Is Weight Gain Possible

Hi… I am 16 and have been a type 1 diabetic for almost a year now (Father’s day is my diagnosis anniversary!). This might be odd but… how do you GAIN weight as a diabetic? I know that cutting carbs loses weight but, if I can’t increase my carbs, how am I supposed to put on more weight?

@byrnethom, hi Thomas,

I don’t get it? why can’t you add carbs? Insulin is a growth hormone, adding carbs and the required insulin to keep your BS in control and up you go.

Add plenty os lean protein, add strength exercise, plus carbs and insulin for good bs control and you’ll gain muscle.

Now if your 16-23 years old, you may have to double your total calorie intake from what it is now as your base metabolism may be extra fast, but you can get there.

btw, pumping makes this a bit easier.

I found that the more carbs I have, the higher the spike.

@byrnethom Please consider buying the book Think Like a Pancreas. Yes the more carbs and the more insulin the trickier the control, but you asked how to get big… and that’s how you get big. The trick to the Post meal spike is slower carbs (glycemic index) and pre bolus. other “tricks” might be to increase basal/carb ratios while increasing food intake. you SHOULD NOT change your insulin or your exercise without consulting your doctor. You should absolutely not mess with your insulin unless you are completely comfortable with making your own decisions. insulin can actually kill you if you make mistakes. always take care and always check in with your doctor/

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Also consider choosing different types of carb-rich foods. Check out the internet for the Glycemic Index to avoid a spike, but still consume enough or more) carbs to support your lifestyle.

Joe also keenly pointed out to add more protein to your diet. Carbs won’t make you grow; they only fill up your glycogen stores, and you can store only a limited amount. If you eat more carbs than you urn during physical activities, those carbs will be converted into fat. And I assume that you are not aiming for more fat, but gaining healthy weight (which is muscle). Suggestions are lean chicken, turkey and all kinds of fish (including the “fatty” fishes, like salmon and catfish, as these fats won’t make you gain weight like fatty meats do).

Hope this helps,
Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

Interesting how you bring up the Glycemic Index. I always wondered what causes food to spikes and when I asked my doctors, they had absolutely no idea. They just kept repeating that peanut butter crackers are fast acting and I was like… well what makes it fact acting? This index should be universally pushed by JDRF (as in put it in the back pack that you get once you are diagnosed).

Thanks Doc Denny

@byrnethom hi Thomas,

I am not even sure if you want to hear from me but here goes:

there are a million causes of a high blood sugar, right after a meal. Fast acting carbs are carbohydrates that can absorb into your blood quickly. The fastest of the fast is glucose. you can get glucose in “tabs” that you can crunch up. 4 grams of glucose in each tab and, for me, it can change blood sugar in 5-15 minutes.

The slowest of the slow would be a more complex carbohydrate when also eaten with fat. Think Pizza. Pizza carbs are in the dough (often wheat flour) is more complex a molecule than glucose. Pizza has huge amounts of fat (when it’s made right!) hidden in the toppings (often cheeses and meat) and tomato sauce (typically olive oil). A slice of pizza may have 33-90 grams of carbs, but for me, will absorb over about 5 hours! this is a “slow” carb.

peanut butter is loaded with fat, so the PB and crackers is not very fast… your mileage may vary. Orange juice has a lot of fiber and is fast for some and a bit slower for others.

other examples:

white rice - fast
White rice with fatty orange sauce - slows it down.
corn based cereal - fast, with milk… .slower
Pasta - slow to very slow - see pizza

real ice cream, for me… very slow… absorbs in 3-5 hours.
italian ice - fast

the big thing is matching insulin absorption to carb absorption. it takes time and practice. you can get a GI database for common foods online.

Hi Thomas @byrnethom, you and me both trying to add a couple of “good pounds” while maintaining acceptable and healthy diabetes management. You are about the age now that I was, before I ever heard if insulin, when I lost 25 pounds despite my constant eating - yes, the acetone I was producing could melt varnish.

In my opinion, and I do not have a doctorate in medicine, that you should see a good nutritionist / dietitian who is also very cognisant of diabetes management, specifically TypeOne. Recently the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston published a guide to different “diabetes management diets” which you may find informative - Joslin may be the world’s foremost font of diabetes knowledge, it was founded by Dr. Elliott Joslin many years before the discovery of insulin.

Did you know that a “zero-carb” diet has been shown in studies to cause weight gain? As @Joe says well, above, you should observe how different foods react in YOUR body and have this information on hand when you meet with your dietitian. I was able to pack almost 160 pounds of good weight on my six foot frame when I owned and operated a contracting firm and engaged in heavy labor - that in addition to getting out on the ski slopes a couple of days a week. Eating appropriate food, proper insulin management and exercise.

Joe did a good job of explaining how carbs are slower absorbed due to other components in the meal, such as fat and protein. However, that is just part of the reason.

There are basically two kinds of carbs: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are single sugar molecules, such as glucose. Complex carbs are long chains of glucose molecules (like starch) or branched tree-like structures made out of glucose molecules (like glycogen). It takes your body time to cut those complex carbs into the single glucose units.

Glucose can already be absorbed and transferred into the blood stream through the mucosal tissue in your mouth, but starch and other complex carbs need to enter your intestine to be broken down and absorbed; which takes more time.

In addition to that, acidity (pH) of the food or drink has an effect too.

Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC

Here is an easy way to understand your dilemma. T1D is a disease of starvation, because your cells cannot access calories without adequate insulin. Therefore, you must have good control if you want to gain weight. And good fats, like peanut butter and avocado, can help you put on weight because they are more ‘calorie dense’ and have a minimal effect on your blood sugar. Your first priority should be to do whatever you can to improve your control. I recommend a good endocrinologist, a pump and a sensor. And a really good dietitian, someone who will figure out what you like to eat and help you control your T1D while eating what you like (within limits, of course). Finally, you’re going to want to work out so that you develop strength - again, good control is necessary for this to work. Good luck! Few people can appreciate how difficult it is to gain weight even if you don’t have T1D.

My dear, I am 75 years old and I was diagnosed with type one for years ago. The call it LADA. Laten autoimmune diabetes adult.
So I experience what you experience I weigh 125 pounds at 5 foot five at 75 years of age. I have found that eating peanuts which is healthy for us, 10 pot pounds on us. In moderation take regular peanuts next with cashews and use that as a snack and of course you can Account for it with insulin which is usually on a pump between 8 to 10. Then take advantage of your lungs with many drumsticks as a treat for ourselves, three chocolate chip cookies equal 21 carbs which is made by Nabisco. So I manage to put on at least 5 pounds So I stay in a range between 125 and 130 I hope this helps you and many blessings going your way

Hi Thomas I was diagnosed at 8 months of age and have now been going for 70 years or so as T1D. Up to 32 years of age I had legs and arms that looked like matchsticks. I was as thin as a fence pole until 32 years of age and thereafter put on a lot of weight, specially around the middle body. T1D’s diagnosed at a very young age rarely develop great muscle mass. Even though I exercised like crazy as a youngster (Gym, Cycling, hiking walking etc I could never develop any muscles at all. I am now 70 years old, in great health, skinny, except a slight middle weight and that is about it. Good luck and dont give up.

I have had the same problem. I’m 5ft 10 and 124lb and I haven’t figured out how to put on weight. To get back to my original 130. Unfortunately for me, my family are all tall and slim so that works against me. You could see about an appointment with a diabetic educator and nutritionist. Insurance often covers it, although check.