A common side effect of taking insulin is temporary weight gain but you still have control. Insulin does not make you fat when you develop healthy lifestyle habits. Discover more about weight gain and insulin as well as ways to stay in good shape.

  • Some people with diabetes experience weight loss because their bodies cannot convert food into energy. They may not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use it properly. The food turns into excess glucose in the blood that is ultimately eliminated in the urine. Taking insulin regulates this process so sugar can be used for energy rather than being flushed from your body. This can reduce feelings of fatigue and lower your blood sugar levels to a healthy level, but may also cause some weight gain.
  • When your blood sugar is high, your body can become dehydrated. You may believe you have lost weight but you have actually lost water. When you take insulin, you start retaining fluids more normally. This can make you think you have gained weight. In actuality, your body is better using food and is maintaining a proper water balance.
  • Prior to taking insulin you may have been eating too much but your body was unable to use the food to nourish the cells. You might continue to eat the same amount when you take insulin. Now your body can properly process the food you are eating and you may gain weight. Talk to your doctor about your calorie intake and whether you should be cutting down. Keep a record of what you eat and the number of calories you consume to help you maintain a healthy weight. Your health care team can let you know if the number of calories you take in and your activity level is resulting in more calories than you need. Cutting calories and exercising for at least a half hour each day can help you shed unwanted pounds.
  • Choose healthy foods such as whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables. Plan your meals and eat whole foods rather than processed foods that tend to be higher in sugar and salt. Reduce your portion sizes. Include less red meat, skinless chicken breasts and fish to trim down your saturated fat intake. Drink water rather than high-calorie drinks. Work with a doctor, nurse, CDE, or dietitian to create meal planning strategies and an exercise schedule. Use an Accu-Chek blood sugar meter to check your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Record the results and share them with your health care team during regular appointments. Report any extreme highs or lows to your doctor right away.
  • Talk to your doctor about certain diabetes medications that can regulate blood sugar levels and may promote weight loss as well as enable you to reduce your insulin dosage. These medications may include Metformin, Victoza, Bydueron or Tantieum. Never skip or reduce your insulin dosages without consulting with your doctor. Take your insulin only as directed to avoid dangerous blood sugar fluctuations and the risk of other health complications.

Insulin may cause some weight gain but this can be controlled through proper lifestyle habits. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk to your health care team about any concerns you may have and do not try to adjust your own diabetes self-management plan without medical direction.