Free Diet Meal Plan and Foods for Insulin Resistance

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Grilled chicken and vegetables

Insulin resistance is a health condition that occurs when your body makes insulin but doesn't effectively use it to absorb glucose from your bloodstream, which results in high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Making lifestyle changes and adopting healthy eating patterns can reverse insulin resistance and prevent diabetes.

Reversing Insulin Resistance

While there aren't diets specifically designed for insulin resistance, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) reports that healthy eating, losing weight, and boosting physical activity help reverse insulin resistance. NDIC suggests referring to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 for healthy eating advice when you have insulin resistance.

Meal plans containing 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily help most women safely lose weight, and weight-loss plans providing 1,500 to 1,800 calories are often effective for men and active women, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

If you need help downloading the printable version of the meal plans and food list, check out these helpful tips.

1,500 Calorie Meal Plan

A healthy reduced calorie meal plan provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 includes:

  • 1.75 cups of veggies
  • 1.5 cups of fruits
  • 5 ounces of grains
  • 4.5 ounces of protein foods
  • 2.75 cups of dairy foods
  • 4 teaspoons of oils
  • 121 extra calories from healthy foods of your choice

Based on calorie information obtained from ChooseMyPlate.gov Food Tracker, a sample 1,500-calorie menu may include:

Breakfast (332 calories)

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 ounce of sliced almonds

Snack (202 calories)

  • 1 cup of sliced apples
  • 1 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Lunch (333 calories)

  • 2 ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • 2 cups of leafy greens
  • 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheese
  • 6 whole-grain crackers
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing

Snack (236 calories)

  • 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup of cantaloupe
  • 1/4 ounce of walnuts

Dinner (400 calories)

  • 3 ounces of grilled salmon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup of steamed broccoli

1,800 Calorie Meal Plan

A healthy 1,800 calorie meal plan provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 includes:

  • 2.5 cups of veggies
  • 1.5 cups of fruits
  • 6 ounces of grains
  • 5 ounces of protein foods
  • 3 cups of dairy foods
  • 5 teaspoons of oils
  • 161 extra calories from healthy foods of your choice

Based on calorie information obtained from the ChooseMyPlate.gov Food Tracker, a sample 1,800 calorie menu may include:

Breakfast (318 calories)

  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries

Snack (162 calories)

  • 2 ounces of reduced-fat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of honeydew melon

Lunch (383 calories)

  • 3-ounce turkey burger patty
  • 1 whole-wheat hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup of tomato wedges
  • 1 cup of sliced cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing

Snack (289 calories)

  • One medium orange
  • 1 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 ounce of unsalted peanuts

Dinner (395 calories)

  • 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1.5 cups of cooked asparagus
  • 1.25 teaspoons of vegetable oil

Snack (255 calories)

  • 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 7 whole-grain crackers
  • 1/2 ounce of unsalted cashews

Insulin Resistance Food List

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can decrease insulin resistance when combined with regular exercise and weight loss. DASH diets are low in sodium, trans fats, saturated fats, sweets, sugary drinks and red meats.

It's helpful to become familiar with ChooseMyPlate.gov portion sizes for healthy foods to create your own insulin resistance menus using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 meal plans. Keep in mind certain foods can fall under more than one food group category, and you're not limited to just the foods in these lists.

Vegetable Group

  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 1 cup of cauliflower
  • 2 cups of leafy greens
  • 1 cup of tomatoes
  • 1 cup of cucumbers
  • 1 cup of dry beans
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of low-sodium vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of celery
  • 1 cup of raw peppers

Fruit Group

  • 1 cup of sliced apples
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 large peach
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 cup of diced watermelon
  • 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit

Dairy Group

  • 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 1 cup of plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1.5 ounces or 1/3 cup of reduced-fat cheese
  • 1 cup of soy milk
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 2 cups of low-fat cottage cheese

Grains Group

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • 1 mini whole-grain bagel
  • 1/2 cup of cooked bulgur
  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal
  • 3 cups of popped popcorn

Protein Group

  • 1 ounce of skinless chicken
  • 1 ounce of skinless turkey
  • 1 ounce of unbreaded fish or seafood
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 egg whites
  • 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of nut butter
  • 1 ounce of cooked tempeh
  • ¼ cup of tofu
  • 1/2 of a veggie burger
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1/4 cup of peas, lentils or dry beans

Oils Group

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing
  • 8 large olives
  • 1/6 of an avocado
  • 1.5 teaspoons of nut butter
  • 1/3 ounce of nuts or seeds

Make Wise Choices

Choosing a variety of foods from these healthy food-group lists, controlling your overall caloric intake, losing weight if you're overweight and exercising regularly can reverse insulin resistance and prevent your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Free Diet Meal Plan and Foods for Insulin Resistance