When Type 2 Diabetes Causes Unhealthy Weight Loss

Published on 
April 26, 2024
July 6, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

Here’s what to try when type 2 diabetes causes unhealthy weight loss.

Reviewed by Virta Medical Affairs.

Type 2 diabetes is often linked with obesity. That’s why many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to lose weight by their doctors. In fact, successfully managing your diabetes often involves losing weight: just ask Virta member Donna, who lost over 100 pounds in a year on her journey to reverse her type 2 diabetes.

But sometimes, type 2 diabetes can lead to unplanned weight loss. And when that happens, it’s important to take a step back and ask if something more serious is going on. If you’ve found yourself here because you wondered ‘why does diabetes cause weight loss’ or ‘how to gain healthy weight with diabetes’, here’s what you need to know. 

Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Cause Weight Loss?

About 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. It’s more common for type 1 diabetes—not type 2—to cause weight loss. However, there’s a small percentage of people who experience unhealthy or unplanned weight loss as a result of type 2 diabetes.

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin like it should, which leads to glucose (blood sugar) building up in your bloodstream instead of being transported to the cells where it belongs. When your cells don’t get the glucose they need to function, your body may go into starvation mode and quickly drop muscle and fat. Your body isn’t able to use the calories and nutrients in the food and drinks you are eating and drinking so you start to lose weight. This process can also lead to excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger and kidney damage.

How Can I Stop Weight Loss From Diabetes?

If you experience unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more, it’s important to see your primary care provider. It could be related to your type 2 diabetes, or it could be an early warning of another serious health condition. In the meantime, continue to 

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Aim to get most of your calories from healthy sources that won’t spike your blood sugar too much, like beneficial fats (think: avocados, avocado oil, olive oil and cheese), protein (like nuts, seeds, almond butter, peanut butter, eggs, full-fat cottage cheese, plain full-fat Greek yogurt, fish, beef, turkey, chicken, tofu and seafood) and vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, zucchini and green beans).

The Takeaway

If you have unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more and haven’t changed your eating or exercise habits, it’s time to see your primary care provider. They can evaluate your health and determine the root cause of the issue. They can also give you personalized tips for how to gain weight with type 2 diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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