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The Diabetes-Weight Loss Connection: What You Need to Know

Diabetes is a problem that makes it hard for the body to use glucose, a kind of sugar that gives energy. There are two main kinds of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes happens when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, a chemical that helps glucose go into the cells. Type 2 diabetes happens when the body does not respond well to insulin, and the pancreas cannot make enough of it.

Weight loss can be a sign or a way to treat diabetes, depending on the kind and the seriousness of the problem. Weight loss can happen in people with type 1 diabetes because they cannot use the glucose they eat for energy, and they get rid of it through pee. Weight loss can also happen in people with type 2 diabetes because high blood sugar levels can make them lose water, feel less hungry, and lose muscle.

However, weight loss can also be a good way to manage type 2 diabetes, as it can make the body more sensitive to insulin, lower blood sugar levels, and lower the chance of problems. According to the American Diabetes Association, losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight can make a big difference in diabetes control and health results¹.

To lose weight with diabetes, it is important to follow a healthy eating plan that is balanced, not too much, and suited for each person. A common way is to use the plate way, which splits the plate into four parts: one half for non-starchy vegetables, one fourth for lean protein, and one fourth for complex carbohydrates. The plate way can help control how much you eat, how much carbohydrate you eat, and how many calories you eat.

Another important part of weight loss with diabetes is physical activity, which can help burn calories, lower blood sugar levels, and make the heart healthier. The American Diabetes Association suggests at least 150 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as fast walking, biking, or swimming¹. Strength training, such as lifting weights or doing resistance exercises, can also help make more muscle and speed up metabolism.

In some cases, weight loss with diabetes may need medicine or surgery, especially if changing habits are not enough to get the results you want. Some medicines for type 2 diabetes, such as metformin, can help lower blood sugar levels and help you lose weight. Other medicines, such as GLP-1 agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors, can directly change how you feel hungry, how you digest food, or how much pee you make, and cause weight loss as a side effect². However, these medicines may have other risks and side effects, and they should be used with the help of a doctor.

Surgery for weight loss, such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, can be a choice for people with type 2 diabetes who have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher, and who have not been able to lose weight with other ways. Surgery can help make the stomach smaller, limit how much food you can eat, and change hormone levels, which can lead to a lot of weight loss and improvement in diabetes control³. However, surgery also has possible problems and needs lifelong follow-up and habit changes.

Weight loss with diabetes can be hard, but it can also be satisfying. By following a healthy diet, being physically active, taking medicine or surgery if needed, and checking blood sugar levels, people with diabetes can reach weight loss goals and improve their health and life quality.

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