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Diabetes And Weight Loss: Points To Remember


Diabetes refers to a metabolic disease with high blood sugar or glucose levels in your body.

When you are suffering from diabetes, your body may either not be able to make enough insulin or it may not be able to use the insulin made effectively.

This is because insulin is a hormone that controls the level of glucose or sugar present in the blood once you eat your meal.

Due to this, though your weight may affect diabetes, it could even be vice versa. This means diabetes may affect your weight.

Though you may lose a pound or two here and there, or may even gain one or two, what’s not normal could be experiencing a significant drop in weight without any exercise or diet changes.

Losing just a pound or two may not be a reason for concern. However, when you lose 10 or more pounds then you may figure out that your body is trying to tell you something.

Moreover, this could sometimes be an early sign of diabetes. However, the fact that diabetes may affect your weight depends on the type of diabetes you have.

There are two types of diabetes- Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. If you have Type 1 diabetes, then you may lose weight unintentionally because your body cannot use the sugar you eat for energy.

In these situations, your body might not make the hormone insulin and hence it could simply remove sugar during urination. On the other hand, if you are obese or overweight, then it may amplify your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is also referred to as insulin resistance under which although the pancreas may make the insulin hormone, your body may not be able to use it properly.

Hence, in such situations, to treat type 2 diabetes, you may aim at losing weight, which could be achieved through exercise changes and certain medications.

Diabetes And Weight Loss

Reason Behind Weight Loss From Diabetes

As mentioned earlier, insulin is a hormone that the pancreas produces to help your body in using glucose or sugar for energy.

In both types of diabetes, your body might either not be able to form insulin or may not use it effectively. Hence, the glucose does not get transported to your cells and instead, gets built up in the blood.

When the cells do not receive glucose, they may think that your body is striving and hence will find a way to compensate. This could happen by burning the excess fat and muscle of the bold to create energy.

So, this could be the reason behind the unexplained weight loss. At the same time, the kidneys may even work overtime to evade any excess sugar in the blood.

Since the kidneys work overtime, they could use additional energy and hence lead to further weight loss. On the other hand, people suffering from type-one[1] diabetes may also need to lose weight.

They could do it safely by truncating their calorie consumption. However, some people may even under-treat their diabetes to lose weight, but it could be very dangerous.

Skipping insulin could lead to very high blood sugar levels and a potential complication referred to as diabetic ketoacidosis[2].

Moreover, undertreating diabetes to lose weight might even be a symptom of an eating disorder and you could reach out to your doctor in such situations.

Generally, this unexplained weight loss may occur more in people who have type one diabetes hence proper weight management is essential[3]. However, people with type 2 diabetes also see certain symptoms of this weight loss.

Symptoms To Watch Out For In diabetes

Generally, the only symptom that comes with diabetes is not just weight loss. You could even observe certain other signs[4] and symptoms like –

  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Itchy skin
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Vision changes
  • Mood changes like irritability
  • Yeast infections
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Dark skin around the armpits

So in case you observe some of these symptoms along with weight loss, then you may immediately consult your doctor.

Benefits Of Weight Loss For Type 2 Diabetes

As mentioned earlier, when your body becomes resistant to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood and you could develop type 2 diabetes.

As a result, being fat or overweight may increase your risk of developing diabetes, making it much harder to control your blood sugar levels. 

In addition, research[5] suggests that losing between 5 and 7 per cent of your body weight can reduce your risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes by more than 50%.

Other benefits of losing weight when you have type 2 diabetes could be as follows-

  • It could truncate your chances of facing certain complications from diabetes like heart or kidney disease.
  • It could ameliorate your mobility, energy levels, and even mood.
  • It could help you to easily manage your blood sugar levels by truncating insulin resistance[6].
  • It may even lower[7] your LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels.
  • It may reduce the risk[8] of cardiovascular diseases.

Sometimes losing weight may even restore[9] the blood sugar to a normal level and hence evade the requirements of consuming type 2 diabetes medications.

However, if you have type 1 diabetes, you may experience weight gain once you start using insulin.

Only by changing your insulin dosage as well as your calorie and carbohydrate intake, weight loss is more likely to be successful.

The Right Diet For Diabetes And Weight Loss

While you intend to lose weight for diabetes, you might make sure to control your blood sugar levels. Once you modify your eating habits, you do not want to have very high or very low blood sugar levels.

Hence it could be safe for a person suffering from diabetes to truncate approximately 500 calories in a single day. You could do this by trimming out fat, carbohydrates and protein from your diet.

According to the Nutritional Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes[10], any adult receives 45 to 55% of the calories from carbs, 10 to 35% of the calories from protein and 25 to 35% of the calories from fat.

These figures simply show how carbs could have the most significant impact on your blood sugar level. But it is always beneficial[11] to eat carbs that have more fiber like vegetables or whole grain bread as compared to starchy or sugary carbs.

This is because starchy or sugary carbs may be less likely to amplify blood sugar levels. One of the weight loss goals that you may follow to make losing weight easier with diabetes is S.M.A.R.T goals.

S.M.A.R.T Goals For Diabetes

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. When you aim at achieving weight loss along with diabetes, then your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

Setting S.M.A.R.T goals will not just help[12] you to adhere to your diet and stay on track, but could even help you easily manage your blood sugar and lose weight.

Your major aim behind following S.M.A.R.T goals should be to spread out carbs throughout the day evenly.

Let’s understand this S.M.A.R.T goals breakdown in detail.

  • Specific – This S.M.A.R.T goal is specifically targeted at breakfast.
  • Measurable – 45 grammes each day.
  • Attainable – You could easily attain 45 grammes of carbs in your breakfast with a few options.
    • A hard-boiled egg, black coffee, medium banana and one cup of cooked oatmeal.
    • One orange, One Cup of milk, one small whole wheat pita bread and 2 scrambled eggs.
  • Relevant – This goal is quite relevant because it helps you to control your hunger by spreading out carbs. Besides eating carbs, you could even consume protein and fat in this 45-gramme breakfast.

    Moreover, this breakfast could help you to feel full for a long time and hence avoid overeating.

  • Time-bound – You need to make your goals time-bound. This could be for a time of two weeks. Once this duration is over, you could either stick to it or modify it again.

Let's Wrap It Up!

Thus, this was all you need to know about diabetes and weight loss. You could even add exercise or working out to your lifestyle regime to keep your blood sugar balance while suffering from diabetes.

Moreover, when you are active and working out regularly, you could keep extra pounds away. However, in case you are a newbie in the field of exercising, then you may always consult your doctor and learn about your limits.

Moreover, different medications for diabetes could even help with weight loss like metformin, SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists.

However, if you may still be concerned about your weight and have diabetes, then you should not hesitate to talk with your healthcare provider or certified diabetes care and education specialist.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Type 1 Diabetes Last Reviewed July 2017 Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/type-1-diabetes
  2. Diabetic ketoacidosis. Date Of Publication: 1 May, 2020. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-ketoacidosis/
  3. Adham Mottalib, Megan Kasetty, Jessica Y. Mar, et al. Weight Management in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes and Obesity Curr Diab Rep. 2017; 17(10): 92.Published online 2017 Aug 23. doi: 10.1007/s11892-017-0918-8
  4. Diabetes Symptoms Page last reviewed: April 27, 2021 Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/symptoms.html
  5. Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Last Reviewed August 2021 Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/research-areas/diabetes/diabetes-prevention-program-dpp
  6. L D Clamp, D J Hume, E V Lambert, et al. Enhanced insulin sensitivity in successful, long-term weight loss maintainers compared with matched controls with no weight loss history Nutr Diabetes. 2017 Jun; 7(6): e282.Published online 2017 Jun 19. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2017.31
  7. Joshua D Brown, Joanna Buscemi, Vanessa Milsom, et al. Effects on cardiovascular risk factors of weight losses limited to 5-10 Transl Behav Med. 2016 Sep;6(3):339-46. doi: 10.1007/s13142-015-0353-9. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27528523/
  8. Rena R Wing, Wei Lang, Thomas A Wadden, et al. Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes Diabetes Care. 2011 Jul;34(7):1481-6. doi: 10.2337/dc10-2415. Epub 2011 May 18. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21593294/
  9. J P H Wilding The importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes mellitus Int J Clin Pract. 2014 Jun; 68(6): 682–691.
    Published online 2014 Feb 18. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12384
  10. Alison Gray and Rebecca J Threlkeld Nutritional Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes Last Update: October 13, 2019. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
  11. Diabetic Diet Last updated November 26, 2021 Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/diabeticdiet.html
  12. Mackenzie Swanson Implementation of a SMART Goal Intervention for Diabetic Patients: A Practice Change in Primary Care August 2016 Available from: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=kcon_doctoralprojects

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