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Safe Ways of Weight Loss in Diabetes - Weight Loss Guide

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

Obesity is the most critical reason for diabetes, especially in the western world. However, it is worth understanding that there are two kinds of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and is not related to obesity. However, type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder strongly associated with obesity. In fact, type 1 and type 2 diabetes have entirely different pathogenesis, though they might have similar kinds of clinical pictures. Data shows that 90% of those living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It means that obesity and resulting metabolic changes play a vital role in most cases of diabetes.

Additionally, it is worth understanding that central obesity has a more significant association with diabetes. Larger waist size is one of the indicators of central obesity. Some people might be mildly overweight, but they may have quite a large tummy and thus central obesity. Although high blood glucose levels characterize diabetes, but that is not all, as the metabolism of all the macro and micronutrients is altered in diabetes. Thus, those living with diabetes have high cholesterol or dyslipidemia. They also have changes in protein metabolism, resulting in a slow down of anabolic processes and thus healing processes. Not only that, those living with obesity and diabetes also have altered gut health. It means that though they might have excessive calorie intake, these are individuals living with many nutritional deficiencies. Since obesity and diabetes are associated conditions, thus a need to manage them concurrently, and weight loss is an effective way of preventing and managing diabetes.

Can weight loss help reverse diabetes?

Those looking for weight loss often want to know about its benefits? They want to understand if weight loss would help them significantly or not? After all, weight loss is quite challenging, and why would anyone start a weight loss program if it does not help much. Studies show impressive results. They show that even minimal weight loss can have unbelievable benefits. For example, studies show that reducing body weight by just 5-7% can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by half. Not only that, weight loss is more effective in diabetes prevention than any known medications. However, new studies show that weight loss is not just good for diabetes prevention. It may even help reverse long-established diabetes. As a result, many may start living without medications. However, even if it does not fully reverse diabetes, weight loss can significantly lower the need for medications.

Thus, researchers think that mild diabetes should be managed primarily through lifestyle interventions like weight loss and exercise. On the other hand, moderate to severe diabetes should be managed with weight loss and medications. It means that if a person is overweight or obese, and living with diabetes, treatment of diabetes must start with a weight loss program. However, regretfully, that is rarely the case. Doctors recommend weight loss to patients, but they do not provide sufficient information and support. It means that many of those living with diabetes continue to have excessive body weight and become dependent on medications.

VLCD (very low carb diet)

The primary sign of diabetes is high blood sugar levels. In patients living with diabetes, the body finds it difficult to use glucose produced by carbs or glucose produced in the liver. In addition, consistently high level of blood glucose level is highly damaging to the arteries, nerves, and various body organs. Thus, one of the crucial approaches to diabetes is to reduce the intake of sugars, fast-absorbing carbs, and carbs in general. If a person consumes fast-absorbing carbs, they cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels, resulting in increased insulin resistance and progression of diabetes. However, the VLCD diet not only tries to reduce the intake of sugars or fast-absorbing carbs but all kinds of carbs. This can significantly lower the supply of readily available glucose to the body.

Nevertheless, studies show that if a person lives with well-established diabetes, blood glucose increases even after reducing carbs intake. It happens due to glucogenesis, or the production of glucose by the liver. It means that in many of those living with diabetes, the liver can produce glucose using fats or even proteins. Thus, the VLCD diet has a dual approach. It significantly cuts down the intake of carbs, but it also reduces the total calorie intake. Generally, the VLCD diet recommends a maximum of 800 kcal a day. But, of course, one cannot continue with such a diet for long, as it would lead to severe nutritional deficiencies. Thus, this diet is practiced for 12-16 weeks maximum. However, this diet is good because it may lead to fast and significant weight loss. Thus, studies show that such a diet may help lose 20-30% of the total body weight in a short span of just about three months. This diet is not only the most effective diet for fast weight loss but also the most effective diet for diabetes reversal. Studies show that it can reverse diabetes in more than half of the cases. Not only that, it may help reduce the use of medications in all patients.

In fact, this diet is so effective that it may help reverse diabetes almost in all obese patients who successfully lose body weight by 15 kg in 3 months. Moreover, results can be maintained if a person can maintain body weight after a weight loss program. However, if a person regains weight, diabetes also returns. It occurs due to the accumulation of fats in the pancreas and the liver and increased inflammation. The success of this diet proves that type 2 diabetes has a strong link with obesity and that accumulation of fat in the body plays a central role in diabetes pathogenesis. This diet is so good in managing diabetes without medications that the NHS in the UK is already prescribing it to obese patients living with diabetes instead of pharmacological drugs.

Keto diet

The keto diet is the next best way to VLCD for weight loss in diabetes. The Keto diet shares some traits of VLCD but is still quite a different thing. However, it is good that, unlike VLCD, one can practice the keto diet for much longer, perhaps for several years. Additionally, the keto diet is good because it is now a time-tested diet form with tons of information about how to practice it. There are also hundreds of supplements to use in this diet form. The keto diet is based on quite a simple principle. It believes that all modern diseases and metabolic disorders are due to the high consumption of carbs by humans. Proponents of this diet form believe that humans started consuming so many carbs when they began cultivating grains widely. However, traditionally, humans have been hunters and gatherers, with only small cultivations. It means that fats and proteins have dominated for a long time in the human diet. Thus, in the keto diet, dietary intake of carbs is reduced to less than 10% of total calorie intake. Though preferably, it should be even below 5%. 20-30% must be proteins, and the rest of the calories should come from fats.

There are many ways in which it helps in weight loss and diabetes. For example, when a person reduces intake of carbs and increases intake of fats, the body starts using fats more efficiently. Low carbs intake forces the body to use ketone bodies for energy needs instead of glucose. It means that the liver also stops producing glucose and instead switches to the production of ketone bodies from carbs, fats, and other nutrients. This change from glucose to ketone bodies as the primary energy source has widespread health impacts. It causes a sudden decline in blood sugar levels and may even lead to diabetes remission or reversal. Further, it also means significant mobilization of fat stores, as the body now prefers using fats for energy needs. This may help get rid of even stubborn fat accumulations. However, practicing this diet is quite challenging as it means giving up so many foods. It means giving up almost all the grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and other foods high in carbs. However, one can consume high-fat foods.

Opponents of this diet think that it may be suitable for a few months or even a year. However, one should be careful when practicing it for a very long time. It is because humans have been consuming many carbs for a long. Therefore, the keto diet may lead to the deficiency of some micronutrients primarily found in high-carb foods like minerals and water-soluble vitamins. Similarly, the keto diet is deficient in dietary fiber. Nonetheless, these are not significant problems, considering that one can supplement certain nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and even dietary fiber. Thus, the keto diet is one of the safe and effective ways of weight loss in diabetes.


The second most crucial thing after diet in a weight loss program must be regular exercise. Though everyone knows about regular exercise benefits, few do it. Humans have evolved to work physically for several hours a day and stay physically active. However, things have changed considerably in the last century. Most people have a sedentary lifestyle, and things are only getting worse. Thus, lack of physical activity is emerging as the primary cause of obesity and metabolic disorders. It means that weight loss and diabetes management programs must include exercise. One should generally start with an aerobic workout. However, choose something that you can stick to for long enough. Thus, pick some exciting activities like cycling, swimming, jogging, etc. One may start with as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day. However, one should quickly progress to 30 minutes a day, and the final aim should be 60 minutes a day. Taking a break for two days a week is expected. Additionally, pay particular attention to resistance training. Remember that insulin resistance of skeletal muscles is a significant factor in diabetes. Resistance training helps reduce this insulin resistance, increases glucose intake by muscles, and thus helps significantly in diabetes and weight loss.

Precautions to take when starting weight loss in diabetes

People starting weight loss programs worry that it may have some adverse effects. If you start a weight loss program and live with mild to moderate type 2 diabetes, there are not many precautions needed. However, things are slightly different when living with type 1 diabetes or severe insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. In such cases, one may need to adjust insulin dosage when making significant dietary changes or starting an extensive exercise program. Additionally, one should understand that in diabetes body struggles to absorb micronutrients from foods. It means that people living with diabetes and switching to a weight loss diet are at a greater risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. One of the ways of reducing this risk could be through supplementation. Finally, also take extra caution to prevent injuries. Diabetes may lead to brittle bones, neuropathies, reduced tissue regeneration, etc.

Final thoughts

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder closely linked to obesity. It means that any steps taken to manage obesity can help manage diabetes. For example, weight loss may help reduce diabetes severity. It seems that antidiabetic treatment also promotes weight loss. Most experts agree that any diabetes management program should start with lifestyle interventions for weight loss. New studies show that weight loss in obese individuals is the single most effective way of diabetes prevention and even diabetes reversal. It is good to know that one does not essentially need to shed several kg of body weight to experience these benefits. Even a slight reduction in body weight has a measurable beneficial impact on metabolic health.



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