How to Put on Weight When You Have Diabetes

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Not everybody with diabetes needs to lose weight. Some people have the opposite problem; the pounds just won’t stay on. Although certainly a great source of calories, filling up on hot fudge sundaes isn’t the best way to fill out your frame if you have diabetes.

Before we talk about some healthful strategies for weight gain, it is important to make sure your efforts to add a few pounds are not sabotaged by out of control blood glucose numbers. If your glucose level is very high, all the extra calories in the world won’t have the desired effect. When the body perceives it is starving –that is essentially what occurs when it can’t use all the glucose building up in the blood stream– glucose (energy or calories) spills into the urine. So instead of keeping those precious calories to add muscle and some fat you will end up losing weight.

If you are losing weight and your glucose levels are in good control then a visit to your health care provider is in order to look for other causes of weight loss.

The old adage says; to gain a pound a week, add 500 calories a day to your current calorie level. Now new research tells us that this isn’t entirely accurate, but it is still a good place to start. You can find out about how many calories you are eating now by using any one of a hundreds of nutrition management websites on the internet:, and are three options.

One of the first things to look at when you are trying to gain weight is low calorie foods to eliminate. Plain beverages such as black coffee or tea, broth soups, low calorie salads all fill you up without providing much in the way of calories. All of your food chooses should be as calorie dense as possible. If you like salads for example, keep the lettuce to a minimum and add nuts, low fat cheese, olives and avocado to the mix and use a regular, oil-based salad dressing. Choose low fat milk and bean or cream soups made with low fat milk for higher calorie liquid options.

The calories you add to your diet should come from all the macronutrient groups: carbohydrate, protein and healthful fat. And yes, you can add more carbohydrate. As your calorie needs increase, so do your carbohydrate requirements. Let’s say you want your diet to be 40 percent to 50 percent carbohydrate and you are adding an additional 500 calories. In that case, 200 to 250 calories can come from carbohydrate (these should be healthful carbohydrates and spread throughout the day to avoid spikes in blood glucose levels).

Healthful fats and oils can also be your friends. Fats pack a whopping 9 calories per gram which is great news for people who are trying to bulk up. Instead of broiling that piece of chicken, pan sauté it in a tablespoon of oil. You have just added an extra 125 calories. Thinking of fruit for dessert? Have that apple or banana with a tablespoon or two of nut butter. Try almond or cashew butter as a change of pace from peanut butter.

Eat more often: fit in at least two to three snacks per day.

And although you might think that eliminating exercise may sound like a good plan (after all exercise does burn calories), it isn’t the right way to go. Exercise, especially resistance training, can help you put on the proper type of weight. It can help make sure you are adding muscle and not just extra fat. But if you are exercising excessively—say two hours every day of the week at high intensity—then you may want to cut back.

Consistency is one of the most important strategies for both gaining and, for that matter, losing weight. It is difficult to be consistent on the long haul. That’s why keeping food and exercise records are important. Writing down what you eat tells you if you have eaten up to your calorie goal every day (while taking into consideration the amount of energy you have expended with exercise).

And weighing yourself once a week will tell you if you are going in the right direction. If you still don’t find that the pounds will stay on, a visit to a registered dietitian is in order.

46 Responses to How to Put on Weight When You Have Diabetes

  1. mr jack harrison says:

    i found this article very helpful, as most of the advice for diabetics is about how to avoid putting weight on. My problem was that with the reduction in sugars, carbs etc., and virtually no alcohol, my weight was just too low. I am 5ft. 9in. and currently weigh just under 10st. in old money. Although this falls within the parameters of what is ok for my height, i felt that i was half a stone underweight.

    I shall try some of your recommendations, obviously with the advice of my gp (although willing does not have the time for individual diet consultations).

    Thank you once again.

    Jack Harrison

    • Robin says:

      I am diabetic type 2. I have the problem of maintaining my weight also. In the past I used periactin 4mg which is a prescription medication used for anorexia amongst other things. It helped me gain weight very quickly. But at the time I was not diabetic. I’m going to ask my doctor to prescribe this medication to me on my next visit. I’m sure this will help my appetite and I will eat the right food for diabetics. Including lots of avocados and nuts in my salads. I will post my results once I have been using these pills. Hopefully it will be good results.

    • Sean says:

      Go to your local GNC store or Go to the weight gainer section and select one advertised as having “healthy fats”. Drink this mixed with whole milk, or rice milk for the lactose intolerant folks, every night before bed. Weight will increase accordingly. Casein protein, found in milk, digests very slowly and will feed protein to your muscles for up to 8 hours.
      On a separate note, gentleman with no heart issues can seek out testosterone therapy from their dr and this will also shoot your weight up 10-50 pounds depending on age, exercise amount, diet etc. After a bout of MRSA I was as weak as a kitten and got put on dr prescribed testosterone. One year later I am a 220lb ball of muscle and energy. Hope this helps all!

      • Mark says:

        Thank you so much Sean will take up your advice I really need to gain weight I am as weak as a kitten myself, used to weigh 245 know I am 204, seriously need to get my energy back thank you

  2. Saban Yarnie says:

    For those of us in in Africa especially Ghana, some of the foods like almonds
    olives,cinnamons and the others are not common. So i wish african alternatives could be given..thank you.

  3. abraham sekhombane says:

    Since I discovered about my diebetic. I lost weght and this is stressing me

    • Robin says:

      See my recent post. I too am stressing about my weight. I hope it helps and is something you can talk to your doctor about

    • S msykiso says:

      Facing the same problem,want to gain back my body weght.I have type 1 diabetic and is under control am 47 yrs. I hate being shapeless because of this weght loss..Please help

    • Bashir says:

      Its soo stressing losing wight.
      I too am going thru the same problem. I lost from 87 kg to 56 kg in just 1 month. Its soo stressing and iv lost my confidence in public cz of the way i look now. I need help

  4. Dave langston says:

    I have had diabetes type 1for about 35 years,I’m 48 years old,my height is 5ft 7 inches,I’m just over 9stone,the heaviest I’ve been is 10 stone, but the last 10 years I’ve struggled with my weight, I can eat ‘n’eat but still no weight gain and still weighing in on just about 9stone

  5. vito gibaldi says:

    im 53 I have lost too many pounds,im129 and loosing,please would like response,im type 1 for 27 ytearsi have bought cb-1 and still loosing,i fight with my dotor,dont understand me tells me to wach my levels,i want your help please,will pay for right product

  6. M H H Ismail says:

    I have diabetic about year ago, also I have lose my weight about 8 & 9 Kgs,
    please help me to maintain my weight and advice me to gain may weight.
    My present weight is 61 Kgs and Height is 5 Feet 4inches

  7. ike says:

    I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and was weighing about 231 lbs.Since than have losing weight till i have drop to 82 kg. And notice i’m still losing some weight.Can you please help me gain some healthy weight back.

  8. ROB says:

    Thanks for the great info! I am a type 2 diabetic. I am 45 years old, 6’3″ 180.

    I am having trouble gaining weight. I see a nutritionist. She has me on 55 carbs per meal, including 15 carbs for snacks three times a day.

    I was just put on Ivokana. Will this med cause me to lose weight?

  9. Ec says:

    I’m like everyone else just got on the diabetic in the last month losing weight need help I’m trying to keep it on

  10. Paul Bennett says:

    My wife, Ann, is not a “computer person” but needs help immediately. Up until just a few years ago she had no diabetic symptoms. Suddenly her pancreas stops producing Glucose overnight. She’s had many Adhesions Surgeries and her Surgeon thinks this may be related to the Pancreas Dysfunction somehow. The problem with drastic weight loss began several months ago with a 40 lb drop in just a few months coinciding with her knee replacement surgery/loss of appetite, etc. Once 170 lbs she is now 130-134 lbs. Her glucose spikes up to over 500 and down to the 40’s quickly, instability. She needs to gain weight and at the same time not to endanger herself with extremely high glucose levels. We’re in somewhat of a panic over these issues. My wife is a caregiver to her son, Kevin, with Cerebral Palsy/quadriplegic, age 44, my step son of 24 years. She is very articulate as to his needs/health concerns. If not just for that reason but many others Ann needs to “stay around” and find nutrition and healthy lifestyle. We are trying desperately to find A good diabetic Doctor and an excellent Savvy Nutritionist in Wilmington, North Carolina or near. Any good advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. Paul

    • Cathy says:

      Paul, you posted this the day my husband was diagnosed with type 2 after a six months of high stress and rapidly losing 20kgs. He works very hard to service maintenance needs and feels he is constantly trying to keep everyone happy. A very different situation to your wife but the caregiving and weight loss is similar. Now they are revising and calling it type 1 and LADA (latent onset of diabetes in adults)
      Im so worried about his sketetal look from a once strong and healthy Australian male.
      We are seeking advice from a naturopath and testing heavy metals, parasitic co infection and other possible influences on pancreatic function. High iron can also affect it.

  11. T Osborne says:

    You should go to you tube, and watch” Run from the cure”.
    God did not put this on earth to be abused, but for the healing of the sick and afflicted. I know of two older people with cancer, completely cured taking this. I have type 2, and my wife, Laura put me on Gymnema Sylvestre,400, Fenugreek, and Cinnamon, 2000 mg after meals . This actully brought my levels down a lot. I was waking up, with 180 to 225 sugar readings, but now they are 120 to 140. I am going to increase the amounts I take, to see if they get even better. I am also moving to Colorado soon to apply the other proven cure for just about everything. I have lost a lot of weight since being diagnosed, cause I quit eating my half gallon of ice cream a day I am 67 years old, and will try anything to stay healthy, as long as its natural.
    I hope this information is helpful to you and others. God Bless

  12. Tracy says:

    I have type 2 my sugars stays over 300 to 400 I eat like a horse and can gain weight or lose anymore what can I do to add 15 to 20 pounds

  13. Leevater Williams says:

    I want to gain weight so. I’m 5 8 an look so shinny want some of my weight back. Help me please.

  14. natasha hunter says:

    my son is type 1 and has been for 7 years he is 6ft and weighs 8 stone 4 age 20 and just can’t seem to put weight on any advice to help put weight on

  15. H. Shariff says:


    Thanks for the info! I am a type 2 diabetic. I am 35 years old, 6’0″ 170lbs.

    I am having trouble gaining weight. I think i lost around 40 lbs in a matter of a year.

    i would like to know what is the best possible way to gain weight without increasing my sugar level as its always above 200.

    any help would be great.

  16. Vikrant says:

    My name Is vikrant .i my insulin dependent patient .I want to increase my weight plz suggest me some solution .

    • sajan says:

      Keep monitoring your blood glucose level and to control the sugar level in required range is the most important thing and then you can gain your body weight

  17. Nathan Havens says:

    I am 31 YO, I’ve had T1D for 26 years. In the last mo and a half I had put on about 15 lbs. One bad week and I’m back down to 107. Consistency is the key. Keeping your blood glucose under control is a MUST or else if you do work really hard to put weight on all could be for none in a matter of days. I’m so frustrated and upset with myself, because when it comes down to it it’s not your doctor or God or any prescription medication that is going to change this. It’s YOU and YOU alone. best of luck and God bless.

  18. sushil lachman says:

    Pliz can u help me in putting weight .im 50 yrs old .nhv type 2 diebetes .i ws given metformin ,bt lots of side effects .so i stopped it n lost weight .im jst 42 kilo nw .pliz tell me of some supplement drink .thnks fr your vedeo .

  19. beth says:

    My name’s Beth n was diagnosed recently,I also lost a few pounds trying to recover it by eating healthy kind of fats,,a day won’t pass by for example without taking avocado or peanuts..I also exercise a little for a flat tummy but of course it helps my whole body burn calories instead of this being released out in urine n thus loss of weight,those loosing weight should try this,,n also try to eat 6 meals a day!Thanks–my mother is Africa.

  20. Sarwat hussain says:

    I am type 2 daibatic losing weight please help me to gain weight sujust me some food suppliments or tablets thanks

  21. Rhys says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My doctor hasn’t been much help with this and the state and national Diabetes support groups here in Australia are really focused on weight loss and not gain. It is not only nice to find out I am not the only going through this but that the methods I have been trying (such as increasing carbs a little) are in fact a good choice given my situation. My family has been worried that by eating any carbs I am running the risk of my numbers getting way out of control. I am 42 and 5’9″ sitting on just under 50kg at the moment but am aiming to get back up between 65 and 70kg at least. I exercise for 30min every second day (I would do more but I have a long standing injury to cope with). My biggest hurdle seems to be snacking, I have a drastic lack of appetite (possibly caused by either one medication or an interaction between more than one) so I tend to only eat twice a day (3 times if I can handle it) but there is no snacking in the middle.
    To everyone else trying to put weight on with Diabetes, regardless of whether it is type 1 or 2, I wish you all success! This page seems like a good place to start!

  22. Brian says:

    Hi, I just heard about mass gainer supplements, will they work for patients with diabetes?

    • Valentino says:

      Mass weight gain proteins , you must watch out for the levels of sugar and cabs in those types of products . remember if your not active the cabs will go to sugar raising you’re sugar count and the sugar in the product will also raise your SC . Find a product that fits your life style with 0-3 gm of sugar and low cabs min 20 gm protein averaging 120 calories addg walnuts, avocado and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil , this will increase your drink to 400-500 calories drink 3 times a day = 1500 calories plus what ever your meals are
      Understand You will need 1 gm of protein for each pound , example 150 lbs will need 150 gm
      Excersize min 3 times a week and increase you good fat intake , eat organic nuts ,avocados , plan yogurt , try to increase your calorie intake to 2500 -3000 calories a day . Best to you God Bless

  23. Dinesh Kumar says:

    Hi Myself dinesh kumar , recently i was diagnosed with type 1 diabeties, earlier my weight was 62kg but within a two months , it fallen down to 56kg.
    & its not getting stable.My height is around 5’8″ & weight is 56kg.
    I taking two tablets in a day one is ONGLYZA (5MG)& CETAPIN1000gm.
    You are requested, kindly advice me how can i increase my weight accroding to my height.


  24. Hirenkumar says:

    I’m hirenkumar from Bahrain
    My height 183cm 6.1inch and weight 56kg
    I’m diabetic patient
    Last over 5years I’m phasing sugar problem
    last 3years I lost 7kg waight
    My request to you how to increase gain waight
    Can u advice me

  25. Venkat Raghuveer says:

    Hi I’m detected of type 2 diabetes in 2014, that too accidentally. I’m 5’8″ tall and used to weigh 73 kgs then. Now I have reduced to 65 kgs and keeping on reducing. I had been diagnosed of gall stone and I’m going for Laproscopic Cholecystectomy. I also have a non-alcoholic fatty liver – grade 1. I would like to put on some weight despite these irregularities in my physiology. Can anyone please advise me how do I maintain my health and put on weight. Thank you

    • Kat says:

      The same goes for prediabetic. You have to watch everything. You put in you mouth I spike up at night and it doesn’t come down fir hours over it i have been frustrated can loser 3 lbs in one day and that’s eating. all day

  26. Rohan bhosale says:

    Hi…i am rohan .i am 18 years old and i am patient of diabetes since 2 years ..daily i have to take insulin to controll my sugar level …my height is 5 feet 3 inches but my weight is just 46 kg ‘ s …plz plz give me some tips or diet plan to gain proper weight….Thank you….

  27. Shankar karki says:

    Hi I have also same problem getting weight loss .
    I have type 2 since 2month .i stoped allopathic
    After 10 dose and since 45 days the sugar levels is
    A1c 7 not up and down but taking homeopathy medicine till date
    Can u advise please .my height is 5.5 and currentl
    Weight is 68kg.i loss 10 kg withing 2month

  28. Shirley says:

    My son losing weight is like to know what can he take to gain weight. I’m going to try whey products to see if that will help.him if anyone can help he has type 2 diabetes 45th old

  29. Christine says:

    Hi, i have lost a good stone in weight since diagnosied diabetic and have 3 insulin injections a day. Sugar levels are pretty good but i want to get my weight back as it’s making me miserable…please someone help

  30. John says:

    Have to work hard, push, and don’t cheat yourself. It’s not impossible. I find it easy after the first week. I am type 1 and my meals include 90 g carbs. each. (Eat all healthy/ natural foods) Take in 4000 calories a day and around 1.5- 2 x body weight in protein. Also eat plenty of omega-3, mono fats, and poly fats. Weight training with as much weight as you can handle for an hour 3x a week. Fit in a morning jog. Sounds like a lot but it will become just another routine in your life. You will find you’ll enjoy it and look forward to the stress relief. Only you can help yourself, keep that in mind!

  31. Patricia Johnson says:

    I am 52 and 5″5 diabetic about 135 now down to 120 not happy with at all.Hi numbers 300to540 can’t seem to get my numbers down everything I drank I run to the bathroom, I’m tired I need my weight back. Please help

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