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
But before you start a diabetes weight loss plan, it's important to work closely with your doctor or diabetes educator - because while you're dieting, your blood sugar, insulin, and medications need special attention.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's diabetes expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, to answer a question about the link between prediabetes and diabetes.
Q: At my last checkup, my doctor told me I have prediabetes. Does that mean I'll ultimately develop diabetes?
A: Almost everyone who develops type 2 diabetes develops prediabetes first. But not everyone who has prediabetes...
Make no mistake -- you're on the right path. "No matter how heavy you are, you will significantly lower your blood sugar if you lose some weight," says Cathy Nonas, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
A National Institutes of Health study found that a combination of diet and exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. The study involved people who were overweight (average body mass index of 34) and who had high -- but not yet diabetic -- blood sugar levels.
"We know it's true -- that if someone with diabetes loses 5% to 10% of their weight, they will significantly reduce their blood sugar," Nonas tells WebMD.
"We see it all the time: people can get off their insulin and their medication," she says. "It's wonderful. It shows you how interwoven obesity and diabetes are."
Even losing 10 or 15 pounds has health benefits, says 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.
On a Diabetes Weight Loss Plan, Watch for Changes in Blood Sugar
Cutting back on just one meal can affect the delicate balance of blood sugar, insulin, and medication in your body. So it's important to work with an expert when you diet.
Check with your doctor before starting a diabetes weight loss plan, then consult with a diabetes educator or nutritionist, advises Larry C. Deeb, MD, a diabetes specialist in Tallahassee, Fla. and president-elect of the American Diabetes Association.
"Don't try to lose weight on your own," says Deeb. "With a doctor and a good nutritionist, it's very safe to do. This is very important if you're taking insulin or medications."