Will Losing Weight Help With Diabetes?

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Question: I have diabetes and I'm overweight, bordering on obese. Will losing some of the extra weight help me manage my blood sugar and diabetes?

Answer: Losing weight might help with your diabetes, and it should contribute to reducing your risk of diseases that are associated with diabetes, like cardiovascular disease. Ask your doctor about your weight and make sure you spend time with a dietitian or nutritionist who specializes in diabetes-friendly diets, or a diabetes educator. He or she can give you a meal plan that will help you keep your blood sugar under control and help you lose weight.

Weight Loss and Diabetes

Obesity is common. Over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and this increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Obviously, losing weight is important for helping prevent diabetes, but what about after you've been diagnosed with it? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a review of the research literature shows that weight loss can improve insulin resistance (inability to use the insulin your pancreas makes) if you have diabetes and you're overweight or obese.

The academy also says about half of the subjects tested in various diabetes/weight loss studies had lowered levels of A1C after a year on weight loss diets. A1C is a lab test that lets you know how well you've controlled your blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. So, losing weight might help you control your blood sugar levels and help avoid some of the complications of diabetes.

There's no downside to losing weight because it has additional health benefits. Losing weight can reduce elevated blood pressure and lower triglycerides, and total and LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind) if they're too high. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels are key risk factors for cardiovascular disease like heart disease and stroke.

In order to lose weight, you'll need to reduce your caloric intake by avoiding foods that are high in calories (especially from fats and sugar). You don't need to reduce your carbohydrate intake drastically, but it's important to keep your daily carb intake consistent. Be sure to work closely with your health care providers, especially if you're taking any diabetes medications.

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Article Sources

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Evidence Analysis Library. "Recommendations Summary Diabetes Mellitus (DM): Assess Relative Importance of Weight Management." Accessed April 11, 2016. http://andevidencelibrary.com.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Evidence Analysis Library. "What is the Long-term Effect (1 Year or Greater) of Weight Management on Metabolic Outcomes in Persons with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?" Accessed April 11, 2016. http://andevidencelibrary.com.
  • American Diabetes Association. "Food and Fitness: Weight Loss." Accessed April 11, 2016. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/weight-loss.