Does Insulin Cause Weight Gain?
2023/10/17

therapy to manage blood sugar levels can contribute to weight gain. This can be concerning for many people who have because increased weight can make diabetes more difficult to manage.

Research shows that even just a 10% weight loss can increase insulin sensitivity in people who are overweight, so weight gain could make you more resistant to insulin.

There are ways that you can prevent weight gain while on insulin, and it's even possible to lose weight while taking insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the body that helps control the amount of sugar that is in the blood.

Insulin acts as a gatekeeper between the blood and cells for blood sugar because it is responsible for bringing sugar into cells from the blood to be used as energy or stored for later use.

When you're not producing enough insulin or when you become less sensitive to insulin, there ends up being elevated levels of sugar in the blood, leading to diabetes. Depending on the cause of your diabetes, your healthcare providers will recommend different types of medications to help with managing your diabetes, and one of these is insulin therapy.

The reason that insulin could cause weight gain is that when you start insulin therapy, all of the extra glucose in your blood is brought into the body to be used as energy or stored.

As you become more efficient in using the carbohydrates you eat, your body stores more of that energy as fat if it is more than you use that day.

Multiple complications can develop from uncontrolled diabetes, such as:

It is important to take your medications as prescribed to keep your blood glucose levels in a normal range.

Focusing on both your diet and how much you're moving throughout the day are two of the most important things that you can do to help with controlling your weight.

You don't need to go through these changes alone. Build a support system of friends, attend group diabetes management classes, or work with a dietitian one-on-one so they can answer your questions and support you while you are making lifestyle changes.

Insulin is only able to cause weight gain when there is extra glucose from the blood that you don’t need for energy. That means an important part of avoiding weight gain is monitoring your total calorie intake.

Your weight is the balance between the number of calories you eat versus the number of calories you burn. Watching your portion sizes and the type of food that you eat helps to prevent weight gain.

Aim to have mostly nutrient-dense foods in your diet, meaning foods that have large quantities of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in comparison to the number of calories it has.

Tips for making sustainable diet changes to maintain a healthy weight include:

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Being physically active throughout the day is important to increase the number of calories you burn.

Research shows that exercise, even without weight loss, improves blood sugar levels and helps with insulin resistance.

When increasing your exercise time or starting a new exercise program, first discuss how this will affect your medications and blood sugar levels with your healthcare provider before starting. Since exercise can affect these, you may need to make adjustments to your medications or have some snacks with you to prevent low blood sugar levels.

Stay in contact with your healthcare provider to discuss your treatment options if you are noticing weight gain.

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There are many different medications that can help with managing diabetes, so discuss any concerns you have with your practitioner to make sure you are on the best medications for your needs.

When making changes to your diet and activity level, it's important to continue to measure your blood sugar levels to stay within your goal range and to see how these are affecting your blood sugar.

Weight gain while taking insulin is normal and it doesn't mean that anything has gone wrong. Managing a chronic illness like diabetes is a lifelong process that takes time to learn how to best manage it for you.

When you start to learn how your body responds to insulin, you can use that information to make adjustments to your treatment plan. Discuss any questions you have with your healthcare provider to create a treatment plan that is most effective for you. 

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