Weight Management for People with Type 2 Diabetes
It’s very common for a person recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or even prediabetes to experience feelings of stress and anxiety. Often adding to the stress and compounding these emotions is being told you need to lose weight in order to best manage your symptoms.
The good news however, is that for people with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, exercise can be powerful tool in helping the body better utilise glucose and therefore even reducing the total amount of insulin that the body produces.
While it may sounds overwhelming and confusing for some, it doesn’t have to be. With the right information and appropriate support network, people with diabetes can absolutely live long and healthy lives.
The low-down on weight and diabetes
Dietitian and exercise physiologist Kate Save said that as soon as people had extra reserves of body fat, they were more likely to become insulin resistant which increases their risk of developing diabetes.
According to Save, insulin is predominantly a fat storage hormone which takes glucose out of the blood stream and stores it elsewhere in the body, even converting it to fat when glycogen (glucose storage) levels are full.
“If you can reduce body fat whilst maintaining lean muscle mass, you can improve insulin sensitivity so that you can also improve the way in which the body takes sugar out of the bloodstream,” she said.
“But if there is too much fat in the body it reduces the cell sensitivity to insulin, or the way our bodies take sugar out of the blood.
The positive message for people with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes is that you can improve insulin sensitivity through both diet and exercise.
“By seeking advice on dieting specifically for body fat reduction and even using measures such as rapid weight loss programs (ONLY under medical supervision), an individual may achieve greater effects on insulin sensitivity compared to moderate and slow weight loss,” she said.
Save added that fat itself was metabolically active and the fat cells were considered “sick cells”. She also noted that people with abdominal obesity have many of these sick cells and this is strongly related to many metabolic conditions including diabetes.
“If you are carrying weight around your waist, your risks of chronic disease is increased if your waist circumference is greater than 94cm for males and 80cm for females,” she said.
Lowering your risk of diabetes through weight management
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is considered enough to provide benefits for good health, although more may have additional health benefits.
And if 30 minutes is too hard to achieve in one go, you can easily break it up in to three ten minute sessions. Start with the basics and think about small things you can do to incorporate a little more movement in to your daily routine.
Save added that people with diabetes should consider doing some muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week, including using dumb bells or resistance bands.
“Walking, swimming, dancing, cycling and water aerobics are all ideal for cardio exercise and people should aim for moderate intensity which increases the heart rate but means you can still breathe easily
“Apart from the possibility of reducing weight while you’re moving, exercise creates plenty of endorphins that cruise through your body when you are physically active, making you feel great,” she said.
Where to get help
There is no need to face diabetes and weight management on your own, as there are a number of highly skilled healthcare professionals that are specially trained to support people living with diabetes.
“For people with Type 2 diabetes, I highly recommend being be under the guidance of an accredited practicing dietician and diabetes educator during periods of dieting and weight loss, for assisting with blood sugar monitoring and ensuring that you are still getting the essential balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates.