Does an Insulin Pump Cause Weight Gain?

Woman with diabetes

When considering an insulin pump, you may have questions about weight gain, and if the use of a pump will contribute. While this is a common myth, the truth is, an insulin pump does not directly cause weight gain.

However, gaining better management of your blood sugar through an insulin pump can contribute to additional weight. Working with a dietitian and monitoring your diet can help you avoid potential weight gain associated with diabetic management.

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How Can Diabetes Management Cause Weight Gain?

When someone ingests food, the body breaks the food down into sugars that help the body maintain function. In order to do this, the body produces insulin. The insulin stimulates the muscles, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose. The cells use glucose for energy and convert any additional glucose to fat for storage.

For diabetics that do not produce insulin, glucose is often lost through the urine and not used or stored by the body. When you start on an insulin pump, the insulin helps your body process glucose for energy, and any additional glucose becomes stored fat. Because your body is now processing glucose correctly, additional calories can contribute to excess fat storage and potential weight gain.

 For those that experience regular hypoglycemia, additional calories are necessary to bring the blood sugar levels up. However, when you take in more calories than is necessary to stabilize your blood sugar levels, the body stores these calories as fat, often resulting in weight gain. In many cases, people will consume additional calories at each meal in order to prevent possible hypoglycemic episodes.

Tips to Avoid Weight Gain While on Insulin or an Insulin Pump

Avoiding weight gain as you start with an insulin pump may involve some lifestyle changes. The best place to start is meeting with a dietitian and creating a regular meal plan that helps you balance your glucose levels with a healthy diet, including portion control. This includes snacks and meals. Finding this balance can take time, but working closely with a dietitian can help make the transition easier.

Some other tips to avoid potential weight gain when starting with an insulin pump include:

  • Do not skip meals – Make sure to eat all your meals throughout the day, especially breakfast.
  • Track your calories – Your dietitian will help you create dietary guidelines, including your recommended daily caloric intake. Monitoring your daily intake will help you avoid excess calories and weight gain.
  • Do not overeat – as mentioned above, those that experienced regular bouts of hypoglycemia often eat extra to prevent episodes of low blood sugar. As the insulin pump works to stabilize your insulin and blood sugar, these excess calories can contribute to weight gain.
  • Exercise regularly – Regular exercise helps promote a healthy body by burning calories, regulating blood glucose levels, and promoting fat loss.

The good news is that by following these lifestyle changes and working closely with your physician and dietitian, you can avoid the potential weight gain often associated with insulin use, including an insulin pump.