It’s not a steak sauce.
God, I miss A1. That stuff makes plain white rice taste good.
But A1c is a blood test: hemoglobin A1c. And although it may not be the best test to tell if you’re insulin resistant — a morning insulin level or a 2-hour glucose tolerance test are more sensitive — you can do it any time of day, no fasting required. And it gives you a decent estimate of how pre-diabetic (or diabetic) you are.
Blood glucose is what most folks think of when checking their blood sugars, but a hemoglobin A1c gives a better idea of your overall sugar metabolism. A glucose tells you your blood sugar at the moment of the blood draw. An A1c goes up if your sugars have been elevated for several weeks. It’s not fooled by suddenly dieting the day before your trip to the lab, and won’t be thrown off by a single hot fudge sundae, or a side trip to the ER (stress hormones bump up blood sugar).
5.7 is the start of the pre-diabetic range, and 6.5 or higher is technically diabetes territory. But excess sugar occurs on a spectrum. 5.6 is pretty darned close to 5.7, and 6.4 is doggone near diabetes. And a single lab reading does not a diagnosis necessarily make. Which is where your doctor’s medical degree and experience come in 🙂
If you’re reasonably trim and active, an A1c can clue you in to a pre-diabetes problem you didn’t know you had, aka insulin resistance, which is tied to a boatload of health problems. Your sugar climbs and your body secretes more insulin to lower it; this works for a while, but if you keep piling on the sweets and carbs, your sugar continues to climb, your body keeps putting out more insulin, and your body stops responding to it: insulin resistance.
And high insulin has some major negative consequences: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, even dementia and cancer. Most of the modern chronic medical conditions, in other words. If you have one or more of these conditions, chances are you have some degree of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or worse.
Get your A1c checked. And jumpstart that habit of easing off the sweets and starchy carbs.