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Weight Loss and Blood Glucose

Written by
Brooke McKelvey
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Amanda Donahue
MS, RD, CD
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If one of your diet resolutions this year was to lose weight, you’ve probably already been thinking of things like weight management and weight loss programs. But wherever you are on your weight loss journey, it’s important to remember that weight loss is a long-term commitment. And thinking about your overall health and wellness is just as important here as shedding the points. 

Weight gain, especially if it leads to obesity, has its apparent downsides and effects on your overall health. But if you’re thinking losing weight at any cost will help you get all the health benefits of weight loss, think again. You can be healthy at any size, so consider targeting healthy weight loss goals instead of reducing body fat or waist measurements as weight management. 

Healthy eating habits can help you target a healthy weight appropriate for you. They can also reduce your risk factors for heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and other health issues associated with an unhealthy weight. 

The best weight management plans consider everything from your calorie intake to physical activity and lifestyle habits. Wondering how to achieve good overall health, meet your weight loss goals and lower your risk factors for various illnesses? Are you curious about whether there’s a link between weight management and blood sugar control and if that can help you with diabetes care? Still unclear about your metabolism and how things like high blood sugar, prediabetes, and weight gain are connected to it? Read on to find out! 

What is Your Metabolism and How Does it Work?

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A healthy lifestyle means maintaining the right balance between an intake and output of energy. This energy balance is essential for all biological processes that keep you alive, from breathing to exercising. Your metabolism is in charge here, processing nutrients and turning them into energy. How does it work? Let’s go back to the basics. You know that you get your daily energy from nutrients like fats, carbs, and proteins. These nutrients travel through your stomach and intestines and are then broken down by enzymes into small molecules.

These are transported to your bloodstream and organs, where they’re then transformed into ATP. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is a molecule that stores and transfers energy into the cells. What does any of this have to do with losing fat tissue and improving overall health? Losing fat and increasing energy levels involve burning more than you take in. Remember, it’s important not to get stuck on the ‘how much you take in’ part here. It’s best to focus on the quality of calories, as they have a significant impact on body composition.

This entire process depends on age, current weight, level of physical activity, and lifestyle. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is one way to determine some of this. Specific formulas can help you calculate the BMR, but it can be pretty complicated to do yourself if you’ve never done so before. A registered dietitian can help you calculate your BMR and understand more about the calories your body requires depending on things like your age, weight, and height. While the BMR can account for up to 75 percent of your body’s daily energy needs, the remaining 25 percent depends on physical activity.

Why is Weight Loss so Challenging?

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Estimates show over 45 million Americans go on a diet every year. And studies have shown that 49.1 percent of the adult American population tries to lose weight every year. Unfortunately, not all of these people reach their weight loss goals or improve their overall health while they’re attempting to do so. Apart from setting the wrong weight loss goals or not understanding enough about how undereating can cause weight gain, there are several factors for this. One is that you can’t always control the ingredients in your meals, especially in store-bought foods. There’s a good chance that most items you buy at the store contain added sugars, either to improve taste or help foods last longer. This can cause insulin resistance and lead to obesity, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.

Another issue is a lack of physical exercise, especially in the US. In fact, only five percent of American adults engage in daily physical activity, and only one in three adults are involved in any physical activity weekly. This lack of physical movement can increase the risk factors for obesity and other conditions, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, prediabetes, and mental health issues.

Why is Healthy Weight Loss Important?

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Not everyone’s metabolism works the same. Some people have a fast metabolism, while others might have a slow metabolism. For people with a slow metabolism, weight loss can be even more challenging. Are you wondering why people with low muscle mass and high-fat mass are prone to slow metabolism? It’s because muscle cells use a lot of energy, while fat cells use less energy. If weight loss is your goal and you have a slow metabolism, it’s essential to improve it by reducing the presence of fat tissue. You can do this by counting calories, focusing on physical activity, or consulting a healthcare professional to discuss other options.

If you’re focusing on your diet, remember that healthy weight loss is much more important than just losing weight. There’s no one-size-fits-all, and body weight is not the best way to determine overall health. So even if you're considering dietary changes to support this, don’t make any drastic changes without consulting a healthcare professional first. 

The Relationship Between Glucose and Your Weight 

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You know that your digestive system processes natural sugars, like those found in fruits and vegetables. Natural sugars are made up of complex carbs, which take a while to break down to be absorbed. Then there are processed sugars, made out of simple carbs, easily broken into digestible pieces, and quickly absorbed into the blood. These can lead to spikes or a substantial increase in your blood sugar levels.

After every meal, your body produces insulin, a hormone that moves and stores sugar into cells, converting it into energy. If you eat more sugar than your body needs, your liver and muscles store the excess as glycogen. However, if there are more sugars than your body needs (even as a backup), glucose is converted into triglycerides. These are then sent out in your bloodstream and stored in fat cells. So, your goal should usually be to lower insulin levels by avoiding excess sugar intake.

If your sugar intake is too high for an extended period, your fat tissues increase. This leads to the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. But if you consume less sugar, your body will start using the glycogen stores. When the glycogen is used up, your body uses the fat stores as energy, which leads to weight loss. 

High sugar levels can also lead to insulin resistance, where your cells stop responding to insulin. This keeps the glucose in your bloodstream even longer. With very high insulin levels, your body doesn’t receive the signal to use glycogen and transform fat cells into energy. This ends up affecting your efforts at weight loss. So, it’s safe to say there’s a pretty strong relationship between glucose levels and weight management. 

Consider Tracking Glucose, Not Calories, For Optimal Weight Loss

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Added sugars can be the most significant deterrent to your weight loss goals. One way to track your sugar intake is to consider the glycemic index of your food. Food with a glycemic index under 55 is usually a good option for most people, especially if your goal is to lose weight and improve blood sugar levels. Another tool to add to your weight loss is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). This can give you a detailed picture of your blood glucose levels.

With a CGM, you can see real-time glucose responses to food and lifestyle habits. You’ll be able to see what kinds of food lead to spikes in your blood glucose, and also if your blood glucose levels rise too high overnight. By monitoring this, you have a better chance at preventing the risk factors for diseases like obesity. You also get a helping hand with your weight loss journey and prevent issues like prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. 

Tracking glucose is a helpful way to mitigate these issues. It’s particularly beneficial when you consider the rising cases of obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes due to unhealthy weight gain, and insulin resistance. People with obesity are also at high risk of other issues like heart diseases.

Weight loss is an excellent way to prevent these diseases by reducing body fat and meeting weight goals. You now know that balance is key to good overall health. So, as the last point here, remember that it’s essential to track food quality along with quantity if you’re counting calories. Consider how carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other nutrients affect your body rather than following a one-size-fits-all diet. If you’re hitting a wall with an arbitrary glycemic index chart, consider asking for help. Healthcare professionals like registered dietitians are an excellent resource here, especially if you’re just starting your weight loss journey. They can help you track glycemic responses, blood glucose levels, and more, so you can focus on healthy weight management. 

Recapping the Facts

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Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

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