WHAT IS INSULIN?
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the levels of glucose in the blood. Another name for this is blood sugar. The hormone works by helping the body’s cells to absorb glucose. However, insulin causes weight gain when the cells absorb too much glucose and the body converts this into fat.
WHAT IS INSULIN THERAPY?
Insulin therapy is a critical part of treatment for people with type 1 diabetes and also for many with type 2 diabetes. The goal of insulin therapy is to maintain blood sugar levels within one’s target range. It can also cause a person to gain weight too.
THE LINK BETWEEN INSULIN AND WEIGHT GAIN
Insulin plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and converting food energy into fat. It also helps break down fats and proteins. During digestion, insulin stimulates muscle, fat and liver cells to absorb glucose. The cells either use this glucose for energy or convert it into fat for long-term storage.
Eating more calories than the body needs will lead to excess glucose levels. If the cells do not remove glucose from the blood, the body will store it in the tissues as fat. When a person takes insulin as a therapy for diabetes, their body may absorb too much glucose from food, resulting in weight gain.
DIABETES AND WEIGHT GAIN
Weight gain is a common symptom of diabetes and other insulin-related medical conditions. Compared with people who do not have diabetes, young adults with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of developing excess body weight or obesity.
People who have diabetes may experience weight gain as a side effect of insulin therapy. Although insulin help regulates their glucose levels, it also promotes fat storage in the body. Reducing excess body weight can help people manage diabetes symptoms and even reverse prediabetes and insulin resistance.
TIPS TO AVOID WEIGHT GAIN ON INSULIN
TRACKING CALORIES: People who have diabetes often focus on managing their carbohydrate intake. However, it is just as important to track overall calorie consumption. Eating too many calories can lead to excess blood glucose levels and increased fat storage. This may be especially true while taking insulin.
Premeasuring portions and keeping a food log can prevent a person from eating more calories than their body needs. Over time, people learn what portion sizes work best for them and no longer need to measure and track their food intake.
EXERCISING REGULARLY: Regular exercise keeps the body healthy and strong. It also helps burn calories, regulates blood glucose levels, and promotes fat loss. Findings from a recent review suggest that structured exercise programs could offer significant benefits for people who have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
WORKING WITH A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER: Healthcare providers can share valuable resources with people struggling to maintain a healthy body weight. They can advise people about what foods to eat and avoid based on their current health status and goals.
Healthcare providers can also recommend ways for people to improve their health while lowering their risk of developing diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. They can test people’s glucose and insulin levels, as well as their lipid profiles. These tests can give people an idea of their overall health status. People can use this useful information to track their progress toward achieving their health goals.
FOODS TO EAT: Eating a balanced, healthful diet can help prevent weight gain and some certain foods can help prevent weight gain. Developing a meal plan with a balance of nutritious foods can help. In all, speak to a nutritionist about this, if possible.
High-quality, unprocessed foods contain less added sugar and fat. These foods increase feelings of fullness and help avoid overeating. Foods to eat include: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, yogurt, healthful fats such as avocados, nuts, and plant-based oils. Also, foods to avoid include: refined carbohydrates, packaged or processed foods, added sugars and fats.
Finally, for anyone struggling to maintain a healthy body weight after making dietary and lifestyle changes, it may be a good idea to consult a healthcare provider. They can offer valuable guidance for people trying to maintain or lose weight.