There's no question about it. If you're overweight and have type 2 diabetes, you will lower your blood sugar, improve your health, and feel better if you lose some of your extra pounds.
You'll want to work closely with your doctor or diabetes educator, because your blood sugar, insulin, and medications will need special attention while you're losing weight.
If you drop even 10 or 15 pounds, that has health perks, such as:
- Lower blood sugar
- Lower blood pressure
- Better cholesterol levels
- Less stress on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet
- More energy
- Brighter mood
The Right Balance for Diabetes and Weight Loss
Keep tight control over your blood sugar levels while you lose weight. You don't want to get high or low levels while you change your eating habits.
It’s generally safe for someone with diabetes to cut 500 calories a day. Trim from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The USDA says that calories for adults should come from:
- 45% to 55% carbs
- 25% to 35% fat
- 10% to 35% protein
Carbs have the biggest effect on blood sugar. Those that have fiber (whole-grain bread and vegetables, for example) are much better than eating sugary or starchy carbs, because they’re less likely to spike your blood sugar and quickly make it crash.
How Exercise Helps
One of the many benefits of working out is that it helps keep your blood sugar in balance. You're also more likely to keep the pounds off if you're active.
If you're not active now, check in with your doctor first. She can let you know if there are any limits on what you can do.
Aim to get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, to improve your health. You can split up the time any way you choose.
To help yourself lose weight you’ll need to do more physical activity. You should also do strength training at least twice a week. You can use weight machines at a gym, hand weights, or even your own body weight (think push-ups, lunges, and squats).
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 watch your blood sugar levels when you start exercising. Over time, as you exercise regularly and work with your doctor, you may be able to lower doses of medications and insulin.
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 if you're driving a car after your workout. It's one of the many reasons you should check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel. It's also a good idea to carry snacks like fruit, crackers, juice, and soda.