If you have diabetes, you’re probably familiar with the constant struggle of keeping your blood sugar levels under control through diet and exercise. If that sounds like an insurmountable feat, it’s because it often feels like one. It’s hard to control your diabetes if you don’t lose weight, but shedding pounds can be extremely difficult for someone with diabetes. When you have this chronic disease, will weight loss help control your diabetes? Read on to find out!
Understand What Type of Diabetes You Have
The different types of diabetes often have different treatments. To get some control over your blood sugar levels, you first need to figure out what type of diabetes you have and how it should be treated. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1, where your body can't produce insulin naturally, and Type 2, which occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin. While there's no cure for either type, Type 2 diabetes is far more common (affecting approximately 85 percent of diabetics) and often easier to treat successfully with drugs or herbal supplements. It's vital that you understand which type you have because they're treated differently—and in some cases a diet alone might not be enough to control your blood sugar levels or even cause weight loss.
Type 1 Diabetes Overview
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which your pancreas does not produce any insulin. Insulin is necessary for your body to be able to use glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates in food for energy. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can damage pancreatic beta cells, which are part of what makes up a part of your pancreas called Islets of Langerhans. When these cells are damaged and cannot make insulin, blood sugar levels rise, leading to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). This excess blood sugar can lead to health complications if it is not controlled through dietary changes and medication.
Type 2 Diabetes Overview
Type 2 diabetes is a common form of diabetes that affects adults. It is a disease that occurs when your body cannot properly produce or respond to insulin, which helps turn sugar into energy. Normally, blood glucose levels rise after you eat, which signals your pancreas to release insulin and helps turn glucose into energy. But if you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas either can't produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to it. This causes glucose levels in your blood to rise higher than normal levels (hyperglycemia). Over time, high blood sugar can damage major organs such as your kidneys and heart as well as nerves and small blood vessels throughout your body. Because of all these complications, people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
The Link Between Weight Loss and Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, weight loss may be an effective tool to help control your disease. In fact, losing just 7% of your body weight can have a huge impact on blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are strongly associated with type 1 diabetes. A common prescription for overweight people with type 1 diabetes is to lose 10% of their body weight over 6 months by combining exercise and healthy eating habits.
Exercising and Type 1 Diabetes
Exercise is important for most people, but especially so for people with type 1 diabetes. By far, exercise can be one of your best ways to maintain a healthy weight and keep your blood sugar stable. In fact, exercise can help control your blood sugar so well that you may only need to take insulin or other medications in combination with a healthy diet and consistent workouts. Talk to your doctor about what an ideal exercise routine would look like in terms of duration and intensity. A person with type 1 diabetes typically needs less than an hour of moderate activity per day; just remember that sometimes rest is as important as exercise when it comes to maintaining normal blood glucose levels.
The Link Between Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes
So, can losing weight actually help manage type 2 diabetes? Absolutely. There’s a direct link between weight loss and type 2 diabetes: In general, if you lose weight, it’s more likely that your blood sugar will return to normal levels, especially in people with an overweight or obese BMI. That’s because people who are at a healthy weight have lower levels of insulin in their bodies. People who are overweight or obese have higher levels of insulin in their bodies.
Exercising and Type 2 Diabetes
When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, exercise can help in several ways. As part of an overall healthy lifestyle, exercise helps people better control their blood sugar and body weight. It can also lower other blood fats called triglycerides that are a risk factor for heart disease. Exercise may even improve your cholesterol levels and increase your good (HDL) cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein levels. And losing weight if you’re overweight or obese is key to controlling type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 8 million Americans.
Exercising may reduce insulin resistance—which makes muscles and fat cells less sensitive to insulin—and strengthen your metabolism, helping your body use glucose more efficiently throughout the day. To achieve all these benefits without damaging existing joints, a combination of aerobic exercise—like walking or running—and strength training is ideal. Check with your doctor before starting any new regimen; he or she might suggest modifications based on factors like existing conditions, medications taken and health history. In addition to working with a certified personal trainer at home using DVDs like The Biggest Loser: At Home (20th Century Fox), consider joining a gym where you can try classes such as circuit training that combine aerobic activity with muscle toning moves.
How To Lose Weight As A Diabetic
Exercising with diabetes means your body needs to have extra fuel at all times, so you should be very careful about what you eat in order to stay fit. You must take insulin for your body to turn glucose into energy and exercise will not compensate for insulin levels which are too low. Since your body is already having problems handling sugar, it’s best not to deprive it of glucose by fasting during an exercise session. Many people with diabetes get dizzy when they first start working out, but many adjust quickly if they gradually build up their intensity and pace over time. For diabetics who are new to exercising, even light walking may do more harm than good because blood circulation can be an issue in someone whose blood sugar levels are difficult to control.
Managing Blood Sugar (Glucose) Levels
When it comes to managing diabetes, you’re in charge of monitoring and manipulating one big variable: glucose. When you eat a meal, glucose is released into your bloodstream and if your body doesn’t need all of it right away, it’s shuttled into cells for storage. Then, when energy is needed, glucose gets pulled out of cells to be used as fuel. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or their bodies can’t effectively use what they produce (type 1 diabetes) or their bodies resist using insulin properly (type 2 diabetes). This can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly after meals—sometimes dangerously high and sometimes too low—which may cause frequent symptoms like fatigue, moodiness, headaches or nausea. You may also want to try metformin.
Tips For Improving Your Diet
The single best way to improve your diet is to eat more vegetables or have a natural supplement such as mango leaf powder. Period. Vegetables aren’t only packed with nutrients, they can also help control weight gain, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent heart disease and even help fight diabetes. There are tons of ways to sneak veggies into your meals—some easy and obvious (i.e., broccoli in soup) and some less so (like broccoli on pizza). In addition to helping you lose weight, eating plenty of vegetables may also help prevent type 2 diabetes by helping control blood sugar levels in your body and improving insulin sensitivity when it comes to converting glucose into energy. Healthy foods like vegetables will allow you to consume fewer calories while feeling fuller longer throughout the day.
Get Support From Other People
It’s well documented that one of the most important steps to changing your lifestyle is having someone who will support you. For a diabetic, that might mean joining a community of others with diabetes or connecting with a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you develop a safe plan for losing weight and learning to live healthier. (If you don’t have access to either, check out our list of local resources.) Knowing that other people are behind you can also help keep up your own motivation when it gets tough. Being part of a group also makes it easier to stay accountable—if you know someone else is counting on your success, there’s more pressure to get results!
Weight Loss With Natural Dietary Supplements
One of your best tools in losing weight is to eat a healthy diet. Many people make changes such as counting calories or using different dietary supplements to try and lose weight. While both methods can work, natural dietary supplements are often more effective. Natural nutritional supplements contain herbs such as costus igneus and other ingredients that help control cravings and boost metabolism—two key factors for successful weight loss.
It’s important to find a supplement that works with your body instead of against it; if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. And always check ingredients carefully. Make sure you read labels on all new products and compare them to products already on your shelf at home; some companies will claim their product is natural because they use herbal extracts in place of synthetic ingredients, but not all herbal extracts are good for everyone!