Will Taking Insulin Make You Fat?
How to use insulin and not gain weight.
A lot of people with type 2 diabetes delay going on insulin for as long as possible because they've heard horror stories about how it can make them gain weight (or maybe they just don't like shots), but people with type 1 don't have a choice. While it is true that insulin treatment is often associated with weight gain and more frequent bouts of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), the real question is, why?
Some theories to explain insulin-induced weight gain are that when using insulin, your blood sugar is (usually) better controlled and you stop losing some of your calories (as glucose in your urine when your blood sugars exceed your urinary threshold) and that you may gain weight from having to eat extra to treat any low blood sugars caused by insulin. If you're taking oral medications to lower your blood sugar and they are not working, however, insulin may be your main option for better control.
A few research studies have looked at whether weight gain is simply a result of eating more when you're on insulin. One such study found that weight gain was not due to an increase in food intake, but rather that your body may increase its efficiency in using glucose and other fuels when your glycemic control improves — making you store more available energy from the foods you eat as fat (even if you're eating the same amount as before you went on insulin).
Avoiding Weight Gain
So, what can you do to avoid weight gain if you have to take insulin? First of all, you should try to keep your insulin doses as low as possible because the more insulin you take, the greater your potential to gain weight is. The best way to keep your insulin in check is to engage in regular physical activity. By way of example, some people with type 2 diabetes who were studied did gain weight from insulin use while others did not. Interestingly, the main difference between the "gainers" and the "non-gainers" was that the gainers were less physically active. Moreover, in people with type 1 diabetes, taking insulin doses that effectively manage blood sugars can also lead you to gain weight, but increases in activity levels have been shown to prevent getting fatter.
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