Thursday, June 14, 2012

Type 1 Diabetes and Weight Management

Over the past couple of years I've been teaching fellow diabetics how to manage their diabetes. You know, the basics like;  food, activity, medication, insulin use and adjustment, stress management, physiology, complications, blood glucose and health monitoring.

During this time I have noticed a trend, and that is;  the challenge of losing weight or better yet, just maintaining weight with type 1 diabetes.  The media as I'm sure you've noticed at most grocery stores and on talk shows (not naming any names of course) group diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) as being the same with little effort on the authors part to explain the difference between the two. They also advertise incessantly about weight loss and diabetes.
But what I'd like to explore is the topic of weight loss and maintenance when it comes to type 1 diabetes. I mean healthy weight loss, not the loss that comes from ketoacidosis and insanely high sugar levels. Why do I think this topic is important, well I also notice that Type 1 diabetics are gaining weight putting them into the insulin resistant abdominal obesity high BMI health risk category. And a lot of people I see with Type 1 have a desire to learn more about weight loss.

I feel that Type 1's  have very little guidance on losing weight and safely adjusting insulin levels to do so. When I have sought guidance on this subject in the past I get the usual verbal nonsense.  "Increase activity, eat less"  I begrudge that scripted response that seems to be ingrained in thought and promoted with out question by most world government health agencies. Fair enough, create a caloric deficit and lose weight, simple, right? NOT!

I am sure a lot of folks out their that have lived with diabetes long enough can tell you basically how to lose weight, but what about giving formal advice. I find that there are numerous studies and information for Type 2 DM with regards to weight loss.  But what about insulin dependent diabetes or more specifically type 1 diabetes?

Weight loss and type 1 is logical to me. Look up insulin in any Medical Physiology textbook and it will clearly tell you that this essential hormone is not only responsible for utilizing and storing glucose but it is also responsible for Fat and protein storage and utilization. Hmmmm.........What the heck am I getting at?
Keeping in mind that Lipolysis is fat breakdown (A good thing) and Adipose is fat tissue/cells (A bad thing)

Lower your insulin and lower your energy storage. It is common knowledge that when a person is started on insulin they usually put on weight. I know from personal experience that the more insulin I take the more weight I gain. The question is why and more importantly what to do about it.

This is not new info at all by the way. Most carb reduced diet plans rely on this to get results. Even weight watchers tend to promote products that are lower in carb, just looking at the bread products they market. Carbs increase blood sugar, blood sugar requires insulin to put it where it needs to go, into the cells for energy, and any unused energy goes to fat, liver and muscle for later use. Or something to that effect, I am by no means a biochemist. All I know is; when I reduce my insulin levels, I always lose weight.

The number one precursor to insulin needs is the amount of carb we choose to consume in our diet. Number two is how little activity we do in a day. Number three is stressors placed on our bodies.

Eating large amounts of carbs = taking large amounts of insulin = storing more energy as fat = weight gain

Inactivity = Less energy used = more insulin requirements = more stored fat and less stored energy used = weight gain

Stress = increased resistance = increased liver output of fuel (glucose) = higher glucose = more corrections or more insulin = more weight gain

Notice the trend: more insulin = more storage = more weight gain

Lower carb (not extreme) = less insulin = less fat storage = weight loss
More activity = lower insulin requirements = less fat storage = weight loss

Less stress or more sleep = less free floating glucose = less insulin (or correction doses) = weight loss

Easy,  right?  Well not always.  Here are a couple of other things to consider.

You need to have the right insulin(s) and or delivery methods. MDI or Pump. You need to be willing to test a lot,  I mean a lot. You will fluctuate at first but given time and good record keeping, things will even out. Try to eat the same amounts of carb for each meal. Eat protein for each meal, then carb free choices, then slow carb choices - More on the specifics later if any one manages to read this or expresses interest in knowing more.




Celine said...

Great post Trev and I agree completely. I've been pretty active for the past few years but could never seem to lose a pound. It seemed ridiculous that i could run for two hours and yet gain weights.

Then I started reducing my insulin and therefore reducing the amount of food I needed when running. The combination resulted in my losing 10 pounds and keeping it off.

Erin said...

PLEASE tell me more! I'm really struggling with this right now. I need to lose about 10-15 lbs, but I feel like the more I try, the more I put on. I feel like I increase my activity levels, but then end up with lots of lows and end up eating way more calories to combat the lows.

I'd be particularly interested in what a discussion about what to eat, how to lower my carb intake and what kinds of protein to eat at each meal, and how to get enough protein.

Thank you thank you thank you! I think this would be a good topic to share on tudiabetes, too. SO many people need help with this, and so far most endos just say "exercise more and eat less." It is not that simple for us!

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