How to Gain Weight and Maintain BG Levels

Advice for people with diabetes trying to gain weight.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Yes, you read the title correctly — there are people with diabetes that are actually trying to gain weight. These people are underweight and need to put on a few pounds without creating extremely high high blood sugar levels.

Note: If you have diabetes and are losing weight or having difficulty gaining weight, your first step is making sure the issue isn't due to high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia, which is typical with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes (or misdiagnosed type 2), can lead to weight loss and is a dangerous state for your body. If your weight loss or inability to gain is unexpected, make sure to discuss it right away with your doctor. It may be that your medication needs to be adjusted for better glycemic control.

If, on the other hand, your blood glucose levels are controlled, here are few tips to help you gain weight without spiking your sugar.

1.Eat three meals a day. People trying to gain weight often skip meals. If you are trying to gain weight, you need to increase your daily caloric intake. If you skip breakfast (or any meal), you could be missing out on an extra 400 to 500 calories per day, which if done consistently could lead to a one-pound weight loss per week. So, even if you are not a breakfast person, find some foods that you can eat for breakfast such as a fruit smoothie (add a fiber supplement like psyllium or ground flaxseed to offset rise in blood sugar), turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread or an egg and cheese sandwich on a whole-wheat English muffin.

2.Eat snacks. Snacks and small meals are another way to help increase your caloric intake and can be helpful if you are someone who gets full quickly. You could eat a small breakfast at 8:00 a.m., a planned snack at 10:00 a.m., lunch at 12:00 p.m., another snack at 3:00 p.m., and dinner at 6:00 p.m. Then, one last snack around 8:00 p.m. Your dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you determine how many carbohydrates to have per snack. Here are some snacks that contain about 15 grams total carbohydrates, but also provide extra calories from protein and/or fat.

  • 5 whole grain crackers with (no added sugar) peanut butter
  • 5 whole grain crackers with cheese
  • ½ cup berries and ½ cup full-fat cottage cheese
  • Sliced turkey or ham rolled up in slice of cheese or 100% whole-grain bread
  • 1 apple and large handful of nuts
  • ½ whole-wheat wrap with turkey and avocado slices


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Last Modified Date: June 24, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
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