Weight loss is a sensitive topic, and for many people, achieving a target, healthy weight is easier said than done. But, when you have diabetes, there are certain benefits to losing weight.
Weight loss may help manage your diabetes. It may also mean reaching diabetes remission.
You’ll also increase your energy and lower your chance of developing other long-term health complications, including heart disease and stroke.
Research suggests that significant weight loss achieved through medication, surgery, or healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes.
This article examines the connection between obesity and diabetes, how to achieve healthy weight loss, and possibly reverse type 2 diabetes.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic condition that is characterized by high blood sugar levels (Hyperglycemia). This happens because your body cannot use insulin effectively, or your pancreas cannot make enough of it.
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels by facilitating glucose absorption into cells for energy production.
T2D is likely to affect adults over 45 years or younger. It can also affect kids and teenagers, mainly due to childhood obesity.
If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to various health issues, including stroke, kidney, and heart disease.
Symptoms of T2D may include increased thirst (polydipsia), frequent urination (polyuria), increased hunger (polyphagia), fatigue, slow-healing wounds, and blurred vision.
The Connection Between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity is more likely to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also worsens diabetes. Here’s how:
Obesity is often associated with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells in the body become less responsive to the effects of insulin. As a result, the pancreas produces more insulin to compensate for this resistance. Over time, this can lead to pancreatic exhaustion and a decrease in insulin production, contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Obesity often results from genetic predisposition, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary habits, including excessive consumption of calorie-dense foods and sugary beverages. These lifestyle factors can directly contribute to insulin resistance, more weight gain, and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Studies also suggest that visceral fat, or the fat around organs, and excess fat around the liver contribute to insulin resistance, which keeps glucose from entering cells. The more body fat a person has, the more difficult it is for their cells to react to insulin as it should.
While carrying excess weight anywhere in your body can increase your risk of developing T2D, research suggests that those who carry excess abdominal (belly) fat are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that cannot be fully reversed in the sense of returning to a completely normal physiological state. However, it can often be managed effectively with lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication or insulin therapy.
However, treatment can put type 2 diabetes into remission, which means managing the illness for three months or more without using diabetes medication.
Remission does not mean that diabetes has disappeared. To maintain remission, you must control your blood sugar with lifestyle modifications. You must also attend follow- up appointments to ensure the levels are suitable. You might need to take more medication if your blood sugar levels rise again.
Does Weight Loss Send Diabetes into Remission?
While type 2 diabetes is considered a progressive condition, an increasing amount of evidence shows that weight loss can cause diabetes reversal or remission.
Significant weight loss, achieved through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance, and lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In some cases, this can lead to a complete reversal of diabetes symptoms and the discontinuation of diabetes medications. The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) demonstrated that substantial weight loss achieved through a structured weight management program could lead to diabetes remission in a significant proportion of participants.
The program involved a low-calorie diet followed by weight maintenance strategies. After one year, nearly half of the participants achieved remission of type 2 diabetes, and others achieved remission at two years.
It’s important, however, to note that not everyone with type 2 diabetes will achieve remission through weight loss, and the likelihood of remission depends on various factors, including the duration of diabetes, degree of weight loss, and individual metabolic factors.
Achieving a Healthy Weight
Weight loss can be achieved by choosing and sticking to healthy lifestyle choices. Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to reverse type 2 diabetes through weight loss, there are certain tried-and-true methods that work, such as:
Diet is an essential part of any weight loss program, but for people with diabetes, it’s even more important.
Adopt a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, seafood, low-fat dairy, poultry, extra-virgin olive oil, seeds, and nuts. Mediterranean diet also includes small quantities of red and processed meats, sweets, and butter.
It’s also essential to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn through physical activity and daily metabolic processes. You can achieve this by reducing portion sizes, choosing lower-calorie foods, and being mindful of overall calorie intake.
You can also use a calorie calculator to help you determine your daily calorie intake.
Just like diet, exercise is a key component in any weight loss program. In people with diabetes, exercise has several health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of heart disease, enhancing blood flow, and lowering stress.
Certain forms of exercise can reduce the body’s resistance to insulin and burn excess glucose. Being active also increases your chances of keeping the weight off.
See your doctor first if you’re not already active. They can inform you of any restrictions on what you can do.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, or cycling each week, along with strength training exercises at least two days per week. Exercise can help burn calories, improve metabolism, and enhance insulin sensitivity.
If you want to lose a few pounds, diet, exercise, stress management, and good sleep can help you achieve your weight goals. However, for people with obesity, some medications can help with weight loss.
One of these medications is Mounjaro (generic name tirzepatide). Mounjaro is an injectable medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Type 2 diabetes. It’s available only by prescription.
Mounjaro works by targeting two hormones: GLP-1 and Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). Mounjaro adjusts how your body responds to food. It alters your blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller faster. This makes it a very effective tool for managing obesity and diabetes.
Mounjaro has been shown in studies to significantly lower weight in people with obesity. Doctors are, therefore, prescribing Mounjaro “off-label” to help individuals with obesity lose weight even without diabetes. A weight loss drug for tirzepatide is known as Zepbound.
Mounjaro is similar to another diabetes medication called Ozempic. Ozempic is also a well-known diabetes medication that has recently gained attention because of its potential for weight loss. Semaglutide is the generic name for Ozempic.
Like Mounjaro, Ozempic has FDA approval for treating diabetes but not obesity. A weight loss treatment for semaglutide has a brand name, Wegovy. Wegovy has FDA approval as an anti-obesity drug.
Medical practitioners prescribe all of these medications to treat obesity.
Can I treat type 2 diabetes by modifying my diet?
While there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, diet can help reverse this condition. A diet high in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, reduced alcohol use, lower refined grains, processed meats, and sugary beverages can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve glycemic control.
How do I know if I have type 2 diabetes?
You will know you have diabetes if you experience unusual thirst, urinate frequently, lose too much weight, have fatigue, blurred vision, wounds that heal slowly, and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. However, some people may not experience symptoms. Regular screenings for blood sugar levels, especially for those with risk factors like obesity or family history, are essential for early detection.
Can diabetes cause weight gain?
Diabetes itself typically does not cause weight gain. However, certain factors associated with diabetes, such as insulin therapy or medications used to manage blood sugar levels, can sometimes contribute to weight gain in people with diabetes.
Our Approach to Weight Loss
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best strategies to live a long, healthy life. At the NP2GO Clinic in Oklahoma, our medical professionals use their special medical skills and expertise to help patients control their weight safely and effectively.
We understand that losing weight is a personal journey. Whether you struggle to lose weight or are prepared to give it a shot, the comprehensive Weight Loss Management Program at NP2GO can help you.
This program provides you with detailed guidance on how to take the necessary actions to shed pounds and improve your health. The best part of our program is that our team of knowledgeable and compassionate medical professionals creates a customized weight loss plan specifically for you.
Our weight loss approach may help reverse any health-related issues you may have, including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, and joint or back pain.
Research suggests that losing weight can help improve several health conditions, including erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. You’ll immediately experience improvements after adjusting your diet and lifestyle.
We analyze vital signs, prescription records, and blood tests. As diseases are reversed and weight loss occurs, we address the underlying reasons for the weight issues and make modifications as needed.
If necessary, we prescribe diabetes and weight loss medications such as tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Zepbound) and semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy). These GLP-1 receptor agonists can help improve your blood sugar control and weight loss by suppressing appetite and slowing stomach emptying.
We also do follow-up visits throughout your weight loss journey. We monitor your progress by regularly checking your weight, caloric and water intake, exercise schedule, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate, medication reactions, and psychological and emotional states of your mind.
We offer motivation, support, and encouragement to help you stick to your new, healthy habits. We can also help you determine when you’ve reached a plateau and adjust your program to keep you working toward your goal.