Table of Contents
I. How do I know if I have prediabetes?
II. What if I have prediabetes?
How do I know if I have prediabetes?
Type 2 diabetes doesn’t develop overnight, and blood glucose can be elevated for decades before you’re considered diabetic. Many Americans spend years with prediabetes, where blood glucose is abnormally high but not yet in diabetic range. Approximately 86 million Americans are currently living with prediabetes, and most are unaware of their condition. What should you do if your doctor says you’re close to becoming diabetic? Medications like metformin help with the maintenance of diabetes, but what can be done about prediabetes?
Many people in the prediabetes range have little or no symptoms. Even if you aren’t experiencing signs of diabetes (increased thirst and hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue), the following conditions increase the likelihood that you have prediabetes:
- Being overweight
- Large waist size. Men with waists larger than 40 inches and women with waists larger than 35 inches are more likely to develop insulin resistance
- Being 45 or older
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- History of gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
What if I have prediabetes?
Being diagnosed with prediabetes doesn’t mean that you’re going to become diabetic, but around 70% of people with the condition eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Instead of feeling resigned to an eventual fate, prediabetes gives you an opportunity to start making lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood glucose and reduce your risk of becoming diabetic.
Losing weight and reducing waist size can improve glucose levels in people diagnosed with prediabetes. You may feel overwhelmed by the task of losing weight, but dropping just 7% of body weight can significantly reduce your likelihood of becoming diabetic. 
Losing weight becomes more difficult as we age, and can be especially intimidating if you’re overweight or living a sedentary lifestyle. Portion control represents a simple way you can begin losing weight without completely changing your diet overnight.
Tricks for portion control include:
- Eating slowly. Give your stomach enough time to signal your brain that it’s full
- Cook at home. Most restaurant meals contain more calories than are recommended for the average person. Some may even contain an entire day’s worth!
- Use portion control plates or containers. It may feel like a gimmick, but these can help you eat a healthy ratio of vegetables and fruits compared to proteins and grains
Incorporating exercise into your routine comes with a long list of benefits, and can jump-start your weight loss. People within a healthy weight range tend to think of themselves as unlikely to become diabetic. But inactivity is considered a risk factor even in people who aren’t overweight, especially after age 45.
Do whatever you can to increase the amount of physical activity you do during the day. The longer you wait to get physically active, the harder it is to implement a fitness routine. A common recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, but some activity is always better than none. Take a brisk morning walk, start riding your bike, or participate in activities like swimming and team sports.
Reduce Red Meat Intake
The link between red meat and diabetes is somewhat controversial. Some studies show a correlation between meat consumption and type 2 diabetes, but most scientists agree there isn’t enough evidence to label red meat as a direct cause of the disease. 
Whether or not red meat causes diabetes, it provides a high number of calories and saturated fat that could make weight loss difficult. Try replacing some of your weekly servings of red meat with lean poultry, fish, or plant proteins like quinoa and beans. 
Depending on your glucose levels and medical history, your doctor may prescribe medication to help control your blood glucose levels before you become diabetic. The most commonly prescribed drug is metformin, which is effective in preventing people with prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes. Metformin appears to be most effective in people who are obese, while lifestyle changes are the best option for reversing prediabetes in people who are simply overweight. 
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