Choosing the best diet for stable blood glucose
Table of Contents
What is a diet? And what are the main reasons for following one?
By definition, the word “diet” refers to the food and drinks that are regularly consumed by a person. However, the word diet is also associated with a restriction of calories, carbohydrates, fats or other nutrients in order to achieve a goal, which is frequently related to health or weight loss.
Common reasons for following a diet include:
- Weight management
- Ethical / ecological considerations
- Wellbeing & focus
- Hormonal balance & skin care
- Enhanced immune system
- Increased energy throughout the day
- Disease prevention
Which are the most popular diets? Which benefits do they have?
There are many diets out there and we know it can be confusing at times. In this section, we will give you an overview of some popular diets and their benefits when it comes to keeping your blood glucose stable.
- Intermittent fasting is a great way to increase your metabolic flexibility and therefore improve your glucose control. However, we recommend to do this diet along with a balance diet and skipping dinner rather than breakfast. The risk of the yoyo effect is also part of this diet if you break the diet incorrectly.
- The Mediterranean diet is a great approach to improving female health. It’s a good dietary approach to improve your glycemic control. The adherence to the Mediterranean diet seems to have a protective role in glycemic control, reducing HbA1c, and lowering fasting levels in addition to decreased insulin resistance. However, if not followed properly, it may lead to weight gain from eating more than the recommended amount of fat (e.g. in olive oil and nuts).
- Intuitive eating may help you managing your eating hours and avoid overeating and sweet cravings and as consequence can help you reach a stable blood glucose.
- Calorie counting may help you to avoid calorie-dense foods such as sweets and snacks, lose weight and as consequence it may improve your glucose metabolism. However, balance is key in calorie counting, and not every low-calorie diet is healthy and provides your body with all the nutrients it needs.
- The ketogenic diet (Keto) is a type of diet that pushed your body to the limits. It has a fast and noticeable effect on body weight, fasting glucose levels and fasting insulin levels. But in the long term, it can lead to an increase fat intake, which may have unintended consequences. Also the yoyo effect is quite common once you stop following the diet.
- A healthy vegan diet may help you manage your blood glucose better. However if you follow a vegan diet heavily based on processed foods, it can lead to deficiencies, increased fat and sugar intake.
Which diet is best for stable blood glucose?
Many of the diets we described above have benefits for controlling blood glucose levels, but all for different reasons. Some diets are generally more beneficial for stable blood glucose. It also needs to be considered that everyone reacts differently to different foods.
To help you figure out which diet might work for you in the long term and support your health goals, we prepared a list of questions you can ask yourself as a preparation:
Why do I want to choose a diet? What’s my goal?
Diets cannot be generalized, and everybody is unique in what their body needs. A diet that has proven to be good for some people may not have the same effect on you. Therefore, we cannot offer you a one-fits-all solution. Finding out how your body reacts to different foods and diets (e.g. by using a CGM and the Hello Inside App) may help you to find an approach that fits your body and lifestyle.
A very important point that is missing is the importance of breaking a diet to avoid the yoyo effect. The yoyo effect is a very common situation, in which people struggle to maintain the already achieved goal once the diet period is finished. This effect happens frequently after stopping to adhere to a very restrictive diet aimed at loosing weight, but it also affects your entire metabolism. Weight cycling, often referred to as yoyo dieting, is driven by physiological counter-regulatory mechanisms that aim at preserving energy, i.e. decreased energy expenditure, increased energy intake, and impaired brain-periphery communication.
What fits best to my lifestyle?
For deciding which diet suits your current lifestyle, you may ask yourself two questions:
Do I eat out often?
Eating out or ordering food frequently is not ideal for following most diets. You do not exactly know what you’re eating or how it was prepared. Eating outside generally tends to come along with high amounts of salt, sugar and fat. If you don’t have lots of home-cooked meals on a regular basis, you need to consider which diets allow you to follow this pattern, or if you want to switch your routines up a bit and try something new.
What’s the most important meal of the day for me?
Intermittent fasting may be a good option for those people that have a preferred meal. Ideally, you should choose having breakfast over having dinner, if possible. Skipping breakfast has been associated with markers of impaired glucose metabolism, including elevated hemoglobin A1c, higher fasting plasma glucose and a higher rate of impaired fasting glucose.
How do my social factors influence my diet?
Social eating norms may be targeted to encourage healthier eating. Eating behaviour is strongly influenced by social context. We eat differently when we are with other people compared with when we eat alone. Our dietary choices also tend to converge with those of our close social connections.
Your level of activity and the behaviour of people around you also affects your diet choice. If you are an active person, your should avoid highly restrictive diets. Your body needs to be provided with carbs, protein and fats to ensure its best performance and recovery. Intermittent fasting, mediterranean diet, intuitive eating and vegan diet may be an option as long they do not come along with caloric restriction.
What’s compatible with my food choices and what’s available?
When selecting a diet, you also need to consider what foods you have access to and what you like. Where you get your groceries and how you prepare them also affects the diet that may be most suitable for you.
If you like to cook, any diet type is perfect for you. The more you cook, the better for your overall health! For almost any diet it is good to know how your food is prepared and what it contains, to make sure you can provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.
If cooking is not so much your cup of tea, and you need fast and easy options available at all times, you may need to plan ahead depending on the diet you want to follow. However, by preparing snacks that go well with your chosen diet, you can still try out what works for you, even if you don’t have access to a kitchen all day.
Diets are something very individual. Maybe adhering to one specific diet helps you to reach your health goals, or maybe you find that you would rather be flexible with your approach to nutrition. Learn what works best for you and your body. You can discover what you really need and what’s best for your blood glucose by monitoring it with the Hello Inside app and a CGM.