Shedding pounds can slow down the disease. "You gain more efficiency with every pound of gravel you take out of the trunk," Marrero says.
1. Eat less, but eat often
If you have diabetes;especially if you take insulin;it's important to avoid blood sugar dips. So cutting out snacks as a way to shrink your calories isn't an option. But just because you have to eat more often doesn't mean you have to eat more. "You don't need an extraordinarily large number of calories to function, even with diabetes," Marrero says. "Eating small portions throughout the day is a good way to cut calories while keeping your blood sugar steady." If you're on the go, plan snacks in advance, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the academy of nutrition and dietetics. Try packing 1 ounce of turkey jerky with whole-wheat crackers or a piece of fruit.
2. Think balance, not calories
When dieting, "you need to be like the three bears and get the right mix of carbs, protein and fiber to keep blood sugar balanced," Crandall says. Focusing solely on calories can actually hinder weight loss. "You need protein to support muscle and metabolism, fat for the absorption of vitamins and carbs to sustain energy."
Per meal, aim for 30 to 45 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein and 7 to 10 grams of fiber. For example, Crandall recommends a breakfast of scrambled eggs (you can use an egg substitute to cut calories without slashing protein), diced sweet potato, black beans and salsa. Or, on rushed mornings, try Greek yogurt topped with sliced fruit and a handful of almonds.
3. Get moving
Exercise helps muscles take in glucose without the need for insulin and improves insulin sensitivity over time, Dr. Hamdy says. People with diabetes should start slow: "Aim to get at least 175 minutes of exercise a week, but in short bouts;10 minutes here and there;all day long." (If you're not already active, talk to your doctor first.)
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