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Diet and Exercise

Eating a healthy diet and staying active is important for everyone. For people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), prediabetes, and obesity, food and exercise plays an even greater role in managing day-to-day health. Despite all the popular articles and books, the research on nutrition, exercise, and obesity is very complex, and there is still a lot we don’t know.

For some in-depth articles on physical activity, nutrition, weight management therapies and more, check out our "Helpful Links" section below. These articles are for anyone who wants information and tips on effective ways to exercise, making healthy food choices, available drugs, and other public health and research initiatives addressing obesity.

To start, there are a few key points that are worth noting:

  • Losing weight and building muscle reduces insulin resistance, which is one of the underlying factors that cause type 2 diabetes. Most diabetes drugs reduce blood sugar, which is a symptom of type 2 diabetes and leads to complications. This is good, but diet and exercise work to address the root cause of type 2 diabetes.

  • It’s very difficult to lose weight and keep it off permanently after you’ve gained it. But even small improvements do really make a difference!

  • There is no consensus on the best way to lose weight, although successful tips include keeping a food diary, having a regular exercise program, and having people supporting you. Many obesity specialists agree that the ‘best’ diet is simply the one that works best for you.

  • Even small levels of activity, such as walking after meals, can help reduce A1c.

  • A healthy diet and exercise can prevent prediabetes progressing to type 2 diabetes.

  • People with diabetes are advised to eat complex carbs (like green vegetables, whole grains, beans, and more), which take longer to digest and cause less intense spikes in blood sugar. Simple carbs (such as soda and fruit drinks, white bread, and more) are digested rapidly and can cause immediate blood sugar spikes. (If someone with diabetes is hypoglycemic, however, these simple carbs are often used to increase blood sugar back to safe levels again).

Helpful Links

Nutrition & Food

A Home Run Breakfast with Diabetes – Seven things I do to beat the hardest meal of the day.

Low Carb vs. High Carb - My Surprising 24-day Diabetes Diet Battle – What I learned from doubling my carb intake: more work, more danger, but the same average blood sugar. Huh?

10 Diet Commandments for Better Diabetes Management – The ten diet commandments Adam follows for healthy eating with diabetes, plus a guide to how to write your own and overcome obstacles.

What I Actually Eat – Taking My Diabetes Diet Commandments Into Daily Life – Adam describes the meals he actually eats for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Are All Carbs Created Equal? – An article on the carb and glucose contents of different foods.

The Philosophy: What Foods Should I Eat? – An article by Kerri Morrone Sparling on her mindset regarding her food eating habits.

Simple Tips for Better Blood Sugar, Eating, and Health – Adam shares some advice to help tackle any situation with you diabetes.

How to Thrive in a Toxic Food Environment that Encourages Bad Choices – Adam gives some tips on how to become, and stay, a healthy eater.

Physical Activity

Diabetes & Exercise Solutions – No Time, Too Expensive, Painful, Boring, Unmotivated – Adam provides 21 strategies to overcome key barriers to exercising with diabetes.

Sports and Exercise: The Ultimate Challenge in Blood Sugar Control – Gary Scheiner (M.S., CDE) discusses how to best approach exercise and fitness when managing diabetes.

Get in the Zone: My Tips For Avoiding Hypoglycemia During Exercise – Adam shares how to diagnose & solve hypoglycemia (lows) and hyperglycemia (highs) during exercise with diabetes. It’s all about personal experimentation.

Omada Online Diabetes Prevention Program – This online program, called Prevent, is geared at helping people lose weight and prevent type 2 diabetes through exercise and eating habits.

The Step-by-Step Approach to Better Blood Sugars and a Healthier 2013: Walking – Adam explains the benefits of walking to help diabetes management. Small steps can make BIG impact!

How Much Activity Do You Actually Get? Why Activity Tracking is Worth It, and Perhaps Needed More than Ever – Adam shares why he’s found fitness tracking to be valuable, gives an overview of the pros/cons of fitness trackers, and shares the perspectives of other fitness tracker users.

Weight Management Therapies

The Future of Obesity Therapies – A dialogue with Dr. Lee Kaplan of Harvard Medical School about the future of medical and surgical obesity therapies.

Qsymia: Weight Management Drug – An article on the weight management drug, Qsymia, by Vivus.

Belviq: Weight Management Drug – An article on the weight management drug, Belviq, by Arena/Eisai.

Saxenda: Weight Management Drug – An article on the weight management drug Saxenda by Novo Nordisk.

Contrave: Weight Management Drug – An article on the weight management drug Contrave, by Orexigen.

Obesity Science & Public Health

Larry Soler and Dr. James Gavin Discuss Partnership for a Healthier America, Working with Michelle Obama to end Childhood Obesity – PHA leadership Larry Soler and Dr. Gavin describe how to work with companies to collaborate with their organization.

The Science of Weight Loss An article on a study showing why weight management  can be so difficult.

What Do We Really Know About Obesity? – We review the myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity.

The Surprising Literature on Artificial Sweeteners and Their Link with Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes – Artificial sweeteners with zero calories may not be as ‘healthy’ as advertised. 

The Lancet's Special Series on Obesity – The Lancet's second special obesity series contains original research discussing how we develop food preferences and how policy can affect these choices, strategies to boost children’s and adolescents’ health, and improved care and treatment options for people with diabetes, among others.