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Diabetes and Weight Loss: Tips For Managing Your Weight

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 7 minutes read

If you have type 2 diabetes, you will probably have been told by your healthcare professional that keeping your weight at a healthy level is extremely important in helping your blood sugar levels stay low and reducing your risk of long-term complications such as eye, kidney and heart problems.

In this article we look at why this is so important, what a healthy weight reading is, weight loss tips for diabetes, and why the Healthwords weight loss plan may be for you.

Understanding diabetes and weight gain

Although having the most common type of diabetes - type 2 - does not usually cause weight gain, being overweight or obese is often a factor in its development. In fact, more than 90% of people who have type 2 diabetes are either overweight or affected to some degree by obesity.

Some people with the less common type 1 diabetes - where the only treatment is insulin injections - may gain weight when they start to use insulin because their body starts to absorb glucose (sugar) more effectively again and can turn excessive amounts into fat. They may also gain weight from eating more because of concerns they may have about developing low blood sugar levels.

It is not just body weight that can be important in the development of diabetes but also where the extra weight is carried on the body. People who put on extra weight around their waist (called ‘apple-shaped’) are slightly more likely to suffer from obesity-related conditions such as diabetes than those who put it on mainly on their hips and thighs (known as ‘pear-shaped’).

When someone at risk of developing diabetes puts on excess weight, the cells in their body become less sensitive to the hormone insulin that is released from the pancreas gland and which helps to control sugar levels. 

Apple-shaped obesity probably occurs because of the effect of insulin pushing excess sugar into fat around the tummy over many years. Having a waist bigger than 80cm (31.5 inches) if you are a woman and more than 94cm (37 inches) if you are a man is known to be a risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. 

Benefits of weight loss if you have diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight, the benefits of losing weight may be dramatic. In fact, some studies now suggest that weight loss alone may be sufficient to put diabetes into drug-free remission in at least a third of people. (This means you no longer need to take drugs to control your sugar levels and can maintain this through staying at a lower weight and eating a healthy diet). 

Even losing 5% of your body weight may be sufficient to improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can lower the health risks linked to diabetes.

Although type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with weight - unlike type 2 diabetes - losing extra weight can still be helpful as it can mean you may need to inject less insulin as well as reducing the risk of long-term diabetes complications such as kidney problems, eye disease, strokes and heart attacks.

Losing larger amounts of weight if you are obese - such as 15kg for example - will not only make it more likely that your diabetes may go into remission but this is even more likely if you lose this weight quickly and as soon as possible after you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Determining a healthy weight

There are a few ways that you can measure excess weight but the one that is most commonly used is known as the body mass index or BMI. This is a number that is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared, and there are five broad weight categories that you may fit into:

  • Underweight (BMI under 18.5)

  • Normal weight or ‘healthy range’ (BMI 18.5 - 24.9)

  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9)

  • Obese (BMI 30 - 39.9)

  • Severely obese (BMI 40 and above)

However, a BMI reading does not take account of your body composition, so things like muscle mass, gender, and bone density can affect it. This means that a BMI calculation is not a suitable measure for some people including children and people under 18, pregnant women and some athletes.

BMI ranges are also slightly different for people from South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean and black African backgrounds. This means that people from these backgrounds may be at higher risk of health problems at a lower BMI than people from other ethnicities.

Weight loss tips for diabetes

Here at Healthwords we know how hard it can be to stick to a diet! A key point about losing weight through dieting and healthy eating is to always try to pick an eating plan that you feel you can sustain. Before we look at some of the general principles of healthy eating, let’s look at some of the evidence as to what diet may work the best in helping people with diabetes lose weight.

In a recent ‘umbrella’ review of studies looking at this (in other words looking at lots of studies rather than just one), it appears that low-calorie meal-replacement type diets seem to give people with type 2 diabetes the best chance of going into remission by losing more weight than other types of diets. It found that if they went onto a very low calorie diet (as low as 400-500 calories a day) for two to three months they lost over 6kg more in that time than people on food-based low-calorie diets. This is simply because the very low calorie meal replacement diets have fewer calories and so weight loss is more likely. This ultra-low calorie programme uses total diet replacement products such as shakes and soups that are designed to give you all the essential nutrients your body needs every day.

However, some people can find these very low calorie diets difficult to stick with or boring, and so may only be able to use them for a short time. They may also find that weight gain occurs after stopping them when they start eating more calories again.

The ‘plate weight’ plan

If you are looking at what to do first, aim to cut as much sugar out of your diet as possible. Highly processed food is high in sugar, so try to cook meals from scratch whenever possible. It is often a good idea to think about what food you put on your plate - the ‘plate weight’ plan:

  • Half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli, lettuce, mushrooms, zucchini). There are lots of choices here that are low in carbohydrates, but high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

  • One quarter of the plate should be quality protein which is lower in fat and saturated fat (lean meat, fish, eggs). Try to limit red and processed meats. Some plant-based foods are also high in protein (beans, lentils, nuts, tofu).

  • The other quarter of the plate should be carbohydrates (grains, starchy vegetables, 100% whole grain products, oatmeal, beans).

  • Pair your healthy plate with a sensible drink. Be mindful of calories and choose no-calorie options, such as unsweetened coffee or tea (or water is best!).

There will be other foods that you eat throughout the day that will not be part of a meal on a plate. For instance, you will want to include a small portion of dairy (one cup of skim milk or yoghurt, or one ounce cheese) and a small portion of fruit (one half cup berries, half an apple). Dairy provides carbohydrates, protein, and calcium while fruit provides carbohydrates.

It’s all about balancing protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Choose lean cuts of meat. Focus on foods with fibre, vitamins, and minerals (fruits, vegetables, whole grains). Fibre can help you feel full longer and can help keep your bowels functioning properly.

Exercise and weight loss for diabetes

As well as dieting sensibly, keeping as active as possible is also vital in helping with weight loss for diabetes. If you have diabetes, exercise helps your body use insulin more effectively by increasing insulin sensitivity as well as improving things like your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also helps to keep weight off after you’ve lost it and helps keep your long term sugar level (HbA1c) low. Whatever type of activity you choose, the benefits are even greater if you also have a healthy diet, get enough sleep, keep your stress levels low and avoid smoking.

The Healthwords Wegovy weight loss plan

Here at Healthwords we offer a groundbreaking approach to weight loss. Our innovative program seamlessly combines the effectiveness of high-quality medication - Wegovy - with personalised one-on-one consultations with our professional team. This empowering combination gives you the essential tools to shed those stubborn pounds, achieve and sustain a healthy weight - with all the benefits that can go with that if you have diabetes - and experience lasting improvements in your well-being. Visit here for more information.


Keeping your weight to as healthy a level as possible is really important in helping to control sugar levels in people with diabetes. Losing weight alone may be enough to put type 2 diabetes into remission, where you no longer have to take medication to control your diabetes. If you are interested in getting to a healthy weight, speak to us here at Healthwords - we’d love to help you if we can!

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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