Quick Question about Insulin and Weight Gain <sigh>

It might be the late night peanuts, or, I suppose, it could’ve had something to do with the cookie raids, but since that seems highly unlikely, I thought I’d ask about whether or not my recent increase in insulin could be behind my also-recent 5 lb weight gain…

I have eaten some stuff that’s not working in my favor and, all jokes aside, understand what happens when I do, but I realized I’ve also changed the amount of insulin I use. In fact, I’m extended-bolusing all over the place. And since you all know a thing or two about insulin–what exactly is the relationship? And could the recent integration of extended-bolusing, which is additional insulin NOT just redistributed insulin, result in such a gain?

I skimped on insulin many moons ago, for reasons both thin and hollow, and I’d never do anything like that again, but I’d still like to get the skinny on how it all works. (it was begging to be used). I’m asking about this now because I’d like to understand it, but I’m also asking because I think this topic belongs in here, too. It might even lend itself into some information on “diabulimia”, if any of you are familiar with the term, and I think there are a lot of diabetics, especially young women, who fall trap to this. But in the meantime, I’d just like to confirm that the cookies probably were not to blame…


This is a tricky question, because it could have two answers. It’s a matter of how you interpret it. There are many causes, but here is one simple example.

Look at this scenario.

Two identical twins, same weight, same metabolism, exactly the same, atom by atom. Clones!

They eat the same amount of calories every day.

One of them takes 20 units total insulin per day, and the other takes 40 units per day.

The one who takes 20 units has high BG all the time, so the carbs and fat is not able to be stored. Without enough insulin, the high BG is filtered out in her urine and she pees high sugar all the time.

The one who takes 40 units has normal BG. The insulin allows the carbs and fat to be processed by the cells, and be used and stored.


They are identical clones. And they ate the same. The one who took more insulin will gain more weight. Is it fair to say that insulin causes weight gain? Or was it the food?

Insulin by itself does not cause weight gain. Food without insulin will also not cause weight gain (food without insulin causes death!).

Sorry, I know my example is very simplistic. But I just want to make the point that both food and insulin, too much of either (too much food, or too much insulin which causes someone to eat more food) can be a problem. But you can’t blame the insulin by itself.

If you are interested in maintaining weight or losing weight, there are smart ways to do it. We can discuss numbers if you want.


Thanks for your explanation @Eric. It makes a lot of sense.

I get confused though because people are so often saying that they gained weight while using X basal insulin (I frequently see Tresiba here), and when they switched back to Y basal insulin the weight came off. Is there any reason why this might occur?

It also seems that there’s a correlation between Type 2 diabetes and weight that I don’t fully understand but doesn’t seem to fit into the examples given (likely because you’re talking about people with Type 1). Do you know how that works?

1 Like

My example is just a simple explanation. There are many other things involved. But I just hear people saying that “insulin caused me to gain weight” and I think that concept is not complete. It is insulin and food.

Lower BG means more snacks to treat and more weight gain.

Higher BG means more glucose peed out in the urine.

Is being well-controlled with Tresiba more likely to cause weight gain than being well-controlled with Lantus or a pump? I don’t know. There are probably a bunch of factors that can be considered and I can’t say Tresiba has nothing to do with it.

1 Like

Yes, of course, if you feed too much insulin, and the food gets metabolized, you will gain weight. If you take a normal ( for you) amount of insulin for your activity level and use all of your metabolized food, you probably won’t gain weight. It’s not the insulin per se that is causing the weight gain, it is eating food to keep from going low from that insulin that is causing the weight gain


It was not too simplistic at all… a great example, indeed. So insulin itself does NOT cause weight gain? See, this is why I asked. I remember learning almost 15 years ago, the last time I had a conversation about it, that it was the insulin that did it. I get it now. At the time, that was not the best information, and it did make me hate my insulin. I don’t hate my insulin anymore. I use it in abundance… especially now that I’ve discovered the extended bolus, WHICH may be how I’ve gained that 5 lbs… as I have found myself splurging, feeling emboldened from that extra help.

Food without insulin will do more than not CAUSE weight gain… it’ll let you drop it faster than you can get to the end of that sentence about it causing death. You’ll be slim and trim… and dead. :smiley:

I’ll never turn down a good conversation over numbers, so I’d love to hear your take on that, too, but for now, 5 lbs is an easy recovery. In MY case, and I know not everyone needs to go this route, but cutting back down on the carbs is just going to make my life easier… and my pants fit again. :smiley: For now I was really just turning to the FUD Siris and scientists for a legitimate explanation of the relationship between insulin and weight gain. Where I stand now is that if insulin is going to make me pack on some pounds, then I’ll go buy myself the next size up. I’m very secure in that. However, in my OTHER group (to which you’re all invited because I’m trying to drag people from there to here and here to there) I hear some women struggling with body image, and I hear a hint of reluctance… or resentment… and it wasn’t so long ago that these things haunted me as well.

Preachy. What’s a Sunday morning without a little preachy…


I find this thread really interesting, because it highlights the distinction between common understanding and technical understanding. The technical understanding is that insulin doesn’t directly cause weight gain, but it does enable processes that are essential for the production of fat.

Does insulin cause weight gain? Well, on one hand the answer is “Sort of, yes” if you believe the wikipedia article on lipogenic: “As James Rosenzweig, director of the office of disease management at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, phrased it, using the technical terminology, weight gain on insulin therapy can result from the direct lipogenic effects of insulin on adipose tissue, independent of food intake.” The technical details of this are at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipogenesis

In the common understanding, the answer is “Yes, definitely!” As Eric explained, insulin can be an indirect cause of weight gain because adequate insulin permits the body to utilize more of the food that is eaten. Moreover, insulin-induced lows are treated with additional carbs. So in the real world, when people start insulin or increase their insulin, they generally gain weight.

The term “diabulimia” was used earlier: it’s clear that a shortage of insulin does cause weight loss. I experienced this as my LADA kicked in: for a week I noticed that I was eating all I wanted but still losing a pound per day (and thirsty all the time.) I decided that this weight loss was wonderfully easy, so I decided to watch it for another week to shed an additional 7 pounds before going for a diagnosis. (And of course they diagnosed me as T2 but I made an endo appointment and got a proper diagnosis because I suspected T1 — previous Hashimotos thyroiditis.) I didn’t know about DKA, but fortunately I was still making enough insulin that I didn’t get into trouble before the endo put me on insulin (which was immediate: the antibody test results came back one day, and I got insulin training the very next day.) Anyway, some T1s who want to lose weight have deliberately used this mechanism at considerable personal danger, and it is properly considered a disorder.


There you go. That’s what I’m talking about. :slight_smile:

1 Like

So I’m not crazy… or at least maybe not completely wrong. This was to what I was referring. Some doctor somewhere along the way, or possibly some piece of literature, talked of this. I do understand the relationship with insulin and weight gain in regards to feeding lows and that with increased caloric intake comes the likelihood of increased insulin (therefore making calories, not insulin, the cause of gain), but I’ve always been under the assumption that insulin itself had the potential.

So I’ll go read. Thank you for the link.

I won’t go into detail, but I’ll say I stumbled upon this magic weight loss, and mixed with a serious bout of depression, played games with it for far too long. I resented having to use insulin as it was and then to see what happened when i didn’t… One year. That’s how long I did it. I tasted copper and crawled up the stairs… and ate donuts by the dozen. In secret. In parking lots. Yes, a disorder for sure. But the good news is there’s life after despair, and I now use my extended boluses and use, and embrace, my insulin heartily. I needed to figure out how to get all of this “normalcy” back again WHILE being on insulin, and there was a mountain range to cross in order to get here, but I’m here. Trying to put information in here to help some other poor lost soul. :slight_smile:

In fact, the thing I’d like to just include in here, in case I forget the thread completely, is that there was NO OTHER WAY to get here but to use ALL of my insulin. I tried things like you said… dropping another couple of pounds before starting full insulin again or trying smaller doses… it was all crap. I really had wanted, at the time, to do the right thing, but I was hanging onto the idea I could do it while staying at my lifelong weight. I couldn’t… I needed to start the insulin, do it in full, and get grounded. Once I did that, and I did gain some weight in doing so, I was finally able to start working on the basics again— the proven stuff. I tightened up my diet, got exercise back up and running :wink: and things have been solid since. I’m back to having to watch my cookie intake. I’ve ALWAYS had to watch my cookie intake. That’s normal, and I really like normal.

Anyway, I started with a question and got off on this, but I do feel this is good stuff to put out for someone going through it… or for a loved one watching it.

And now I’ll go read and get real information. :smiley:


If that’s what you say this article says, then okay. I tried reading it but really just skimmed it for recognizable words like “and” and “insulin”. :grin: so I’m back to wondering if I am not just crazy because I highly doubt I’ve ever had a conversation or read a piece of literature about that. I wasn’t even sure it was talking about injecting insulin? And not the natural process?? Anyway, I’m gonna sit back down with a cup of coffee, a scientist, and a translator and work it out. :grin:

1 Like

The wikipedia article isn’t really saying much other than the fact that insulin is required if your body is going to make use of carbohydrate - either to use as fuel or in the case of lipogenesis to store it as fat. What this article leaves out (because it is limited to talking about lipogenesis), and what ALL of the low-carb diet book charlatans leave out too (because they are charlatans), is that you will store body fat with the combination of excess carbohydrate and insulin, OR you will store body fat by simply eating excess fats. It all boils down to a simple fact - if you eat more food than your body can burn, then your body will store the excess calories for later. Unless your body is broken (and all of us diabetics have broken bodies) - in which case your body will store the excess carbohydrate only to the extent that you give it the right amount of insulin to allow it to store it - and unfortunately this is the loophole that makes diabulemia possible.

A large part of the problem here, and a very large part of the reason that there is a lot of misunderstanding about insulin on the internet, is that the low-carb diet charlatans use this “insulin causes weight gain” falsehood to sell their books. In fact, eating the RIGHT number of calories per day, and taking the RIGHT amount of insulin to process those calories will NEVER cause weight gain. But if they told you the truth, they wouldn’t be able to sell their diet books, and then they wouldn’t be able to buy their BMW’s so of course they won’t do that.


Thanks Jag!
I tried a couple of times but gave up because it was Saturday. Your post was spot on.

1 Like

I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but I appreciate your angle. :grin: AND your clarification. I’m not even sure where the idea came from, but it’s been in my head since diagnosis. It wasn’t helpful information so I’m glad to be seeing the right information be put in here. You never know. [quote=“jag1, post:11, topic:4353”]
It all boils down to a simple fact - if you eat more food than your body can burn, then your body will store the excess calories for later

Yes, true my entire life.[quote=“jag1, post:11, topic:4353”]
in which case your body will store the excess carbohydrate only to the extent that you give it the right amount of insulin to allow it to store it - and unfortunately this is the loophole that makes diabulemia possible.

That makes perfect sense. Thank you for the explanation. It also would make sense then that the only way to get through it is to do ALL OF YOUR INSULIN, put down the donut, and get to the gym… that’s not as scientific as your explanation, but I think it’s still true. :thinking:

1 Like

Yes, I’m sorry to say that “putting down the donut” is indeed a critical part of the story. Something we all need to learn the hard way, I’m afraid :laughing:

1 Like

I’ve tried various donut-based solutions… all to no avail. :grin:

jag1, pleasure to meet you, by the way. :slightly_smiling_face:

i am no expert, and i dont particularly care for donuts, but i do love bread and obscene amounts of butter, pizza, burgers (ON BUNS) with ketchup and fries…i use a lot of insulin to consume these tasty treats BUT I EXERCISE. this seems to have kept me very lean my entire life.


And I thought I knew you… but who ARE you? :grin:

Sure, who doesn’t?

I do, too, but it takes MORE of it when Donita are included.

Because Donita is bad for you. If you weren’t sure.

i should clarify: i dont just love bread with obscene amounts of butter,pizza, burgers… i eat it all whenever i want to.


Yeah, well I have a sneaky suspicion that even without the exercise you would be one of those skinny people anyway. I am glad however that you enjoy the swimming! That is a great exercise.

1 Like