Choosing the right carbs plays a huge role in reversing Prediabetes
People know that prediabetes means ‘high blood sugar’, for which they need to cut down on sweets and sugar. But that can be confusing as almost everything you eat contains carbs in some amount, be it fruits, vegetables, grains, or dairy products.
Without adequate knowledge about carbs and their effects on body, your prediabetes diet chart can be the quickest route to diabetes, since you wouldn’t know how much to eat.
Current estimates are that most people with prediabetes, possibly around 70%, will eventually develop type-2 diabetes.
Factors responsible for pre diabetes explosion
- Low fiber diet
- Saturated fats
- Physical inactivity
Should I go anti-carb?
A no-carb diet is not the solution here as you need carbs for energy production from different food sources. That’s why it is important for you to know about carbs and how to choose healthy carbs to prevent the slow progression to type-2 diabetes.
You will learn about carbohydrates and how selected carbs help in natural prediabetes management.
What are carbs?
Carbohydrates a.k.a ‘carb’ are one of the 3 main macronutrients – the other two are protein and fat – that provide us energy and are used by the body as fuel to run the body functions. This energy is measured by a unit called ‘calorie’. High-calorie carbohydrates provide more energy/calories. They are called ‘macro’ because our body requires them in large quantities to sustain life.
Carbohydrates are divided into 3 categories by National Health Service:
Sugars taste sweet. Glucose, sucrose, fructose & galactose are commonly called sugar and are high sources of instant calories, found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
They are complex carbs that are broken down into glucose for energy. In its purest form, when extracted from grains, vegetables, and fruits, it is a white odourless, tasteless powder that does not dissolve in water.
They can not be digested but they are beneficial for gut bacteria, thus they are vital for gut health.
Good carbs vs. bad carbs
Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grains all contain carbohydrates. In addition to the sugar and calories, these foods also provide a lot of healthy nutrients to our body. di are considered good carbs.
Those foods that do not have any nutritional value and are only loaded with ‘empty calories’ are called bad carbs. For example, soda, biscuits, cakes, soda, candy, and other unhealthy snacks.
How to cure pre diabetes with good carbs?
“Prediabetes’’ is that phase in which a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but still below the diabetes levels. This happens as your body becomes insulin resistant which causes faster blood sugar spikes every time you eat carb-rich foods as compared to a non-prediabetic person.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80% of prediabetic people are unaware that they have it. Even you may have it and not know it, since the elevated blood glucose is generally without symptoms until it gets very high.
On the bright side, prediabetes also provides a narrow window for escape from the impending metabolic disorders if you know what and how much to eat.
Choose quality over quantity
There’s a close connection between the low-carbohydrate diet and prediabetes control. Lower carbs mean that your body is also getting lower calories which keeps weight in control. But merely reducing calories is not the right approach to controlling the prediabetes or insulin resistance..
Carbs are a vital source of energy, therefore, you should choose the best-quality carbs in moderation over ‘no carbs’ or ‘too many bad carbs’.
This brings us to two important things to consider while planning a prediabetes diet chart.
The Glycemic index (GI) & Glycemic load (GL)
Glycemic Index (GI)
The glycemic index is a numerical value system that measures the rate at which sugar from carbs is released into the bloodstream of a healthy person after eating them.
Foods that raise blood sugar more rapidly, have a higher GI.
Carbs are divided into 3 GI divisions:
- Low GI foods (55% or less)
- Medium GI foods (56% to 69%)
- High GI foods (70% or higher)
Glycemic Load (GL)
Glycemic load is the system that measures the value of how much sugar load is put on your body. It is calculated by multiplying GI by the amount of carbohydrate served per hundred grams of the food. You should avoid large portions of carbs in order to reduce the glycemic load.
GL = GI x carbohydrates(grams) / 100(grams)
Glycemic load division:
- Low (less than 10)
- Moderate (11-19)
- High (20 or more)
Due to insulin resistance in prediabetes it is important to eat foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) and also low glycemic load (GL).
However, portion size matters more than the GI value. Eating very small quantities of medium or high GI foods with other low-carb, protein, and fiber-rich foods will prevent blood sugar rise as their collective GL is lower than the same amount of single high GI food.
Pre diabetic diet plan – choosing the right carbs with balance
Having a balanced-plate approach is the best way of planning a prediabetic diet. That way you can spread out the carbs from different food sources.
Foods with high GI/GL value should be reduced and lowered by incorporating foods rich in protein and fats into the diet. This balances their negative effect on blood sugar levels.
Below is the list of the safest foods for prediabetic diet chart for a healthful platter.
Sugars are very simple units of molecules that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream after being eaten. Their natural sources are fruits, dairy products, and in small amounts, vegetables.
As a rule of thumb, naturally obtained sugars are the best, the more processed they are the worse for prediabetes and general health. Artificial or added sugars in products like jams, candies, white sugar, and syrups are highly processed and are loaded with calories. They elevate the risks of heart problems, obesity and can lead to metabolic syndrome.
Choose whole fruits over fruit juice because whole fruits (some with skin) contain a lot of fibres that slow digestion and reduce instant reach into the bloodstream. Drinking too much fruit juice is bad for prediabetes.
You must eat whole fruits as an important part of your diet as they have a lot of vitamins and minerals but are low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. They are important for the maintenance of the body. Dried fruits are also a great source of fiber and nutrients that also support weight loss.
Some low glycemic index fruits are:
- Dried apricots
Starches are complex molecules that are ultimately broken down into sugar (glucose, fructose & galactose). Starches are slowly digested therefore they keep you feeling full for a long time, thus, preventing you from overeating.
The best sources for starch are whole grains that have not been stripped of the outer layer i.e. germ. Whole grains contain fibre in large amounts that help in reducing the glycemic load.
Refined grains like white flour, processed cereal, and white rice are rich in starch and low in fiber, therefore they should be avoided or carefully added in very small quantities to your prediabetes diet chart.
Some vegetables also contain starch, though the amount of water and fiber is much higher than starch. High-starch vegetables like potato, yam, and sweet potato should be limited while planning a prediabetes diet chart.
Some low glycemic index vegetables are:
- Bottle gourd
- Bitter gourd
- Ladies finger
Some low glycemic index whole grains are:
- Brown rice
High GI index foods that are low in fiber reduce insulin sensitivity and lead to a 59% increase in risks of cardiovascular diseases. Though they do not serve any nutritive function they play a huge role in lowering the glycemic index and glycemic load. They are found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Protein-packed fibrous foods when combined with small quantities of medium GI foods, can balance the collective glycemic load and can be a great addition to snacks in your prediabetic diet chart.
Some high-fiber foods:
- Black beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Slightly underripe banana
To prevent overeating after a long interval of meals it is important to keep munching on healthy pre-diabetes-safe snacks in between.
Effects of prediabetes low carbohydrate diet on your health
A low carbohydrate diet (LCD) has immense health benefits for people with prediabetes and type-2 diabetes, which are:
- Improves blood glucose control
- Manages weight
- Increases satiety/ reduces hunger
- Reduces insulin resistance
- Provides rest to worn-out insulin-producing cells
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Improves blood pressure
If you have prediabetes, it is better to eat foods with a low GI value, but with proper knowledge of GI/GL, you can incorporate medium GI foods too. If you are not sure about a food’s health effects or portion size you must consult a dietician.
Reducing carbohydrate intake is beneficial for people with prediabetes and metabolic disorder. The most important thing is to monitor the quantity of ‘good carbs’ otherwise you may end up gaining weight.
It is a healthy way to diversify the carb intake from different food sources and also get the essential nutrients.
Overeating low GI foods do not prevent type-2 diabetes, it may speed up the progression instead. Therefore, while planning a prediabetes diet chart, balance is important.
What are the best foods to eat if you are prediabetic?
Foods that have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load are the best for prediabetes. These foods are generally rich in protein which keeps your hunger controlled for a long time and should be added to your prediabetes diet chart.
- Dried fruits – walnuts, almonds, cashews, dried apricots, etc.
- Whole grains – ragi, barley, quinoa, wholewheat, etc.
- Fruits that can be eaten with the skin- green apple, plums, grapefruits, pears, etc.
- Protein-rich foods like beans, pulses, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
What foods to avoid if you are prediabetic?
Avoid foods that are rich in carbs and have a high glycemic index and glycemic load. Foods that are rich in starch are also bad for prediabetes. Starch does not taste sweet but it is broken down into simpler sugars during digestion, thus high-starch foods raise blood sugar levels. These are white rice, refined grains, potato, yams.
This does not mean that you can eat foods low GI foods as much as you want. Whether it is low, medium or high GI portion size matters therefore eat in the limit, especially when you have prediabetes.
What is a good breakfast for prediabetes?
Nuts, whole grain/multigrain chapati with cooked vegetables, yogurt, sprouts, some fruits, or a glass of milk are all good for a healthy prediabetic breakfast. Do not include a lot of different types of foods or foods with different natures together, for example, milk + yogurt, milk + salty foods, or eating fruits after meals, as they can be bad for your gut and can cause bloating or irritated gut.
What is the miracle fruit that cures diabetes?
These fruits have a low GI and are packed with anti-diabetic, anti-obese, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for type-2 diabetes and you should add it to your prediabetes diet chart.