Is it really harder for a diabetic to lose weight?

I have always heard that diabetics tend to be on the overweight side. When I have tried finding out more information, all I pull up is stuff about T2.

Does insulin really cause weight gain?

Is it really more difficult for us to lose the weight?


From what I understand, it's not the insulin itself that causes weight gain but it's the fact that it causes hunger. When you're not on your insulin it definitely causes you to loose weight because you are more thirsty than hunger, and you are peeing all the time, so when you start to take insulin your hunger increases causing you to gain the weight back.

In my experience it has been very difficult to loose weight. I'm not sure why on a technical level, but I think its a common consensous. I hope this helps.



Part of it is what Sabrina said, but it's also the fact that diabetics can't just go on regular diets. Exercising more or changing your eating habits can cause your blood sugars to either rise or fall. I know when I am exercising more, I tend to run low a lot more often than if I'm not, which means I have to eat to bring those lows back up, which kind of defeats the purpose of going on a diet. It's just so much harder to just go on a diet/exercise plan and lose weight, because we have to deal with giving extra insulin for highs, and eating more (outside of our diet plan) because of lows.

My senior year of high school I went on the atkins diet. I thought it was the miracle diet because I was losing weight and since I wasn't eating carbs my blood sugars were always good, except for the occasional low that I treated with fruit.

BUT... A few months into it I found out my cholesterol level was through the roof! Ugh...

there are lots of things wrong with the atkins diet... ;o)


cutting calories is the only way to lose weight. whether that's by eating less, exercising more, or a combination of both is up to you. no "diet" is going to help you lose weight and keep it off. it's about the choices you make--permanent lifestyle changes. 90% of those who follow a special diet to lose weight, gain back all the weight + some after 5 years. diets simply don't work. it doesn't have to be harder for a diabetic to lose weight, with careful management. as someone else mentioned, the low blood sugars are often the biggest hinderance to weight loss because calories have to be consumed to treat the low--but that doesn't make weight loss impossible. it just makes it slower. (slower is better by the way)

Yes Insulin does make you gain weight.  Insulin is a hormone.  Not only is insulin a hormone but it is a fat storing hormone, in fact it is the number 1 fat storing hormone in your body.   The more insulin you have to take, the harder it is to lose weight.  This is precisely why low carb diets work so well to lose weight.  The less carbs you eat, the less insulin you need and the less fat you will store.  Low carb diets are highly effective, but difficult to stick to for long periods of time and in my opinion not always healthy for long periods of time.   As a diabetic if you are very serious about wanting to lose weight, take less insulin and have better bg's  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND  The Diabetes Diet by Dr. Bernstein.  He is my hero, an endocrinologist, and a t1 diabetic himself!  There is not a doctor or nutritionist out there that understands diabetes to the extent that he does.  You can order the book off of Amazon... Ask for it for Christmas!  I can honestly say that as a diabetic his methods are the absolute most effective in terms of results.  He lives it every day and I have lived it in the past... I've been bad lately!

well 90% of all T1s i know are skinny but i have heard that it is harder for diabetics in general to lose weight. i don't know for sure, but that's what i hear

Well i used to be kinda chubby and i started losing weight all the sudden... then i was diagnosed. If you have poor control and you are always high, you will lose weight. It's extremely unhealthy, but you will lose weight.

[quote user="Geordan"]

Well i used to be kinda chubby and i started losing weight all the sudden... then i was diagnosed. If you have poor control and you are always high, you will lose weight. It's extremely unhealthy, but you will lose weight.


If you let your sugars run high in order to lose weight, not only is it unhealthy, but it is the same thing as having an eating disorder.  Don't eat, you will lose weight. Throw up after you eat, you will lose weight.  Perform extreme amounts of exercise, you will lose weight.  These are all examples of eating disorders; diabetics of course have that other option... Let your sugars run high all the time, lose weight.  None of this his healthy, please don't even consider it!

So there are a few things i have read that i want to correct on as a type 1 diabetic and a soon to be dietitian/ diabetes educator.  You do not lose weight because you are more thirsty than hungry without insulin.  You lose the weight because since your body cannot use the glucose/sugar you have eaten it turns to the next thing for energy which is protein...after most of that is used up it turns to fat stores.  When protein and fat are broken down you lose the weight and pee out the waste, which is why you pee more.  You are more thirsty cause your body is trying to compensate for all the nutrients that are stuck in your blood.  It wants an equal balance and with no insulin your blood is full of sugar but the areas outside the blood have none.  The body increases the thirst to try to thin out the concentration in the blood.

The other big thing is that Diabetes is 95% type 2 diabetes, or adult onset.  This is where the overweight diabetic comes into play.  the other 5% of us are the lucky number 1 which may be overweight but usually are not.  Insulin helps you regain normalcy in your body so you become hungry and eat regularly again which will help you gain your weight back.  But unless you eat high calorie foods and excessive amounts you should not become overweight. 

If you truely want to look into a diet and exercise program i also recommend Dr. B's work...but include your Endo and Dietitian/Diabetes educator in your plans.  that way they can offer some healthy suggestions too.


PS the eating disorder that you refer to Kate is official now and called Diabulemia

I've had T1 since I was 3 (I'm 22 now and a healthy 120 but I wish I could loose 5-10 lbs easily. I also have hypothyroid (and everytime i get tested its low so my  doc is always changing my roid medicine). The problem I have is how HARD it has been to loose weight. Generally speaking, I try to follow a low glycemic index, eat good carbs, and eat fruit or cheese as a snack rather than a granola bar or something. I've tried adkins, I've tried being a vegitarian, I've tried every diet on the face of the earth, but its still a struggle.

My friends and family say I'm fine as is, but no matter how much I work out at the gym, or how little I eat, I'm still the same weight. I'm realising though that a healthy 120 is better than an unhealthy 100. Thats sorta where I stand on weight issues. I take 24 units of lantus with a carb-ratio of 10-1 (1 unit of unsulin per 10 grams of carbs) and an additional bolus for highs occassionally. My lantus is always giving me lows. I hate it. any advice?

Hi MCurran,

We're practically twins!  I also have hypothyroidism and find it hard to lose weight -- I've come to terms with being 5-10 lbs heavier than I want to be.  In college, I started exercising more (and did lose weight, but I gained it back when I stopped) and I immediately had to lower my Lantus or I was getting lows randomly throughout the day.  So perhaps 24 units of Lantus is too much for you, especially on the days when you work out?  Have you talked to your doctor about splitting your Lantus into two doses?  I know that means one extra injection each day, but when I was on Lantus (pre-pump), I was getting lots of lows during the night so I split my dose so I took 40% in the evening and 60% in the morning.  Worked well for me.

It is definitly more difficult to lose weight with diabetes- this semester i have been really good about eating healthy and working out everyday- but it still took me atleast two months before i even dropped a pound (part of it was building muscle- but  still). It definitly doesnt help that you end up with more lows when you work out- but planning a meal right after your workout can help. It is just such a balancing act.


One huge thing that helps- if you are on a pump- is understanding and using temporary rates. It took me a really long time to figure out how to use them and what worked best- but now i really dont have to use extra food to let me work out- and my sugars stay more level because you can continue a lower temp rate after you work out to eliminate any lows after your work out or during the night.


First the Atkins diet is the worst thing for a T1.. when I went on it 10 years ago I got ketoacidosis from it.. overloading your body on fat and protien is not good on you your kidneys etc.. its just the worst diet in general for anyone.

In my experience being T1 ( and i too am on synthroid for hypothyroidsim) has not prohibited me from losing weight, i occassionally wanna lose a few - If i go hardcore and really watch everything i eat i just have to adjust my insulin more and when i am low i make sure i reach for something like a banana and of course i will go low more in the first few days but if u wanna make it happen you will...  Other than that because i am diabetic and because i am not blessed with a superfast metabolism I always watch what i eat.. I have my days / weeks and i pay for it cause i gain weight and feel blahhhh but overall i try really hard I think a lot of people have to.

in the end everything is always more work for us but its the same basic info.. eat healthy you will look good, cut calories and excerise u will lose weight, etc

OK, I'm getting a little concerned reading this post (I need to see this stuff, though).

I'm looking to start my own business and the sad truth is I would be more successful if I lost weight (image is everything, right?). I need to lose about 55 lbs. to get to the weight where I would feel happy.

I understand that insulin is a proponent of fat-storage. I admit that I have not been very active or eating right lately. I have had some emotional issues that make me turn to food when I'm upset (I hate that).

So, I am pledging to all of you, that I will exercise and eat better. My goal is to have this weight off by May of 2010. I will check in with my results, from time to time, to give anyone looking to lose some extra weight the inspiration to do the same.

If anyone wants to join me, maybe we can start a new thread dedicated to people looking to stay healthy, eat better and exercise more.

Here's to Healthy Holidays and a new beginning!

I had an endocrinologist that helped me get my weight down. It was really basic. Cut your insulin by eating less. Workout utilizing cardiovascular exercise (in my case, cycling and tennis) daily. We built a diet that worked and was healthy (it was heavy on fruit and vegetables and very fews carbs, if you needed something small, I always had apple slices or orange juice around) and it worked. Lost 120 pounds that way. It was awful at first, because it required an awful lot of discipline, but if you look at it as something that you're doing as a long-term investment in yourself, it makes the strange cravings you end up with (I ended up craving milkfat the entire time: milk, yogurt, ice cream anything that you could find in a dairy case) abate a little bit.

I'm curious about "The Diabetic Diet" because I'm wondering if my endo ended up doing something immensely similar to my diet that that Doctor did.

Best of luck everyone!!!

Hey Stephanie!


I am definetly going to try spliting the lantus. I'm noticing more lows when I sleep so perhaps splitting it 40/60 might help. I'm switching endos at the moment so my primary has been helping me adjust my insulin until I see him. She told me to cut down the lantus but then i still get those lows in the morning which result in highs later. I've been testing every 4 hours (including getting up around 3-4am) and trying to test 2 hrs after I eat..and just adjusting that way. It sucks but my last A1C was 8.5 which was a wakeup call. I only work out 3-4 days a week and recently its been even less (due to finals, work parties, ect).

I might just be the odd one out, but I haven't had any trouble with losing weight but then again I'm super active with crap...I know that all I've gained is muscle and if any of you have read Ginger's posts, insulin can actually help speed muscle recovery and growth. So, if you are exercising, possibly you're losing fat, but gaining muscle and since muscle weighs more than fat, you're gaining weight?

[quote user="ralfe1315"]

So, I am pledging to all of you, that I will exercise and eat better. My goal is to have this weight off by May of 2010. I will check in with my results, from time to time, to give anyone looking to lose some extra weight the inspiration to do the same.

If anyone wants to join me, maybe we can start a new thread dedicated to people looking to stay healthy, eat better and exercise more.

Here's to Healthy Holidays and a new beginning!


Good idea! I'm on it!