How to Put on Weight When You Have Diabetes

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Salad is great for you--and if you add some extras like avocado and olives, it can be a healthful way to put on some pounds

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.

Adding resistance training will help build up muscle, which healthfully leads to a higher number on the scale

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.

7 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

  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

  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.

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