Tips to Help Lower Your A1c
Last updated: August 2023
Getting blood sugar under control is one of the hardest tasks for a diabetic. While daily blood sugars are a good clue to the level of control you have, your A1c result is what the doctor will use to assess overall success of diabetes management.
I am sure we have all heard one or more success stories of individuals who made the same changes we have, except they had phenomenal results. Although we are happy for these people, it’s only human to feel a little jealous. Hopefully one of these tips will help you move your A1c in the right direction.
How to lower your A1c for diabetes management
1. Reduce carbohydrates
First, you may want to consider cutting carbs, or cut them more. Carbs have a big influence on blood sugar levels. Reducing your carbohydrate intake puts less sugar into your bloodstream. I am not talking extreme carb-cutting all at one time. Consult a registered dietitian to get advice on your diet.
If this option isn’t available, ask your physician. The last option is to use the ADA dietary guidelines for diabetics. This will give you a good starting point. If you are used to excessive carbohydrate intake or take medication to lower blood sugar, reduce carbs over time to lower the risk of a hypoglycemic episode.
Exercise is a great way to reduce your blood sugar and possibly help your body reduce the effect of insulin resistance. Like dietary changes, this isn’t instant. Some individuals may see an increase in blood sugar when exercising, especially at first. Do not let this discourage you. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor. Over time, this can correct itself as your body makes changes to better use the glucose in your bloodstream. Of course, consult your physician before starting or changing any exercise regimen.
3. Consider intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can help to lower your A1c level, but this is arguably one of the hardest ways to do so and can be dangerous for some diabetics, so consult your physician before starting. There are many different ways to intermittent fast which is restricting the time you eat to a certain window during the day. Many people follow a 16:8 schedule, which means they fast, or don’t eat, for 16 hours, and only eat in the same 8-hour window every day.
While this is one of the hardest, especially in the beginning, it’s my opinion this is probably the best way to lower your A1c. This gives ample time for your blood sugar to lower and stay in a good range. However, eating every hour for eight hours can keep your blood sugar high long enough to have no effect or possibly a negative effect on your A1c. It may work best to work down to two meals during your 8-hour eating window.
4. Reduce snacking
Right when your blood sugar is beginning to lower and normalize, you start the process all over again and force your pancreas to keep working instead of taking a much-needed break. Even if your blood sugar gets down to a decent number, it’s not there long enough to make a difference in your A1c. You have to spend more time at lower blood glucose levels than high to achieve a decent A1c. For example, you may test at 115 after a meal and before a snack, which isn’t terrible. Once you eat, in an hour you could be right back up over 140 and stay there for a while. Just because your glucose test says 115 every time you test doesn’t mean you will have a good A1c. You may be spending an hour below 140 for every 4 hours you spend above it.
Consult your provider for more guidance
Hopefully one of these tips helps you on your quest to a lower A1c. Of course, there are a lot more ways and different modifications of the ones here. The trick is to find out what works for you. It will take time and dedication. Don’t get discouraged if these don’t help. The worst result from trying these is a healthier you.
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