Will Taking Insulin Make You Fat?

How to use insulin and not gain weight.

Sheri Colberg-Ochs By Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD

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.

Page: 1 | 2

Last Modified Date: February 16, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

More on this Topic

No items are associated with this tag

Sign up for FREE dLife Newsletters

dLife Membership is FREE! Get exclusive access, free recipes, newsletters, savings, and much more! FPO

Congratulations!
You are subscribed!
Congratulations!
You are subscribed!
Congratulations!
You are subscribed!
1546 Views 0 comments
by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
  • Watch dLifeTV online now!

    Click here for more info
  • Join the #1 Diabetes Community.

    Join Today!
  • Everything you need to know about Insulin.

    Click here