Weight loss, especially unexplained or sudden, can be a symptom of diabetes. This is particularly true for type 1 diabetes, but it can also occur in type 2 diabetes. The weight loss happens due to a series of processes occurring in the body because of its inability to use glucose as a source of energy properly.
Insufficient Insulin and Glucose Utilization
Under normal circumstances, the body’s cells use glucose as their primary form of energy, which they obtain from the food we eat. The role of insulin is to facilitate the uptake of glucose into the cells. However, in diabetes, because of the lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the cells’ resistance to insulin (type 2 diabetes), glucose cannot enter the cells efficiently.
Energy Demand and Fat Breakdown
As a result, the cells, unable to get the glucose they need, send out signals to the body that they need more fuel. The body responds by starting to break down its fat stores to provide energy. This process leads to weight loss, as the body is essentially consuming its own tissues to meet its energy needs.
At the same time, the body tries to get rid of the excess glucose in the blood through the kidneys. The kidneys filter out the excess glucose and excrete it in the urine. Because glucose carries calories, this process also contributes to weight loss.
Please note, unexplained weight loss can be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes and should prompt a visit to a healthcare provider.
While some weight loss might be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese, sudden or unexplained weight loss could be a sign of poorly controlled diabetes. Thus, any significant weight changes should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure that they are safe and desirable.