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In part I, we discussed some critical parts of preparing for your weight loss journey. Here, we’ll look at three big parts of your ongoing work to lose weight.
I hope your motivation is at an all-time high, you’re feeling confident in your imminent success, and you’re ready to get this show on the road!
#1. You don’t need to be on a strict low-carb diet.
If you’ve done any shred of searching on the internet about what is the best diet to use to lose weight while living with diabetes, you’ve probably seen articles debating a high-carb diet versus a high-fat diet being ‘best’ for weight loss.
Some people are absolutely married to the idea of eating predominantly fat and very few carbs.
Some people are absolutely married to the idea of eating predominantly carbs and very little fat, as they will advocate this Is the ‘best’ way for weight loss. Some people will thrive on a strict low-carb diet, while others will thrive on a strict low-fat diet. Neither is correct and neither is wrong.
(I’ve met low-carbers and high-carbers both with A1c levels in the 5s! There is no single route to success.)
My advice to you: don’t join either camp. You do not need a strict diet trend to lose weight.
Instead, experiment and create an approach that makes the most sense for you and your blood sugars — an approach that you can maintain happily for the rest of your life during most days of the week.
Research also shows that while strict low-carb diets may result in faster weight loss at first, their results are eventually equal to the low-fat dieters by the six and twelve-month mark.
No matter what: definitely focus on protein: eating enough protein is a big part of successful weight loss. Not only does protein help keep you feeling full and stabilize your blood sugars, but protein also has been associated with improved workout recovery and improved body composition.
Don’t completely cut any of the major macronutrients out – just find the blend of them that is best for you, your blood sugars, and is easiest for you to stick with most days of the week.
#2. Don’t just rely on exercise.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, ‘Hey, Ben, I started exercising every single day. I’m on day 36 and I haven’t lost a pound. What’s wrong?” …I could probably retire right now.
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to weight loss with diabetes (and without, for that matter) is that exercise alone is enough to lose weight.
Remember in part one, when we discussed the calorie deficit?
Exercise can absolutely be a component of the calorie deficit…but nutrition is the X factor.
I use this analogy for weight loss with many of the patients who come through the practice: Think of weight loss like art class when you’re a kid. Nutrition is the ball of clay. Exercise molds the clay.
Research has demonstrated this exact concept: there were four groups: a control group that made no changes in diet or exercise, an ‘exercise-only’ group, a ‘diet-only’ group, and a group that did both diet and exercise.
The group that did both, unsurprisingly, had the best results and lost the most amount of weight as well as body fat.
Ise both exercise and nutrition in tandem with one another for optimal results on this journey, and in a perfect world, try to do a combination of strength training and cardio exercise. Your future (and current) body thank you for your efforts!
#3. GLP-1 agonists can help improve results of your nutrition and exercise efforts
More and more people with type 1 diabetes are using medications originally intended for those with type 2 diabetes, including GLP-1 agonists. Brand names are Ozempic, Trulicity, Monjaro, and more.
- Read the latest from T1D Exchange on why GLP-1 agonists replace hormones people with T1D don’t produce properly and our experience taking GLP-1s!
Here’s the lowdown:
In your pancreas, there are cells called islet cells, from which insulin is secreted. Of course, in T1D, the insulin isn’t secreted. But there are five other hormones produced in the islet cells that all have a role in weight management, specifically your appetite, insulin sensitivity, and satiety.
GLP-1 medications are one way to compensate for the fact that your body is not able to produce some of these other hormones — which is great because they can help make blood sugar management easier and increase your weight loss results from your changes in your diet and exercise habits.
However, it would be shortsighted to think of a GLP-1 medication as an easy fix or magic bullet. Instead, think of it as a complimentary source of support to ensure your hard work at the gym and in the kitchen pays off.
(GLP-1s should also be considered a long-term medication if you do choose to start one. When you stop taking it, you can easily re-gain the weight you lost because your insulin needs, appetite, and liver glucose production will pop back up to your pre-GLP-1 levels since your body struggles to produce the previously mentioned hormones that regulate these things!)
While they are certainly not a failsafe, GLP-1 medications may be a useful addition to your weight loss repertoire as you’ve successfully incorporated the other principles of successful weight loss with T1D, if you and your care team decide together on that plan.
Now, you’ve got the main principles for a successful weight loss journey while living with T1D — time to start putting it into action! A game plan is great but putting it into action is even better. You’re going to do great!
Need a little more support in your weight loss journey? My team of dietitians living with T1D may be able to assist you and we may even take your insurance.
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