Islets of Hope complications of diabetes
By Lahle Wolfe
Physical Movement Links
Diet and Nutrition
Visit our Diabetes & Diet Section (see right-hand sidebar for just a few fast click links to this comprehensive section).
Weight gain may be a result or poor eating habits, and underlying medical condition or an eating disorder called "Binge-Eating Disorder."
With binge-eating disorder people consume large amounts of food (a binge). Most who suffer from this disorder do not purge food eaten and tend to be overweight.
Weight Gain Associated with Diabetes
Weight gain from taking insulin
It is well-doucmented that injecting insulin can sometimes lead to weight gain. What seems to be somewhat debated is why this happens. Some studies suggest it is not the insulin itself, but extra calories being consumed, while other studies seem to indicate that the insulin itself can trigger weight gain. But whatever the cause, unwanted weight gain is distressing to most patients and should be immediately addressed by both patient and physician.
Insulin is a fat-storing hormone. So for those with diabetes who require insulin to live or to manage their blood sugars a slight decrease in daily calories and increase in physical activity is sually all that is needed to halt unwanted weight gain. If you have type 2 diabetes you may wish to talk with your doctor about whether or not BYETTA, which sometimes helps with weight loss, would be an option for you. Orlistat, a drug with fat-blocking properties may also help.
When a person experiences chronic hyperglycemia (high blood suagar levels) the body is not properly using carbohydrates. Converted glucose from food stays in the blood stream, unable to be properly used by the body, it builds up, and in an effort to get rid fo excess blood sugar, the body excretes what it can through frequent urination. Simply put, the body is not using the ingested calories and weight loss can result. When this happens, the body may also resort to stored fuel (body fat and glycogen) which can further increase weight loss.
That said, a person may eat more food during periods of uncontrolled diabetes and lose weight, and during periods of controlled diabetes, the same amount of food can cause weight gain because the body is using ingested food.
Weight loss from hyperglycemia is not healthy because high blood sguar levels can cause long-term and often irreversible srious health consequences. If you are concerned about taking insulin and weight gain, talk with your doctor or a dietitatn about what you can do to help yourself.
Weight gain that can occur in metabolic disorders
Weight gain can be the result of an unhealthy lifestyle including lack of physical activity and eating too much. But other factors can also contribute to weight gain including certain oral medications prescribed for diabetes, stress, insufficient sleep, and too much insulin. Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a hypothyroid (low) autoimmune disease can also cause weight gain and people with diabetes have a 4 times greater chance of having this thyroid disorder than non-diabetics.
Certain metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance can also lead to weight gain. Many people with these disorders may be insulin resistant and therefore overproduce insulin in response to eating. Insulin is not only a fat-storing hormone that instructs the body to store energy, but excess insulin cannot be excreted and can also be stored as fat.
When a person with insulin resistance eats certain foods (many types of carbohydrates, excessive protein, or high-fat foods) their body may over respond by producing too much insulin in order to maintain normal blood glucose levels. This is because cells in the body do not respond effectively to insulin so the body keeps on producing more until the cells finally "unlock" and move glucose into cells for nourishment.
Insulin resistance can be improved. Exercise, especially anaerobic (such as weight lifting and resistance training) activity can improve muscle sensitivity to insulin and increase insulin sensitivity by as much as 15% -- the same percentage of improvement as may be seen when taking oral insulin-sensitizing medications. Losing weight also improves insulin resistance, as does following a healthy, low-fat, moderate protein diet, rich in complex carbohydrates.
Many with insulin resistance find it easier to meet their weight loss goals by following low-glycemic index diets, or carbohydrate controlled plans. True, low-carbohydrate (40 grams of carbohydrate or less per day) that induce ketosis are somewhat controversial as to their long-term health risks and benefits. But many who are metabolically challenged and unable to lose weight on other plans find they can control their weight by more drastic carbohydrate reduction.
Sudden weight gain from fluid retention may indicate a serious underlying medical problem including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, a negative side effect to an oral anti-diabetes medication, or even a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Be sure to discuss any sudden, unexplained, or significant weight loss or gain with your physician.
Still another cause for weight gain (fat, not water retention) in persons with diabetes is from taking certain anti-diabetes medications. Although weight gain has not been associated with metformin (also sold as "Glucophage") other drugs used in the treatment of diabetes type 2 and insulin resistance-type metabolic disorders do. You can read more about weight gain from Actos and Avandia, two drugs in the glitazone family in the article titled "Futile" Cycle Both Fights Diabetes And Causes Weight Gain; Penn Researchers Describe Paradox Underlying The Effectiveness Of Anti-Diabetes Drugs."
Page Updated 10/06/2006