What is the Pre-Diabetic Diet?

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  • Written By: James Franklin
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 24 January 2020
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The pre-diabetic diet is a type of nutrition program designed to help people who are at risk avoid developing Type 2 diabetes, otherwise known as adult onset diabetes. There is some debate among experts about how the diet should be broken down in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and other foodstuffs to effectively keep the patient’s blood sugar levels from rising to dangerously unhealthy levels. Despite some difference in opinion, there are many dietary features upon which doctors agree.

The pre-diabetic diet is similar to the diet recommended for diabetics. Doctors urge those diagnosed as pre-diabetic to adhere to this diet to prevent the development of full-blown Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and many physicians and dietitians suggest a low-fat diet that favors proteins such as lean meats, poultry and fish, plus vegetables, whole grains and non-fat dairy products.

Some fruits are high in carbohydrates, but doctors still say patients should not shy away from this type of food because of its nutritional value. Portion control is the key. Any type of fruit is fine, as long as the serving doesn’t contain more than 15 grams of carbohydrates. Lower-carb fruits such as raspberries and blackberries are good because they can be enjoyed in greater quantities without exceeding 15 grams of carbs per serving. Pre-diabetic diets can also include high-carb fruits such as mangoes and oranges, as long as the portions are kept small.


Many experts caution against processed foods, which often are rich in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, salt and chemical preservatives. High-fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in many processed foods, is especially troublesome because it has been shown to reduce glucose tolerance and insulin function. Glucose is a simple sugar that powers the body’s cells, and insulin is one of the hormones regulating it.

People diagnosed as pre-diabetic have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal — between 100 and 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) — but not high enough to classify them as diabetic. A blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher places an individual in the diabetic category. In Type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to use some or all of the insulin produced by the pancreas, leading to higher blood glucose levels.

Doctors also agree that, in addition to following the pre-diabetic diet, patients should undertake an exercise regimen lasting at least 30 minutes per day. Various studies have shown that exercise and healthy food choices can reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 percent. People who are overweight or obese are advised to lose weight in addition to making radical lifestyle changes.

To varying degrees, some highly publicized diets resemble to the pre-diabetic diet and its balanced composition of protein, carbohydrates and fruits and vegetables. Examples of these include the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet and the Zone Diet. Despite these superficial similarities, patients should consult with a doctor before embarking on any diet or weight loss plan.


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