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Diabetes and weight loss

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Diabetes UK says obesity is the greatest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. If you're overweight and have type 2 diabetes, losing weight helps manage blood sugar, improves your health and helps you feel better.

But before you start a diabetes weight loss plan, it's important to work closely with your doctor or diabetes nurse or dietitian - because while you're dieting, your blood sugar, insulin and medications need special attention.

Diabetes UK advises that losing between 5% and 10% of your weight has enormous health benefits, such as lowering blood fats and blood pressure.

Experts say that even losing 4 to 6 kilograms has health benefits. It can:

You'll probably have more energy too and be able to get around and breathe more easily.

On a diabetes weight loss plan, watch for changes in blood sugar

Cutting back on just one meal can affect the delicate balance of blood sugar, insulin and medication in your body. So it's important to work with an expert when you diet.

Check with your doctor before starting a diabetes weight loss plan, then consult with a diabetes dietician. The NHS advises that different foods will affect different people in different ways, so talking to a diabetes dietician can help you work out a dietary plan fitted to your specific needs.

Go for the right balance in a diabetes weight loss plan

Don't run the risk of high or low blood sugar while you're dieting. You want tight glucose control while you lose weight. Seek medical advice about getting the balance right on cutting protein, carbs and fat in a way that's right for you.

Watch the carbohydrates in a diabetes weight loss plan

Carbohydrates are particularly relevant to those with diabetes. As Diabetes UK says, all carbohydrate is converted into glucose and will have an impact on blood glucose levels. For people with diabetes, a refresher course on carbohydrates may be in order. Eating complex carbohydrates (wholegrain bread and vegetables, for example) is good because they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes.

For example, sliced white bread is is not so good as wholegrain bread.

Diabetes UK does not recommend simply cutting out lots of carbohydrates - a common dieting strategy - as glucose from carbohydrates is essential for the whole body. Additionally, when your body doesn't have carbohydrates to burn for fuel, your metabolism changes into what's known as ketosis - and fat is burned instead. You'll feel less hungry, and eat less than you usually do, but long-term ketosis can cause health problems.
Ketosis decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues, which puts stress on eyes, kidneys, heart and liver.

That's why low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are not recommended for people with diabetes. Diabetics need to try to stick with a more balanced diet so your body can handle nutrients without going into ketosis.

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