Diabetes and weight loss: It is the yin and yang of optimal health. 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 weight loss plan, it's important to work closely with your doctor or diabetes educator -- because while you're losing weight, your blood sugar, insulin, and medications need special attention.
Here's some good news: Healthy eating can have a dramatic impact on the
symptoms and progression of type 2 diabetes and its frequent precursor,
prediabetes. But the problem is that there's a lot of conflicting information
out there. Just what does healthy eating with type 2 diabetes really mean? No
sweets? Scheduled snacks? Low-fat, low-carb -- or neither?
To help guide you, WebMD turned to Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE. She's been a
dietitian and diabetes educator for almost 30 years, and is...
Make no mistake -- No matter how heavy you are, losing weight will significantly lower your blood sugar.
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.
Even losing 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.
Weight Loss and Changes in Blood Sugar
Cutting back on just one meal can affect the delicate balance of blood sugar, insulin, and medication in a body with diabetes. So it's important to work with an expert when you diet to lose weight.
Check with your doctor before starting a weight loss plan, then talk with a diabetes educator or nutritionist. You shouldn't try to lose weight on your own. Working with a doctor and nutritionist will help you lose weight safely, especially if you are taking insulin or medications.
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. Maintain a healthy ratio of carbs, fat, and protein. Ideally your calories should come from:
50% to 55% carbs
10% to 15% protein
Watch the Carbs
It's also a good idea to consider taking a refresher course on carbs . Since they are broken down into sugar early in digestion, carbs have the biggest effect on blood sugar. Eating complex carbs (whole-grain bread and vegetables, for example) is better 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.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and 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.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.