The A1C test is a common blood test that is used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is glycated, or coated with sugar. Therefore, a high A1C level indicates poor blood sugar control and increased risk of diabetic complications.
A normal A1C level for someone who doesn’t have diabetes generally ranges from 4.5% to 6%, but someone with diabetes would have an A1C level of 6.5% or higher. If you have uncontrolled diabetes, you would likely have an A1C level of greater than 8%.
After you are diagnosed with diabetes, A1C level tests are helpful for determining treatment plans. If you are consistently higher than the target level that has been previously determined, then your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan.
Here are some of the easiest ways to lower your A1C levels:
- Lose weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is very important for controlling your A1C levels. However, fad diets are not the solution to weight loss. Changes, such as making a habit of eating healthy foods low in fat and calories, will be more beneficial long-term.
- Exercise: Increased activity levels will help keep your A1C levels down as well. You should aim for an extra 150 minutes of activity per week, but even a 20 minute walk after lunch is better than nothing. Try to find an activity that you genuinely enjoy in order to get some exercise in, such as walking your dog, playing a sport with a friend, or going on scenic bike rides.
- Track what you eat: If you keep a list of what you eat and when, this will help to make you more aware of what foods and behaviors you can change to lower your A1C levels in the future. This is also helpful for being able to show your doctor what you’ve been eating, so that they can point out problem areas in your diet.
- Record blood sugar levels: Even if your doctor is monitoring your A1C levels, it is still beneficial to regularly check your blood sugar on your own. Recording these numbers can also help you and your doctor to know how certain activities affect your blood sugar and determine the ideal eating schedule and diet for your diabetes.
- Stick to a schedule: If you skip meals, or let too much time pass in between meals, this can be very dangerous for your blood sugar levels and affect your A1C results. Figure out when eating meals works the best for you and your schedule and stick to this routine to help keep your blood sugar levels consistently as low as possible.