Can undiagnosed diabetes cause weight gain? The image shows a physician's scale weight

Can undiagnosed diabetes cause weight gain?

August 1. 2023

People with diabetes know how vital it is to manage this condition with proper treatment to avoid health complications. Ozempic weight loss is one of the most successful type 2 diabetes medications; this drug also promotes weight loss. Weight gain and weight loss are two issues that may come with this health condition. Therefore, if you have experienced weight gain recently despite eating healthily and performing regular physical activity, diabetes could be the source of the problem. Can undiagnosed diabetes cause weight gain? Diabetes and weight gain are more deeply intertwined than you can imagine.

In this blog, our weight loss clinic in Chicago will go deep into the diabetes and weight gain relationship. Do you suspect that undiagnosed diabetes can be the cause of your weight gain? Continue reading this article and learn more about weight gain and diabetes and how to regain control of your weight.

Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by impairing how your body turns food into energy. When you have a meal, your body digests the food intake, turns carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), and sends it into the bloodstream. Glucose is our body’s cells’ primary source of fuel. Once glucose reaches the bloodstream, your body signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone that acts as a key to the cells’ doors for sugar to get inside and be used as energy.

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce or manage insulin as it should. When the pancreas doesn’t release enough insulin or the cells don’t respond to it, glucose stays in the bloodstream leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). Over time, that can cause severe health conditions such as your body not absorbing nutrients properly, vision problems, heart conditions, or kidney disease.

Different types of diabetes

There are 3 different types of diabetes; depending on which one you have, it will affect your metabolism differently.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is when your body can’t produce enough insulin, which causes your glucose sugar levels to rise. An autoimmune reaction causes that condition; your body starts attacking the pancreas’ cells in charge of producing insulin. This reaction stops your body from secreting any insulin. Without this hormone, glucose can not enter the cells and remains in your bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is the least common type of diabetes; only about 5-10% percent of people with this health condition have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

This is the most common type of diabetes; almost 90-95% of people with this condition develop type 2 diabetes mellitus. When you have this disease, your pancreas produces insulin correctly, but your body can’t use it as it should. With type 2 diabetes, your liver, muscle, and fat cells gradually become resistant to insulin. People develop this condition over time, and since it has almost no noticeable symptoms, it’s typically diagnosed in adulthood.

Gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, your placenta produces hormones that support the development of the fetus. Those hormones are insulin-blocking; one of their side effects is increased insulin resistance. Your pancreas can overcome this issue by releasing more insulin, but it can’t keep up at some point. When this happens, your blood glucose levels start to rise. Gestational diabetes only happens during pregnancy; women with a family history of diabetes are more prompt to develop this condition. About 50% of women with this type of diabetes during pregnancy develop type 2 diabetes mellitus later.

What causes diabetes?

The exact cause behind most types of diabetes is still unknown. Regardless of the type, too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream causes this condition. Some common causes of diabetes include:

  • Insulin resistance: type 2 diabetes mellitus often develops after the person has insulin resistance for some time. Insulin resistance happens when your muscle, liver, and fat cells stop responding to insulin. Individuals with this condition can use medications, such as Mounjaro for insulin resistance and weight loss, along with a healthy diet to reverse the symptoms and avoid developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
  • Autoimmune diseases: you develop type 1 diabetes when your immune system attacks your pancreas’ insulin-producing cells.
  • Pregnancy hormonal imbalances: the placenta produces hormones that cause insulin resistance during pregnancy. That can lead to gestational diabetes and other hormone-related conditions such as Cushing syndrome or acromegaly.
  • Genes and family history: having a history of diabetes in the family makes it more likely for people to develop this condition. 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: PCOS is a condition that only affects women during their fertile years. It is characterized by a hormonal disbalance where the body produces too much androgen. That can lead to insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Ozempic for PCOS and weight loss is being considered a treatment option for this condition.
  • Obesity and lack of physical activity: individuals who are overweight or have obesity and are physically inactive are at more risk of developing diabetes. 

Common symptoms of diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes are many, and they can vary from one person to another. Some individuals develop the most common ones, while others don’t experience symptoms at all. With type 1 diabetes, symptoms start quickly, typically in a matter of weeks. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes symptoms often develop slowly over the course of several years. Common symptoms may include:

  • blurred vision
  • fatigue
  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • sudden weight loss
  • tingling or numbness of hands and feets
  • dry skin
  • slow healing of wounds or injuries

Health complications

Diabetes can lead to other health complications or diseases if not treated promptly. These are chronic health conditions that can be developed over time if you have diabetes:

Eyes problems

Some individuals with diabetes develop an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy. This disease can affect your eyesight; eyesight loss can be prevented if picked up and treated in time.

Kidney problems

In the long run, diabetes can cause damage to your kidneys, making them fail to clear fluids and waste from your body. This condition is known as nephropathy or kidney disease.

Heart attack or stroke

Over time, high blood glucose levels caused by diabetes can damage blood vessels leading to heart problems such as a stroke or a heart attack.

Diabetes can also lead to other health complications, such as foot problems, nerve damage, and sexual issues. This condition may also impact your weight by making you lose or gain excess weight. Novel drugs, such as retatrutide, are being developed for diabetes and weight management, which can also improve the mentioned health problems that come with diabetes.

Diabetes and weight gain: what’s the connection?

Can undiagnosed diabetes cause weight gain? To answer the question, we must first explain how deeply intertwined diabetes and weight are. Diabetes can have an impact on your weight, making you gain it or lose it. For example, type 1 diabetes is associated with unexplained weight loss. With this condition, individuals can’t use the sugar from their food intake as energy, so they may lose weight unintentionally.

Weight and diabetes are more connected than you may imagine. Excess weight – being obese or overweight – plays a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. As your body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of health conditions; for example, excess weight can lead to or make diabetes worse. That happens because obesity causes changes in our metabolism, leading fat tissue to release more sugar into the bloodstream, causing cells to become less sensitive to insulin. Obesity is a severe condition that can also lead to other health complications. Most obese people must resort to medical supplements, such as Phentermine for weight loss to achieve a healthy weight.

Does diabetes make you gain weight?

The short answer is yes; undiagnosed diabetes can cause weight gain and lead to obesity. Diabetes and weight gain resemble a lot of the chicken-and-egg scenario; it is difficult to determine which one comes first. That is why diabetes and weight management treatments often come hand-in-hand. If you are gaining weight suddenly, even though your diet or lifestyle hasn’t changed, you could have diabetes. You can tell your healthcare provider about your situation; they may recommend you take a blood test to diagnose or rule out diabetes.

But how does diabetes lead to weight gain and obesity? It does so in different ways. Experts affirm that insulin resistance increases appetite, making diabetic patients eat more and consume more calories. At the same time, when cells don’t respond to insulin as they should, sugar levels in the bloodstream start to increase. Excess blood glucose is turned and stored as fat. Fat produced from excess sugar levels is known as visceral or insulin resistance belly fat.

Managing weight gain caused by diabetes

Losing weight will help manage diabetes symptoms; most type 2 diabetes treatments include lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and physical activity, as part of the program. These are some ways to achieve weight loss successfully if you have diabetes:

  • A balanced diet: the only way to achieve weight loss is by reaching a calorie deficit. Keep healthy food in your house, such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid indulging in unhealthy treats such as sugary desserts, fast food, and greasy meals. Some patients opt for combining a low-calorie diet with fasting benefits by hour to get better results.
  • Stay active: avoiding sedentary lifestyles is vital to prevent weight gain and diabetes. Increase your physical activity by starting a sport or joining a gym. You can slowly introduce exercise into your life by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking every day.
  • Rest: getting enough sleep and lowering stress levels can also improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Medical treatment: several diabetes medications also promote weight loss. Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Saxenda are a few examples. You can also ask your weight loss expert to give you a personalized semaglutide diet plan to complement the medical program. 

Final thoughts

Undiagnosed diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, can cause weight gain. That is no reason to panic, but it is an issue you should address promptly to avoid further weight gain and other health complications. Your doctor can prescribe a diabetes blood test to diagnose if this condition is behind your unexplained weight gain. If you have diabetes, lifestyle changes must be made to prevent weight gain and protect your health. Those changes will include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maybe diabetes and weight loss medications. Do you need help managing your diabetes weight gain? Schedule a call with our team and start your weight loss journey today!

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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