You’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes. And you’re ready to put in the work to avoid progressing to type 2 diabetes. First off, let me congratulate you! Not on the prediabetes diagnosis, but on being willing to dive in and take charge of your own health.
You’d be amazed at how many people aren’t willing to do what you’re doing.
The dietary and lifestyle changes you’re making have the potential to really move the needle on your health. Reducing your carbohydrate intake can be one of the most powerful ways to change your trajectory if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes. You put in the work and reap so many benefits:
😃 Improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, lowering triglycerides, raising good (HDL) cholesterol, and lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol
😃 Reduce appetite
😃 Increase initial weight loss (as compared to a low-fat diet)
😃 Lose harmful belly fat
😃 Lower blood sugar and insulin levels
😃 Improve all 5 of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, low “good” HDL cholesterol levels
And chief among these benefits is the actual reversal of your prediabetes. Studies have shown that focusing on protein and healthy fat, while reducing carbohydrates in your diet can have a profound effect on insulin resistance. And if you can go from being insulin resistant to being insulin sensitive, your body will better be able to balance your blood sugar. And you may be able to avoid that type 2 diabetes diagnosis!
If you’re not sure how your body responds to carbohydrates, you can take my Carb Sensitivity Quiz. The results can give you some insights to help you in your journey toward better health.
Therapeutically reducing your carbohydrate intake is about more than just cutting out carbs. There are pitfalls that can slow your progress.
I want you to get the most powerful effects possible from your dietary changes, so let’s look at the most common mistakes people make when they reduce their carb intake.
Controlling Carbs Mistake #1: Focusing only on macronutrients
When most people change their diet to prevent or reduce prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, they tend to focus on the three macronutrients:
And yes, these are super important. We’re talking about reducing carbs after all. But there’s more to it than just thinking big. You also need to zoom in and think small.
You need to pay attention to your micronutrients. Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and trace metals you add to your diet both in your food and by taking supplements. They’re called “micro” because you need lower quantities of these nutrients than you do the macronutrients protein, carbs, and fat.
Micronutrients work with your body to keep things running smoothly. And you need them for everything from energy production to bone density to blood sugar balance. Some are particularly important for blood sugar management.
You’ll want to make sure that you have adequate quantities of your micronutrients:
✔ Water soluble vitamins, including the B vitamins and vitamin C
✔ The fat soluble vitamins — A, D, E, and K
✔ Macrominerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, and phosphorus
✔ Trace minerals including iron, chromium, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, selenium, and fluoride
When it comes to micronutrients, getting the right balance is important. Many of them play off each other so having too much of one and not enough of another can work against you. So make sure you’re working with a qualified practitioner who can help you determine which supplements will be beneficial for you.
Controlling Carbs Mistake #2: Eating the whole day’s carbs all at once
When you eat a load of carbohydrates all at once, your blood sugar will spike and your body will respond by dumping a bunch of insulin into your blood to try to shuttle the glucose into your cells and adipose (fat) tissue.
And even if you’ve gone a whole 24 hours without eating carbs, this can still happen when you eat a lot of them at once.
I always recommend my clients spread their carb intake throughout the day. This helps them avoid that potentially damaging blood sugar spike so they can maintain the smooth, rolling blood sugar pattern they are striving for.
Controlling Carbs Mistake #3: Overlooking the benefits of fiber
When you’re focused on lowering your carbohydrate intake, it’s easy to forget about dietary fiber. But fiber can do a lot for you including:
👍 Reducing cholesterol
👍 Promoting healthy weight
👍 Adding bulk to the digestive tract which improves the lower end of digestion
👍 Reducing gastrointestinal cancer risk
👍 Promoting blood sugar control
Lowering your carb intake doesn’t mean you need to lower the amount of fiber you eat. Yes, many high-fiber foods are also high in carbs — like sweet or dried fruit. But there are plenty of lower-carb foods that provide you with the fiber you need.
When you lower your carb intake, you may be inadvertently reducing the amount of fiber you eat. So as you’re changing your diet, add in some of these low-carb, high fiber foods:
✔ Blackberries and raspberries
✔ Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans
✔ Chia seeds and flaxseed
✔ Green beans
✔ Leafy greens
✔ Brussels sprouts
Controlling Carbs Mistake #4: Not monitoring your blood sugar
Your best shot at reversing your prediabetes diagnosis is to pay attention to what’s happening in your body so you can track EXACTLY what’s working… and what isn’t.
I recommend all my prediabetes clients monitor their blood sugar. There are easy, and even fairly painless ways to do it. To learn more about tools I recommend for blood glucose monitoring check out my articles on blood glucose testing and continuous blood glucose monitors.
Monitoring your blood sugar may not be your favorite thing to do, but it is the absolute best way for you and your practitioner to track what’s really going on. By monitoring you know what’s helping and what isn’t.
This is your best bet not only for reversing your prediabetes diagnosis, but also for making only the changes that make the biggest difference for you. I know you don’t want to waste time and effort making the wrong changes that don’t give you the results you’re looking for.
Controlling Carbs Mistake #5: Overlooking carbs in drinks
Yes, drinks have carbs too. So don’t forget to pay attention to what you’re drinking. Of course you can never go wrong with water.
And there are other drinks that do not contain carbs. But anything sweet should alert your carb radar. Be careful about drinks like:
😳 Flavored coffee drinks
😳 Soft drinks and soda
😳 Mixed alcoholic drinks
😳 Energy drinks
😳 Fruit juice
😳 Sweetened teas or tea drinks
😳 Drinks with milk like cafe latte
😳 Alternative milks that don’t say “unsweetened”
Stick with drinks like water, unsweetened coffee, and tea. And if you want alcohol, try distilled spirits like vodka, tequila, and whisky or have a glass of wine or champagne. Just be careful about any added ingredients or mixers.
Still not sure how to best lower your carbs?
Then let’s chat. Having someone who really knows their stuff to support you in this journey can be the difference between success and throwing in the towel. I work with clients on balancing their blood sugar every day. I love to personalize their protocols to make it as manageable (and dare I say fun) as possible.
A prediabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It can be a step in your journey that ultimately leads to better health than you could have imagined.