About 10 percent of the U.S. population has type 2 diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control. Formerly known as “adult-onset” diabetes, type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin on its own. It can be caused by genetics, medical conditions or an unhealthy lifestyle.
Weight loss is the most common recommendation for treatment. In fact, even only a 5 percent loss of body weight can reduce blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels remain unstable, type 2 diabetes can be treated with diabetes medication, insulin therapy and blood sugar monitoring.
Weight loss for diabetes questions
- What should type 2 diabetics eat?
- If you have type 2 diabetes, you should be eating a wide variety of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Based on the American Diabetes Association's (ADA) recommendations, here’s a list of foods you should eat often:
- Whole grains
- Unsweetened tea
- 1% or fat-free milk
- Black, kidney and pinto beans
- Non-starchy vegetables (spinach, green beans, asparagus)
The ADA also recommends reducing or avoiding fried foods and processed grains, added salt and sweeteners, full-fat dairy, frozen or canned vegetables with sauces and sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices. Steer clear of eating too many carbohydrates, which break down into glucose in the blood faster than other types of foods. Bread, grains, pasta, milk, fruit and starchy vegetables have the highest amount of carbs and should be kept to a minimum.
Sometimes, living with type 2 diabetes can feel like depriving yourself of treats in favor of healthy diabetic diet options. But by finding foods that satisfy your cravings while supplementing your diet, you can plan a diet that works.
- Can losing weight cure type 2 diabetes?
- Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be reversed by losing weight. One study found that nearly half of the people on a six-month weight loss plan no longer had diabetes, losing an average of 30 pounds. While it may not work for everyone, losing weight is a great way to manage diabetes and set yourself up for a longer, healthier and happier life.
Best weight loss programs for diabetes
While diets can make you lose weight and spark creativity in the kitchen, they are sometimes limiting and can lead to food fatigue and relapse. Weight loss plans for people with diabetes are designed to kickstart the weight loss journey while minimizing failure. Nutrisystem and WW both have great options for those struggling with type 2 diabetes.
Best for convenience
Staring at $10.18 per day, Nutrisystem’s Diabetes Basic is a 4-week plan with meals delivered to your home. For about a dollar more per day, Nutrisystem also offers Diabetes Core, which comes with over 100 foods and unlimited access to Certified Diabetes Educators, dietitians, tools and trackers.
Nutrisystem D is specifically designed for people with diabetes and takes the guesswork out of finding healthy food options by creating a safe, simple weight-loss plan based on real food and real results. This program lowers your blood sugar and is designed to help you lose weight in order to lower your A1C by 1.02 percent.
The Diabetes Uniquely Yours Plan, starting at $12.50 per day, includes everything in the core plan, plus a wider selection of food items and unlimited frozen foods. This meal delivery for diabetic diets is ideal for people who also have mobility issues, as healthy meals and snacks are delivered to your home.
Best for flexibility
WW for Diabetes
Starting at around $50 per month, the WW for Diabetes program was specially designed to help the unique needs of those with type 2 diabetes. Recognized as a National Diabetes Prevention Program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program is effective for treating pre-diabetes too. When tested on those with pre-diabetes, weight loss and blood sugar improvements were seen within six months and sustained for over a year.
The WW program for diabetes is scientifically proven and highly customizable. You’ll still be able to do all your own grocery shopping and cook your own meals. WW offers individualized support and guidance via phone calls from a Certified Diabetes Educator and access to weekly in-person meetings. The program also provides an individualized meal and weight-loss plan based around its Smart Points system and is compatible with existing disease management programs.
Best diet plans for diabetes
There are a few recommended diet plans for those with type 2 diabetes. These plans are linked to lowering blood pressure, improving heart health and instilling a better relationship with food in patients with diabetes.
- DASH: The DASH diet, also known as the “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” is an eating plan that focuses on lowering blood pressure. This diet centers around eating more plants and lean meats. By focusing on filling up on fruits and vegetables first, and supplementing your diet with protein-rich foods at the end, the DASH diet helps people lose weight while stabilizing blood pressure.
- Mediterranean diet: Inspired by eating habits of the Mediterranean, this diet emphasizes eating plant-based foods and replacing salt with spices and butter with healthy fats (specifically olive oil). This diet also emphasizes eating fish and moderating dairy intake. Studies have found that this diet is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Paleo diet: In its simplest terms, the paleo diet restricts the foods you eat to those similar to what would have been eaten during the Stone Age: foods that can only be obtained by hunting and gathering. By limiting the intake of processed food, sugars, grains and salt, this diet focuses on eating whole foods and leading active lives.
- Gluten-free diet: A gluten-free diet excludes protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Although typically used for patients with celiac disease, many use it for generic weight loss goals. A recent study found that those who avoid gluten have a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
- The Mayo Clinic Diet: This diet focuses on changing your relationship with an understanding of food long-term. It’s based on research and clinical experience and emphasizes adopting new, better habits. While you can pay for weekly support and goal planning, you can also follow the diet by simply researching its rules.
- Whole30: Whole30 is a restrictive diet that focuses on eliminating triggering foods to investigate how your body responds to food by eliminating them and then slowly reinstating them. This gives you a better idea of your body’s specific needs and wants while learning what it may not need, including sugars, cheese, and grains.
- Vegetarian or vegan diet: These diets limit intake of animal or animal-based products. Vegetarian diets do not allow the consumption of animal meat, while vegan diets are solely plant-based, and you cannot eat any animal products at all, like dairy or eggs. These are healthy diets, but they can lack certain nutrients. If you decide to try eliminating meat, you’ll need to ensure you are getting enough vitamins through supplements or careful planning.