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How Not to Lose Weight With Type 2 Diabetes

By Barbara Brody
WebMD Feature

Whether you've been trying to slim down for a while, or your doctor has recently urged you to do so to help control your diabetes, you understand that the stakes are high.

Not only will losing weight help you look and feel better, but it can improve your blood sugar levels and, in some cases, you may not even need medication anymore.

Yet some diets are better than others, and there are some that are especially bad for you if you have type 2 diabetes. Don't make these six diet mistakes.

Mistake #1: Making all carbs the enemy.

Carbohydrates turn into sugar, so they're bad for people with diabetes, right? Not exactly. While too many carbs can cause problems, a certain amount is essential.

"Almost every process in your body requires carbohydrates,” says Constance Brown-Riggs, RD, certified diabetes educator and author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes. For instance, your brain needs carbs, she says, and not getting enough can mess with your memory.

"Even if you have diabetes, nearly half of your calories should come from carbohydrates," says Jaclyn London, senior dietitian at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Going too low-carb can lower blood sugar to dangerous levels in people who take medications that increase insulin levels, such as sulfonylureas (Diabinese, Amaryl) or meglitinides (Starlix, Prandin), London says.

Ask your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a certified diabetes educator if the diet you want to try gives you the right mix of carbs, protein, fat, and all the nutrients you need.

Mistake #2: Going too long without eating.

"It's important to eat every 3 to 4 hours," says Carolyn Brown, RD, a New York nutritionist.

Aside from keeping your metabolism fired up, eating regularly prevents your blood sugar from spiking too high or dropping too low, she says.

Letting hours pass without eating can lead to low blood sugar, which in turn, may contribute to overeating.

Going too long without food could also affect how your body processes certain diabetes medications, London says. And

However, it’s important to remember, to keep your portions and calories in check with every meal and snack so you don’t go over your total calorie budget for the day.

Mistake #3: Counting too much on 'diet' food.

Drinking shakes or eating bars instead of meals as part of a diet strategy may help you lose weight. But you aren't going to use them forever. So do you have a plan for what comes next?

"You're not eating whole foods, and it's not sustainable," London says.

Another issue is that many "diet" foods are packed with a long list of artificial ingredients. "The goal for anyone -- whether they have diabetes or not -- is to eat mostly foods that are minimally processed," Brown-Riggs says. In general, you're better off eating whole foods that are as close as possible to how they're found in nature (for example, an apple instead of apple-flavored chips).

If you have a fierce sweet tooth, you may want to address everything that’s contributing to it, whether it's in a "diet" package or not.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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