The impact of type 1 and type 2

Metabolism refers to the body’s process of extracting energy from food. Diabetes affects metabolism by reducing insulin levels. This in turn prevents the body from storing the energy it gets from food for later use.

In type 1 diabetes, this happens because the immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, which are found in the pancreas. In type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin as well as it should.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at diabetes and metabolism.

Metabolism is the process by which the body creates energy of the food and drink that a person consumes.

After eating, the body begins to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in order to release energy. The body then uses this energy to maintain the functioning of organs and biological processes.

There are three main ways that the body consumes energy:

  • Resting energy expenditure: This is the energy the body uses while at rest. It is similar to the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the energy the body needs for its most basic and essential functions, such as breathing.
  • Energy expenditure induced by food: This is the energy that a person uses for digestion. Another term for this is the thermal effect of food.
  • Energy expenditure induced by activity: This is the energy that someone uses for physical activity. The more active a person is, the higher the energy expenditure.

People who have a slow metabolism generally have a low BMR. This means they require fewer calories at rest than someone with a faster metabolism or high BMR.

Many factors can increase or decrease BMR, including:

  • muscular mass
  • bone size and density
  • body fat
  • age, because muscle mass tends to decrease as people get older
  • genetic

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which means that it directly affects the body’s ability to release and store energy from food. This happens due to problems with the production of insulin.

When a person eats carbohydrates, the body begins to break them down into their simplest form, which is glucose. This glucose then enters the bloodstream, providing energy to the body’s cells.

Usually, if the blood sugar is too high, the pancreas releases insulin. This hormone tells the liver to remove glucose from the blood and turn it into glycogen, which the body can use later.

However, in people with diabetes, insulin levels get lower than they should be. This leaves high levels of glucose in the blood, which can lead to serious consequences if left untreated.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, a person has very weak or absent insulin levels. This happens because the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that make it. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections throughout their lives.

People are usually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in childhood or when they are young adults. It counts for 5-10% of all cases of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

In people with type 2 diabetes, the body also stops responding to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar. Over time, the pancreas produces increasing amounts of insulin to try to keep up.

This creates a deficit, where the body does not have the ability to manage the amount of glucose in the blood. Eventually, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin exhausted.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 and represents 90% of all cases of diabetes.

In addition to carbohydrates, the body can use protein for energy. In some situations, the body can break down proteins in its own muscles to produce energy. Experts call this catabolism.

An older article from 2008 notes that people with type 1 diabetes who don’t get enough insulin from their medications can undergo catabolism, resulting in a significant reduction in muscle mass. This same effect does not occur in people with type 2 diabetes.

When a person has enough insulin, their body is able to efficiently use and store glucose.

However, without insulin, the body can use stored fat instead. This happens through a process that experts call ketosis.

During ketosis, the body releases ketones, which are chemicals that are broken down from fat. If the ketone levels get too high, they can make the blood acidic. This results in a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

ACD mainly occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can also develop in people with type 2 diabetes. It is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.

Blood ketone monitors or urine test strips can help people check their ketone levels.

Learn more about the symptoms of ACD here.

Diet, exercise and body weight have a significant influence on metabolism and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates that digest quickly and provide more energy than a person needs can raise blood sugar.

If the levels remain high over time, the body may not be able to produce enough insulin to lower them to a healthy level. This in turn can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

In addition, simple carbohydrates are not as nutritious as other foods, despite their high energy content. This can mean that people are hungrier and eat more food as a result, which further increases blood sugar levels.

Simple carbohydrates are found in foods that are high in sugar, such as candy, sugary drinks, and ice cream.

Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and release their energy over a longer period of time. These include foods such as whole grains, beans, and vegetables that are high in fiber.


When a person exercises or other physical activity, their activity-induced energy expenditure increases. This means that the body can use the glucose circulating in the blood, thereby lowering blood sugar.

Strengthening exercises can also build muscle. Muscle cells need energy even when not in use, so the more muscle a person has, the more calories they burn while at rest.


Body weight also has an impact on metabolism.

High body weight increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making the body’s cells less sensitive to insulin. This means that the cells will not store excess glucose as efficiently, which will increase the risk of hyperglycemia.

A combination of being overweight, eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates, and low levels of physical activity can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Insulin medications stimulate muscles, liver, and fat cells to absorb and store glucose as glycogen. When this happens, a person’s blood sugar drops.

In people with diabetes, the goal is to achieve a balance between insulin and blood sugar. This means that a person has enough energy ready for use, but not to the point of risking long-term health complications.

Using too much insulin can lower blood sugar to dangerous levels, causing hypoglycemia. Not using enough will cause hyperglycemia.

Diabetes impairs the body’s metabolism, affecting the way it processes and stores energy. This happens due to a lack of insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood.

If there is not enough insulin, blood sugar can get too high, leading to a series of problems over time.

Exercising, strengthening muscles, and achieving or maintaining a moderate weight can improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes by increasing BMR and insulin sensitivity.

Complex carbohydrates can also help keep blood sugar stable throughout the day.

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