also tastes good.

Despite the popularity of the ketogenic diet, I do not recommend it: The ketogenic diet is not sustainable and can even have harmful side effects.

And while every client's plan is unique, there are some common themes that most work on. Is it possible you've heard of the Mediterranean Diet before? The Mediterranean diet has been well studied to improve health and reduce the risk of prediabetes and diabetes (6). It's a satisfying balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, lots of veggies, and a glass of red wine to boot!

What is the best diet for insulin resistance? [PDF included] — Jackie Topol (2)

In the work I do with my clients, there is no one way to follow the Mediterranean diet, nor is there the best diet for insulin resistance.

My clients and I work together to create a lifestyle plan that will continue to improve lab results but also address their diet and lifestyle preferences. With the guidance of a Registered Dietitian, my clients see faster results with less frustration and confusion.

Here are some tips for getting started on the best insulin resistance diet for you:

increase fiber

Did you know that we areallegedlyeat 25-35 grams of fiber every day? Most adults don't eat enough fiber; Don't eat enough whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. My clients and I are working to get closer to the recommended fiber intake by including more whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits in our meals and snacks.

Not only are these foods more filling and filling, but they also help with weight loss and blood sugar control. Take a look at my 10 favorite high-fiber foodsHere.

increase activity

atsaberThis exercise is important, but many of my clients are so pulled in a million directions that training them just doesn't seem feasible.

What can be useful to hear is that even ten mMinutes of exercise have measurable benefits.Especially after eating!A 10-minute walk after lunch can help your body process carbohydrates, reduce stress, and improve your mood (4). Exercise doesn't have to be in a gym or take an hour to "count."

What is the best diet for insulin resistance? [PDF included] — Jackie Topol (3)

Learn more about carbohydrates

When you first learn about insulin resistance, it may be natural to assume that you should just avoid all carbs. No carbs means no spike in blood sugar, right?

The truth is that our bodies need carbohydrates for energy; Carbohydrates are our fuel. The trick is to have the right amount of carbs at a time so you don't overwhelm your body's ability to process them.

Carbohydrates are found in everything from fruits, certain vegetables, whole and complex grains, legumes (like beans and lentils), milk and nuts to foods like desserts, sweet drinks, refined grains like muffins, donuts and cakes.

The bottom line is that everyone is different; Working with a licensed dietitian will help you find the right nutrition plan for you, your lifestyle and your blood sugar.

What about medications or dietary supplements?

Medications and dietary supplements can be part of your treatment plan; There are several ways to support your body's metabolism and the way carbohydrates are digested and used.

But no drug or dietary supplement will replace the benefits of a lifestyle change. Medications and supplements are meant to support, not replace, the good work you're doing with diet, exercise, and stress management.

KEY FINDINGS: The best diet for insulin resistance

The best diet -- and lifestyle -- for managing your insulin resistance is one that should help you deal with your diagnosis with confidence. It should fit your lifestyle and not make you feel left out or defeated.

Many risk factors increase your risk of developing insulin resistance or prediabetes, and that also gives you many different opportunities to improve your health. There's even a chance your lifestyle changes could reverse your diagnosis of insulin resistance or prediabetes (really!).

Working with a Registered Dietitian will help you find your best plan faster and with less frustration. And if your Registered Dietitian is a culinary expert to begin with (I am!), you will be confident and satisfied with the meal plans and recipes they recommend. Being happy with your meals and snacks is very important to having a plan that feels good over the long term.

As a qualified nutritionist and culinary nutritionist, I can say that with certaintyI am not your average prediabetes nutritionist.You will benefit from my extensive nutrition training and experience as well as my culinary skills to translate these health goals into satisfying meals that you will truly enjoy..all while losing weight and lowering your blood sugar.

Are you ready to take charge of your health? Your first step is to book your free consultation so we can be sure we are a good fit to work with.Email me to request your free 20 minute consultation!

From there we set your overall goals e.g. B. reversing your pre-diabetes, and then breaking that big goal down into actionable steps.

Are you ready?Click here to connect via email.

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