In a world where it seems like everyone is trying to lose weight, it can be frustrating if you’re one of the few who is trying to gain it. In general, about 80% of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. However, thin people can get type 2 diabetes, too. A study from 2008 showed that older adults who were underweight were 30% more likely to get diabetes than adults who were at a “normal” weight.
If you feel that you are too thin and would like to gain a few pounds, try the steps:
- Address the cause. Talk with your healthcare provider about your weight (especially if you are losing weight without trying) to make sure that there are no underlying medical reasons. Certain conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, digestive disorders, and cancer can cause weight loss. Stress, depression, and anxiety may also affect your weight.
- Take a look at your diabetes control. High blood glucose levels can make it difficult, if not impossible, to gain weight. In fact, uncontrolled diabetes can often lead to weight loss. The first step in getting and staying at a healthy weight is to review your blood glucose and A1C numbers with your healthcare team. If they’re above your target, find out what you can do to bring them down. You may need to adjust your diabetes medicine or start taking a new one (including insulin).
- Review your medicines. Certain diabetes medicines, such as metformin, SGLT2 inhibitors (like Invokana and Farxiga), and GLP-1 receptor agonists (such as Byetta, Victoza, Bydureon and Trulicity) can cause weight loss in some people. Other medicines that may affect your weight are certain anti-depressants, such as fluoxetine; anti-anxiety medicines, such as buspirone; and sedatives, like diazepam and amitriptyline. Don’t stop taking any medicines without first talking with your healthcare provider, however.
- Count your calories. Calorie counting can seem like a lot of work, but if you’re having trouble gaining weight, it may be worth tracking your calorie intake for a while to see how much food you’re actually eating. There are many tracking tools that can help you. In order to gain about one pound per week, you’ll need to raise your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day. Try an online calorie calculator like this one: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm.
- Eat more often. Maybe you just don’t have a good appetite. If that’s the case, it can be hard to force yourself to eat more food at mealtimes. Try eating six smaller meals throughout the day instead of the usual three. Be sure to check your blood glucose levels more often, to learn how this pattern affects your diabetes control.
- Ditch the low-calorie foods. Or, at the very least, eat them last. Filling up on foods or drinks that don’t have many calories will make it hard to gain weight. Low or no-calorie foods include sugar-free gelatin and popsicles, diet drinks, tea, coffee, and water. And while eating veggies is important for overall health, they can also fill you up quickly, so eat them after you’ve eaten higher-calorie foods.
- Add more fat to your foods. Fats pack a lot of calories into a small portion. Make a point to add a source of fat to as many foods as you can – some butter or peanut butter on your toast, avocado and dressing on your salad, and olive oil in your cooking, for example. High-calorie snack foods that won’t add a lot of carb include nuts, seeds, olives, and cheese.
- Meet with a dietitian. If you find you’re still struggling to gain weight, it may be time to talk with a dietitian. He or she can look at your food choices and even suggest special shakes or bars to help. Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a dietitian in your community.