Is it harder for diabetics to lose weight?

All Woman

Dear Donovan,
Is it true that people with diabetes have a harder time losing weight? I have just been diagnosed and I want to know exactly what I am up against.

I admit that my lifestyle was the issue — I am five feet three inches and 200 pounds — and my diet was atrocious before the diagnosis. But now that I am diabetic, how difficult will it be for me to lose weight, and what can I do immediately to start the journey — food and exercise-wise?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly called diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders which are normally associated with the hormone insulin.

Diabetes is normally characterised by a high blood sugar (glucose) level, over an extended period. Blood glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies and comes from the food we eat. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, which is responsible for helping our blood glucose reach the cells in order to be used for energy. However, in some cases, the body does not make any or enough insulin, or the insulin produced may not be effective in the body. Either way, this allows blood glucose to build up in the blood and not reach the cells.

Over time, this build up of blood glucose can cause severe health problems. It should be noted that the most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin because the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is not making insulin well and the insulin produced is usually ineffective. Gestational diabetes usually develops in some women during pregnancy, and usually goes away after she gives birth.

It should be noted that the medical conditions associated with diabetes should never be understated or underestimated. Diabetes is a deadly disease — no joke. Over time, a high blood glucose level can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye problems, dental disease, foot problems, sores, etc.

That aside, I see where you have been diagnosed with diabetes. This sounds like type 2 diabetes. You will have to make some changes pronto. Again, diabetes is not a joke. At this stage you are diabetic and you are also overweight. You definitely will need to make some lifestyle changes.

When you are diabetic and overweight, the risk of other complications increases. As far as diabetes goes, studies have shown that intensive lifestyle changes decrease the overall risk of diabetes by 58 per cent. These lifestyle changes include diet and physical activity. It should be noted that genetics and obesity might be the necessary factor for the development of type 2 diabetes.

It is necessary for you to lose some weight. However, studies have shown that it is harder for people with type 2 diabetes to lose weight compared to individuals who are not diabetic. This is due to the fact that insulin is needed to help glucose enter the cell and tissue to produce energy; if the tissues are resistant to insulin, higher levels of insulin will be needed for the glucose to enter the cell. The higher the insulin level, the harder it is to lose weight.

Insulin is very important in the fat storage process. Generally, the heavier a person is, the more likely that person is to have higher insulin levels. It should be noted that weight loss can reduce insulin resistance, making muscles and fat tissue more sensitive to insulin in the bloodstream. So you will need to lose some weight.

It is not going to be easy, but it can be done. Cutting your calories by 500 to 1,000 calories daily will be very helpful. This means you can shed one to two pounds in the first week. It is important to eat smaller, more frequent meals. It is not wise to make your sugar level get too low. It is also best to reduce your carbohydrates and fat intake. Any carbohydrates consumed should be of the complex type.

It is better to eat more fruits, vegetables, vegetable juices, whole grain, and yoghurt. Fried foods and pastries should be taken out of the diet. It is very important to balance the calories with your nutritional needs. In addition, three to four hours of physical activity/exercise per week is also very helpful. Exercise will help to burn calories and reduce insulin resistance, as well as help to control blood sugar levels.

Overall, you need to set realistic weight loss goals, maybe one to two pounds per week. Additionally, it is wise to keep food and glucose records. Eating fewer calories and doing regular activity will also be helpful. It is also important to have regular check-up with your doctor.

Good luck!

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com.

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