You have probably heard the secret — which is not really a secret — to losing or maintaining a healthy weight: Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. However, if you have diabetes and have to take insulin, following this advice may be more difficult.
Insulin, the most common treatment for diabetes, can cause you to gain weight. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to managing your diabetes and preventing other chronic diseases such as heart disease. Fortunately, you can avoid or minimize weight gain with healthy lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.
At M. Zafar MD, SC, which serves Illinois statewide by Telehealth with offices in Streator and Flanagan, board-certified physician Muhammed Zafar, MD helps people with diabetes manage their weight so they reduce their risk of diabetes-related complications – and live a healthier life.
Here, Dr. Zafar explains how insulin can lead to weight gain and how to prevent it.
Insulin is an important hormone produced by your pancreas that helps your body convert sugar, also called glucose, into energy. When you eat, your blood sugar levels rise.
Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, or doesn’t produce enough insulin, and type 2 diabetes is when your pancreas produces insulin, but your cells don’t use it properly. This insulin shortage or inability to use it properly is why people with diabetes take insulin.
If your body doesn’t have the ability to convert sugar into energy, the sugar you ingest builds up in your bloodstream, and your cells are starved for energy. Over time, excess blood sugar can lead to complications such as kidney disease, eye problems, and nerve damage.
Insulin helps your body move the sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. But, if you consume too many calories or don’t get enough exercise, your cells have more sugar than they need for energy, and that sugar turns into fat. This happens to people without diabetes as well.
Fortunately, you can prevent weight gain by balancing the amount of calories you consume with the amount of exercise you do. Insulin can help you manage your blood sugar but can’t burn calories.
Preventing weight gain and managing your diabetes go hand in hand. Here are some tips to help you do both:
You don’t have to run a marathon or participate in a competitive soccer league. Regular physical activity helps your body use glucose for energy, which can help regulate insulin levels. Walking, biking, and gardening are good ways to get moving.
It’s easy to snack too much or mindlessly eat. If you plan healthy meals, you are more likely to get the right balance of starches, proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables.
You may think skipping a meal will help you lose weight. Instead, skipping a meal usually results in unhealthy choices because you’re hungry.
Weight loss medications such as Semaglutide and Tirzepatide are injectable medications that help control blood sugar levels and slow digestion. These medications can help you reduce your appetite and enhance weight loss for those that take insulin and also for those that don’t.
If you’re ready to improve your overall health and well being, book a Telehealth appoint online today.