Diabetes and Weight Loss: The Right Path
If you've got diabetes, weight loss can get you off insulin and other medications. But diet safely, with the help of experts.
The Right Balance for Diabetes and Weight Loss
Christine Gerbstadt, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic
Association, warns: "You don't want to run the risk of high or low blood sugar
while you're dieting. You want tight glucose control while you lose
Gerbstadt suggests cutting 500 calories a day, "which is safe for someone
with diabetes," she says. "Cut calories across the board -- from protein,
carbohydrates, and fat -- that's the best way." She recommends that people with
diabetes maintain a healthy ratio of carbs, fat, and protein. The ideal:
- 50% to 55% carbs
- 30% fat
- 10% to 15% protein
Watch the Carbs on a Diabetes Weight Loss Diet
For people with diabetes, a refresher course on carbs may also be in order,
Gerbstadt says. With diabetes and weight loss, dietary changes must be made
That's because carbs have the biggest effect on blood sugar, since they are
broken down into sugar early in digestion. Eating complex carbs (whole-grain
bread and vegetables, for example) is good because they are absorbed more
slowly into the bloodstream, cutting the risk of blood sugar spikes, Gerbstadt
"Worst-case scenario is sliced white bread," she says. "Whole-wheat bread is
an improvement. Adding a little peanut butter is even better."
Simply cutting lots of carbs -- a common dieting strategy -- can be
dangerous for a diabetic diet, Gerbstadt says. When your body doesn't have
carbs to burn for fuel, your metabolism changes into what's known as ketosis --
and fat is burned instead. You'll feel less hungry, and eat less than you
usually do -- but long-term ketosis can cause health problems.
"Ketosis decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues, which puts stress on
eyes, kidneys, heart, liver," Gerbstadt says. "That's why the low-carb,
high-protein Atkins diet is not really safe for people with diabetes. Diabetics
need to try to stick with a more balanced diet so your body can handle
nutrients without going into ketosis."
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.