Person with prediabetes collecting finger prick blood sample for HbA1c blood sugar monitoring

Prediabetes lifestyle guide

Medically reviewed on May 11, 2023 by Morgan Spicer, Medical Communications Manager. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

The key to managing prediabetes is to create healthy habits. Choosing healthy foods, exercising regularly, and managing your weight are all foundational elements of a healthy lifestyle. [1] Here are 4 lifestyle focus areas to help you decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

1. Freshen up your diet

The simplest approach to healthy eating is to focus on choosing a wide variety of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Highly processed carbohydrates like white bread, cakes, and cookies are high in calories but low in nutrients and fiber. These foods also don’t send fullness signals to your brain as quickly as foods that contain more nutrients, so it’s easy to eat more of them than you intend to.

To freshen up your diet, focus on making healthy substitutions like replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with lower-calorie beverages. Choose carbohydrates that are high in fiber and nutrients, such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans. Evidence suggests that limiting carbohydrate intake to less than 60 grams per day can reduce your HbA1c levels by up to 0.23% over 6 months — a level that’s comparable to the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program study outcomes.

Some people prefer to follow structured meal plans like the DASH Diet or the Mediterranean Diet, while others take a more casual approach to healthy eating. Studies have also shown that vegetarian or plant-based diets can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you have special eating challenges or need help with meal planning, you can seek help from a diabetes care and education specialist or a registered dietitian who has training in prediabetes and diabetes.

Self Reflection: What are some creative ways you could freshen up your diet?

2. Move your body

Exercising for just 150 minutes each week (roughly 30 minutes a day, five days a week) can improve your heart health, help you maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your overall risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. [2] You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to gain the health benefits either. Just a few minutes of activity each day add up, and that includes walking.

Self Reflection: How could you weave more physical activity into your daily life?

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3. Maintain a healthy weight

Losing as little as 5-7% of your body weight can also help reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. [1] Carrying excess weight can lead to insulin resistance, which increases blood sugar levels and other health complications. Achieving a healthy weight can also help improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

4. Monitor your blood sugar

Monitoring your blood sugar levels can tell you how well your lifestyle changes are working. The hemoglobin A1c (A1c) test measures your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months. [1] Most people with prediabetes will need to recheck their A1c levels at least once a year, or sooner if they experience any health changes. Check with your healthcare provider for guidance on the best testing frequency for you.

Self Reflection: Which of the 4 lifestyle areas described above will you focus on right now?

Thyroid health and weight loss

Understanding emotional eating

Understanding heart health

Understanding prediabetes


  1. Prediabetes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed May 11, 2023.
  2. Lifestyle Change Programs. American Diabetes Association.
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