Do You Need an Insulin-Resistance Diet?

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People with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome may have been advised about the value of an insulin-resistance diet.

But this way of eating can benefit most people interested in balancing blood sugars, whether that’s to help treat or prevent chronic conditions, or just to gain more energy and better mood control.

"An ‘insulin-resistant diet’ is a diet or eating plan that supports balanced blood sugars in the body,” explained Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered dietitian and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition in Duluth, Ga.

1. What is a diet for insulin resistance?

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The best diet for insulin resistance aims to pair carbohydrate foods with protein and fat, Al Bochi said.

Protein and fat foods might include meat, chicken, fish, cheese, avocado, oil, beans, nuts and seeds. Carbohydrates could include bread, pasta or a range of other items, such as dairy or fruit.

Blood sugar rises more slowly when protein, fat and carbs are eaten together compared to just eating carbohydrates on their own, Al Bochi said.

2. Health benefits of an insulin-resistance diet

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No single test will indicate whether someone is insulin-resistant, according to the CDC. A health care provider may make that diagnosis if a person has high blood sugar; a high level of triglycerides in their blood; a high level of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol; or low level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

A good indicator of how many people have insulin resistance is to note how many have prediabetes. That’s about one-third of adults, more than 84 million people in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

A person can improve their insulin resistance with a healthy diet, regular moderate-intensity physical activity and weight loss, the clinic suggests.

3. How to balance your plate

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Aim for a plate that is half vegetables, one-quarter carbohydrates and one-quarter protein and fat, Al Bochi said.

Vegetables should be non-starchy, the ADA's Diabetes Plate Method recommends.

Al Bochi offered an example of a food combination for insulin resistance: Adding avocado and egg to a person's morning toast will balance blood sugar by pairing the fat and protein with the carbohydrate.

4. Insulin-resistance diet food list

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So, what specific foods should you eat?

While the list of non-starchy veggies is long, some examples are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, pea pods, tomatoes and peppers, the ADA suggests.

Protein sources can include lean meats, fish or even cheese in small amounts, as well as plant-based foods, such as beans, hummus, lentils, peas or tofu.

Fruit choices are plentiful, but they are considered a carbohydrate.

Sources of monounsaturated fat include avocado, canola oil, olive oil, olives, peanuts and peanut oil, safflower oil and some nuts, according to the ADA.

Polyunsaturated fat sources can include oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds, tofu, eggs and sunflower seeds.

5. Source and more information

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