What you need to know – Cleveland Clinic

Are you trying to lose weight while controlling diabetes? “If you’re overweight, losing even 5% of your total body weight can dramatically improve your health. Weight loss can not only improve your blood sugar levels, but can also lower high blood pressure, heart disease risk, and even the amount of medication you take. you take lower,” says registered dietitian Andrea Dunn.

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But when considering weight loss options for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it’s important to avoid a quick fix. For continued success, Dunn says, focus on good nutrition and changes you can commit to.

Below, she outlines what else you need to know to successfully shed pounds if you have diabetes.

The relationship between diabetes and weight loss

Obesity is a major risk factor for developing insulin resistance. And insulin resistance is a big step toward developing type 2 diabetes. It’s also a major obstacle to achieving long-term blood sugar control. But weight loss can be an effective antidote — with one study showing that losing 16% of your excess pounds can put diabetes into remission.

Staying at a healthy weight is also a worthy goal if you have type 1 diabetes. But people with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin and must take an injectable version. In turn, taking insulin can lead to weight gain, as can eating extra carbohydrates to stabilize low blood sugars, so additional measures are needed.

The four best diets to lose weight if you have diabetes

These diets provide well-rounded nutrition and a greater chance of weight loss for patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

1. DASH Diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It was created to lower blood pressure, but the DASH diet goes way beyond that. It’s a well-rounded, healthy eating plan for everyone, not just people with diabetes.

DASH is rich in fruits, vegetables and grains and low in fat, sugar and sodium. For example, on a 1,600-calorie-per-day DASH plan, you’d eat:

  • cereals: Six servings. Choose at least three that are whole, such as brown rice or oatmeal.
  • Vegetables: Three to four servings.
  • Fruit: Four servings.
  • Dairy: Two or three servings.
  • Meat: No more than six servings. In this case, a serving is 1 ounce.
  • Nuts, seeds, beans or lentils: Three servings a week.

2. Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle than a “diet” and is based on how some in Greece, southern France and Italy eat. It involves eating lots of vegetables, nuts and healthy fats.

To follow it properly, you should get the majority of your calories from plant foods. To eat:

  • Mostly whole grains.
  • Fruits and vegetables (at least 2 cups of each per day).
  • Eat beans instead of animal protein a few times a week.
  • Add dairy a few times a day.

You can eat healthy fats every day, such as those from avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Eat fish and seafood every week. Choose eggs and poultry more often than red meat. Limit sweets to just a few times a week.

3. Plant-Based Diets

Most plant-based diet plans cut or restrict meat drastically:

  • Vegan diet: Cuts meat and dairy.
  • Vegetarian Diet: Avoid meat, but allow foods like eggs and cheese.
  • Flexitarian Diet: Mostly vegetable with some animal protein.

4. Heart-Healthy, Low-Fat Diet

This diet involves eating lean protein sources, including beans and lentils. The total fat you consume is about 30% calories from fat, with saturated fat at 10% or less. At least half of your daily grains should come from whole grains. You should also eat:

  • Vegetables.
  • Fruit.
  • Low-fat dairy choices.
  • Nuts, seeds and low saturated fat oils.

Dieter beware of low carb or low carb diets, fasts and cleanses

“Extreme diets can put you at risk depending on what diabetes medications you’re taking or if you have other medical problems in addition to diabetes,” Dunn says.

These are the diets you may need to avoid:

1. Low-Carb or Low-Carb Diets

Taking insulin or taking a sulfonylurea (a category of blood sugar-lowering drugs) while avoiding carbohydrates puts you at risk for low blood sugar. And if you’re on a fixed insulin dose, you may need to eat carbs more consistently to avoid a drop in blood sugar. So if you want to follow this type of diet to lose weight, consult your doctor first.

“Depending on how low-carb the diet is, your doctor may order monthly lab work to rule out low potassium or magnesium or elevated lipid or uric acid levels,” Dunn says.

2. Intermittent fasting, extreme calorie reduction or skipping meals

Any diet that promotes prolonged fasting can cause low blood sugar. Even if you’re not on diabetes medications, it’s important to maintain consistent eating patterns for weight management and blood sugar control. Keep in mind how much you eat at any given time to prevent your blood sugar from rising.

Any weight loss diet that preaches very low calorie intake (800 calories or less per day) can also increase the risk of low blood sugar and decreased muscle mass. The bottom line: These types of diets should be supervised by your doctor.

3. Cleanses or Over-the-Counter Diet Pills Not Approved by the FDA

“Beware of claims that look too good to be true about over-the-counter pills and cleansers,” Dunn says. These dietary supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you don’t know what you’re getting. And, she says, some products can even harm your health or contain ingredients that can interfere with your prescribed diabetes medications.

10 Weight Loss Tips for People With Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes

If you’re still having a hard time losing weight with diet and exercise alone, Dunn shares 10 tried-and-true weight loss tips to boost your progress:

1. Try Meal Replacement Products

Dunn says meal replacement shakes especially for people with diabetes or low-calorie frozen meals can make it easier to follow structured, low-calorie eating plans. “You can feel comfortable eating the whole amount because it’s already portioned. Look for meals in the 220 to 300 calorie range. You can even eat an extra portion of vegetables, fruit or dairy with it and stick to your calorie budget.”

For meal replacement shakes, Dunn recommends:

  • Make them yourself with whole foods and protein powder.
  • Choose pre-made shakes that have 15 to 20 grams of protein and less than 250 calories per container.

Another diabetes and weight loss tip you can take to the couch? “Try to eat some raw fruits or vegetables with your meal replacement shakes. They give you satisfaction when you chew, which helps suppress hunger and make you feel fuller and more satisfied than just taking the shake.

2. Go crazy with products

Whatever diet you choose, Dunn says eating fruits and vegetables is a must. “Any style of eating that promotes good health includes produce,” she explains. “Find out what you like — fresh, cooked, frozen or canned — and get at least five servings each day with meals and snacks.”

Be extra careful with canned options, as canned vegetables can have a higher sodium content and canned fruits can have higher amounts of sugar due to syrup. Look for canned vegetables labeled “no salt added” and fruits packed in 100% juice or water.

3. Stick to Whole Foods

Choose whole foods over highly processed foods as much as possible:

  • Look for whole grains over refined grains.
  • Avoid or eat less of box mixes, breaded and fried foods, or those with heavy gravies and sauces.
  • Choose grains and breads with little or no added sugar.

4. Ask yourself: is it hunger or habit?

Analyze your living and working environment. Do you have easy access to high-calorie, sugary foods? (Hello, snackla.) Are you snacking because you’re hungry or because you saw someone else eating?

“When and how much you eat can also make a difference. Many newer studies say it’s beneficial to eat more earlier in the day and then less as the day goes on,” Dunn added. “If you skip meals all day and then eat and snack all night, that may be why you’re not reaching your goals.”

5. Sip smart

Make water your favorite drink. Drinking a lot of alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, and fruit juice won’t do you any favors.

6. Make Gradual Changes

Rethinking your lifestyle can be overwhelming. But doing it gradually makes it easier. Try cultivating one new healthy habit at a time, such as:

  • Drink water instead of sugary soft drinks.
  • Start eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day.

Experts, including Dunn, advise adopting healthy behaviors you can live with and add more changes when you can.

7. Move it!

Move as much as you can. Exercise of any kind speeds up metabolism and speeds up weight loss.

8. Adjust your medicines

Dunn stresses the importance of talking to your doctor before making any dietary changes. “Some diabetes drugs cause weight gain. And if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and take insulin or another drug that lowers blood sugar, you may be at risk for low blood sugar problems if you change your diet without changing your diabetes medications.

Some newer type 2 diabetes medications make it easier for patients to lose weight. These drugs — liraglutide and empagliflozin — are also beneficial for the heart. If you are taking another medication and are having trouble losing weight, ask your doctor if one of these medications is right for you. Also check to see if your insurance plan will cover the cost.

9. Consider Bariatric Surgery

If the weight is stubborn, consider seeing a bariatric surgeon. Weight loss surgery can be your ticket to success. “There is some evidence that the weight loss after these procedures can put diabetes into remission and reduce the risk of complications,” Dunn says.

10. Find Support

If your doctor is affiliated with a medical center, find out if there is a diabetes management or weight loss program you can take advantage of. If not, check the website of the drug company that makes your diabetes medicine, as many companies have patient support programs.

“Weight loss isn’t just about diet and exercise. Hormones, genetics, sleep, medications, and stress all play a role,” Dunn says. “So if you’re having trouble losing weight, work with your doctor, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator to create a healthy weight management plan. They can make sure your diet is realistic and right for you — and that it fits well with your diabetes treatment plan.

What you need to know – Cleveland Clinic

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