This month is dedicated to educating Americans about Type 2 diabetes—a disease that can be prevented with healthy lifestyle modifications and exercise. Type 2 diabetes can be described as “insulin resistance,” and occurs when the body fails to use insulin properly. Insulin is a storage hormone that decreases blood sugar levels when they get too high. It converts excess blood glucose into glycogen, removes it from the bloodstream and stores it in your cells. When glycogen levels in your body are filled, excess glucose is converted into fat. insulin resistance prevents glucose from entering your cells efficiently.
The most powerful way to prevent or control diabetes is to improve insulin regulation. And the three most effective ways to do that include eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising daily.
Improving insulin regulation requires balancing blood sugar throughout the day. Every meal and snack, from breakfast through dinner should contain a balance of foods that enters the bloodstream slowly and leads to a gradual rise and control of insulin. When carbohydrates are eaten alone, they can digest quickly, spiking blood sugar and releasing insulin to lower it. But when carbohydrate foods are eaten with protein and fat, the entire meal is digested slowly so that it trickles into the bloodstream in a controlled manner, balancing blood sugar and controlling insulin. I recommend focusing meals and snacks around the 40-30-30 principle, which calls for 40% of calories from slow release carbohydrates, 30% of calories from lean, easy to digest protein sources, and 30% from healthy fats.
The following tips and dietary guidelines can help diabetics choose foods and plan meals that balance blood sugar. Just note that even if your meals are balanced, an overly large plate containing excess calories can still increase insulin and contribute to weight gain.
Foods to Avoid
- Carbohydrates when eaten alone
- High glycemic carbohydrates, primarily starches and highly-processed foods
- Fried foods, and trans fats
- Meals with excessive calories
Best Food Choices
- Low- to medium glycemic carbohydrate foods including most fruits and vegetables
- Low fat protein such as salmon, chicken, turkey, lean beef and pork, eggs and egg whites, 2% Greek yogurt, whey protein powder
- Healthy fats such as olives and olive oil, macadamia nuts, and avocados
- Balance Bars, which contain a 40-30-30 ratio of calories and act as a satisfying mid-meal snack or mini meal
For more information on maintaining a balanced diet, you can also check out our book, The Formula, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program. The Formula diet provides the ideal 40-30-30 ratio of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to help keep blood glucose steady, thereby helping to control the body’s demand for insulin. When blood sugar is balanced, you begin teaching the body to use fat as a fuel source. Only then can you begin to experience greater energy levels, less fatigue and cravings, better focus and concentration, faster fat loss, improved sleep and overall better health. Meals are even designed for your personal requirements to ensure adequate calories throughout the day, depending on your gender, size and activity level.
It is also important to include daily exercise to further stabilize blood sugar levels and help insulin work more efficiently. Exercise lowers blood sugar, controlling the release of insulin and increasing the release of stored fat as fuel.
A balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and daily exercise are powerful tools to help control blood sugar and improve insulin regulation—and all these activities can help you naturally live a longer, healthier life. So get on track today, and make this November a month for focusing on your health—and preventing Type 2 diabetes.