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The #1 Worst Food If You're Pre-Diabetic, Says Dietitian

It will make your blood sugar skyrocket.

All foods can fit in a healthy diet, but there are certainly some foods that are more challenging than others for blood sugar management. If your goal is to prevent diabetes, you will want to take a look at how many refined carbohydrates you're consuming.

Refined carbohydrates are foods that have added sugars, sweeteners, and white flour in them. These are usually ultra-processed foods that have the fiber, vitamins, and minerals stripped from them during food processing.

These options provide very little nutritional value for significant calories. In other words, they are empty calories.

Let's take a look at how refined carbs impact us, and what to swap them with for better blood sugar levels. Then, for more helpful eating tips, be sure to read up on our list of The Best Breakfast Foods to Eat If You Have Diabetes.

Refined carbs lack balance.

woman eating croissant

Processed carbs such as white bread, crackers, cookies, cakes, and pies are not the most balanced option. These are high glycemic carbs that spike blood sugar quickly due to being low in protein and fiber. These products are mainly carbohydrate sources that are digested quickly and often result in an energy crash later.

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They are empty calories.

Say no to drinking soda stop drinking sugar

Refined carbs often lack vitamins and minerals, but they also are devoid of nutrients that help regulate hunger and appetite: Protein, healthy fats, and fiber are three groups of food that help slow down digestion and keep you full.

Without these components, it's easy to overconsume calories and still feel hungry or unsatisfied. This is especially true for empty calories that are drinkable such as soda, juice, and sweet tea.

These options do not truly satiate our appetite, and they may cause us to overconsume total calories throughout the day.

Your blood sugar will spike.

tired woman working

Blood sugar management is complex, but refined carbs aren't doing your glucose any favors. These carbs are high on the glycemic index⁠—a tool that measures how quickly foods will raise blood glucose.

High glycemic foods tend to contain very little fiber, protein, or healthy fat. These missing nutrients are considered low glycemic foods. They slow down blood sugar after meals and promote more stable energy levels as a result.

Without low glycemic nutrients in your diet, you may experience a blood sugar roller coaster throughout the day. These peaks and valleys can contribute to feeling zapped of energy and may increase how many calories you take in later in the day.

Complex starches are the name of the carb game.

eating quinoa salad

Swap out your refined choices for high-fiber, complex carbs. High-fiber carbs are not stripped of their fiber or nutrients. They are more filling, nutritious, and blood sugar-friendly.

Complex carbs are from whole grains, beans, legumes, and starchy vegetables. Choose these the majority of the time over-refined carb foods, and you'll be well on your way to better blood sugars!

For even more tips for pre-diabetics, read these next:

Caroline Thomason, RDN, RD, LDN, CDCES
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
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