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Insulin and weight gain:
Insulin and weight gain often go hand in hand, but weight control is possible. If you need insulin therapy, here's how to minimize — or avoid — weight gain.
Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin — a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar (glucose) by cells. However, controlling your weight is not only possible, but also an important part of your overall diabetes management plan.
The link between insulin and weight gain
When you take insulin, glucose is able to enter your cells, and glucose levels in your blood drop. This is the desired therapeutic goal. But if you take in more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight — given your level of activity — your cells will get more glucose than they need. Glucose that your cells don't use accumulates as fat.
Insulin: Compare common options for insulin therapy
Insulin therapy is a critical part of treatment for those with type 1 diabetes and also for many with type 2 diabetes. The goal of insulin therapy is to maintain blood sugar levels within your target range. Insulin is usually administered in the fat under your skin using a syringe, insulin pen or insulin pump. Which insulin regimen is best for you depends on factors such as the type of diabetes you have, how much your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day and your lifestyle.
Each insulin type is characterized by:
Onset — how long it takes to begin working
Peak — when it's working the hardest
Duration — how long it lasts
Many types of insulin are available. Here's how they compare. Keep in mind that your doctor may prescribe a mixture of insulin types to use throughout the day and night.
In some cases, pre-mixed insulin — a combination of specific proportions of intermediate-acting and short- or rapid-acting insulin in one bottle or insulin pen — may be an option.
Intensive insulin therapy: Tight blood sugar control
Intensive insulin therapy can help prevent long-term diabetes complications. Consider the benefits — and understand the commitment.
If you have type 1 diabetes — and in some cases if you have type 2 diabetes — intensive insulin therapy may be the key to long-term health.
This aggressive therapy isn't easy, but the benefits are real. Find out how intensive insulin therapy can help you achieve desired blood sugar control and what intensive insulin therapy requires of you. Then you and your health care team can decide if intensive insulin therapy is the best approach for you.
What is intensive insulin therapy?
Intensive insulin therapy is an aggressive treatment approach designed to control your blood sugar levels. Intensive insulin therapy requires close monitoring of blood sugar levels and multiple doses of insulin.
Fortunately, research is ongoing into new methods of blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery that may make it easier and reduce the risk of intensive insulin therapy. One such method is a closed-loop insulin delivery system that combines continuous blood sugar monitoring with insulin pump delivery.
If you choose to try intensive insulin therapy, you'll work with your doctor to set various goals. Ideally, this means:
Blood sugar level before meals: 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 to 7.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
Blood sugar level two hours after meals: less than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L)
Hemoglobin A1C (glycated hemoglobin, an indicator of your blood sugar control for the past few months): less than 7 percent
What are the benefits of intensive insulin therapy?
Intensive insulin therapy can prevent or slow the progression of long-term diabetes complications.
Several studies indicate that intensive insulin therapy can:
Reduce the risk of eye damage by more than 75 percent
Reduce the risk of nerve damage by 60 percent
Prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease by 50 percent
And there's more good news. Intensive insulin therapy can boost your energy and help you feel better in general.