How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Manage Diabetes
Intermittent fasting has become all the rage. Once the proven method for tackling obesity and diabetes, it is making a comeback as a solution to both. Intermittent fasting, or IF, is not a nutrition fad. It’s a proven strategy for managing diabetes. But it’s not easy. Most people find it challenging at first, both physically and mentally. Fasting once again goes mainstream as science confirms its benefits for diabetics.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
IF is the general name given to any eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and non-fasting. Most people fast for 16 hours each day, generally from 10pm to 6pm. Many people find this easier to follow than the old-fashioned 8-hour daily fast. Fasting for 16 hours each day means you are only eating for 8 hours. That equates to a 500-calorie daily diet. To put that in perspective, a single Big Mac has 570 calories. That’s an extreme approach. Most people who fast use it in conjunction with a healthy eating plan.
Why is intermittent fasting good for people with diabetes?
Fasting has long been proven to have positive health benefits, but until recently it was almost solely recommended for people who are overweight or obese. Now doctors are seeing the benefits of fasting for people with type 2 diabetes. Fasting causes the body to use up its glycogen stores. Glycogen is the main source of energy for the cells in the body. When glycogen is nearly depleted, the body begins to burn fat for energy instead. Fasting for people with diabetes is beneficial because it reduces blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and insulin resistance. It also causes the body to release more stored fat, which can then be burned for energy. Intermittent fasting has been shown to be helpful for managing diabetes even in the absence of weight loss. It can be an effective strategy for those who are overweight and have difficulty losing weight.
How does intermittent fasting work?
There are two ways intermittent fasting can work to lower blood glucose levels. One is by reducing insulin levels. The other is by reducing insulin resistance.
Lowers insulin levels
When we eat, our body releases insulin to help cells metabolise the glucose in the bloodstream. When we fast, insulin levels drop. Lower insulin levels can help people who have high blood glucose levels due to overproduction of insulin. They also help people who are insulin resistant, who have high blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance.
Lowers insulin resistance
Intermittent fasting also leads to an increase in blood levels of C-peptide. C-peptide is a precursor to insulin, which is used to transport glucose through the bloodstream. An increase in C-peptide leads to an increase in insulin resistance. This can help lower blood glucose levels in people who are insulin resistant.
Which type of fasting is best for managing diabetes?
There are different types of fasting. Some people recommend a type of fasting where you consume only water. This is not recommended as it can be potentially dangerous. A more moderate 16-hour daily fast is a proven strategy for managing diabetes. There is no single “best” regimen for everyone. It’s worth trying different approaches and seeing what works best for you.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting
Improved insulin sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity refers to the body’s ability to properly metabolise glucose. When we eat, our body releases insulin to help cells metabolise the glucose in the bloodstream. When we fast, insulin levels drop. This means that the cells have to work harder to metabolise glucose. Over time, the cells become more sensitive to insulin, which can help people who are insulin resistant.
Helps prevent diabetes
Research shows that intermittent fasting can help people prevent diabetes. It has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes in people who are at high risk.
Promotes longevity and a healthier lifespan
Fasting can lead to an increase in longevity, which can help people live longer, healthier lives.
Boosts the immune system
Increased levels of C-peptide cause the pancreas to release more insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). This can help strengthen the immune system.
Helps with weight loss
Fasting can also help people who are trying to lose weight. It can be an effective strategy for those who have a hard time sticking to a traditional diet. It can also be used to maintain weight loss. It provides a sense of satisfaction after a fast, which helps people avoid eating too much in the hours following a fast.
Caveats to be aware of when fasting with diabetes:
- Fasting is not appropriate for everyone – It’s important to talk with your doctor before starting any new diet.
- Fasting can lead to a drop in blood sugar. This can be dangerous for people who have undiagnosed diabetes
- People who have undiagnosed diabetes are at risk for dangerous, low blood sugar levels.
- Fasting can be challenging for people who have a low blood glucose response – Some people experience a rapid drop in blood glucose when they fast. Others experience a slower but steady drop in blood glucose levels. If blood glucose drops too low, people may experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and weakness. These symptoms are normal, but they can be dangerous for people who are driving, operating machinery, etc.
- People with diabetes who fast should monitor their blood glucose. They should also consume something with carbohydrates, like juice, if their blood glucose levels get too low.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast.
Intermittent fasting is an effective strategy for managing diabetes. It can help people reduce blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and insulin levels. It can also help with weight loss and increase longevity. For people with diabetes who want to try intermittent fasting, a 16-hour daily fast is the most appropriate approach. For best results, people who fast should eat a healthy diet consisting of real foods and complex carbohydrates. They should also make sure to drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Most importantly, they should use common sense when fasting with diabetes. If you are interested in learning more about intermittent fasting, you can visit the Mayo Clinic website. If you have diabetes, and you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, please consult with your doctor first.