Diet For Insulin Resistance

If weight loss is your goal, we set the calorie level at 1,500 per day, which is a level where most people lose weight, plus included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day, depending on your calorie needs, satiety levels and blood sugar readings.

7-Day Meal Plan for Insulin Resistance

A flavor-packed meal plan to keep your blood sugar in check.

Breana Lai Killeen, M.P.H., RD, is EatingWell’s former test kitchen & editorial operations manager. During her time at EatingWell, Breana oversaw the development, production and nutrition analysis of 500-plus recipes per year and helped manage day-to-day operations to keep everything running smoothly. Breana has a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust-trained sommelier and a registered dietitian.

Published on February 5, 2023
Reviewed by Dietitian

Maria Laura is EatingWell’s senior nutrition & news editor. As part of the nutrition team, she edits and assigns nutrition-related content and provides nutrition reviews for articles. Maria Laura is a trained dietitian, almond butter lover and food enthusiast with over seven years of experience in nutrition counseling.

When you eat, your body breaks down food into glucose (sugar). Glucose in your blood then stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, which helps shuttle the glucose from your blood into your muscle, fat and liver cells. But sometimes there’s already too much glucose in the cells, or there’s too much glucose in the blood, and insulin doesn’t work as it should—that’s when insulin resistance can occur. If insulin can’t work, your blood sugar will stay high, which is a precursor for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. And while there isn’t one test to tell you if you have insulin resistance, there are indicators, such as having high blood sugar, high triglycerides, high LDL (“bad) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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In this meal plan for insulin resistance, we include a week of simple meals and snacks using recipes that are easy to follow without long ingredient lists. We focus on lean proteins, moderate carbohydrates, low saturated fat and a moderate sodium intake. While this isn’t necessarily an insulin-resistance weight-loss meal plan, research, such as a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, suggests that weight loss may help improve blood sugar levels.

If weight loss is your goal, we set the calorie level at 1,500 per day, which is a level where most people lose weight, plus included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day, depending on your calorie needs, satiety levels and blood sugar readings.

Dietary & Physical Changes to Treat Insulin Resistance

Anyone can temporarily develop insulin resistance, but over time, chronic insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Luckily, changing your diet can potentially reverse insulin resistance. By becoming the opposite—more insulin sensitive—the muscle, fat and liver cells need less insulin to absorb the glucose. In addition to changing your diet, physical activity, weight loss, stress reduction and proper sleep can all make you more sensitive to insulin.

There are a few key changes that can help improve your blood sugar and, therefore, improve insulin resistance:

  1. Protein: Eating protein, like meat, chicken, eggs, fish, Greek yogurt, nuts or other vegetarian proteins, in most of your meals helps improve your blood sugar. Protein slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream, which means your blood sugar will stay more stable. Protein also helps increase satiety, helping you feel fuller longer.
  2. Fiber: Fiber, a type of carbohydrate that isn’t digested, helps improve your blood sugar. Like protein, it’s broken down slowly and prevents blood sugar spikes. High-fiber foods include whole grains (quinoa, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta), plus fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.
  3. Weight loss: If you have excess weight, losing 5% to 10% of your body weight has been correlated with better blood sugar control, according to a 2019 study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine. Typically, when focusing on healthy nutrition changes to lower your blood sugar, like increasing protein and eating more vegetables, weight loss tends to follow on its own.
  4. Cut back on sugar and simple carbohydrates: Because sugary drinks can pack in a ton of sugar, avoiding them will improve your blood sugar control. Stick to drinks that have zero added sugars, like water, seltzer and unsweetened tea. Also, try to limit simple and refined carbohydrates. These foods are low in fiber and are quickly digested, releasing sugar into our blood, which causes blood sugar spikes.
  5. Regular meal routine: A routine of three meals a day with one or two high-protein or high-fiber snacks helps keep your blood sugar stable. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later, resulting in blood sugar lows and spikes, which leave you feeling sluggish. Eating regular meals and snacks also prevents you from getting too hungry and makes it easier to manage portions.
  6. Exercise: According to the American Diabetes Association, a combination of cardio exercise, like walking, jogging or biking, plus strength training, helps lower blood sugar. Moving more is beneficial, and it doesn’t have to be an hour of back-breaking exercise at the gym. Research suggests that walking for 2 minutes after each meal can lower your blood sugar levels. Regardless of how you like to exercise, moving more and sitting less is always a good idea.
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What to Eat with Insulin Resistance:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean beef and pork
  • Fish, such as wild salmon
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts, peanuts and natural nut butters that don’t contain added sugar
  • Olive and avocado oil
  • Avocados
  • Fruits, especially fruits with skin and seeds, like berries, apples and pears
  • Vegetables
  • Higher-fiber complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal, quinoa and starchy vegetables (winter squash, corn, peas and potatoes)
  • Greek yogurt

How to Meal Prep for the Week

  1. Prepare Muffin-Tin Omelets with Feta & Peppers for breakfast on days 3 and 4.
  2. Prepare Meal-Prep Turkey Cobb Salad for lunch for days 3, 4 and 5.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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