Why Weight Loss with Diabetes: Ask the RD

Why Weight Loss with Diabetes: Ask the RD

Are you wondering why weight loss with diabetes?

Diabetes rates are rapidly increasing throughout the United States, with an astounding increase to approximately 37.3 million, or 11.3% of the U.S. population, diagnosed nationwide. 

It is likely that you or someone you know is dealing with diabetes. The condition can be overwhelming and frustrating, leading to unwanted symptoms such as weight gain. 

With the right diet and lifestyle habits, you can promote sustainable weight loss and keep your diabetes under control. 

In today’s article, I will be discussing the risk factors for diabetes, the different types of diabetes, and what habits you can implement to lose weight effectively. Keep reading to learn more!

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my blog on how to reverse prediabetes with diet and exercise!


Why is Diabetes on the Rise?

There are many factors which contribute to the rise in diabetes rates. Some include but are not limited to:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Dietary and fitness habits have altered due to increases in sedentary lifestyle and remote jobs.
  • Aging Population: Diabetes largely affects older adults, and with a current large population of aging adults, the rates inevitably increase. 
  • Genetics: Genetic mutations that alter insulin affectability can be a factor in the diagnosis.  
  • Environmental Factors: Though not many people know this, factors such as chemicals, pollutants, and even developmental infrastructure  (access to nutritional food options and local produce) can affect rates for diabetes. 
  • Improvements in Screening and Diagnosis: Medical advances allow screening and diagnosis to be more effective, and thus, more people will be accurately assessed for diabetes.
  • Access to Healthcare: Lack of access to healthcare can lead to late diagnoses. 
  • Lack of Education: Lack of nutrition education and emphasis on the importance of physical movement for at least 30 minutes a day can increase rates of diabetes.

More in particular, diabetes rates are on the rise in correlation with an increase in the number of people who are overweight. This correlation strongly suggests that weight loss is an important step in healing and improving insulin resistance! 


What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (or long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body is able to turn food into energy.  

Diabetes is characterized by heightened levels of blood glucose (sugar) in the body. There are elevated levels of insulin in the body when our pancreas does two things. It either does not produce enough insulin (a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar) or cannot utilize the insulin effectively. 

Without enough insulin or insulin responsiveness in the body, glucose (blood sugar) from food is not shuttled into our muscle, fat, and liver cells. 

Blood glucose, instead, will just build up and heighten blood glucose levels, which is not beneficial to our health and longevity. 

There are two types of Diabetes:

Type I Diabetes: Type I, or Juvenile Diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. Essentially, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells, leaving the body with no insulin. Without insulin, blood glucose is not adequately regulated. 

Age of Onset: Usually, children, adolescents, and younger adults are diagnosed with Type I. Type I can be diagnosed at any age, however. 

Insulin Dependency: People with Type I Diabetes need lifelong insulin therapy in order to regulate blood sugar levels. They would use insulin pumps or insulin injections for regulation. 

Type II Diabetes:  Type II Diabetes is insulin resistance, as the pancreas produces insulin, but the body does not recognize that it is there and thus is not being used effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. 

Age of Onset: Typically, those diagnosed with Type II Diabetes are adults, but more children are being diagnosed with Type II due to rates of obesity continuously rising. 

Insulin Dependence: Some individuals will require oral medication or insulin injections, but since Type II Diabetes can be reversed, treatment is different from Type I. Next, in Type II, lifestyle modifications such as increased exercise and or dietary changes are highly beneficial. They are of utmost importance in further escalation of the condition. 


What is the Connection Between Weight Loss and Diabetes

Why weight loss with diabetes

Exercise is usually recommended to live a healthy lifestyle for any individual. However, those diagnosed with Prediabetes or Type II diabetes can benefit significantly from lifestyle modifications. Modifications may include adequate exercise, healthy weight loss, and changes in dietary choices.

Additionally, weight loss is a common treatment plan for those diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. This is especially true if they are overweight or considered obese according to BMI standards. 

In fact, weight loss via lifestyle modifications is the first-line therapy for Type II diabetes! 


So… Why Weight Loss with Diabetes?

You may be wondering why weight loss with diabetes? 

Here are some reasons why weight loss is beneficial to managing, preventing onset, or reversing Type II Diabetes: 

  • Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels: Getting active makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which can help someone diagnosed with Type II diabetes regulate blood sugar levels. Remember, the goal in reversing Type II is to allow your body to be more insulin sensitive, or in other words, be able to recognize insulin is present and thus utilize it effectively!
  • Lowers Risk of Other Health Complications or Diagnosis: Weight loss can reduce one’s risk of having correlating conditions with Type II diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney complications. Excess body weight is associated with a heightened risk of cardiometabolic complications. Further, this may lead to or escalate Type II diabetes. 
  • Improved Energy Levels: Individuals consistently exercising and eating more nutrient-dense foods tend to have improved levels of energy, which will continue to be a motivating factor in regular exercise or frequent movement. 
  • Reduction of Excess Fat: If there is an increase in circulating blood sugar, the sugar is stored as fat. Excess fat builds in the liver due to a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and or dietary inadequacy. If this happens, the body lacks sensitivity to insulin. Then, this can lead to rises in blood glucose levels! Studies, therefore, have consistently shown excess fat in the liver and pancreas are huge factors in the onset of Type II diabetes.


Weight Fluctuations and Diabetes

Some individuals with diabetes struggle with consistent weight fluctuations. 

The most common treatment for diabetes beyond lifestyle modifications is insulin modifications or injections. These, unfortunately, often cause weight fluctuations. 

Even further, individuals taking insulin may gain weight. In a population where weight loss is beneficial, this cycle can be very frustrating. 

The good news is there are ways to manage weight fluctuations while on insulin!

  1. Stay physically active! Movement is going to be beneficial to your health by aiding the effectiveness of your insulin hormones to regulate your blood sugar levels. You can always adjust workout regimens or types of movement depending on what feels good to YOU. 
  2. Don’t skip meals. If you skip meals, your blood sugar will drop significantly and then significantly rise the next meal you ingest. Stay on a consistent dietary routine to allow your body to adjust to blood sugar levels. 
  3. Talk with your provider (PCP or Dietitian) about medications. Do not increase or reduce your insulin in order to stop weight loss or weight gain. Take insulin as directed, but feel free to discuss possible changes in medications with your providers. 

A lot of information, I know. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that weight loss is not a magical cure for diabetes, and health improvements from it may take time to surface. 

Additionally, FAD Diets (a dietary plan that supposedly gives immediate positive results) are not long-term solutions for weight loss since most fad diets are not maintainable. 

Think about long-term, maintainable lifestyle changes you can make that work well for your routine and allow you to manage your diabetes and overall health. 


5 Tips to Support Sustainable Weight Loss

Why weight loss with diabetes

Every individual is different in terms of what routines or lifestyle modifications can work best for them. 

Below are a few ideas on how you can begin making a sustainable weight loss regimen:

  1. Meal prep nutritious foods in advance. Having to cook every meal one at a time on a daily basis can be difficult to maintain throughout the week. By meal-prepping in advance, eating healthy can be easier! Find nutrient-dense, low glycemic index foods to integrate into your weekly dietary routine. Then, prepare snacks and meals with these foods before the week begins. 
  2. Increase your daily steps. If you have a break in the day, getting outside for a quick walk can help increase activity levels as well as give a mental refresh. 
  3. Manage stress levels, as stress is associated with weight gain. Stress causes our bodies to produce and elicit a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol, when released, urges our body to replenish energy stores by eating more! Thus, stress can cause weight gain. Some ways to manage stress and decrease vulnerability to weight gain include journaling, Yoga, meditation, going on walks, painting or drawing, having a self-care night, getting together with friends, etc. 
  4. Prioritize high-volume, low-calorie foods. Fruits and vegetables are great examples of foods to integrate more of! Examples include cucumbers, watermelon, greens, and whole-grain items like quinoa and brown rice. 
  5. Try keeping a food journal. By keeping track of the foods you eat throughout the day, you can have greater control over changing habits that contribute to weight gain. Further, being in a calorie deficit is an important part of weight loss. Tracking calories will make weight loss an easier goal to meet. 


Why Weight Loss With Diabetes: The Takeaways

All in all, this information may feel a little overwhelming to you, but focusing on the key points made can hopefully help pull it all together!

Diabetes is a chronic (or long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body is able to turn food into energy. 

There are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II Diabetes. 

  • Type I is an autoimmune disease typically resulting from genetic or environmental factors and diagnosed at a younger age. 
  • Type II Diabetes is typically a result of inadequate exercise and lifestyle routines or dietary patterns and is usually diagnosed in adults. Remember, the goal in reversing Type II is to allow your body to be more insulin-sensitive. In other words, be able to recognize insulin is present and thus utilize it effectively. Further, every person is different in terms of what routines are sustainable for healthy weight loss. Some tips for maintainable weight loss include:
  • Meal prep nutritious foods in advance. 
  • Increase your daily steps. 
  • Manage stress levels, as stress is associated with weight gain. 
  • Prioritize high-volume, low-calorie foods.
  • Try keeping a food journal. 

Overall, you know your body best, and by speaking with your care providers, you can create an individualized approach for a healthier life. 

If you want more information on how to manage diabetes or prevent the onset of Type II diabetes, head over to my services page to learn about my 1:1 premium nutrition counseling services! There is no better time to invest in you and your health. 

Pin It on Pinterest