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Is dieting or blood sugar control more important with diabetes?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Blood sugar control is more important. However it might be more difficult to control your sugar if you are overweight. Generally speaking, controlling your diet will lead to both weight loss and sugar control. Planning and following a calorie controlled diabetic diet will kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes. Seek out the services of a registered dietitian. He or she can help you plan an individually designed program that will control both.

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Blood sugar control is more important than dieting. For people with diabetes blood sugar control the important part of management of diabetes. Although with type 2 diabetes weight and blood sugar control can be closely related. Dieting can be defined as following a specific meal plan or losing weight. Following a meal plan is one of the tools to managing blood sugar readings. Weight loss (5-7%) for people who are overweight or obese through a reduced calorie diet and physical activity of at least 30 minutes per day has been shown to improve blood sugar control. Both uncontrolled diabetes and an unhealthy diet contribute to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, etc.

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Hands down, blood sugar control is more important. High blood sugar is poison. However, one way to control blood sugar is to diet, so it can be one of those chicken-or-egg kind of questions.

Here’s why--the most common kind of diabetes, Type-2, is a disease of insulin resistance. High blood sugar is caused by the fact that the body can’t use the insulin it produces correctly. To compensate, the body over-produces insulin as long as it can. But eventually, it can’t keep up. Insulin production drops off and then blood sugar begins to rise.

One way to reduce this underlying issue of insulin resistance is to lower your weight, as weight and insulin resistance go hand in hand. Even a modest weight loss will reduce your insulin resistance. As insulin resistance drops, the body’s ability to keep blood sugar controlled with the insulin production that remains increases.

So a successful diet will improve your blood sugar control as you lose weight. It might also improve your blood sugar control from day one, depending on how you used to eat and how you start eating when you diet. For instance, people who historically drink a lot of regular soda can improve their blood sugar by switching to diet soda simply because there is less of a sugar load on the system. Soda drinkers also often lose weight quickly, as soda has a ton of calories.

But don’t forget that dieting has other benefits beyond your blood sugar. Depending on how heavy you are, losing weight can also lower your blood pressure, reduce the wear and tear on your knees and hips, and improve both your energy and breathing capacity.

So bottom line is that both dieting and blood sugar control are important. As a person with diabetes your first job is to control your blood sugar, and dieting is one way to do it that also has additional benefits.

Gee, it’s just like having your cake and eating it to. Only without the cake.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.