Weight management and diabetes

You can be successful at losing weight, so don't get discouraged. Losing weight takes time and having a plan.

Why lose weight?

When you have diabetes, there are some important reasons to achieve or maintain a healthy weight:

  • Weight loss improves blood glucose levels.
  • Weight loss reduces your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes.
  • Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can make a big difference in your health. (That's 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.)

Forget about fad diets

Fad diets won't help you learn healthier food habits. Remember, you're looking for a healthier life, not just the immediate future.

What it takes to lose one pound in one week

There are 3,500 calories in one pound. This means that to lose one pound in one week, you need to cut 500 calories out of your diet each day.

You can do this by eating and drinking fewer calories than normal and by exercising.

The healthiest way to lose one pound in one week is to:

  • burn 250 calories with exercise each day, and
  • cut 250 calories out of your diet each day.

To make this work, try the following:

  • Keep track of your current eating habits and look for easy targets to cut out.
    • If, for example, you eat at a fast food restaurant, a hamburger and small fries is about 500 calories.
    • A quarter pound hamburger and medium fries is about 900 calories.
    • By choosing the smaller meal, you save 400 calories.
  • Keep track of your exercise and activity habits for a few days.
    • Do you always look for the closest parking spot in the parking lot?
    • Do you take the elevator rather than walk up a few flights of stairs?
    • You can increase your activity by making a few simple changes.

The chart below shows how many calories are burned in 10 minutes by doing certain exercises and activities, according to how much you weigh.

Remember to check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any new exercise program.

Exercise/activity Your weight in pounds




How many calories you burn in 10 minutes

Walking 2 mph (30 minutes per mile)




Walking 3 mph (20 minutes per mile




Walking 4 mph (15 minutes per mile)




Aerobic dance

60 to 105

75 to 140

90 to 165

Bicycling (outdoors)

40 to 145

50 to 195

60 to 230

Bicycling (indoor stationary)

25 to 145

30 to 195

40 to 230


40 to 105

50 to 140

60 to 165


30 to 80

40 to 150

45 to 120

Jogging 5 mph (12 minutes per mile)




Jogging 6 mph (10 minutes per miles)




Skiing (cross country)

60 to 145

75 to 195

90 to 230


50 to 125

65 to 165

75 to 200

Meal time weight loss tips

  • Don't skip meals. It slows down your metabolism and you may get so hungry that you overeat.
  • Eat more slowly.
  • Eat foods with fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to control hunger.
  • Limit snacking when you watch TV.
  • Drink a full glass of water before a meal.
  • Drink skim or 1 percent milk instead of 2 percent or whole milk.

Dining out tips

  • Share an entré with a friend.
  • Ask about child-sized portions.
  • Get a to-go box when you are served and put half of the meal into it before you start eating.
  • Order an appetizer as an entré.
  • Limit your alcohol because it may interfere with your resolve to eat wisely.

Cooking at home: Tips to decrease fat

  • Buy lean cuts of meat such as round or loin.
  • Trim all fat from meat before cooking.
  • Remove skin and fat from poultry before cooking.
  • Bake, roast, broil, barbecue or grill meats instead of frying.
  • Choose white meat more often than dark meat.
  • Drain off fat after cooking and blot with a paper towel.
  • Use a non-stick surface to pan broil foods.
  • Avoid gravies made with fatty drippings.
  • Microwave, steam, or boil vegetables in a small amount of water and season with only a small amount of fat or with spices.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, cream cheese and sour cream more often than regular versions.

Don't get discouraged if you slip

It's hard to make several positive changes all at once. Don't get discouraged if you skipped a couple of days of exercise or ate too many cookies! Get back on track the next day.

Need help?

Reasons for overeating can sometimes be complicated. Talk to your doctor or health care provider or check for local resources if you need help.

Food and exercise diary

Use the food and exercise diary (requires Adobe Reader). You can make print copies of the diary or keep track of the information in a notebook.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 10/23/2019


Don't weigh yourself more than once a week.

It is common to lose weight on a fad diet and then gain it all back—and more!

Did you know?
Eating a small piece of fruit instead of a doughnut for a snack will save at least 100 calories.