Injectable insulin is one of the most famous treatments for Diabetes type I and II. Still with a very negative overall opinion, insulin is one of the best drugs for blood glucose control.

Individuals with type I diabetes are dependent on insulin from the moment of diagnosis and individuals with type II diabetes has it is a progressive disease, will in time and possibly need insulin to control the blood glucose levels.

If one of the main risk factors for type II diabetes is obesity, how one of the principal treatments causes weight gain?

This is one of the concerns for those who denied to start insulin, apart from the myths and preconceptions around insulin itself.

Studies reveal that individuals gain an average of 4kg (around 9 pounds) when treated with insulin and have a blood glucose control.

Since this is a main concern, let’s understand why there is weight gain when treating diabetes with insulin and how to avoid.

Why insulin contributes for weight gain

Insulin is a hormone responsible to uptake the glucose into the several types of cells/tissues in our bodies (such as the liver, fatty cells and the muscles). The glucose is part of the energy production for the body’s normal function.

The glucose transformation into energy needed for the moment happens in the cells. All the glucose leftovers remain in the liver. When the liver’s storage is full, the leftover glucose becomes fat in our bodies. 

Because the majority of people tend to consume more energy than waste it, there is a lot of fat in our bodies increasing the body weight.

Gets worst when diabetes is part of the equation

In a person with diabetes, this transport of glucose into the body cells doesn’t happen properly due lack/insufficiency of insulin therefore the blood glucose levels turn higher.

Because the glucose is not going into the cells, the body gets his fuel from the stored glucose in the liver. When this source of energy is empty, the body starts using the fat to perform his normal functions. The continuous of this process will bring weight loss, but this can be seen as an artificial weight loss as it is due to the lack of glucose in the cells and use of the stored fat in the body.

Also, because blood glucose levels are very high, the body tries to reduce these levels by “peeing out” the glucose. This process leads to calories and fluid loss helping with weight loss.

Once insulin levels become normal, the loss of glucose through the urine comes to a stop and the body stops using the stored fat as fuel and glucose levels are lower. The body cells restart the process of storing all the food in the form of fat or energy and the weight returns to a level that restores healthy blood glucose levels and the weight becomes dependent on our diet and exercise balance only as desired.

It is true that weight gain makes blood glucose control much harder but it is essential that you get there in order to provide you a better and a brighter future where complications only come later in time.

What to do?

The most important matter here is to improve the blood glucose levels and because you already know the side effects of insulin,  it is important to keep:

  1. A balance between your food intake and your activity
  2. Healthy eating (reduced carbohydrate amount, increase vegetables, mindful about fruits)
  3. Regular physical activity
  4. Hydrated
  5. Testing your blood glucose regularly
  6. Adjusting your insulin levels to your  body needs

If you are on a stage of your diabetes that is advised to start insulin to control your blood glucose levels, keep this information in mind, do not see insulin as the “bad guy” but the solution to improve your present and your future.