Lately I’ve had so many people ask me about diabetes and weight loss that I thought I would take the time to address the issue here.
The first thing you should know is that losing weight is by far the best strategy for improving your blood sugar over the long term. What some of you may not know is that being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Meaning, the higher your body fat, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. Over time, insulin resistance leads to higher blood sugar levels.
Working on reducing your body weight is a great way to help control your diabetes! That’s the easy part. Now for the harder part.
Not all weight-loss programs are created equal; some may help you while many don’t. Let me lay out for you what I think is a safe way to lose weight when you are diabetic.
Follow plans that promote the following:
- Decreasing Caloric Intake: It goes without saying that if you want to lose weight you have to decrease the calories. A good plan will help you do this without feeling hungry. Ask your doctor or dietician what calorie number you should aim for to achieve weight loss.
- Eating Low Glycemic: The glycemic index is a measure of how different foods affect our blood sugar; low-glycemic foods change our blood sugar very little, while high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar a lot. People who are diabetic need to make sure that their diet plan is full of low-glycemic foods.
- Getting Enough Fiber: Fiber plays two roles in people who are looking to lose weight. The first is that it helps them feel full and the second is it helps to keep blood sugar stable.
- Getting the Right Amount of Protein: Protein also plays two roles. It, like fiber, helps you feel full longer and it also helps you keep your muscle mass.
Remember that protein is the key to any good weight-loss program and, sadly, one that most plans ignore. It is essential when losing weight to not lose your lean body mass (muscles). When you lose lean body mass, you are slowing your metabolism.
So, can you go on a weight-loss program when you are diabetic? The answer is yes! Just choose wisely.
I strongly urge you to work with your doctor whenever you are beginning a weight-loss program and have blood sugar problems. Your need for medications can definitely change when you start eating better and losing weight, so let your doctor guide you when you plan to make significant dietary changes.