How to Lower Your A1C – Understanding the Results, A Guide

Posted October 14, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

Diabetes is a serious condition, and how well you are controlling it can be measured through a hemoglobin A1c test. Typically, the lower your A1c, the better controlled your condition is.

So, in this article, we will discuss what your A1c is and ways to lower it. First, here is a quick summary to get us started.

How to Lower Your A1c? A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a blood test that provides your average blood glucose level for the past 2-3 months. The results of this test are measured as a percent and give your provider an idea of how well your condition has been managed. Patients are encouraged to keep their A1c below 6.5% to prevent complications associated with diabetes.

Now that you have the quick answer let’s get into the specifics about the HbA1c test and how to lower it. 

Getting an A1C Test

Lower Your A1c

Many patients with diabetes see their doctor for a check-up every 3-6 months. During these check-ups, a doctor may order many different tests to be done to ensure the patient is healthy. An HbA1c is a test that most doctors order to be done at every check-up.

This test can be done through blood work done at a lab before the doctor’s appointment. However, with advances in technology, many doctors’ offices are able to get the results of the patients A1c through a simple finger prick.

The A1c test can be done to diagnose prediabetes, type 1 or 2 diabetes, or to determine how well the patient is controlling their blood sugar levels. How often you get an A1c test done will depend on the type of diabetes you have, and the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed to you.

Understanding Your A1C Results

As mentioned above, your A1c test results give you your average blood sugar over the last 2-3 months. However, the results are measured as a percentage, which can make understanding the results a little difficult.

The formula you can use to convert your A1c to mg/dL is:

[28.7 x A1c – 46.7 = Estimated Average Glucose]

The chart below can also be used to convert your results to blood glucose.

A1c %Average Glucose (mg/dL)
6126
6.5140
7154
7.5169
8183
8.5197
9212
9.5226
10240

As you can see, the higher the A1c result, the higher your average blood glucose level.

A person without diabetes will typically have an A1c around 5.7%. Doctors typically recommend patients strive to keep their A1c below 6.5%. Anything above this means that an adjustment may need to be made to your treatment plan. An A1c consistently above this level can mean that you’re at risk of having severe complications caused by diabetes.

Ways to Lower Your A1C

Fortunately, there are some lifestyle changes and other adjustments you can make to lower your A1c level. Here are some examples.

How to Lower Your A1C

Exercise

Exercise is crucial for those struggling with diabetes. Regular exercise improves your overall health and increases your insulin sensitivity. Many patients are able to lose weight through working out, which aids in decreasing inflammation in the body, thus decreasing their severity of insulin resistance. This helps contribute to a lower A1c.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet cannot be emphasized enough. A healthy diet will consist of low-starch vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. This allows you to eat a fulfilling meal without experiencing dramatic spikes in blood sugar after eating. The more stable your glucose levels are after meals, the lower your A1c will be at your next check-up.

Carb Count

Carb counting is essential for those that have type 1 diabetes and others that require insulin to treat their condition. Patients that use rapid-acting insulin around meals need to know the exact amount of carbohydrates they are consuming. This ensures they are getting the correct dose of insulin, which prevents extreme high and low glucose readings.

Develop a Routine

Creating a routine and a schedule seem irrelevant, but you would not believe how much this affects our hormones, and in turn, affects blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Having a routine for when you head to bed, when you wake up, the times you eat, and so one helps keep your circadian rhythm in check. This promotes hormone regulation, which aids in weight loss and blood sugar control.

Follow Treatment Regimen

Many patients have struggled to get their A1c results within a healthy level because they have failed to follow the treatment regimen prescribed by their doctor. Your doctor may make changes to your treatment plan at each check-up based on the result of blood work. It is essential that you implement these changes, as it can lead to a lower A1c and prevent farther complications from arising.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

This may seem simple, but it cannot be overstated – monitor your blood sugar levels daily. Your doctor will suggest how often you should be checking your blood sugar. If you are insulin-dependent, then you may need to check more often. Monitoring your blood sugar daily allows you to make notes of what worked and what didn’t. It enables you to ask your doctor the right questions and make adjustments for better glucose readings.

Manage Your Stress

Stress is a major cause of out of control blood sugar levels, and it is often overlooked. In today’s world, where it seems as if it is a requirement of us to stay busy, it can be easy to become overly stressed. This stress causes fluctuations in our hormones, which affect both our blood sugar and lifestyle. Limit how busy you are and find creative hobbies that help you relax to prevent stress from having a negative effect on your health.

Conclusion

Lowering your A1c cannot be done overnight and is crucial for staying healthy. We hope this has given you a better understanding of an HbA1c test and ways you can lower it to improve your diabetes condition.

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What is a hemoglobin A1c?

A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a test done regularly for those with diabetes and it tells what your average blood sugar has been over the past 2-3 months.

What is a normal A1c level?

An A1c less than 5.7% is considered normal and there is minimal risk of developing diabetes. An A1c between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered prediabetes. Any level over 6.5% is diagnosed as diabetes.

What is an A1c goal for those that already have diabetes?

Each person will have their own specific goal as they work with their doctor. However, most patients should strive to have an A1c of 6.5% or lower.



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