- If you suffer from insulin resistance, eat a diet high in healthy fats, fiber, and lean sources of protein.
- To reverse insulin resistance, you can also try a low-carb or Mediterranean diet.
- Foods to eat with insulin resistance include salmon, brown rice, vegetables, and avocados.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.
About 32% of the American population suffers from insulin resistance, a condition that means your body cannot control blood sugar as well as it should.
When left unchecked, insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes.
However, insulin resistance can be managed and in some cases reversed with healthy eating and exercise.
What you should eat with insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is often caused by repeated spikes in blood sugar levels due to poor diet and poor nutrition. Therefore, to reverse insulin resistance, you need to manage blood sugar levels and keep them from rising and falling rapidly.
The easiest way to do this is to avoid foods that cause blood sugar spikes in the first place. One of the biggest culprits is simple carbohydrates, as your body converts them into glucose, which is blood sugar, faster than any other food. This is why low-carb diets are among the most recommended for reversing insulin resistance.
In fact, a small study from 2016 found that consuming three low-carb meals within 24 hours reduced insulin resistance by more than 30% in postmenopausal women with a healthy weight.
Meanwhile, some doctors recommend the Mediterranean diet because, apart from being low in simple carbohydrates, it is also high in fiber and protein. If fiber and protein are combined with carbohydrates, the body converts them to glucose more slowly, thereby minimizing spikes in blood sugar. This may help explain why research has found that high dietary fiber intake is associated with a 20-30% reduced risk of developing type 2.
If you suffer from insulin resistance, Jonathan Clinthorne, director of nutrition at Simply Good Foods, recommends that you eat more:
- Vegetables: They’re high in fiber and relatively low in net carbs, which means blood sugar levels remain stable.
- Oily fish: Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, and herring have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation associated with insulin resistance.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil contain antioxidants that activate insulin receptors, helping to improve insulin sensitivity.
- Berries: Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries all have a low GI rating, which means they don’t cause blood sugar spikes.
- Nuts and seeds: Since they are high in fiber and healthy fats, these foods slow down the release of sugar into the blood after a meal.
According to Clinthorne, if you suffer from insulin resistance, avoid foods that can cause blood sugar spikes like:
- Candies, such as cookies, cakes and candies.
- Fried food, like fries, mozzarella sticks and fried chicken.
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, and sugar.
- Other high GI foods, like watermelon, pineapple, corn flakes, corn pasta, rice cakes and rice crackers
7 Day Insulin Resistance Diet Plan
Below is a sample meal plan designed by Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, RDN, a certified nutritionist at NYC Eat Well, specifically for people with insulin resistance.
Breakfast: 100 calorie whole wheat English muffin with two poached, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs.
Lunch: Turkey burger on whole wheat bread accompanied by a side salad with dressing.
Having dinner: Grilled or roasted salmon with ½ cup brown rice and a side of broccoli.
Breakfast: Perfect with ¾ cup of plain Greek yogurt, ⅓ cup of keto granola, 1 cup of berries.
Lunch: ½ grilled cheese sandwich with 1 cup of tomato soup.
Having dinner: Pan-fried shakshuka with two eggs.
Breakfast: One whole grain waffle, ½ cup whipped cottage cheese, ½ cup berries, one egg aside.
Lunch: Chicken lettuce wraps with hoisin sauce and water chestnuts.
Having dinner: 1 cup slow cooker turkey and bean chili.
Breakfast: 1 cup of cottage cheese with 1 cup of berries (and optional ⅓ cup of keto granola).
Lunch: Tuna salad on a low carb wrap.
Having dinner: Two small minced chicken tacos on low carb tortillas with black beans, corn, salsa and avocado.
Breakfast: Low-carb wrap with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1 medium apple sliced
Lunch: Two Asian glazed chicken drumsticks with a side of broccoli.
Having dinner: 2 ounces of soy, chickpea or lentil pasta with tomato sauce and two chicken meatballs.
Breakfast: A slice of sprouted grain toast topped with avocado and one or two soft-boiled eggs.
Lunch: Green salad mixed with a sliced turkey or tuna salad.
Having dinner: Roast chicken with roasted green beans, mushrooms and broccoli.
Breakfast: Spanish quiche without crust.
Lunch: Sautéed shrimps with mixed vegetables.
Having dinner: Tomato-based meat sauce with ground chicken on ½ cup brown rice.
Insulin resistance is a common and serious condition which, if left unchecked, can progress to prediabetes or diabetes.
. However, with the proper diet, you can manage the disease or even reverse it.
As a general rule, stick to lean protein and foods high in fiber like whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. You should also avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. If you’re unsure of a food’s impact on blood sugar, check out its GI Index online through Harvard Health or the University of Sydney database.
The best way to determine which specific dietary changes will benefit you the most is to speak with your doctor.