Blood Sugar Management: A Key Ingredient in Weight Loss
Weight loss is important for everybody, but even more so for those who have blood sugar issues like prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects 34 million people in the US. Another 88 million have prediabetes—blood sugar that is high, but not quite elevated enough to be considered diabetes…yet.
In the case of both diabetes and prediabetes, there’s usually a warning signal given by the body that something’s not right with the way blood sugar is being used. That “clue” is insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its job is to move glucose (sugar from your diet) into cells, where it is used for energy.
When you eat, your glucose levels rise. In response, your pancreas releases insulin. This lowers glucose levels back into normal range.
When you have insulin resistance, your cells have a weakened response insulin and are not as sensitive to the effects of insulin. They don’t take up glucose from your blood as easily or effectively. This causes glucose to build up in the bloodstream.
Your pancreas responds by cranking out even more insulin. And as long as your pancreas is able to produce enough insulin to shuttle the sugar into your cells, blood glucose levels should stay in a normal range.
But the pancreas can’t work in overdrive forever. It will eventually burn out. Once this happens, more glucose remains in the bloodstream rather than moving into cells. The pancreas may even stop making insulin altogether.
This sets the stage for type 2 diabetes.
The Link Between Weight and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance usually doesn’t present any symptoms, so you may have it and not even know it. Your blood work may even show that your glucose levels are normal.
But here’s the thing…even if you’re a little overweight, you are at higher risk of insulin resistance. Some of the factors strongly associated with it include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Excess abdominal fat (even if your body mass index is normal)
- Inactivity/lack of exercise
- High-sugar/high-carbohydrate diet
The good news is, certain lifestyle changes is all it takes to improve insulin sensitivity and lower risk of prediabetes and diabetes.
In fact, research shows that losing just 5-7% of your body weight is enough to lower diabetes risk by 58%. To put that in perspective, that would be a loss of 12-17 pounds in a 250-lb adult. Very doable!1
Eliminate (or at the very least, greatly reduce) your consumption of refined/simple carbs, sugar, and processed foods. Opt for fresh fruit if you are struggling with sugar cravings.
Focus on filling your plate with fiber- and nutrient-rich whole foods: veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, protein, and whole grains.
Any type of exercise is better than nothing, but the greatest effects are seen when combining aerobic activity with weight or resistance training.
Aerobic exercise burns more calories and glucose than weight training. But weight training builds muscle, which is what burns glucose while you work out. So, the more muscle you have, the better.
There are several nutrients that can naturally support healthier blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and even help you lose a couple extra pounds as an added bonus.
Gymnema sylvestre is an herbal extract that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to balance blood sugar and aid in weight loss for more than 2,000 years.
One study evaluated the effect of G. sylvestre in 24 patients with metabolic syndrome (a collection of risk factors that increase risk of diabetes and heart disease). They were randomly assigned to take either the herb or placebo twice daily for 12 weeks. Those taking G. sylvestre experienced significant decreases in body weight, body mass index, and very low-density lipoprotein levels.2
A more recent 2021 study evaluated G. sylvestre on glycemic control, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity. At the end of the study, those taking the herb had significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, LDL cholesterol, and oral glucose tolerance tests (which measures the body’s response to sugar). Nearly 47% of the patients ended up with normal A1C levels.3
Chromium is an essential mineral that keeps blood sugar in check by binding to insulin receptors (“docking stations”) on the surface of cells, and enhancing insulin activity. These actions move glucose from the bloodstream and into cells.
Because chromium helps insulin to function more effectively, less insulin is needed and glucose levels decrease. High insulin levels favor fat storage, while low insulin enables fat burning.
Chromium deficiency is linked to a higher risk of insulin resistance. When chromium is low, glucose levels can become chronically elevated. The body releases more and more insulin to balance out blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance over time.
One of the first major studies that showed chromium’s effects on blood sugar was published in 1997. In that study, participants with diabetes were divided into three groups: 100 mcg chromium, 500 mcg chromium, or placebo twice a day for four months. Those taking the 500 mcg of chromium had the greatest improvements in fasting blood sugar, A1C, and cholesterol.4
A 2014 systematic review concluded, “The available evidence suggests favourable effects of chromium supplementation on glycemic control in patients with diabetes. Chromium…may additionally improve triglycerides and HDL cholesterol levels.”5
Vanadyl sulfate is a supplement that consists of vanadium, sulfur, and oxygen. Vanadium is a trace mineral that comes from foods like shellfish, mushrooms, and soybeans.
Vanadyl sulfate has an insulin-like effect, urging the movement of glucose into cells. Research has shown it can increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose.
Many early studies show evidence of this mineral’s blood sugar-lowering capabilities. In a 1996 study, people with diabetes who took vanadyl sulfate twice a day for four weeks experienced a 20% reduction in fasting blood sugar.6
In addition to these benefits, a 2015 review of existing research found that:
- Blood glucose levels remained in healthy ranges for up to one month after study participants stopped taking vanadyl sulfate, indicating that these positive effects may be long-lasting.
- Vanadyl sulfate also decreased total cholesterol levels.7
Bitter melon (Momordica Charantia) is used by indigenous populations in Asia, South American, India, and parts of Africa to treat blood sugar issues.
A recently published study looked at the effects of bitter melon extracts on diabetes patients who failed to achieve their treatment goals using medications alone. Participants were assigned to a treatment or placebo group for three months. Compared to the placebo group, those in the treatment group had lower fasting blood glucose at the end of the study period.
The researchers concluded that bitter melon “possesses a hypoglycemic effect, and can have a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose and [A1C] when the antidiabetic drugs are ineffective.”8
An All-In-One Blood Sugar Supplement
It can be overwhelming to see all these recommendations and wonder where to start. Fortunately, you don’t have to pick and choose, because Newport Natural Health’s Sugar Management supplement contains all of these nutrients, and several other vitamins and minerals, in dosages clinically studied for maximum efficacy.
Give it a try as part of your blood sugar management and/or weight loss journey to see how it might help elevate your successes!
As a final note: While all of the nutrients discussed here are safe and have very few major side effects,
be sure to discuss the use of this or any supplement with your doctor. Gymnema sylvestre, in particular, may interact with some diabetes drugs.
- Zuñiga L , et al. Effect of Gymnema sylvestre Administration on Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Sensitivity, and Insulin Secretion. J Med Food. 2017 Aug;20(8):750-4.
- Gaytan LA, et al. Effect of Gymnema sylvestre Administration on Glycemic Control, Insulin Secretion, and Insulin Sensitivity in Patients with Impaired Glucose Tolerance. J Med Food. 2021 Jan;24(1):28-32.
- Anderson RA, et al. Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1997 Nov;46(11):1786-91.
- Suksomboon N, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014 Jun;39(3):292-306.
- Boden G, et al. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 1996 Sep;45(9):1130-5.
- Shepherd LC, Lima H, Ott M. The effects of diet and vanadyl sulfate supplementation on blood glucose levels of diabetics: review of current human data and recommendations for further study. MOJ Public Health. 2015;2(3):101–3.
- Yang Y, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the hypoglycemic efficacy of the mcIRBP-19-containing Momordica charantia L. fruit extracts in the type 2 diabetic subjects. Food Nutr Res. 2022 Jan 3;66.