Person measuring waistline while wondering how to lose weight with type 2 diabetes

How to Lose Weight with Type 2 Diabetes

Written on June 27, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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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If you are overweight or obese, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes increase. [1] Around 90% of United States adults diagnosed with diabetes are overweight or have obesity. [2] A weight loss of 5% to 10 % of your total body weight when you have extra weight can improve your overall health and well-being. [3] Losing weight can be challenging whether you have type 2 diabetes or not. However, if you have type 2 diabetes, losing weight is central to managing the disease. Let’s discuss how to lose weight with type 2 diabetes, but first, a brief introduction to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

About Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a top 10 leading cause of death in the United States. [4] Approximately 37 million Americans have diabetes; however, one in five of those people have no idea they have the condition. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and accounts for up to 95% of all cases. Not only is diabetes prevalent, but the disease is also costly, with an estimated cost totaling $327 billion yearly in medical, lost work, and wages.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that leads to elevated blood glucose levels in your body.[5] Usually, your body breaks down the food you eat into sugar and releases it into your bloodstream. As your sugar levels increase, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood to transport the sugar into cells to use for energy. When you have diabetes, the beta-islet cells in your pancreas cannot make enough insulin, or you cannot use the insulin as well as you should.[5,6] If you do not have enough insulin or your cells stop responding to insulin, the levels of sugar in your bloodstream will remain elevated. Health issues such as heart or kidney diseases can occur over time.

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Relationship Between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

The link between obesity and type 2 diabetes is complex, involving multiple cellular and biological pathways. [6,7] Increased body weight is strongly connected to insulin resistance and diabetes. With obesity, the increased hormones, fatty acids, cytokines, and proinflammatory mediators contribute to insulin resistance. [6,7] Insulin resistance compounds the effects of the inability to make enough insulin, thus increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

Being overweight and obese is a common risk factor for type 2 diabetes. [6-8] Other risk factors for the condition include [8]:

  • Having prediabetes
  • Being 45 or older
  • A family history (a parent, brother, or sister ) of type 2 diabetes
  • Limited physical activity (less than 150 minutes per week)
  • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy)

How to Lose Weight with Type 2 Diabetes

Though there is no cure for diabetes, losing weight and keeping it off can help manage the condition and reduce the risks associated with the disease. Here are some ways on how to lose weight with type 2 diabetes [3]:

  • Create a food plan and write down what you eat. The plan should include healthy and nutritious food choices that you can eat in the long term. Reduce your sugar and salt intake and eat more lean protein. You can also consider speaking with a dietitian, diabetes educator, or healthcare provider if you need support. Continue to write down and track what you eat to help you in the weight loss journey.
  • Increase physical activity to at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of the two per week. Doing at least two days a week of strength training to use all your major muscle groups is also recommended. Combining regular exercise with diet control will have the best likelihood for weight loss. Increasing physical activity will make you more sensitive to insulin and help manage your blood sugar levels.
  • Drink more water. By drinking more water and fewer sugary beverages, you can cut your calories and decrease your blood sugar levels.
  • Get adequate amounts of quality sleep to avoid triggering stress hormones. Stress hormones can slow down metabolism and encourage the body to accumulate body fat. A lack of sleep can also increase hunger and appetite for high-calorie carb foods.
  • Find your motivation to keep on your weight loss journey. Focus on what is meaningful to you and why you need to lose weight.

Lose Weight via Everlywell Through Telehealth

Everlywell's Weight Care+ program gives you the option to meet virtually with a certified clinician. You can discuss your weight loss goals or any questions you may have regarding your weight and related conditions. You will have access to regular one-on-one virtual visits with a licensed healthcare provider, lifestyle recommendations and support, and prescription medications if appropriate for you.

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  1. Diabetes and Prediabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed September 6, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2023.
  2. Risk factors for diabetes-related complications. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed September 30, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2023.
  3. Healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed December 30, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2023.
  4. Diabetes quick facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed April 4, 2023. Accessed June 13, 2023.
  5. What is diabetes? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed April 24, 2023. Accessed June 13, 2023.
  6. Klein S, Gastaldelli A, Yki-Järvinen H, Scherer PE. Why does obesity cause diabetes? Cell Metab. 2022 Jan 4;34(1):11-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2021.12.012.
  7. Al-Goblan AS, Al-Alfi MA, Khan MZ. Mechanism linking diabetes mellitus and obesity. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2014 Dec 4;7:587-91. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S67400.
  8. What causes type 2 diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed July 28, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2023.
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