Lantus, or insulin glargine, is a brand of injectable insulin prescribed to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Injectable insulin is used to replace the insulin you no longer make or to overcome your body’s resistance to your own insulin. In addition to reducing your blood glucose level, insulin exerts a variety of metabolic effects and changes the way you process energy. One of insulin’s common side effects is weight gain.
In healthy individuals, the pancreas produces insulin in response to rising blood glucose levels. Your pancreas secretes insulin whenever you consume a meal containing carbohydrates or proteins. Insulin stimulates the cells in your muscles, liver and fat tissue to absorb glucose, which is then converted to glycogen or fat and stored for future use. Diabetics no longer make their own insulin or, in the case of type 2 diabetics, their cells are “insulin resistant” and don’t readily respond to insulin’s signals. Injectable insulin, such as Lantus, reduces blood glucose levels in diabetic patients.
Insulin is a “storage” hormone. It triggers the conversion of glucose and fatty acids to glycogen and fat, which are deposited in your tissues for future use. In addition, insulin inhibits the oxidation of glucose and fatty acids and the metabolism of proteins and amino acids for energy. Thus, insulin’s net effect is to decrease your daily energy expenditure. According to Drugs.com, insulin therapy – including Lantus – often leads to an increase in total body fat as the result of “more efficient use of calories.”
The intensity of insulin therapy – the frequency of administration and total dosage – influences how much weight you might gain while using Lantus or any other form of insulin. In general, higher doses of insulin lead to greater weight gain. Lantus is an extended-release formulation designed for once-daily dosing. It is usually combined with an immediate-release formulation that is injected at mealtimes. A pooled analysis of controlled studies published in December 2010 in “Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics” indicates that the weight gain associated with Lantus is similar to that seen in patients using a twice-daily, extended-release formulation for the same degree of blood glucose control.
Even the most rigorous insulin treatment protocol is likely to provide more insulin than your pancreas would normally produce – so-called physiologic doses – if you were not diabetic. And, since most type 2 diabetics are insulin-resistant, they require higher-than-physiologic doses to achieve control of their blood glucose levels. Reasonable caloric restriction, weight loss and regular exercise are the best means for improving your insulin sensitivity and reducing your need for insulin. Ask your doctor about lifestyle changes that could reduce your Lantus dosage.