Type 2 Diabetes: How to Lose Weight
The Benefits of Weight Loss
Weight loss is a common recommendation for treatment for type 2 diabetes. Many people are overweight when they’re first diagnosed, and that extra fat actually increases their insulin resistance (when their bodies can’t properly use the hormone insulin).
By losing weight, people with type 2 diabetes can become less
insulin resistant, and they’re able to use insulin better. (To learn more about how the hormone insulin works, read our article on how insulin regulates blood glucose levels
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you're overweight, you should get started as soon as possible on a weight loss plan. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to help you figure out a plan that will work for you—a healthy meal plan, physical activity, and realistic goals will help you reach a healthy weight.
There are many advantages to losing weight (and not just diabetes-related ones):
- Boost your energy
- Lower your cholesterol levels (especially important for people with type 2 diabetes)
- Protect your heart (also important for people with diabetes, since heart-related complications are very common)
- Make it easier to control your blood glucose
- Improve your hemaglobin A1c level
- Sleep better (excess weight increases your risk for sleep apnea)
As you may already know, losing weight can be a challenge, but don’t let that stop you. Do whatever you need to in order to stay motivated.
It is the amount of calories we eat that contributes to weight gain. Make small changes. Correct your portions so you are eating an amount that meets your needs but no more. Using a smaller plate helps you manage your portions while having a plate that looks full so you feel more satisfied. Also, avoid snacking. But when you are too hungry to wait for your next meal, stick to fresh fruit (for a sweet fix, or raw vegetables for satisfying crunch). This is a sure way to reduce the total amount of calories you consume each day, and the best method to avoid snacking on foods that offer only empty calories, and the likelihood of weight gain.
Find cookbooks that show you how to make healthier recipes of your favorite dishes. For a little fun, take our carb counting quiz to see how well you know the carb content of certain foods; this can help you make healthier choices.
Work with a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes to help you set reasonable goals, and to develop an eating plan to works with you schedule and needs.
Physical activity can help with weight loss, and in the article on exercising when you have type 2 diabetes, you can learn about how to start an exercise plan.
A Final Weight Loss Note
For some people, losing weight doesn’t help them have better control of their blood glucose levels, and that’s all right. They may need to use medications or insulin to keep their blood glucose level in the normal range, but they should also still eat healthy foods and increase physical activity.
Everyone should strive for a healthy weight (as based on your body type—we have an article that talks about how to calculate your "ideal" weight
). Losing weight can help lower your body’s insulin resistance, but if it doesn’t help you achieve better blood glucose control, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed—or that you should give up. Losing weight and then maintaining a healthy weight are healthy choices for life—whether you have type 2 diabetes or not.
- American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2009. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:S13-61.
- Becker G. Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the newly Diagnosed. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company; 2007.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. January 30, 2009. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~n0K0MIfI1iZs.&selectedTitle=5~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. December 4, 2008. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko&selectedTitle=4~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.