Here's how to get started on the path to weight-loss success:
Exercise can help keep off the weight. “Research shows that people who increase physical activity along with reducing calorie intake will lose more body fat than people who only diet,” says McLaughlin, now a certified diabetes educator at Nebraska Medicine, Children's Hospital and Endocrine Clinics, in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. For confirmation, look at the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a database of 10,000 men and women who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. Only 10 percent reached and maintained their weight-loss goal without exercise. Most people in the register chose walking as their form of exercise.
The most effective diabetes diet includes breakfast. Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating later in the day when you become ravenous. This can sabotage weight-loss plans and cause blood sugar levels to surge. Research shows that eating breakfast, especially if it’s cereal, is associated with better weight loss. The best cereals are free of added sugars and high in fiber. Pairing cereal with a high-protein food (drinking milk in the bowl, for instance), can help keep blood sugar levels in check. A common characteristic among the NWCR participants is that most of them ate breakfast.
The exact number of calories that people on a diabetes diet should consume depends on a number of factors, including age, gender, current weight, activity level, and body type. A reasonable goal for people with type 2 diabetes is between 1,200 and 1,800 calories per day for women and between 1,400 and 2,000 calories per day for men. Your diabetes educator can help you fine-tune the ideal calorie range to achieve weight loss while managing your blood sugar levels.
Feast on fiber.
Generous amounts of fiber help lower blood sugar levels and speed weight loss. Research shows that a higher intake of fiber may prevent weight gain. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women between ages 31 and 50 should aim to eat at least 25 grams of fiber daily, while men in that same age range should eat about 31 grams. As we grow older, our fiber requirement drops. Women, 51 and older, require about 22 grams daily, while men need at least 28 grams of fiber. The fiber requirements in the guidelines for both age groups are still higher than most of us typically consume. One trick you can do to help increase your fiber intake is to toss fiber-rich legumes, like chickpeas and black beans, into salads, chili, and soups.
A diabetes diet structured with three or more small meals daily is better than a diet plan that includes only one or two big meals. Large meals can cause blood sugar levels to surge, while eating smaller meals more frequently will help keep glucose levels lower after eating. Plus, a diabetes diet consisting of mini-meals spread through the day will help control hunger and calorie intake, possibly leading to faster weight loss.