How To Gain Weight In Diabetes 2023: 10 Healthy Tips

Reviewed by Dr. Drew Sutton, MD

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how to gain weight in diabetes

Diabetes affects the body’s natural ability to convert food into energy. The body breaks down food consumed into glucose which is then released into the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas is stimulated to produce insulin which helps the body convert the excess sugars into energy. People with diabetes[1] do not have enough insulin; excess blood sugar settles in the bloodstream. This can result in severe and chronic health conditions such as kidney disease[2], vision loss[3], and heart disease[4]. Since there is no cure for diabetes at the moment, there are various ways of managing diabetes. While excess weight[5] is among the key factors contributing to diabetes, people with this health condition are still required to maintain a healthy body weight. Weight problems often occur due to uncontrolled insulin levels in the body. Since insulin helps the body to burn excess fat into energy, weight loss can occur with unregulated insulin levels. If you are experiencing unintentional weight loss, it is better to consult a licensed healthcare provider or dietitian. This article aims to comprehensively describe various tips on how to manage a healthy weight when suffering from diabetes.

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Weight?

According to the American Diabetes Association, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes is often caused by excess weight. It is a common misconception to think that everyone with diabetes has a High body mass index (BMI). There are many diabetic patients struggling to gain weight. Unintentional weight loss is one of the signs of undiagnosed diabetes. Insulin is a key factor in unexpected weight loss for people with diabetes. With this health condition, the body cannot produce enough insulin to supply excess glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy conversion. This makes the body utilize stored fat to produce energy. Therefore, if you have unregulated sugar levels, the body continuously uses stored fat and supplies the cells with energy, hence weight loss. By the end of this article, you will have various lifestyle hacks that can help reverse this weight loss.

how to gain weight in diabetes

Common Symptoms Of Diabetes

The following are among the most common symptoms associated with diabetes:

  • Chronic thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingly limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Increased hunger[6]
  • Dry skin
  • Slowly-healing sores
  • More than usual infections

Type 1 diabetes is often associated with stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea.

Type 2 diabetes[7] takes time to develop completely and might be noticed since symptoms are tricky to spot.

Gestational diabetes normally has no symptoms. Pregnant women should get tested for this type of diabetes between six and seven months. If needed, changes can be made to protect the mother and baby’s health.

How To Gain Weight In Diabetes?

Most weight management healthy diet plans are formulated for weight loss rather than gaining weight. This is inconvenient for people whose desire is to gain weight. If you are experiencing weight loss, kindly consult a licensed dietician or healthcare provider before typing the following weight gain tips. These professionals can help you apply the most suitable weight loss resistance exercise and diet and guide you through anybody weight-related questions. Let us dive in, shall we?

Know Your Ideal Body Weight

If you need to gain weight, being aware of your current body weight is vital. This can help establish if you need more or a few pounds to meet your weight gain goals. You can also set a weekly weight gain target which will help you track your weight progress. Knowing a healthy BMI[8] according to your height and weight is important. A BMI calculator can help you better understand your appropriate weight. A certified diabetes educator can help you with more specific details regarding your weight. Also, this can help determine the right calorie intake and healthy diet.

Diabetes Management Apps

There are numerous applications designed for managing diabetes. They are created to help you consume a healthy diet and maintain a healthy body weight. Look for applications that can aid in tracking BMI and blood sugar levels. One such example is GlucOracle; it is designed to analyze how many calories, protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates are in each meal. It can also forecast the user’s blood sugar level after consuming the meal. Another example of diabetes management is OneDrop. This is an all-rounded app for managing heart health, body weight, blood pressure, and diabetes. You can use this app for health content, predictions and trends, data tracking, and health coaching. Many apps can offer a calorie count; therefore, you might understand how many more calories you need to add or subtract to gain weight and achieve your weight goals.

Consume More Healthy Carbohydrates

You can reverse weight loss by consuming carbs with a low glycemic index[9]. If you need to gain healthy weight and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you can fix healthy carbohydrates into your “six smaller meals daily.” However, remember to check your blood sugar levels. You can increase your calorie consumption without increasing your blood glucose levels by adding fat or protein when consuming a carbohydrate. Seeds, whole grains, berries, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and berries are examples of healthy carbohydrates. Other options include seeds, avocado, canola oil, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon.

Gaining Or Losing Weight Heavily Relies On Calorie Intake

Weight loss requires low-calorie intake while gaining weight requires the contrary. Choose six smaller than three bigger meals each day. Opting for a healthy diet after three hours is better than three huge meals each day if you want to gain weight. This prevents the body from chipping away stored fat for energy production. This tip needs meticulous planning, commitment, and practice. It does not imply that you need to sacrifice meeting friends and family for dinner or lunch. Rather it implies that you have to be keen on what you consume to increase your calorie intake and ensure it is calorie-dense and nutritious. If you want to gain weight, ensure your meals include vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and poly or monounsaturated fats. Also, you can gain weight more seamlessly if you drink fluids an hour after or before having meals instead of during eating.

Avoid Meals And Beverages With Low-Calorie Content

Unlike weight loss, if you want to gain weight, you should avoid foods with low-calorie levels. Consuming at least five hundred more calories daily is among the factors needed to help you gain weight. Choosing foods packed with bountiful calories can help you achieve a healthy weight gain more seamlessly. However, if low-calorie foods such as lettuce and celery are among your favorite foods, you can still eat them without causing low blood sugar levels. You can add almond butter, cream cheese, and chicken salad with a stalk of celery. You can also sprinkle blue cheese and avocado slices on the lettuce. This way, you can meet your healthy weight gain objective without significantly spiking or lowering your blood sugar levels.

Increase Your Protein Intake

Consuming more protein[10] is crucial for creating muscle growth and repairing muscle tissue. Also, it is vital protein is vital for developing lean muscle mass. You can gain weight by consuming protein-rich foods such as eggs, fish, soy, chicken, and beans. Others use whey protein to create muscle mass and boost energy levels. Always consult your doctor to determine the right protein amount according to your weight goals and kidney function.

Choose Full-Fat Dairy Products

People who want to lose weight go for low-fat beverages and foods. However, people seeking to gain weight should go for full-fat dairy products such as greek yogurt, full-fat cheese, whole milk, high-fat butter, and many more. If you want to gain weight, avoid low-calorie, especially processed foods such as frozen entrees, crackers, low-fat cookies, and yogurt. Most processed foods have more sugar than fat, which makes them lack nutritional content.

Apply Resistance Training

Resistance bands and machines are vital for enhancing appetite and creating muscle. You can gain weight by applying resistance training, however, do not dismiss aerobics. Aerobics is an excellent option for weight loss; however, if you are trying to gain weight, you can compensate for the burnt calories with a healthy diet.

Supplement Wisely

Increasing weight with diabetes can be problematic, especially if you have no appetite for consuming more calories. People with a poor appetite can look for dietary supplements that promote muscle development, such as whey or casein protein powder. Most importantly, always consult with your doctor before using any dietary supplement.

Tracking Your Weight Gain Process

Even when you choose healthy fat foods and healthy oils, and eat smaller meals, the only way to know if you are making any progress in reversing weight loss is by keenly tracking your progress. This weekly progress helps you understand if you need to modify any choices in your healthy foods collection.

When To See Your Doctor

You can consult a licensed nutritionist or dietician if you are uncertain about how to gain weight or lose weight. These professionals can guide you on how to eat if you have diabetes. You can consult a healthcare professional in Medicare if you are eligible for Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity. It offers a year of one-on-one weight loss consultation visits with a healthcare professional. Also, people with diabetes can get support from CDCES (Certified Diabetes and Education Specialists). If you want to lose or gain weight with diabetes, these professionals can aid in blood sugar level control, medication, exercise, and diet.


People trying to gain or lose weight with diabetes can be overwhelmed if they do not receive counseling on what to do. On the other hand, you can gain body weight with diabetes if you know the foods to choose or avoid. This can help you achieve a healthy weight by using reliable diabetes management apps, consuming small meals, choosing carbs and fatty foods, and exercising.  You should consult a certified diabetes educator, dietician, doctor, or licensed healthcare personnel. Consult them on planning meals, reducing stress, exercising routines, and meeting weight goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is diabetes?

This is a health condition where blood sugar is usually more or lower than normal.

What are the signs of diabetes?

It might feature weight loss, excess hunger, numb and tingly limbs, vision impairment, dry skin, extreme fatigue, and many more.

How many types of diabetes are there?

There is gestational diabetes, type 1, and type 2 diabetes.

Is there a cure for diabetes?

There is no cure yet. However, scientists are working on weight management studies to help type 2 diabetic patients into remission.

How do I live with diabetes?

You should try maintaining a healthy weight using reliable diabetes management apps, consuming small meals, choosing carbs and fatty foods, and exercising.  You should consult a certified diabetes educator, dietician, doctor, or licensed healthcare personnel. Consult them on planning meals, reducing stress, exercising routines, and meeting weight goals.

What health problems can be caused by diabetes?

Diabetes can cause stroke, heart disease, vision problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and foot problems.

Is diabetes preventable?

Yes. You can do this by maintaining a healthy weight, stopping or avoiding smoking, eating more fiber, working out regularly, reducing sugar intake in your diet, and proper hydration.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond to insulin well and are unable to use the blood’s glucose for energy. Your pancreas produces more insulin as a result. You develop higher blood sugar levels over time.

+ 10 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. CDC (2019). Insulin Resistance and Diabetes. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  2. CDC (2021). Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022]
  3. DC (2021). Diabetes and Vision Loss. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  4. CDC (2022). Diabetes and Your Heart. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  5. and, D. (2022). Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  6. Hardy, K. (2019). Polyphagia is the medical term used to describe excessive hunger or increased appetite and is one of the 3 main symptoms of diabetes. [online] Diabetes. Available at:,causes%20an%20increase%20in%20hunger. [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  7. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Type 2 diabetes – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  8. CDC (2022). Adult BMI Calculator. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2022].
  9. Zafar, M.I., Mills, K.E., Zheng, J., Regmi, A., Hu, S.Q., Gou, L. and Chen, L.-L. (2019). Low-glycemic index diets as an intervention for diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 110(4), pp.891–902. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqz149.
  10. Carbone, J.W. and Pasiakos, S.M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, [online] 11(5), p.1136. doi:10.3390/nu11051136.


Madison Clarke, MBAHM
MBA in Healthcare Management
She is a professional blog post, article, researcher, and health writer. She has mastered the art of content writing by practicing for years and constantly learning. She is always ready and well equipped to write. It is always a pleasure to bring her skills to use and play her part in helping others achieve their objectives. She has 6 years of experience conducting research in Fitness and health care. She is MBA qualified and has written health content for 8+ years.


Drew is a retired ENT doctor who now lives in the Southeastern US. He was a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology and an MD degree. He completed his internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and practiced for almost 30 years in all aspects of ENT, including a specialization in disorders of the ear and skull base. Drew is passionate about communicating his clinical experiences and making his knowledge more accessible to the general public by medical writing.

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