The Connection Between Diabetes and Weight Management
Body weight is an important health factor for most diabetes patients, but the reasons why can differ. Weight loss can be a sign of worsening symptoms for those with type 1 diabetes. And being overweight can make symptoms worse if you have type 2 diabetes. Understanding diabetes weight management, regardless of what type of diabetes you might have, can help you keep the disease in check.
Type 1 Diabetes and Weight Loss
With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use glucose, also called blood sugar, properly. Glucose is managed by insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. For those with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. As a result, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream. The kidneys work harder to eliminate that blood sugar through urine.
This process can cause diabetic weight loss through dehydration. Additionally, lost calories from the glucose that would otherwise be used to supply energy for daily life also can cause pounds to drop. As a result, unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more could be a sign of problems. Other symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst or hunger
- Heavy urination
- Itchy skin
- Slow cut and bruise healing
- Yeast infections
- Vision changes
Type 2 Diabetes and Excessive Weight
The pancreas still produces insulin with type 2 diabetes. However, the amount of insulin produced might be insufficient. In other cases, cells become resistant to insulin, so they can’t absorb glucose. The end result is similar to type 1 diabetes — excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, causing similar symptoms.
However, while type 1 diabetes appears to be caused by genetic and environmental factors, type 2 diabetes can be caused by diet. Being overweight is the biggest risk factor for this disease. Excess body fat affects the production of insulin and how it’s used. The good news is that losing weight through exercise and diet can put type 2 diabetes into remission, according to recent research.
Up Your Exercise
In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise also can help manage your blood sugar levels. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan. Other tips for ramping up your physical activity include:
- Start slow. Begin with a short daily walk if you’re new to exercising. Then, over time, build up the length and intensity of those walks.
- Speed it up. Add some speed once you’re comfortable walking. This will help you burn calories faster.
- Keep on top of your blood sugar. Check your glucose levels before, during and after your exercise to prevent sudden drops.
- Be prepared. Keep a snack with you to boost your blood sugar if you need it.
Build a Better Diet
Pair your exercise with healthier meals to aid your weight-loss plans. These should include:
- Fewer calories, especially from carbohydrates.
- Healthier fats, including olive oil, avocados and fatty fish.
- More veggies and fruit, whether fresh or frozen.
- Lean proteins, including poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, soy and beans.
- Less sugar from both sweets and alcohol.