How Does Insulin Cause You to Gain Weight?


I know insulin causes weight gain, but how?

The body stores excess glucose/sugar as fat. Type 2 Diabetes causes high blood sugar. We covered that in this article.

When a person has Type 2 Diabetes, their body produces insulin but the cells in the body resist it. Insulin is what allows the body to take sugar/glucose into the cells for use as energy.

The pancreas will then respond by producing more insulin. This is due to the pancreas’ ability to detect glucose production. It then releases insulin in response to spikes in blood glucose levels. We call this insulin resistance. With Type 2 Diabetes the pancreas can produce as much insulin as it can and our cells will still resist allowing the sugars into our cells.

Insulin is most often prescribed for Type 2 Diabetics when other medications didn’t help.

It’s always best to make healthy lifestyle and dietary changes first to help prevent the need for injectable insulin. But if you or someone you love has been prescribed insulin for Type 2 Diabetes, you need to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Also, please read more posts on our site about how to change your way of eating so that your condition does not get worse.

You can read about the best diet for Type 2 Diabetes here.

Injectable Insulin and weight gain

When your doctor prescribes insulin as the treatment for your Type 2 diabetes, it’s likely you are going to gain weight1,your%20weight%20while%20taking%20insulin. When the body starts absorbing glucose again, it starts converting any excess into fat. The body has to do something with the excess high blood sugar. There is nowhere else for it to go. This fat is often deposited around the belly.

I have an aunt who developed insulin-dependent Type 2 Diabetes after an accident happened with her chemo port for her breast cancer treatment. Apparently, the chemo agent spilled into her chest cavity and damaged her pancreas. It was very frustrating for her, after that accident she gained weight very quickly. This was also in the days when doctors and the American Diabetes Association were still promoting eating 50grams of carbohydrates with each meal. They also still promoted 3 meals a day with 2 snacks. Actually, you will still see this recommendation in outdated information being shared even these days! This amount of carbohydrates and the number of meals plus snacks is a guarantee that you will gain weight unless all that food is no sugar and no carbohydrates. Add the insulin to this, and it’s no surprise that she gained weight, and very quickly. 

Some people taking insulin for Diabetes worry that they will get low blood sugar.  So they eat more and gain additional weight. The best way to monitor blood sugar is to get a continuous glucose monitor. This prevents you from getting low blood sugar and not knowing about it. This small wearable device monitors your blood glucose levels 24 hours a day and can send alerts if your levels get too low or high.

Weight gain makes Type 2 Diabetes much harder to manage and leads to further health complications. Research has found that even a 10% weight reduction2 can dramatically increase insulin sensitivity for people who are considered to be heavier people. We want to be insulin-sensitive and not insulin resistant.

Some types of insulin injections may cause less weight gain than others:

Every kind of insulin can cause weight gain. However, some studies show that one type of insulin leads to lower weight gain:

Determir (Levemir)  seems to cause less weight gain than the insulin type glargine (Lantus) and intermediate-acting insulin.

Another issue is that insulin injections can increase hunger

Recent research indicates that insulin triggers hunger hormones and affects our appetite3 It can lead to a person eating more food than their body can process. This, naturally, leads to weight gain.

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