Losing weight is a wonderful thing for any diabetic that needs to. And yes, most doctors are about as helpful as a big pile of weeds when it comes to weight loss advice.My doctor told me to lose weight, but he did not really tell me how. I am walking now up to two miles a day and I am starving, I think. Any weight loss tips for this diabetic would be so greatly appreciated, thank you.
There's a few key points to remember when losing weight:
Eat enough to fuel the machine. We all require a certain amount of calories in order to keep out of 'Starvation Mode'. (In starvation mode your body doesn't burn fat for it's calories, because it feels it must maintain those stores, so you lose a little fat and a lot of muscle. Starvation Mode also causes reduced energy levels, making weight loss even more difficult.)
That amount of calories required is different for everyone, but for MOST people it's a number very similar to their BMR (Base Metabolic Rate).
To calculate your BMR, you can use an online calculator such as this one or this one. (The second calculator I linked to also calculates daily calorie needs based on various energy outputs, so it's handy for us also...)
It is also helpful to calculate the BMR for your GOAL weight. That is the number of calories you NEVER want to drop below. It's a sure bet that you'll stay in starvation mode if you take in fewer calories than the BMR of your goal weight.
Also of note, if you're heavily muscled, your BMR will be higher than what the calculator shows, simply because muscle on it's own burns fuel just by 'being'. The calculators can only use an 'average' person for their estimations.
Exercise Daily. Both aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, rowing, etc.) and anaerobic exercise (weight/resistance training, etc.) are excellent and you should try to do BOTH if possible. Both help with fat loss, but weight/resistance training will also help build muscle - which increases your metabolism and further assists you in burning fat.
Most experts agree that 30 minutes minimum is required for improved health - but current research shows this can be split into more than one session per day if time or physical ability doesn't permit one longer session. I personally feel that 45 minutes to an hour should be most people's minimums, but we're all different. Right now I exercise anywhere from 45 minutes to nearly 3 hours, depending on the day.
Diet. And I do NOT mean something you adopt for a short time. As diabetics our diet is a lifestyle choice that we need to be strict with, and maintain forever in order to stay healthy.
Low-Carb with a balance of healthy protein and fat is your best option when losing weight, whether diabetic or not. For most active (daily-exercising) people I would recommend 10g of carbohydrate for every 300 calories they consume. If eating 1500 calories per day, this works out to 50g of carbohydrate daily. If eating 3600 calories per day, up to 120g of carbohydrate may be appropriate. (Again, we are ALL different and your ability to tolerate carbs may differ from the norm. If you can eat more carbohydrate with no effects on blood sugar, that's great. Conversely, if you must eat less carbohydrate to maintain healthy levels, then that's what you MUST do.)
One of the main reasons for low-carb, even for non-diabetics, is to get into or close to a state of ketosis. In ketosis the body utilizes fats for fuel MUCH more than it does muscle, so you maintain most of your healthy muscle mass while losing weight.
For those whose body is used to ketosis, getting into that state is usually not difficult, and we can do it while eating a balance of healthy fat and protein. Others may need to eat more fat and less protein to achieve the same result. Tailor your diet accordingly if you're not losing the weight you want, and do NOT be afraid to increase fat intake. Remember, dietary fat intake does NOT increase blood cholesterol levels in low-carb dieters. (Research shows that it's high-fat combined with high-carb that increases your cholesterol to unhealthy levels.)
Calories. Remember when I talked about the BMR (Base Metabolic Rate)? Now we're going to take that base rate, and add to it your calories burned based on your activity level, to get your estimated daily requirements. Use this calculator, being as accurate as possible when entering your activity level amounts (read the descriptions carefully) to determine that amount.
Once you have your daily requirement, subtract 500 calories per day for weight loss of 1 pound per week, 1000 calories per day could result in 2 pounds per week.
Using me as an example, the calculator determines a BMR of 2,141 calories, and an activity level of 2,587 calories based on yesterday's activity. This is 4728 calories combined. Yesterday I consumed 3,500 calories for a deficit of just of 1,200 calories that day. This caloric intake keeps me well above my BMR (staying out of starvation mode), but allows over 2 lbs of week of weight loss if I maintained that caloric intake and activity output for the week.
Meals - smaller meals, more often (if you can.) This isn't something everyone can do, because it involves more 'prep. time' than some people have available. But if you can, it's best to spread those daily calories into 5 or 6 meals rather than 3.
There's various research to support this, but the general accepted belief is that 1) blood glucose and insulin levels are balanced by eating smaller meals more often, and 2) metabolism is slightly increased by the act of digestion itself, assisting weight loss and 3) energy levels are often more stable throughout the day with more frequent, smaller meals.
If you can, try to plan the meals with a similar macronutrient profile - meaning they should have a similar amount of carb/protein/fat in each meal if possible. (Exactness is NOT required.) The reason for this is that first phase insulin response is based on your previous meal - so you want to balance the amount of carbs in each meal as much as possible so you don't end up with excess insulin in your system. (For insulin-dependent diabetics this may not be an issue - but for non-diabetics, or diabetics with an insulin response, it's important.) Remember that excess insulin in the system leads to fat storage and hunger/cravings. So we want to balance that response as much as possible to give us the best chance at losing weight.
2 + 2 = 5. I know what you're thinking... "What???" What I mean by this is that DIET and EXERCISE combined contribute to more than 2x the weight loss than either can alone.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that if diet and exercise will allow 2 pounds of weight loss per week, that one without the other will still allow for 1/2 that. Although it sounds reasonable, it just doesn't work that way.
Without the proper diet, or the proper exercise routine, your weight loss will slow or even stall. Both are important, and combined they are worth more than the sum of their parts. I hope that makes sense.
Shake it up occasionally. If you're always having X calories and Y exercise, your body will become accustomed to that. I currently eat anywhere from 3,000 to 4,200 calories a day - every day is different. I also exercise anywhere from NONE (I take Sunday off from exercise) to 45 minutes (when I do core/abdominal/floor work) to 2.5 hours (long-distance cycling) and eat for that day appropriate to my activity output.
If you have the same caloric intake all the time, your body might decide it has a 'set point' where it wants to stay. When you suddenly eat 30% more one day, it realizes that it's not stuck at this intake, and won't keep things in reserve.
It's been common practice for bodybuilders to have a 'cheat day' once a week where they eat virtually anything they want... we don't have that luxury as diabetics, but I find that adding more calories in on certain days (and keeping my activity appropriate to the caloric intake) has a similar effect.
Also, if you find you're NOT losing weight at the pace you want, you may want to 'shake up' your exercise or diet routine, adding/subtracting to one or the other in order to find what works best for you. We ARE all different, after all.
Stay Positive! Remember that it's not always easy, and some days are better than others. There will be good days and bad days. Good workouts and bad workouts. And some of us will slip or stumble and need to pick ourselves up again.
Never get too down on yourself if you have a bad day/workout, etc. Just remind yourself of why it's important, and commit to do better and get back on that wagon!