Does type 2 diabetes run in your family, and you’re worried about your risk of developing this common condition? Perhaps you’re dealing with elevated blood sugar levels or have a desire to proactively manage them. Now’s the time to start! The earlier you begin, the less damage you’ll sustain from insulin resistance and having a high blood sugar level.
What’s the objective? A wealth of research findings and expert consensus reveals a connection between weight loss and preventing type 2 diabetes. Carrying excess weight, especially around the middle, increases low-grade inflammation and fuels insulin resistance, making it harder to control your blood sugar.
Let’s delve into the benefits that come with shedding surplus pounds and why it’s the most effective strategy for fighting insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Weight Loss Improves Insulin Sensitivity
If you’re dealing with insulin resistance, a precursor to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, it’s time to make lifestyle changes. And, as science shows, one of the most effective changes you can make is to lose weight, assuming you’re overweight. When you carry excess weight, especially around your mid-section, insulin resistance sets in. This common condition interferes with your body’s capacity to utilize insulin efficiently, resulting in higher insulin levels that are harmful to your metabolic health.
Imagine insulin resistance as a malfunctioning lock on a door. In this scenario, the key (insulin) struggles to turn and unlock the door. Consequently, you require more and more keys (higher insulin levels) in an to open the door. Yet this process is inefficient and leaves you with an excess of keys (extra insulin) circulating in your system, which isn’t conducive to health.
But once you shed a modest amount of weight, your insulin sensitivity improves, along with your blood sugar and risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So, in essence, the journey towards a healthier weight can significantly impact your diabetes risk by improving your body’s insulin response.
Weight Loss Improves A1C Values
The A1C test gauges your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months. Weight loss can lead to better A1C results, indicating enhanced blood sugar regulation. Research indicates that each kilogram of weight loss corresponds to a 0.1 percentage point reduction in A1C levels. This reduction signifies improved glucose control. Therefore, weight loss not only enhances glucose processing within your cells but also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and its progression if you already have it.
Lower Blood Pressure and Healthier Blood Lipids
Weight loss’s benefits extend beyond blood sugar management. Losing a few pounds of body fat lowers blood pressure and has other perks for your heart too. Your cholesterol and blood lipid profile improve as the extra pounds come off, especially if you lose weight around your belly and waistline. These improvements are important because cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Weight loss acts as a shield against cardiovascular disease, fortifying your defenses.
Reduced Risk of Blood Vessel Damage
Did you know that type 2 diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the organs they carry blood and oxygen to? This can potentially lead to serious complications such as kidney disease and vision impairment. Nevertheless, shedding excess weight, thanks to its impact on reducing blood pressure and inflammation, eases the burden on your blood vessels and shields against some of the harm that diabetes can inflict on your tissues and organs.
Excess weight can impede mobility and hinder daily activities. Weight loss heralds improved mobility, simplifying tasks, and promoting physical activity. Physical exertion enhances insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control, allowing for more efficient glucose transport into cells without the need for insulin. This dual benefit not only enhances mobility but also aids blood sugar regulation.
Reductions in Low-Grade Inflammation
Inflammation is linked to insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control. Weight loss, especially targeting visceral fat, reduces inflammatory cytokines, mitigating inflammation and insulin resistance. Lower inflammation levels are favorable for your health, including the health of your heart and blood vessels.
The Weight Loss Target
So, how much weight do you need to lose to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and to tame type 2 diabetes if you already have it? The amount is more modest and achievable than you think!
According to the American Diabetes Association, losing 7% to 10% of your body weight, boosts insulin sensitivity, so your blood sugars fall more into line. When you couple it with a healthy lifestyle lifestyle, that includes exercise, stress management, and quality sleep, you’re taking control over your metabolic health.
Moreover, shedding excess weight also reduces complications that diabetes can inflict on your body, such as a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The added benefits are many: enhanced insulin sensitivity, improved A1C values, reduced blood pressure, a more favorable lipid profile, a diminished risk of vascular damage, and a decrease in inflammation.
Losing extra weight unlocks a series of benefits that improve your metabolic health. You’ll get better control over your blood sugar levels. Losing body fat, particularly visceral fat, will improve the health of your heart and protect the integrity of your blood vessels.
Remember, visceral fat produces inflammatory chemicals that are harmful to your heart and health. Lifestyle modifications that include weight loss, wholesome nutrition, and heightened physical activity, not only prevent but can even reverse type 2 diabetes.
Embrace the power of weight loss today and embark on a path to a healthier, diabetes-free future. Remember, small steps can yield substantial results. Even small amounts of weight loss improve insulin sensitivity and make it easier to control your blood sugar.
- Gummesson A, Nyman E, Knutsson M, Karpefors M. Effect of weight reduction on glycated hemoglobin in weight loss trials in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2017 Sep;19(9):1295-1305. doi: 10.1111/dom.12971.
- Shantha GP, Kumar AA, Kahan S, Cheskin LJ. Association between glycosylated hemoglobin and intentional weight loss in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a retrospective cohort study. Diabetes Educ. 2012 May-Jun;38(3):417-26. doi: 10.1177/0145721712443293.
- Achieving Type 2 Diabetes Remission through Weight Loss. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed June 16, 2023.
- “Up to half of new diabetes cases in the U.S. linked to obesity ….” 10 Feb. 2021, heart.org/en/news/2021/0.
- “How Type 2 Diabetes Progresses | ADA – American Diabetes Association.” https://diabetes.org/diabetes/type-2/how-type-2-diabetes-progresses.
- Chiu CJ, Wray LA, Beverly EA. Relationship of glucose regulation to changes in weight: a systematic review and guide to future research. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2010 Jul;26(5):323-35. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.1095. PMID: 20578206.
- Franz MJ. Weight Management: Obesity to Diabetes. Diabetes Spectr. 2017 Aug;30(3):149-153. doi: 10.2337/ds17-0011. PMID: 28848305; PMCID: PMC5556579.