A weight loss diet and regular exercise are critical factors in the management of type 1 diabetes. To effectively control your blood glucose levels and lose weight, it is important to understand the proper ways to balance food intake–physical activity and insulin. Making healthy food choices is something that has both immediate and long-term effects for someone with type 1 diabetes.
Eating a consistent amount of food everyday and taking medications can greatly improve your blood glucose control and lower your risk of diabetes-related complications like coronary artery disease, kidney disease and nerve damage. In addition, eating consistently impacts your ability to control your weight. Working with a dietician to create a weight loss food plan that is tailored to your medical needs, lifestyle and preferences is key to successfully losing weight.
Recommended Caloric Intake
The number of calories that you need to maintain your current weight depends on your age, sex, height, weight and activity level. Generally:
- Men and active women need 15 calories per pound
- Most women, sedentary men and adults over 55 years old need 13 calories per pound
- Sedentary women and obese adults need 10 calories per pound
To safely lose weight at the recommended rate of 1 to 2 pounds weekly, simply subtract 500 to 1000 calories from your total needed to maintain your weight. As you begin to lose weight and throughout your weight loss process, you will need to recalculate your recommended caloric intake based on your new weight.
To effectively lose weight and maintain a healthy diet, less than 25% to 35% of calories daily should be fat, with less than 7% of those calories being derived from saturated fats (and even more minimal from trans fats). People with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, and eating a diet low in saturated fats and trans fats can help decrease the risk and lower cholesterol levels.
15% to 20% of calories daily should be derived from protein, unless you have chronic kidney problems. Your diet should also be high in fiber, consuming about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, which can help to control your blood glucose levels. Additionally, you should consume less than 2300 mg of sodium daily to help manage blood pressure.
Weight Loss and Exercise
Coupling a healthy diet plan with regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. 30 minutes per day most days of the week is the recommended amount of exercise. If you take insulin, you will need to check your blood glucose before and after exercising, until you get a sense of what effect exercise has on your blood glucose level. You may need to eat a snack during exercising or make adjustments to your insulin dose.
Before you begin any weight loss diet, speak to you doctor or dietician to make sure you plans are safe for your specific situation. By planning effectively and safely (losing weight through a healthy diet), you can successfully drop the extra weight and manage your type 1 diabetes.