Has your doctor told you that you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes?
If so, your A1C level is a great tool to help track how well you’re managing your diabetes because it gives a picture of your blood sugar levels over the past two or three months. If you have diabetes, knowing your A1C level can help manage the condition.
If you don’t have diabetes, knowing your A1C level can keep diabetes at arm’s length. Regardless, if you have a high A1C level, you’re likely wondering how long it takes to lower it.
What do my A1C test results mean?
A1C test results are unique.
Unlike other measurements, A1C is given as a percentage. This is a percentage of your body’s red blood cells that contain sugar-coated hemoglobin (Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells).
Also known as your estimated average glucose (eAG), a healthy A1C (or eAG) for people without diabetes is below 5.7%. Go over that threshold, and you’re considered prediabetic.
Push it to 6.5% or above, and your A1C level indicates diabetes.
Once you have diabetes, managing the disease is best done by maintaining an A1C level of less than 7%. However, every person is different.
Your target A1C may be different as well. Work with your provider to set and meet A1C goals for your good health.
Can exercise and diet reduce your A1C level?
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to lower your A1C level.
Exercise is one of the best ways to lower blood sugar. A single session of exercise can lower blood sugar for 24 hours or more.
Get in the gym consistently, and your A1C level will drop as well.
Helpful as exercise is for your A1C, you can sabotage your efforts if you don’t eat right.
What are the best foods to lower A1C?
Sadly, there is no magic A1C-lowering food.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires ongoing disease management. To lower your A1C level, you need to eat foods that help you manage diabetes and maintain healthy blood sugar every day.
Good choices include:
- Carbohydrates — Go with limited servings of whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables, such as squash and potatoes.
- Protein — Select eggs, soy, fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef and other healthy options.
- Vegetables — Choose plenty of non-starchy options, such as broccoli, green beans and tomatoes.
Can eating no carbs lower your A1C level?
Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar levels.
Avoiding carbs altogether would make your blood sugar levels lower and eventually lower your A1C levels.
However, your body needs carbohydrates, even if you have diabetes. Healthy carbs (such as fiber) provide long-lasting energy and help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
While you may want to lower your A1C levels overnight, that can’t happen. It took months for your A1C to get where it is. It will take months to lower.
Instead of looking for a quick fix, eat healthily and exercise regularly. In a few months, your healthy lifestyle will reward you with a lower A1C level.
Want to learn more about the benefits of counting carbs? Sign up for our next Carb Counting class.