How Diabetes Can Cause Weight Loss
Insulin is a hormone the body produces to absorb sugar, or glucose, from the foods you eat. Insulin converts sugar into energy that fuels your brain, muscles, and the rest of your body.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesnt make enough insulin or it cant effectively use the insulin it does make. As a result, the sugar stays in your bloodstream instead of being converted into energy, and your blood sugar rises.
Because the sugar stays in your blood, your body doesnt get the fuel it needs. As a result, it begins burning fat and muscle for energy, which can result in unexplained weight loss.
The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin because the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells. Type 1 diabetes often develops in early childhood.
With Type 2 diabetes, the body doesnt produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to it. This type of diabetes often occurs later in life and is thought to develop due to lifestyle factors such as being overweight and inactive as well as genetic factors.
Insulin Resistance Is At The Core Of Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does create insulin, but either not enough or more than enough but, due to insulin resistance, glucose cant enter through the doors of the bodys cells they are literally locked out, unable to enter cells to be used for energy.
In fact, you may even over-produce insulin to meet the energy demands of the body. However, with type 2 diabetes, sugar cannot enter through the doors of the bodys cells they are literally locked out.
With nowhere to go, the glucose stays in your bloodstream, circulating much longer throughout the vascular system, and this is a problem.
Excess blood sugar makes our blood vessels less stretchy and causes them to narrow, blocking blood flow.
Damage to large blood vessels is called macrovascular disease, while damage to small blood vessels is called microvascular disease.
Complications from macrovascular disease include heart attack stroke and peripheral arterial disease .
Microvascular disease can lead to problems with our eyes, nervous system and kidneys.
Even if you dont feel symptoms of diabetes , damage can build up over time, little by little.
The best first option for treatment is diet.
How Much Weight Loss Is A Concern
Unexplained weight loss is when someone drops a significant amount of weight without a change in diet or exercise or without making other lifestyle changes.
Losing 10 pounds or more, or 5% of body weight, during a period of six to 12 months is when healthcare providers become concerned there is an underlying health issue.
Unexplained weight loss occurs most often and is more serious in people aged 65 and older. People in this age group may need to see their healthcare provider if they lose fewer than 10 pounds or less than 5% of their body weight without trying.
You May Like: Side Effects From Insulin
Weight Loss In Children
Unexplained weight loss can occur in people who have type 2 diabetes, but its more common in people with type 1. Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and adolescents. Parents are often the first to notice an unusual weight loss in a child with type 1 diabetes.
Weight loss in kids with diabetes can occur even in those who have a normal or increased appetite for the same reasons it happens in adults with diabetes. Once kids are diagnosed and treated for diabetes, weight loss ceases and typically returns to normal.
Why High Carb Diets Alone Dont Work
Lets start with the peptide hormone insulin.
Insulin is a regulatory hormone that allows the body cells to take up glucose, which it needs for energy metabolism and blood sugar balance. Obviously, type I diabetics dont produce enough insulin! Hence, they take insulin supplements via injection or insulin pump. Whether or not you have Type I diabetes, higher doses of insulin will facilitate fat storage , an obstacle for weight loss.
Clearly, if you have type I diabetes, your blood sugar fluctuates as you increase the number of carbohydrates you consume. Obtaining 55 percent or more of your total daily calorie needs from carbohydrates increases the doses of insulin you need to take.
Higher insulin doses and free active insulin in the body can increase carbohydrate metabolism from foods you consume and from your glycogen stores in the muscles. These increased insulin levels all day long do not allow much time for the body fat to be burned and metabolized. Bear in mind that insulin instructs the body to store fat and burn glucose or glycogen for energy.
This scenario wont be ideal for someone with type I diabetes or an active individual aiming to have a slimmer body composition.
Consuming carbohydrates, particularly before getting active, can lead to a surge in insulin levels, causing the body to burn carbohydrates exclusively and do a bad job of depleting our fat cells. Sometimes, a high carb diet will offer enough energy.
Recommended Reading: Is Banana Bad For Diabetics
Are You At A Healthy Weight
Doctors use your weight and height to calculate your body mass index . The BMI is a number that helps doctors figure out whether your weight is healthy.
Your doctor will tell you if you should lose weight to manage your diabetes. If it turns out you don’t need to lose weight, you can still help your health by eating good-for-you foods and getting a lot of play time.
If your doctor wants you to lose some weight, you might feel upset or sad. But try to focus your energy on getting healthy. You can do it with some help from your family, doctor, and the rest of your health care team!
Your diabetes meal plan already helps you know what foods to eat, so you may just need to eat a little less and be more active. It doesn’t have to be boring or hard you can just do more fun stuff like ride your bike, play outside with your friends, or dance to your favorite music in your room.
Kids with diabetes should never try fad diets or skipping meals or snacks to lose weight. These things aren’t good for anyone, and they’re especially bad for kids with diabetes. You need to keep your blood sugar levels on track, and extreme diets can mess them up. Also, never skip insulin injections to lose weight it can make you get very sick in just a few hours!
If you follow your doctor’s advice about food and exercise, you can reach your weight-loss goal safely and successfully.
Exercising While Fasting Is Better
The best thing to do is to perform the workout in a fasted state and with little food to make you feel full and sustain you for the activity.
For individuals with type I diabetes, the key factor to consider before getting active is the amount of active insulin in their body from basal rate and boluses. If insulin is in the system, a certain amount of glucose would need to be consumed to prevent blood sugar from crashing. Since synthetic insulin acts for about 3.5 to 4.5 hours, some planning may help time your meal and when you will be active.
Read Also: High Blood Sugar Symptoms Type 2
Diabetes Types And Weight Loss
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body sends antibodies to attack the pancreas, which prevents it from producing enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar. It is not clear what causes Type 1 diabetes, but it is thought to be genetic and is usually first diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood.
Type 1 diabetes is not associated with excess weight. But if you are carrying extra weight, losing it can reduce your risk of complications and reduce your need for insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is where your body does not produce enough insulin and/or your cells may not respond to insulin properly and do not take in sugar from your blood. Type 2 diabetes develops over many years. The cause is not known, but being overweight and inactive are major contributors.
For Type 2 diabetes, weight loss is key. If you have prediabetesthat is, you have consistently high blood sugar but do not yet have diabeteslosing 7-10 percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. If you already have Type 2 diabetes, losing weight could cause your condition to go into remission, potentially eliminating your need for medication.
Does Diabetes Cause Weight Gain
As a woman with diabetes, I would love to blame my middle-aged spread on my type 2 diabetes but is it true? Does diabetes cause weight gain?
Well, the answer is not a simple yes or no. There can be issues relating to your diabetes causing you to gain weight, or it could be that you are simply overeating and/or not exercising enough.
Don’t Miss: Is Bread Ok For Diabetics
New Study Challenges Conventional Views By Showing That People Lose Weight In The Years After Being Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes
It is a well-established fact that obesity and type 2 diabetes are connected. If you have lived a little too well and have become overweight then you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Until now, many have believed that diabetics have difficulty losing weight, and research has shown that many continue to gain weight after they are diagnosed.
A new study has now shaken that belief by demonstrating that diabetics actually lose some of the excess weight in the years after diagnosis, regardless of their age or weight before they were diagnosed. It seems that for these people, a diabetes diagnosis somehow leads to weight loss.
“Obesity is the greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and most patients have gained weight in the years prior to their diagnosis,” says Rasmus Køster-Rasmussen, MD, a Ph.D. from Copenhagen University’s Research Unit for General Practice.
“Our study shows that no matter how much theyve gained ten years prior to the diagnosis, they, on average, lose weight after having been diagnosed,” he says.
Diabetics lose weight
In the study, which has just been published in the international scientific journal PlosOne, øster-Rasmussen and colleagues observed weight development in 885 patients with type 2 diabetes who had been diagnosed after the age of 40.
Six years after the patients were diagnosed they had lost, on average 2.5 kg in weight.
A diagnosis may promote motivation
The new study gives no answers as to how or why diabetics lose weight.
Where Does This Idea Comes From
Type 2 diabetes triples the risk of heart attack and stroke, and is the leading cause of blindness, amputations and kidney failure. Treatment with modern drugs improves the outlook, but complications still develop and life expectancy is substantially reduced, especially for younger people. So beating it into remission is the ultimate goal of management.
If weight loss helps reach that goal, people need to know if its harder to achieve than without diabetes. From all the information out there you might think it is. In diabetes, the fat-burning mitochondria may be more sluggish and hunger hormones may be out of whack.
Then theres the insulin angle. In response to high levels of blood sugar , the pancreas pumps out insulin and packs glucose away into tissues like muscle to store or use for energy. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance, because the muscle cells are not sensitive to insulin. So glucose accumulates in the blood or is taken up into fat cells where it can be made into more fat.
Most people with type 2 diabetes are eventually given insulin to help control the disease, but this has been associated with weight gain. Other drugs that stimulate insulin production, such as sulfonylureas and thiazolidendiones, can both increase weight. And medications such as metformin can contribute to weight loss.
Don’t Miss: When To Take Glipizide And Metformin
Dont Obsess Over Cutting All The Carbs
There is so much emphasis within the diabetes community on cutting carbs, eating a ketogenic diet, or following the Bernstein approach. The pressure can feel overwhelming succeed at cutting carbs.
You dont, however, have to eat strictly low-carb in order to lose weight. It might feel like thats the only thing thats worked in the past but if youre still trying to lose weight today, then Id argue that it didnt actually work for you at all because you werent able to stick to it and you gained the weight back.
If trying to follow a strict low-carb diet hasnt worked for you so far, lets try something different.
The goal is to create an approach to nutrition you can sustain longterm, that doesnt leave you feeling deprived, that includes a lot of whole foods especially vegetables.
Standard Dosage Of Metformin For Weight Loss
The doctors prescribe to take the drug twice or thrice a day. Following things should be kept in mind once you decide to move further with Metformin:
- Always take it with meals in order to prevent any side effects in the digestion of food that you eat.
- People prefer to take it breakfast and dinner. This enables them to maintain the optimum time gap between the two doses.
- If you are taking extended-release metformin, your doctor may or may not tell you this but you should take it with dinner. This helps you to prevent high blood sugar levels while you sleep at night.
Every medicine comes with both positive and negative sides. One should be aware of both, irrespective of the amount of medicine one consumes.
Don’t Miss: Oatmeal And Type 2 Diabetes
How To Safely Lose Weight When You Have Diabetes
Even though people with diabetes can experience sudden, unexplained weight loss, this isnt the most common outcome. It mainly occurs in Type 1 diabetes cases, which only comprise 5% to 10% of all diabetes cases. More often, its the oppositelosing weight is a struggle. Insulin resistance leads to higher insulin levels, which can increase hunger and overeating. And during insulin therapy, the body stores more glucose as fat. Both situations can lead to weight gain or, at least, more difficulty with weight management.
While theres no cure for Type 2 diabetes, sustained weight loss through dieting and physical activity can reverse it . This doesnt mean that diabetes is gone forever. It simply means that the disease is in remission, and the patient is maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, but symptoms could always return.
The biggest question is: Whats the best, safest way to lose weight if you have diabetes? There are plenty of fad diets that arent healthy. Sure, consuming nothing but carrot juice for a week will probably help lose weight, but its probably not the healthiest option in the long run. Its often better to eat a personalized, well-rounded diet, manage portions, and exercise regularly. Here are some diabetes weight loss options that might be more effective:
Diabetes: What You Need To Know
- People with diabetes have an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, high-blood pressure, kidney disease and blindness.
- If you are obese, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by eating a low-fat, low-sugar diet and exercising regularly.
- If you can lose 5-10 percent of your body weight, you will lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent.
- Johns Hopkins can help you lose this weight with our weight loss services, including behavior modification, nutritional counseling and a new, special endoscopic procedure. Learn more about our weight loss services.
Don’t Miss: Glucose Tablets Side Effects
Can Losing Weight Get Rid Of Diabetes
New research has found that the more weight you lose, the more likely type 2 diabetes will go away.
Diabetes that goes away is good. But whats most important is diabetes that stays away. From the physicians and dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center, get key facts on how to lose weight and lose diabetes permanently.
Can losing weight get rid of type 2 diabetes? Yes. In fact, important new research published in The Lancet has found that the more weight you lose, the more likely type 2 diabetes will go away.
More Weight Loss More Diabetes Remission
The scientists found that the more weight lost, the greater the likelihood of diabetes remission:
Among those who gained weight: 0% achieved remission of diabetes
- For those who lost 0 to 11 pounds: 7% achieved remission
- For those who lost 11 to 22 pounds: 34% achieved remission
- For those who lost 22 to 33 pounds: 57% achieved remission
- For those who lost more than 33 pounds: 86% achieved remission
You May Like: Long Term Side Effects Of Metformin
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Sometimes, body weight can fluctuate naturally, so when should someone be concerned? The general consensus is that an unintentional 5% or more decrease in body weight over a six- to 12-month period is abnormal.
Sudden weight loss can be a sign of rising or uncontrolled blood glucose levels, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, the CEO of NY Nutrition Group. Whether or not youre intentionally losing weight, any loss greater than two to three pounds per week should be reported to your healthcare provider.
On the flip side, obesity is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. People with a body mass index of 30 or higher often have a higher level of insulin resistance, potentially leading to Type 2 diabetes. Not every case of obesity leads to diabetes, but it certainly increases the chances of developing it. On top of that, obesity can exacerbate diabetes symptoms for anyone who already has it.
For this reason, healthcare providers and dietitians will often develop diets or weight loss programs for patients with diabetes or prediabetes. These programs often include meal plans and physical activity routines that help patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk or severity of Type 2 diabetes. Typically, this involves analyzing the patients current eating and exercise habits, then laying out practical lifestyle changes that will help achieve personal weight loss goals.
RELATED: Overweight and obesity statistics