When your blood sugar levels are under control, your body has an easier time losing weight, and you experience fewer cravings and less hunger. In this post, I share foods, supplements, and lifestyle habits you can adopt today to lower your blood sugar.
Lower Blood Sugar Naturally – At-A-Glance
- Eat a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet
- Choose carbs that have a good fiber-to-carb ratio
- Practice intermittent fasting. Add to the benefit by starting your fast early in the evening.
- Take supplements (i.e., berberine, magnesium, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar)
- Get regular exercise and high-quality sleep
Lower Blood Sugar to Lower Weight: [Video]
In this video, you will learn…
- Four ways to naturally lower your blood sugar.
- Great examples of foods with a good fiber-to-carb ratio.
- Four supplements that will help you lower your blood sugar!
The calories we get from carbs, fat, and protein have vastly different effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. Carbohydrates cause the most significant spike, protein provides a moderate rise, and fat has little impact.
Lower Your Carb Intake
If maintaining a low and stable blood sugar (blood glucose) level is your goal, it makes sense to eat a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. If you are new to the idea of a low-carb, high-fat diet, this way of eating may sound completely counter to what you’ve learned in the past.
However, when you control your blood sugar and insulin level by eating in this way, it puts your body in a state that favors the release of fat from fat cells. It also keeps your hunger under control because you are not dropping into the low blood sugar state that drives hunger and cravings.
To get started on a low carb diet, you want to reduce your carb intake to less than 125 grams per day. That amount is roughly half of the amount recommended for a traditional diet.
As reported on the Mayo Clinic website, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, you should eat between 225 and 325 grams of carbs per day.
To learn which foods qualify as low carb, you can download my chart that lists 100 low carb foods.
Choose Foods with a Good Fiber-to-Carb Ratio
Low carb foods can be obtained from both animal and plant sources. When you choose plant-based carbs, you want to look for those with a high fiber-to-carb ratio. Fiber helps to prevent blood sugar spikes because it slows the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Examples of popular low carb foods with a good fiber-to-carb ratio include non-starchy vegetables, like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens.
Certain berries, particularly blackberries and raspberries, are relatively high in fiber, as are some nuts and seeds, such as Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Practice Intermittent Fasting
The foods you choose to eat during your day will have the most significant impact on your blood sugar level. But, the timing of your food intake is also important. Intermittent fasting can be used to stabilize your blood sugar. To practice it, you restrict the number of hours per day in which you consume calories.
Because blood sugar rises in response to the foods you eat, allowing a daily period of not eating, or fasting, prevents blood sugar spikes. Over time, this improves insulin sensitivity, making your body more efficient at shuttling sugar out of the blood and into your cells, where it can be used for energy.
If you are just getting started with fasting, it’s best to begin with 12:12 fasting, which means that you fast for 12 hours and consume calories for the remaining hours of the day.
For instance, stop eating at 7pm, and resume eating at 7am. You’ll find that your comfort level with fasting grows quickly, allowing you to fast for longer periods and gain even more benefits.
Utilize Early Time-Restricted Eating
A pro tip when it comes to fasting for blood sugar regulation is to eat an early dinner. When you start your fast earlier in the evening, you maximize your fasting period before bed.
This is referred to as early time-restricted eating and shows promise in the research as a tool for better blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity (1).
Once you have your eating at a comfortable level, you can get additional blood sugar control with supplements.
Berberine has been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Participants in one study were given 1 gram of berberine per day for three months.
At the end of the testing period, their fasting blood glucose levels dropped from 126mg/dl (7mm/L) to a normal reading of 100mg/dl (5.6mm/L) (2).
Magnesium is a valuable mineral because it is involved in hundreds of metabolic reactions within your body. I refer to it as “mellow magnesium” because it provides a range of calming effects, from fewer muscle cramps to fewer mood swings. However, magnesium deficiency is common and associated with a higher risk of diabetes (3).
Fortunately, it is easy to supplement your diet with magnesium by taking a multivitamin or using an electrolyte supplement.
Many low-carb foods are high in magnesium. In fact, a salad is a great vehicle for magnesium-rich foods. Make it a habit to eat a daily meal-sized salad by topping a bed of dark leafy greens with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and slices of avocado. When you do this, you give your body a good dose of magnesium and end up with a great-tasting salad that you’ll look forward to eating.
Cinnamon has been considered to be a home remedy for blood sugar control for a long time. There is scientific evidence to support the claim that cinnamon helps you lower your blood sugar (4).
However, according to Healthline, to get the benefit, you want to consume 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon each day, which is about one-half to 2 teaspoons a day.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can improve the uptake of glucose or sugar by your muscle cells (5).
When your muscles have an easier time letting sugar in, it lowers the sugar that remains in your blood. Many of the vinegar studies had participants drink 30ml, which is about two tablespoons of vinegar diluted with water before a meal or before bedtime.
Taking apple cider vinegar before bedtime is something to consider if you experience unusually high blood sugar readings first thing in the morning. This is a phenomenon referred to as the Dawn Effect or Dawn Phenomenon.
A study published in the Journal Diabetes Care suggested that the lowering of morning blood sugar shown with a nighttime dose of apple cider vinegar may be due to the acetic acid in the vinegar, which can alter the glucose-producing pathways in the liver (6).
Making changes to your food choices, practicing intermittent fasting, and utilizing supplements will go a long way toward stabilizing your blood sugar levels. And, you can top off those benefits with quality sleep and exercise.
When you sleep well, you keep stress hormones that spike blood sugar, like cortisol, under control. You also keep your appetite under control, which can have an indirect blood sugar benefit through better food choices.
Getting regular exercise is a great way to improve insulin sensitivity, allowing the sugar that is in your blood to move into your cells with more ease. You benefit from both aerobic and resistance exercises, but the best blood sugar regulation comes from a combination of the two exercise styles (7) (8).
You may want to think about using weights one day and getting on the treadmill the next to maximize your health and weight loss.
If you have concerns about your health or you are dealing with a blood sugar disorder, the approaches outlined in this post should be done under your doctor’s supervision.
However, I hope this post shows you that you have some control regarding regulating your blood sugar. The most significant step you can take is to lower your carb intake. If you’d like to learn which foods qualify as low carb, you can download our list of 100 low carb foods.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Sutton, Elizabeth F., et al. “Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes.” Cell metabolism 27.6 (2018): 1212-1221.
(2) Zhang, Yifei, et al. “Treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia with the natural plant alkaloid berberine.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 93.7 (2008): 2559-2565.
(3) Gröber, Uwe, Joachim Schmidt, and Klaus Kisters. “Magnesium in prevention and therapy.” Nutrients 7.9 (2015): 8199-8226.
(4) Mang, B., et al. “Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2.” European journal of clinical investigation 36.5 (2006): 340-344.
(5) Mitrou, Panayota, et al. “Vinegar consumption increases insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by the forearm muscle in humans with type 2 diabetes.” Journal of diabetes research 2015 (2015).
(6) White, Andrea M., and Carol S. Johnston. “Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 30.11 (2007): 2814-2815.
(7) AbouAssi, Hiba, et al. “The effects of aerobic, resistance, and combination training on insulin sensitivity and secretion in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT: a randomized trial.” Journal of Applied Physiology 118.12 (2015): 1474-1482.
(8) Suh, Sunghwan, et al. “Effects of resistance training and aerobic exercise on insulin sensitivity in overweight Korean adolescents: a controlled randomized trial.” Diabetes & metabolism journal 35.4 (2011): 418-426.
About the Author
Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.