Is it true that the more insulin you take in Type 1 diabetes, the more body fat you will have?
Often, I hear patients say that their doctor told them that insulin makes you gain weight. That makes me absolutely crazy because it is entirely untrue! Let’s think for a minute about normal human physiology and what it is that insulin does. When individuals without diabetes eat food, the food is broken down into glucose. The brain then recognizes the increase in blood glucose and sends a message to the pancreas, saying “hey, we’ve got a sandwich and an apple heading in and we need some insulin!” The pancreas then secretes the insulin which meets the sandwich and apple which is now broken down into glucose. The insulin opens the cell to let the glucose in and provide our cells with energy. Insulin’s job is just that…to enable our bodies to use the food we eat for energy. The more a person eats, the more insulin they need, but it’s not the insulin that causes weight gain, it’s the excess calories. In type 1 diabetes, our pancreases went on strike. The management in type 1 is to replace the insulin in the most physiologic way possible. This means that when you eat food, you provide yourself with the amount of insulin to get the glucose from the food into the cells. Just like people without diabetes, if we eat more, we need more insulin and we gain weight but it is not the insulin’s fault, it is the excess calories taken in. If you take more insulin, the assumption would be that you are eating more and thus the eating more is causing more body fat, not the insulin.