The Best Way for Diabetics to Lose Weight

Whether you want to lose 5 or 50 pounds, it's extra challenging when you have diabetes.

If you're prone to episodes of hypoglycemia, there are times when you have to eat whether or not you want to, and it can be frustrating to have to take in those extra calories to prevent your blood sugar from dropping dangerously low. But with some careful planning, you can rid yourself of unwelcome pounds.

Here are the top 10 tips, from:

  • Adee Rasabi, RD,CDN, CDE, senior dietitian of the Ambulatory Care Network at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City
  • Donzella Dixon, MD, internist at the Ryan Community Health Center in New York City
  • Devon Carlson, MS, RD, CDN of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City

1. Choose the right time. You have to be ready to make a lifestyle change and only you can decide it's time to get healthy and lose weight, says Rasabi.

2. At lunch and dinner, devote half your plate to non-starchy vegetables. And divide up the other half into one quarter lean protein and one quarter whole grains.

3. Reduce your consumption of fried foods and make the switch to grilled or baked items.

4. Get an exercise buddy, says Rasabi.  "This is important because it makes it much easier to have a goal," she says. And while you're at it, recruit your own personal "support team," she says. Tell a few trusted people around you that you are trying to lose weight, and they will support you in your efforts.

5. Get moving. If you really want to lose weight, your couch potato days must come to an end. If you're out of the habit of exercise, start with 30 minutes of brisk walking a day.

Take a 15-minute walk, then turn around and walk back home.

"If you do just that for five days a week, it's enough to start," Dixon says. To really see results on the scale, you will need to work up to 60 to 90 minutes of exercise on most days.

While this sounds daunting, you don't have to do it all at once. "It can be broken up," Rasabi says. "And it's always a good idea to schedule exercise in your planner, to make sure to get it in."

6. Choose a form of exercise that you like. If you like to dance, sign up for a ballroom dancing or a hip hop class. If being outdoors is your thing, consider cross country skiing, bicycling, or hiking.

7. If you do get low blood sugar, make sure you only consume enough carbohydrates to bring your blood sugar back in the normal range. It's easy to overeat when that low blood sugar feeling comes on. Keep tubes of glucose gel or glucose candy within easy reach so you can quickly treat an episode of hypoglycemia and not overeat.

8. Shop only the perimeter of the supermarket, where the fresh and frozen foods are. Avoid the middle of the store, where processed foods lurk. "The closer you get to the middle of the store, the more processed the foods are," says Carlson.

9. Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. "The more lows you have, the more difficulty you will have with weight loss," Carlson says. That's because every time you're low, you have to treat the hypoglycemia by eating a snack.

10. Be realistic about your goals. If you'll only be happy if the scale shows that you're losing five pounds a week, you're setting yourself up for failure. To lose one pound a week, you have to eliminate 500 calories a day--and that takes a lot of willpower. But a one-pound weekly weight loss goal is realistic. "Slow, gradual weight loss gives long lasting results," Rasabi says.