Suppose you are recently diagnosed with prediabetes or simply want to reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In that case, you surely want to make healthy food choices because these conditions are largely determined by what we eat daily.

Prediabetes is a potentially serious health problem where blood sugar levels are high but not enough to give a full-blown type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Although rarely spoken of, this is a pretty common issue affecting about 98 million Americans. The good news, however, is that, unlike diabetes, prediabetes can be effectively managed and even reversed without medications. Adopting lifestyle changes like healthy diets could be all it takes to get things under control.

Key Facts

  • Prediabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes because most people who go on to develop type 2 diabetes almost always have prediabetes for some years.
  • About one in three adults in the United States (98 million people) have prediabetes. 80% of these people are unaware of their condition.
  • Prediabetes can go undetected for years since it typically presents no symptoms until type 2 diabetes sets it. Hence, to be safer, you should be tested if you have prediabetes risk factors like being overweight, over 45 years of age, or having a family history of the disease.
  • A healthy diet won't just help control blood sugar and prevent full-blown type 2 diabetes but will help you live a healthier life.

The Right Foods for Prediabetes

People with prediabetes do not have to avoid certain food classes as they can all be included in a balanced meal plan. Foods containing proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water are all important once eaten healthily.

As a prediabetic, your doctor will likely recommend that you cut down on your carb intake and balance things with more fibrous foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables.

"In a nutshell (as a prediabetic), you will want to prioritize complete protein in your diet," says Dr. Morgan Nolte, a board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy and the founder of Zivli. "...it's also important to eat healthy fats. These would include omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon and tuna; omega-9 fatty acids from olives, avocados, and their oils, and unprocessed omega-6 fatty acids from nuts, seeds, and their butter," she added.

Here are some examples:

  • Fibrous Foods: Examples include cooked lentils (containing about 15.6 grams of fiber per cup serving), beans, artichokes, avocados, and plain popcorn.
  • Lean Proteins: Examples include chicken and turkey breasts, fish (like cod, salmon, or tilapia), tofu, and egg whites.
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios), olive oil, salmon, and chia seeds.
  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, oats, whole wheat, and barley.
  • Fruits: Apples, Berries (blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries), oranges, and grapes.

Non-Starchy Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, and cucumbers.

Our 7-day Meal Plan to Manage Prediabetes and Prevent Diabetes

This generic meal plan is aimed at helping prediabetic people maintain a healthy daily intake of 2000 calories. Since individual calorie requirements may differ, it's best to work with a doctor and dietician to determine one's specific calorie goal.

For this plan, each day consists of three meals and snacks containing a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and fat. The macronutrient composition of each low-calorie food (415-1700 kcal daily), containing 41–65% carbohydrates, 12–43.7% protein, and 13–30% fat, is based on this study which suggests that such low-calorie diets reduced insulin resistance and improved prediabetes. 

DAY-1 (1,920 calories, 86g protein, 204g carbohydrates, 91g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 300 calories, 11g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 18g fat

  • ½ cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 5 chopped strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal).
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 277 calories, 23g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 12g fat

  • 10 cherries
  • 3 walnuts (divided into 6 halves)
  • A cup of 2% Greek yogurt

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 342 calories, 21g protein, 33g carbohydrates, 15g fat

  • One 8-inch whole wheat wrap
  • 4 ounces sliced turkey
  • 2 slices tomato
  • ¼ avocado
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal).
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 236 calories, 7g protein, 30g carbohydrates, 10g fat

  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced
  • ¼ cup tzatziki dip
  • ¼ cup black olives
  • 1 ounce pita chips

Evening

Nutritional Profile: 491 calories, 20g protein, 58g carbohydrates, 21g fat

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 ounces tofu, cubed and baked in 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • ½ cup broccoli sautéed in 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal).
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 273 calories, 5g protein, 31g carbohydrates, 15g fat

DAY 2 (1,973 calories, 89g protein, 188g carbohydrates, 110g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 258 calories, 25g protein, 38g carbohydrates, 5g fat

  • ½ cup of All-Bran cereal
  • ½ cup of raspberries
  • 1 cup of 2% Greek yogurt
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal).
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 175 calories, 7g protein, 18g carbohydrates, 9g fat

  • 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 442 calories, 19g protein, 35g carbohydrates, 27g fat

  • 1 cup lentil pasta
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into coins and roasted in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal).
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 260 calories, 4g protein, 30g carbohydrates, 16g fat

  • 12 tortilla chips
  • ¼ cup guacamole

Evening

Nutritional Profile: 607 calories, 30g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 44g fat

  • 3 ounces grilled steak
  • 12 Brussels sprouts, halved and roasted in 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup butternut squash cubes roasted in 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 231 calories, 4g protein, 39g carbohydrates, 9g fat

2 Medjool dates

1 tablespoon almond butter

DAY 3 (2,069 calories, 102g protein, 188g carbohydrates, 109g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 313 calories, 27g protein, 25g carbohydrates, 13g fat

  • ¼ cup of unsweetened, whole-grain cereal
  • ½ ounce of chopped almonds
  • ½ cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup of 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 153 calories, 8g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 7g fat

  • 1 medium-sized peach
  • 1 string cheese

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 521 calories, 27g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 29g fat

Salmon Caesar Salad Pita containing the following:

  • One 6-inch whole wheat pita bread
  • 2 cups of romaine lettuce
  • 3 ounces of grilled salmon
  • 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing)
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 210 calories, 5g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 10g fat

  • 15 almonds
  • 1 apple

Night

Nutritional Profile: 567 calories, 28g protein, 44g carbohydrates, 32g fat

Chicken Stir-Fry containing the following:

  • 4 ounces of chicken breast
  • ½ cup of broccoli
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper sautéed in 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut sauce
  • ½ cup of cooked brown rice)
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack:

Nutritional Profile: 302 calories, 8g protein, 33g carbohydrates, 18g fat

  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter

Day 4 (1,410 calories, 60g fat, 94g protein, 80g carbohydrate)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 311 calories, 16g fat, 11g carbs, 14g protein.

  • 1 serving muffin-tin quiches with smoked cheddar and potato
  • 1 medium-sized orange (154g)
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 98 calories, 11g protein, 4.3g fat, 3.4g carbs

  • 1 serving of creamed cottage cheese

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 396 Calories, 8g Fat, 22g Carbs, 28g Protein

  • 1 serving cumin chicken and chickpea stew
  • 1 large sliced bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of hummus
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 188 calories, 8g fat, 13.8g carbohydrates, 18.4 protein

  • 1 cup of shelled edamame pods

Evening

Nutritional Profile: 416 calories, 24g fat, 23g carbs, 26g protein

  • 1 serving of basic green salad with vinaigrette
  • 1 serving of no-noodle eggplant lasagna
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)

Day 5 (1,846 calories, 86g protein, 165g carbohydrates, 108g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 335 calories, 13g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 21g fat

  • 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread
  • 1 poached egg
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 119 calories, 5g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 6g fat

  • ½ cup of baby carrots
  • ¼ cup of hummus

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 415 calories, 22g protein, 39g carbohydrates, 21g fat

Greek Salad with 5 large grilled shrimp containing the following:

  • 2 cups of romaine lettuce
  • ½ cup of chopped tomato
  • ½ cup of chopped cucumber
  • ¼ cup of black olives
  • ¼ cup of feta cheese
  • ½ cup of chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette)

Take a glass of water or more during or after the meal.

Snack

Nutritional Profile: 266 calories, 8g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 16g fat

  • 1 small apple
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Evening

Nutritional Profile: 489 calories, 31g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 28g fat

  • 4 ounces of grilled salmon
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato
  • 10 asparagus spears roasted in 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 223 calories, 7g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 16g fat

  • 2 cups of plain popcorn
  • 15 roasted cashews

Day 6 (1,843 calories, 90g protein, 191g carbohydrates, 88g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 300 calories, 11g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 18g fat

  • ½ cup oatmeal cooked in water
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 5 large chopped strawberries
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 208 calories, 7g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 10g fat

  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium apple

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 608 calories, 39g protein, 73g carbohydrates, 20g fat

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3 ounces grilled chicken
  • ⅓ cup black beans
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 2 cups spinach
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 88 calories, 1g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 5g fat

  • 2 cups plain popcorn

Evening

Nutritional Profile: 521 calories, 27g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 29g fat

Salmon Caesar salad pita with the following: 

  • One 6-inch whole wheat pita bread
  • 2 cups of romaine lettuce
  • 3 ounces of grilled salmon
  • 1 tablespoon of Caesar dressing
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 119 calories, 5g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 6g fat

  • ½ cup of baby carrots
  • ¼ cup of hummus

Day 7 (1,752 calories, 103g protein, 162g carbohydrates, 86g fat)

Morning

Nutritional Profile: 407 calories, 35g protein. 29g carbohydrates, 16g fat

  • 2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 4 ounces canned tuna mixed with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 234 calories, 6g protein, 36g carbohydrates, 9g fat

  • 2 brown rice cakes
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Afternoon

Nutritional Profile: 335 calories, 13g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 21g fat

  • 1 slice 100% whole wheat bread
  • 1 poached egg
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • ½ medium avocado
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 153 calories, 8g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 7g fat

  • 1 cheese stick
  • 1 large peach
Evening

Nutritional Profile: 490 calories, 31g protein, 37g carbohydrates, 21g fat

  • 1 100% whole wheat bun
  • 1 slice of tomato, one outer romaine lettuce leaf
  • 4 ounces of turkey burger
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • A glass of water or more (taken after or during the meal)
Snack

Nutritional Profile: 302 calories, 5g protein, 16g carbohydrates, 25g fat

  • 10 walnut halves

Why Healthy Dieting is Crucial for a Person with Prediabetes

While a prediabetes diagnosis is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the two conditions are far from being the same. Prediabetes, unlike type two diabetes, is reversible with proper dieting and may not require any medication.

It's noteworthy that no food class is off-limit for a person with prediabetes; however, moderation (calorie balance) is necessary to slow down or reverse the condition. The ultimate goal of healthy diets for people with prediabetes is to maintain the ideal number of calories and balance this number across healthy sources of protein, carbs, and fats. 

If you have prediabetes, obtaining energy from carbohydrates (especially simple sugars) alone is a deal-breaker. Simple carbohydrates have a higher glycemic index and can lead to a faster rise in blood sugar levels. These carbs are easily used for energy by the body because of their simple chemical structure. When eaten excessively and often, they can worsen prediabetes and might trigger type 2 diabetes quicker than expected. Thus, the importance of creating a balance through healthier food choices can not be overemphasized.

Conclusion

It's a task to achieve long-term health goals through dieting. It's even more challenging to stay disciplined while on it. However, you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels, support weight management, and gradually reverse prediabetes by having a mix of foods rich in protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables.

While our meal plan is generally effective and safe, we still recommend talking with your doctor or dietician before adopting any diet. They can help tailor your diet plan to your needs, especially if you have specific health concerns.

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. National Library of Medicine Nutritional Strategies in Prediabetes: A Scoping Review of Recent Evidence
  2. CDC Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
  3. American Diabetes Association BLOOD GLUCOSE & A1C Diagnosis
  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine Prediabetes Diet

About the Author

Inez Briand

Inez Briand is the partner of a type 1 diabetic (Ely). She has always been interested in traveling and cooking, and now that she has a partner with diabetes, her interest in cooking even more healthily has skyrocketed. She loves finding new recipes for her partner and family and sharing any food and nutrition-related articles on Diabetic & Me.

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