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There's no question about it. If you're overweight and have type 2 diabetes, dropping pounds lowers your blood sugar, improves your health, and helps you feel better.

You'll want to work closely with your doctor or diabetes educator, because while you're losing weight, your blood sugar, insulin, and medications need special attention.

No matter what you weigh now, losing weight will make a difference.

Losing even 10 or 15 pounds has health benefits, according to the American Diabetes Association. It can:

  • Lower blood sugar
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Lighten the stress on hips, knees, ankles, and feet

Plus, you'll probably have more energy, get around easier, and breathe easier.

The Right Balance for Diabetes and Weight Loss

It's important to keep tight glucose control while you lose weight. You don't want to run the risk of high or low blood sugar while you change your eating habits.

Cutting 500 calories a day is generally safe for someone with diabetes. When you're choosing which calories to cut, cut them across the board: from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Ideally, your calories should come from:

  • 50% to 55% carbs
  • 30% fat
  • 10% to 15% protein

Carbs have the biggest effect on blood sugar. Eating complex carbs (whole-grain bread and vegetables, for example) is better than eating simple carbs like cake, because they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, cutting your risk of blood sugar spikes.

Exercise, Diabetes, and Weight Loss

One of the benefits of exercise is that it helps keep your blood sugar in balance, so you won't have to cut as many calories. Walking an extra 20 minutes a day lets you eat a little bit more. Instead of cutting 500 calories, depending on your level of exercise, you can cut back just 200 or 300 calories and still lose weight while controlling your blood sugar. And the pounds will be more likely to stay off if you lose them slowly and safely.

Keep in mind: Each type of exercise affects blood sugar differently.

Aerobic exercise -- running or a treadmill workout -- can lower your blood sugar immediately.

Weightlifting or working out hard for a long time may affect your blood sugar level many hours later. This can be a problem, especially when you're driving a car after your workout. It's one of the many reasons that you should check your blood sugar before driving. It's also a good idea to carry snacks such as fruit, crackers, juice, and soda in the car.

Physical activity burns both blood sugar and sugar stored in muscle and the liver. If you use insulin or other diabetes medicines, you should closely monitor your blood sugar levels when you start exercising. Over time, as you exercise regularly and work with your doctor, you'll be able to lower doses of medications and insulin.

Control Your Blood Sugars

These symptoms can signal that your blood sugars may be too high.
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