What is intermittent fasting?
Fasting means abstaining from food or drink for a specific period. However, when it is associated with the word intermittent, it defines an eating pattern focusing on WHEN to eat rather than WHAT to eat.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating regimen that pivots between fasting and eating during a specific time. It has three methods:
- Alternate-day fasting – This method involves fasting every other day.
- Time-restricted eating – Following this method, a person will need to fast for 12 hours daily. We can eat freely during the remaining hours.
- Eat, Stop, Eat – This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice weekly.
The trend of intermittent fasting has taken the world by storm. Research supports its fame by stating that it is an excellent way to manage weight and reverse some health conditions. However, does it also manage varying blood sugar levels? Let us find out.
How does intermittent fasting work for diabetes?
Research suggests that intermittent fasting can assist diabetes patients in several ways. This eating method can:
- Boost insulin sensitivity
- Prevent insulin resistance
- Promote weight loss
- Inhibit systematic inflammation
- Improve blood sugar levels
Of all the types of diabetes known today, it is type 2 diabetes that is deeply linked with the benefits of intermittent fasting.
While oral medications serve as the primary form of type 2 diabetes treatment, it is essential to note that the reversal is possible by observing the right eating method. Treating the condition is not just about lowering blood sugar levels but also increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and decreasing inflammation. This is possible by following a fasting plan, just like intermittent fasting. How?
Research suggests that because intermittent fasting can reduce weight, it increases the body’s insulin sensitivity. As insulin resistance is common in type 2 diabetes, reversing it through weight loss prevents not only the risk of diabetes but also encourages proper response to the hormone insulin. While fasting, insulin levels drop, which facilitates fat burning. As a result, insulin sensitivity increases.
In addition, intermittent fasting supports a favourable metabolic shift. Instead of using carbohydrates, it uses fat for fuel. Fasting 12 hours a day causes the body to convert its stored fat into energy. As a result, we lose weight.
How do diabetes patients benefit from intermittent fasting?
According to studies, following IF can reduce body weight by about 3 – 8% in just 3 – 4 weeks. Many people report losing belly fat after following this plan for weeks.
Significant weight loss can help a lot in reversing insulin resistance, the top contributor to type 2 diabetes. For people at high risk of diabetes, the role of IF in preventing obesity is massive.
Is intermittent fasting safe for diabetes?
While intermittent fasting has appealing benefits for everyone, it has drawbacks for blood sugar control. Its short-term effects on diabetes patients are remarkable; however, its long-term efficiency is not yet proven. More studies are necessary to support the long-term benefits of this eating plan.
Before trying out a popular eating plan, there are things you need to keep in mind to ensure it is the right fit for your condition.
First, you need to discuss your plans with your doctor. Ask for advice on what type of diet or regimen to follow. Inquire if it’s safe for you to try a new diet system.
Second, select a plan that’s right for you. Note that trying a new regimen can significantly affect your lifestyle. Can your body tolerate it? Are you prepared for the side effects? Consider these questions before adopting a new meal plan.
Lastly, keep your condition in check if you go for a new meal plan. Monitor your blood sugar levels and other health factors regularly for the first few months, and take preventive measures against unwanted health issues.