Diabetes and weight loss: Here’s why diabetics may lose weight unintentionally

If you are a diabetic who is losing weight unintentionally, here's everything you need to know about the link between diabetes and weight loss.
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Here's how diabetes affect your weight. Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Arushi Bidhuri Published: 11 Apr 2024, 08:59 am IST
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Have you ever witnessed a friend or family member, diagnosed with diabetes, losing weight suddenly? There is a strong connection between weight and diabetes. While being overweight or obese can affect diabetes, diabetes can also affect your weight. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar, or glucose levels. Unmanaged diabetes can also lead to unintended weight loss. If you want to understand the link between diabetes and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

Health Shots reached out to Consulting Diabetologist Dr Rajiv Kovil at S L Raheja Hospitals.

Diabetes and weight loss: What’s the link?

When someone has diabetes, their body struggles to use blood glucose or sugar levels from food effectively due to either insufficient insulin production or improper insulin function. Without enough insulin to help glucose enter cells for energy, the body starts burning fat and muscle for fuel, which can cause weight loss. Without enough insulin in your body to help glucose enter cells for energy, the body starts burning fat and muscle for fuel, leading to weight loss. Frequent urination and increased fluid loss contribute to the weight loss, explains Dr Kovil.

Also Read: Diabetes: Symptoms, causes, treatment and more

A blood sugar machine
It is important to understand the link between weight loss and diabetes. Image courtesy: Freepik

Is it beneficial for diabetics to lose weight?

While losing weight can be highly beneficial for individuals with diabetes, the approach to weight loss should be safe and sustainable. Extreme or sudden weight loss can be harmful. Some reasons why losing weight can be beneficial for diabetics include:

  • Losing excess body fat can regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.
  • Excess weight is associated with insulin resistance, and losing weight can help manage that.
  • Diabetes increases the risk of various complications, and managing diabetes can lower the risk of problems such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.
  • Managing diabetes through weight loss will also help manage your energy levels, and mobility and improve overall quality of life.

How can I stop weight loss from diabetes?

If you are not trying to lose weight and still shedding some, you need to be extra vigilant to avoid the risk. To prevent weight loss associated with diabetes, here are some ways to help you manage it:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Monitor carbohydrate intake
  • Take medication on time
  • Eat regular meals and snacks to maintain a stable weight
  • Incorporate strength training exercise into your routine to preserve muscle mass and prevent further weight loss

Also Read: Diabetes: Tips to lower blood sugar levels when they rise unexpectedly

Does diabetes medication cause weight loss?

Certain medication used to treat diabetes can cause weight loss as a side effect. These include oral medications such as SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists. These medications work by either promoting the excretion of glucose through urine or by reducing appetite. However, not every medicine you take for diabetes cause weight loss, and the effect may vary from one person to another. Make sure you talk to your doctor before suspecting anything or taking any action.

How to lose weight with diabetes in a healthy way?

If you want to lose weight in a healthy way as a diabetic, here are some tips that can help as suggested by the expert:

1. Eat a healthy diet

Include diabetes-friendly foods in your diet that are healthy and help you lose weight. Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. Aim for portion control and monitor carbohydrate intake as it will help manage blood sugar levels.

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2. Do physical activity

Engage in regular physical activity if you want to lose weight while keeping your blood sugar levels in check. You can incorporate aerobic exercises and strength training exercises in your fitness routine. Start slow and gradually build the intensity and duration of your workouts. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.

3. Talk to your doctor

The best way to lose weight is to consult a healthcare provider, especially if you have diabetes. They will help you develop a personalised weight loss plan that considers your individual health needs and goals.

4. Monitor your blood sugar levels

Keep your blood sugar levels in check if you are trying to lose weight. You need to be careful if you are making dietary changes or increasing physical activity that might affect your blood sugar levels.

A man checking blood sugar.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels can help you keep your weight in control. Image courtesy: Freepik

5. Get adequate sleep

Are you nocturnal? You need to prioritize getting enough sleep if you want to lose weight without affecting your blood sugar levels. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that insufficient sleep can disrupt hormone levels related to hunger and satiety, potentially leading to weight gain. You should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day.

If you have diabetes and are experiencing sudden weight loss, consult your doctor immediately to avoid complications.

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About the Author

Arushi Bidhuri is a journalist with 7 years of experience in writing, editing, and conceptualizing story ideas across different genres, including health and wellness, lifestyle, politics, beauty, fashion, and more. Arushi has a strong connection in the industry that helps her write concise and original stories as she believes in working towards writing pieces that can enlighten people. ...Read More

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