The Ultimate Diet For Prediabetes

Medically reviewed by John A. Flores M.D., M.S. January 25, 2024| Written by Godfrey M. Wesutsa

The Ultimate Diet For Prediabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, prediabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by increased blood sugar levels on the verge of developing type 2 diabetes. Apart from type 2 diabetes, prediabetes raises your risk of developing a stroke and heart disease.

Surprisingly, more than 90 million American adults have prediabetes.


Prediabetes occurs when your body cells do not respond to the insulin the pancreas produces. So, the pancreas will be required to produce more of this hormone. After all, insulin is expected to enable energy production by letting blood sugar into your body cells. 

Unfortunately, the pancreas cannot keep up producing more insulin, thus leading to a rise in blood sugar levels, causing prediabetes.

Signs and Symptoms

As stated earlier, prediabetes sets the stage for type 2 diabetes. This health condition can often go unnoticed for several years since its signs and symptoms are unclear. Therefore, you must see a doctor to get a blood sugar test. 

However, there are some factors that will predispose you to prediabetes. These include:

  • Having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • Being Obese
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Limited physical activity
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Being 45 years old or above

Diet For Prediabetes and Diabetes

Once you are diagnosed with prediabetes, there has to be a shift in your diet. You should carefully select which foods you should eat and which you must avoid. 

Surely, it would be a hard adjustment. But remember, you are now at risk of developing type 2 diabetes which is more harmful than your current state. 

According to research, a Mediterranean diet will be ideal. That said, I’m enlisting a guide for foods that you should take and foods you must avoid. 

1. Avoid Sugary Drinks

If you have prediabetes, you must reduce your blood sugar levels. So, it is important to avoid sugary drinks or sweetened beverages. 

While these sugary drinks raise your blood sugar levels; they do not have nutrients such as protein and fiber to slow down digestion. So, try avoiding the following beverages:

  • Sweet tea
  • Soda
  • Coffee drinks
  • Alcohol cocktails
  • Energy drinks
  • Punch
  • Fruit juices
  • Lemonade

Now that you are eliminating the above beverages, you might wonder what you should resort to instead. Fortunately, there are some perfect substitutes for the sugary drinks. These include:

  • Sparkling water
  • Unsweetened tea or coffee
  • Water infused with herbs and fruits

2. Eat More Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are high in calories and contain healthy fats. You can include them in your diet if you are prediabetic to minimize the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

What’s the catch?  Well, you need to ensure they are unsalted. 

Some of the good options at your disposal include:

  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds  
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia
  • Hazelnuts

Since seeds and nuts are high in fat and calories, you must take the right quantity to avert prediabetes effectively. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should consume between 4 to 5 ounces of nuts weekly.

3. Eat More Healthy Proteins

Incorporating healthy proteins into your meals will be a great idea. Proteins make you feel full, and so, prevent you from snacking. Besides, they reduce the rate at which carbohydrates enter into your bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugar levels become steady. 

Some of the proteins you need to incorporate into your prediabetes diet include:

  • Tofu
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Lean meats
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Lentils
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Cottage cheese
  • Part-skim cheese
  • Dried peas
  • Dried beans

4. Breakfast Is Essential

An early breakfast goes a long way in controlling your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Two hours after waking up in the morning will be ideal for you to have your breakfast. However, if you plan to skip breakfast, you should have a meal low in carbohydrates. 

You can have nutritious snacks such as yogurt, fresh fruits, and almonds to deal with mid-morning hunger.

That said, not just any food will be ideal for you in the morning. According to Tara Seymour, a diabetes educator at Johns Hopkins and an advanced practice clinical dietitian, your breakfast should be balanced. Your breakfast should include:

  • Cereals
  • Fiber
  • Low-fat diary
  • Lean protein

5. Eat Fruits in Moderation

Fruits contain a lot of sugar. If you have prediabetes, you need to cut down your sugar levels; therefore, you must eat fruits in moderation or find lower-sugar fruits such as kiwi, oranges, melons, and berries. You should aim for at most three servings every day. 

Fruits also contain minerals, vitamins, and fiber; hence, they will prevent you from overeating.

Pair your fruit with seeds, nuts, astring of cheese, boiled egg, cottage cheese, butter, and yogurt to lower the risk of glucose becoming elevated. This simple routine will help control your blood sugar levels, making you less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

6. Eat Your Meals on Time

If you tend to skip meals or not eat on time, you will overeat later. This is because you tend to get hungry. For instance, if you eat late at night and are prediabetic, your blood sugar levels will rise, putting you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

So, it would be best to keep some time between meals; lunch should be your most important meal of the day.

7. Increase Your Vegetable Uptake

Vegetables contain fiber which prevents your blood sugar levels from rising. The fiber in vegetables makes you feel full by slowing down digestion and absorption. So you will not feel hungry, preventing you from overeating. 

However, you should not eat just any kind of vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are the ideal choice since they have less carbohydrates.

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:

    • Spinach
    • Broccoli
    • Bell peppers
    • Carrots
    • Mushrooms
    • Onions
    • Okra
    • Eggplant
    • Cucumber
  • 8. Eat Whole Grains

    Whole grains contain fiber that will make you feel full, and make you less likely to snack between meals. Besides, they contain nutrients that are good for your health. You can incorporate whole grains in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

    Some of the whole grains you can choose from include:

    • Quinoa
    • Pasta
    • Brown rice
    • Oatmeal

    9. See a Dietitian

    It will be prudent to talk to a dietitian to find all the necessary information regarding which foods are ideal for you if you are prediabetic. If your prediabetes is poorly managed, you can fully develop diabetes. And, this will jeopardize your health since you will be at a higher risk for developing severe heart conditions.

    We have experienced dietitians ready to help you create a diet plan that will fit you perfectly. You will know which foods and the right amounts you must incorporate into your diet. This way you would not have to guess what you should eat or avoid.

    10. Reversing Prediabetes

    Prediabetes is not a permanent condition since you can reverse it. This is good news since you can avoid developing type 2 diabetes, but how do you reverse this condition? 

    According to the study conducted by the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program, increased physical activity, weight reduction, and healthy eating habits will help you reverse prediabetes and minimize the risk of becoming diabetic.

    According to Johns Hopkins’ diabetes prevention program, lifestyle changes geared towards weight loss will reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 34%. 

    Below are some of the lifestyle changes you need to capitalize on:

    • Get enough aleep: Sleep deprivation tends to increase your cravings. This will make you overeat and gain unnecessary weight, putting you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So, if you are prediabetes, ensure you sleep for at least 7 hours.
    • Physical activity is your gateway to losing excess weight and it also helps prevent diabetes. In the long run, you will enhance your heart health. Ensure you have a minimum of 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Physical activities like walking will lower your risk, preventing type 2 diabetes.
    • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol: This practice goes a long way in preventing chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes vascular issues, and type 2 diabetes.
    • Lose Weight: Ensure you maintain a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9. Losing weight will ensure your prediabetes does not become type 2 diabetes.


    Being prediabetic means you are on the brink of developing type 2 diabetes. Your blood sugar levels are high, and if you do not act, you will likely develop diabetes. Unfortunately, you cannot easily tell that you are prediabetic until you get diagnosed by a doctor. 

    Once diagnosed, you must maintain healthy habits to prevent your body from developing type 2 diabetes. This means switching to a prediabetes diet and a lifestyle that will prevent your blood sugar levels from rising further.  

    I hope this article helped you in deciding on a prediabetic diet and lifestyle. Here, we also have a panel of experienced dietitians who can guide you to a personalized diet schedule.