A1c and Pre-Diabetes

Posted: March 6, 2011 by amygilman in Nutrition Q & Amy
Tags: , ,

I am a Nutrition Editor at Foodpicker.org, a website designed to help people with diabetes.  Here is a question I recently received:


I was recently told by my doctor I have pre-diabetes and that I need to lose weight, eat right, and get my sugar levels down.  On a 12 hour fast, my glucose level was 73 yet my A1C was 6.1%.  If my glucose is low, why is my A1c still high?  What can I do?”


The A1c relates to your blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months.  It is measured as a percentage over time.  Healthcare professionals call it glycosylated hemoglobin, which means that sugar (glucose) sticks to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells.  Here is a chart which shows you the A1c% along with the associated average blood glucose number (courtesy of http://www.diabetes.org).


According to the chart above, your average blood glucose may be about 126mg/dL.   Individual values may vary.  It is important to recognize that everyone is different and your doctor may set an A1c target for you depending on certain variables (i.e.; age, family history of diabetes, and various other factors).

You may find that your blood glucose levels are out of target at different times of the day.  Your doctor may have specific goals for your glucose levels when you wake, before meals, and after meals. You may also have periods of hypoglycemia (usually defined as blood glucose level below 70mg/dL).  You may want to ask your doctor about testing your blood glucose levels at different times to get a better understanding of when your highest levels are.  This may be very helpful to you (and to a dietitian, if you are seeing one) to tweak your current meal plan and reduce large spikes in your blood sugar.

The great thing is that the prescription that your doctor wrote to you:  “lose weight, eat right, and get my sugar levels down” is something that YOU can control.  Now it’s time to turn that into a prescription that you want for yourself.  When it is something that YOU want, you will see changes.

Good luck to you in your new diet and lifestyle adventures.  Please continue to ask questions for more guidance on your journey.




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