Losing weight has been shown to give great benefits to people who are at risk of, or that have diabetes. Benefits include a reduction in blood glucose levels, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure and in those at risk it can help to prevent diabetes.
If you are thinking about trying to lose weight it is helpful to consider what your reasons are for wanting to do this, and how confident you feel. If you have strong reasons for wishing to lose weight, this is likely to give you more motivation to succeed. Try writing down what would be good about losing weight and then consider what difficulties you are likely to face along the way. If you can predict what these might be and how you may overcome them then you are more likely to succeed. You should also set a realistic target for weight loss; ideally this should be no more than 0.5-1kg (1-2Ib) a week
Having the support of a friend or family member or a healthcare professional can be a great help. You can share with them your goals and discuss your progress along the way.
Try to set 1-2 small achievable goals, at a time, which you can tick off as you go. For example you could decide to cut out added sugar in your tea and coffee and replace with SPLENDA®. Each teaspoon of sugar that you swap for SPLENDA® saves 18 calories, so if you’re drinking 3 cups of tea or coffee a day with 2 sugars, swapping to SPLENDA® could save you over 100 calories every day!
What is the best way to lose weight?
There is no one size fits all approach to weight loss. Different things work for different people. It is important that whatever approach you choose it is sustainable. Most ‘fad’ diets offer quick fixes but the majority of people that try them regain weight. A combination of calorie reduction and increased physical activity is best. For more information and advice on healthy eating and exercise, click here.
What about exercise?
Physical activity has been shown to reduce HbA1c (a measure of longer term blood glucose control). Ideally you should aim to build up to at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise a week. This could be split over 7 days or you could condense it into a couple of sessions. Moderate intensity means raising your heart rate and being slightly out of breath, but still being able to hold a conversation. It is important to think about what exercise you enjoy and when and how you will fit it into your weekly routine. Planning ahead and enjoyment of the exercise will mean you are more likely to stick to it in the long term. For more information and advice on exercise click here.
Benefits of increasing physical activity
- Uses up more glucose which can help reduce day to day levels
- Reduces the amount of insulin the body needs, and also helps it use the insulin more effectively
- May help improve long term blood glucose control
- Helps to lower blood pressure
- Regular activity can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression
Top tips to help you include exercise in your daily routine
- If you have an office job try to get up out of your seat a few extra times each day
- Include more walking in your day. Find longer routes to walk to and from work, while at work or home. If you use public transport get off one stop early.
- Walk up the stairs more frequently.
- Get involved in an active hobby such as dancing, cycling, swimming. Aim to choose something you enjoy so you can stick with it.
- Buy a pedometer and monitor how many steps you normally take in a day. Then challenge yourself to increase this by 1000 steps. Try to gradually increase over a few weeks to get to 10,000 steps a day.
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Any increase in physical activity may also increase the risk of low blood glucose. If you are starting a new exercise plan you should aim to build up gradually. Think about your end goal and set weekly goals to build up to that amount. For example if aiming for 2.5 hours a week start with 30mins – 1hr and build up over 2-3 weeks. If your diabetes medication puts you at risk of hypoglycemia you should always ensure that you have some rapid acting carbohydrate with you when undertaking exercise. Rapid acting carbohydrates include fruit (especially bananas, raisins, pears, grapes and blueberries), pasta, rice and some cereals such as crisped rice or corn flakes.
You may also wish to consult your GP or diabetes team if planning to increase your current level of activity. They will be able to give more specific advice and help tailor your medication to your exercise goals.