How Can You Lower A1C Levels?
Whether or not you are diabetic, your A1C level gives you insight into your blood sugar levels in the past several months. The A1C, or estimated average glucose, indicates if your blood sugar levels are under control.
If you are prediabetic, lowering your A1C levels can help you return them to normal levels and prevent you from developing diabetes. If you are diabetic, lowering A1C levels shows that your diabetes is under control, reducing your risk of complications.
To help, here are some ways to lower your A1C levels.
Follow a Food Plan
Following a smart diet is one of the most important changes you can make to lower your A1C levels. For many people, it is incredibly challenging to try to eat the right foods. However, you can make it significantly easier by creating a food plan.
Start by planning out your meals for the week ahead. Then, make a grocery list based on what you will need. Having a list will help you avoid impulse purchases. It will also ensure you get everything you need.
Then, dedicate some time to meal prepping. If you are short on time or new to this, it can be as simple as making a double batch of each meal and saving some for later in the week. If you want, you can even prep a full week of meals at once.
As you plan, just remember to incorporate flexibility. Unexpected situations can happen, so make sure you can adapt and have backup plans.
Use the Diabetes Plate Method
If you struggle to plan meals, then use the Diabetes Plate Method to guide you. It is as follows:
- Start with a plate that is less than a foot across;
- Mentally divide it into quarters;
- Fill half of the plate with low-carb vegetables;
- Fill a quarter with lean protein, and;
- Fill the final quarter with carbs.
Examples of good low-carb vegetables include:
- Cauliflower, and;
Examples of good lean proteins include:
- Lean beef or pork;
- Eggs, and;
Good grains include:
- Whole grain bread or rice;
- Butternut squash, and;
- Green peas.
Be Careful with Your Carbs
When choosing the carbs to put on your plate, be extra careful. That is because carbs have a greater impact on your blood sugar than other types of nutrients.
This means that if you eat a lot of starchy carbs, you are likely to have high A1C levels. Instead of going with starchy carbs, choose ones with nutrients and fiber.
You also want to make it a point to track your carbs, at least at first until doing so becomes intuitive. There are apps that can help with this, or you can just use a food diary.
Increase Your Exercise
While food is one of the main influences on your A1C levels, exercise is another. Increasing your activity is essential to maintaining a low A1C level.
Ideally, you want to aim for 150 minutes of exercise or activity per week. But you don’t need to just go from zero to that. Build yourself up slowly. A good starting point is a short walk of about 20 minutes after lunch.
However, how much you can exercise will depend on your health. As such, you should consult your doctor before increasing your physical activity. Your doctor will be able to help you do so safely.
Reconsider Your Weight Loss Goal
While losing a bit of weight will help lower your A1C levels and control your diabetes, you may be surprised at how little you need to lose to see results.
The typical recommendation from doctors is that diabetics should lose about five to 10 percent of their current weight. This should be enough to lower your A1C a little.
Take Prescription Medicines
Yet another option to reduce your A1C levels and keep them low is taking prescription medicine. Medication that lowers your fasting blood sugar, such as sitagliptin and repaglinide, can help reduce your A1C.
Consider Vitamins and Supplements
In addition to medication, there are some vitamins and supplements that can help lower your A1C levels. Make sure to consult your doctor when choosing which ones to try.
Chromium and aloe vera are both popular options. Just keep in mind that research into whether they lower A1C levels is still inconclusive.
Consistency Is Key
While all of the above will help you lower your A1C levels, they won’t do so overnight. You will need to incorporate these strategies into your routine on a regular basis.
It will likely take a few months before your A1C levels drop. So, be patient and consistent. Eventually, your numbers will drop.