Person on bathroom scale wondering about prediabetes and weight gain

Prediabetes And Weight Gain: What's the Connection?

Written on December 22, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Prediabetes is a serious medical condition that can have long-term ramifications on your health. As the name suggests, prediabetes is related to diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to insulin and has to produce increasing amounts of insulin to compensate for the resistance.[1] Eventually, your pancreas has difficulty keeping up and your blood sugar starts to increase. If your blood sugar is slightly increased, then you may have prediabetes. If it is high enough for a prolonged period of time, then you may develop diabetes. Read on to learn more about prediabetes and weight gain.

Who Gets Prediabetes?

Prediabetes (and diabetes, for that matter) is more common in people who are overweight or obese. This is because fat cells are some of the more insulin-resistant cells in the body. Excess body fat, especially around your internal organs, increases your risk of developing prediabetes.[2] Other risk factors include:

  • Having family members with prediabetes or diabetes
  • Being physically inactive
  • Eating highly processed foods, especially those high in carbohydrates or saturated fats
  • Long-term use of certain types of medications such as steroids
  • Other hormone-related medical conditions like thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or Cushing syndrome
  • Lifestyle-related factors such as chronic stress or lack of sleep

How Is Prediabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes and prediabetes can be diagnosed via bloodwork. Your healthcare provider may test your blood sugar when you are fasting or may draw a test called a hemoglobin A1c. Hemoglobin A1c (also referred to as just A1c) is a test that allows healthcare providers to estimate a three-month average of your blood sugar [3]:

  • An A1c of less than 5.7 is normal.
  • An A1c between 5.7 and 6.4 is prediabetes.
  • An A1c of 6.5 or greater is diabetes.
  • An A1c of greater than 7.0 is uncontrolled diabetes.

What Are the Symptoms Of Prediabetes?

Many people with prediabetes have no symptoms at all.[2] People who do experience symptoms may have skin tags, changes in vision, or dark velvety skin on the back of the neck or under the arms. As prediabetes worsens and diabetes begins to develop, people may experience increasing symptoms including [4]:

  • Increased need to urinate
  • Increased thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Poor wound healing
  • Recurrent infections

Some people do not develop any symptoms even as their A1c rises and reaches the diabetic range.

Everlywell HbA1c Test CTA graphic

What Are The Complications Of Prediabetes?

You may know that prediabetes can have serious long-term health effects, but what about prediabetes? If it’s mild, do you really need to worry about it? The short answer is yes. Having prediabetes can also have long-term effects on your body, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.[5] The kidneys and nerves are also at risk of damage in people with prediabetes or diabetes. Since many people don’t have symptoms, you may start to develop the complications of prediabetes long before you are diagnosed.

What Is The Relationship Between Insulin Resistance And Weight Gain?

Insulin resistance results in increased insulin levels in your bloodstream. Insulin works by driving glucose into cells, including fat cells. Increased insulin lowers your blood sugar levels and can increase hunger. Eating simple carbohydrates and foods high in saturated fats is more likely to increase insulin levels. Increased hunger can lead to overeating and increase your weight.

How Are Prediabetes And Insulin Resistance Managed?

Weight loss is one effective way to help decrease prediabetes and insulin resistance. A weight loss of even 5%-10% can improve your metabolic health.[6] Diet and exercise are also important components of blood sugar control. Many medications can also be used to help with both blood sugar control and weight loss. You should discuss these options with your healthcare provider.

Take Control Of Your Health With Everlywell

If you have or are at risk for prediabetes or diabetes, early diagnosis and management of your blood sugar can help you avoid some of the possible complications of the disease.

If you’re concerned or curious about your blood sugar level, consider using an at-home HbA1c Test from Everlywell. The test lets you measure your blood sugar level over the past 90 days to empower you with more knowledge about how your body manages glucose levels. At Everlywell, you can also get more information about weight-loss options. If you have questions about your health, you can schedule an online visit with one of our certified healthcare professionals.

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  1. Prediabetes. Mayo Clinic. Published November 11, 2023. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  2. Prediabetes. Cleveland Clinic. Published November 8, 2023. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  3. Barclay L. New AACE Guidelines for Prediabetes Management. Medscape Medical News. Published July 25, 2008. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  4. Diabetes Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published September 7, 2023. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  5. The Surprising Truth About Prediabetes.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.,%2C%20heart%20disease%2C%20and%20stroke. Published July 7, 2022. Accessed December 13, 2023.
  6. Franz MJ. Weight management: Obesity to diabetes. Diabetes Spectr. 2017 Aug; 30(3): 149-153.
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