Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Diabetics?

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Diabetics?

Diabetes and Intermittent Fasting

What is intermittent fasting? It is an eating plan that concentrates on reducing the eating frequency. It also involves caloric restriction since you are limiting your caloric intake. Intermittent fasting is different from fasting. Fasting involves not eating at all. It can be throughout the day for one day. It can also be throughout the day for several days without eating anything. That’s the key difference.

For several decades, intermittent fasting has been an alternate treatment for diabetes. Have you ever tried to search the relationship between intermittent fasting (I.F) and diabetes? Some online articles and videos might point out that IF has some negative effects on diabetic status. Mostly, these articles cite the risk of hypoglycemia. Other articles proceed to the extent of recommending other diets.

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However, the truth is that IF helps decrease the need for insulin. The reason is that your body is experiencing less food intake. Consequently, you lower your glycemic index. Glycemic control translates to reduced blood insulin levels. That means that you also decrease the need for diabetes medications. With that said, I.F has huge positive benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. The only condition is that you apply for the program correctly. Also, I would recommend consulting your healthcare provider before you begin the I.F program.

History of Diabetes and Intermittent Fasting

As mentioned above, fasting is not eating at all. I am certain that you have come across this term multiple times. For many centuries, fasting has been in existence. Historically, fasting played a significant role in many spiritual rituals’ types. However, ancient fasting varies from modern fasting. Ancient fasting was mainly for spiritual purposes. The modern society still uses fasting for spiritual purposes. However, modern fasting has become more versatile. People use it for both spiritual gains and physical gains. That’s where intermittent fasting came in.

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Nowadays, people use I.F as part of a healthy diet. The main aim is for weight loss. Therefore, it has become a method of body detoxification. However, since its birth, intermittent fasting has been linked to many controversies. The main controversy that surrounds this subject topic is in relation to people with diabetes. Still, human studies have been on the frontline of researching for reliable evidence to support IF. So far, results from several human studies indicate that specific intermittent fasting diet types can have some health benefits for people with diabetes. Particularly, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience these health benefits.

How Intermittent Fasting Works

In everything we do, we do it with a purpose. Intermittent fasting is no different. The purpose of being in an IF program is to facilitate weight loss. To lose weight, you must have a caloric restriction that limits your caloric intake. Once your caloric intake is low, your body’s system switches to other sources of energy. Remember that with or without adequate caloric intake, your body still needs energy for metabolic activities. Thus, your body begins burning deposited fat cells as to source energy. This is the point we say the body is in ketosis. We shall get deeper into that later in this article. So don’t worry.

So, when you are on the intermittent fasting program, you are on periodic fasting. Periodic fasting means you are eating less frequently. Here is the point. Did you know that your body insulin levels are higher when you are eating than between meals? Intermittent fasting involves two primary things; reducing insulin levels and weight loss.

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When you reduce your food intake rate, it means you are on a caloric restriction. Glucose is also a source of calories. So, it means you are on a carbohydrate restriction. Reduced carbohydrate intake translates to reduced blood glucose levels. Reduced blood glucose levels translate to reduced insulin levels. With that said, intermittent fasting decreases your body’s need for insulin. The result is that you achieve a natural glycemic control system in your body.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

So far, several clinical studies have surfaced with reliable results on intermittent fasting. The results suggest that IF may have health benefits for people with diabetes. These are some of the health benefits of IF;

  • IF aids in weight loss.
  • It helps decrease the body’s need for insulin.
  • Achievement of benefits in cognitive development.
  • IF improves your mood.
  • It helps reduce inflammation.
  • Periodic fasting for 16 hours, 18 hours, 20 hours, or 23 hours may help you experience autophagy benefits. Here it may aid in the recycling of old proteins and thus help in anti-aging.
  • Intermittent fasting also helps in preventing the development of chronic diseases like heart disease and other types of chronic diseases.
  • IF improves the quality of sleep.
  • IF helps in reducing cravings and hunger.

Side Effects of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting as a subject topic has some side effects. Note that most of these symptoms are adaptation problems that mainly occur at the beginning of the fasting period. After a period of time, you start experiencing the long-term benefits of IF. Therefore, before you start intermittent fasting, these are the side effects that you may have to know.

  • You may experience a spike in uric acid. This acid is one of the primary risk factors for gout and kidney stones.
  • You may also experience coldness in your hands and feet.
  • You may experience moodiness especially within the initial three days of the fasting period.
  • Headaches may also occur during the initial period of fasting.
  • You may experience stomach acids since fasting raises the levels of acids in the stomach.
  • You may feel nauseated after eating. This goes away after a period of time
  • You may faint if you do prolong fasting too quickly.
  • Sometimes, you may experience hair loss if you already have nutritional deficiencies

Additionally, it may not be a good idea for you to overindulge on non-fasting days. Clinical studies found that overindulgence on non-fasting days can lead to adverse health effects. (1). So, you may be losing weight but your body may not be getting any health benefits.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Optimum glycemic control in your body helps in the regulation of blood glucose levels to standard. If you can maintain standard blood sugar levels with intermittent fasting, you are safe. To understand how that works let’s first discuss diabetes meanings. Diabetes is hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) or hypoglycemia (low sugar levels). The primary aim of taking diabetes medications is to lower blood sugars. To be honest, the main complication of taking excess diabetes medications is hypoglycemia. It means that you may develop too low blood sugars due to excess diabetes medications. At this point, the doctor may give you sugar pills due to developing type 1 diabetes.

This is the point where people with type 2 diabetes need intermittent fasting. With IF, you decrease your body’s need for insulin. Decreasing your body’s need for insulin means you are also decreasing the need for diabetes medications. However, the problem emerges you continue taking similar diabetes medications dosage and intermittent fasting simultaneously. The main issue is that you may drive your blood sugar levels too low.

But, my opinion is that IF should help you decrease the need for medication. Doing intermittent correctly should decrease the need for metformin. It should also decrease the need for genetically modified insulin. Generally, intermittent fasting should decrease the need for any other diabetic medications. The primary reason is that taking insulin for a prolonged period of time has its side effects. Note that the insulin your doctor prescribes for you varies from the natural insulin that the body produces. It is a genetically modified version of natural insulin. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic.

The key point is that too much insulin intake has side effects. You may be regulating your blood sugars but also facing the risk of hypoglycemia. For instance, when people with type 1diabetes consume a large carbohydrate meal, their bodies will demand more insulin. The purpose of the insulin will be to deal will the excess carbohydrate intake. However, less carbohydrate intake means that their bodies will need less insulin.

Now, I know you might probably be wondering if intermittent fasting is dangerous. IF only poses adverse health effects under two scenarios. First, if you don’t do it gradually, without adjusting your medication. I recommend that anytime you are on intermittent fasting, make sure you are getting help from your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the number of diabetes medications to take simultaneously with the program.

With that said, intermittent fasting plans greatly contribute to the healing of your pancreas. Also, the program helps you decrease the need for diabetes medications like metformin. That way, you may have an easy time coming off your diabetes medications. All these have to be under the watch and supervision of your doctor.

Is it advisable to integrate intermittent fasting with keto for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Can you do keto if you are diabetic? I will start by explaining the two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition that destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Therefore, your pancreas develops a problem of not producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes is mostly diet-related and develops over a period of time. People with type 2 diabetes have a problem with their receptor end not receiving insulin. The body then sends feedback to the pancreas to produce more insulin.

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The production of more insulin acts as an adaptation to trigger the improvements in insulin sensitivity. That’s one of the reasons people with type 2 diabetes take metformin. Metformin is among the diabetes medications that lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity in the receptor end. People with type 1 diabetes take insulin doses to compensate for the insulin requirements amounts that the pancreas is not producing.

The common aspect between people with type 1 and 2 diabetes is high blood glucose levels. Now, the problem is that if you are a type 1 patient, you may have to take insulin. The main purpose of this insulin intake is to achieve glycemic control. Ultimately, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients have high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels.

Point to note; high insulin levels pose more adverse health effects than high blood sugar levels. High insulin levels may negatively affect the kidneys, arteries, retina, and also brain. That’s not to say that high blood glucose levels will not lead to these problems. The difference is that high insulin levels are more dangerous as it leads to severe destruction. This takes us to the ultimate goal.

The ultimate goal for people with type I diabetes is to take the least amount of insulin. If you are a type 1 patient, your insulin-producing cells might have undergone complete destruction. In that case, your pancreas might not produce insulin at all. As mentioned earlier, the goal is to help you take the last dose of insulin possible. Thus, it would be best if you avoid anything that would trigger the body’s insulin production. At this point maintaining a healthy type of diet and reducing the eating frequency are essential elements.

Here, the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting may play a significant role. Therefore, it is advisable to integrate the keto diet and intermittent fasting for people with diabetes. The keto diet involves maintaining a healthy eating diet by reducing your carbohydrate intake. On the other hand, IF helps to avoid triggering insulin production. The reason is that every time you eat, you trigger insulin production. Now, fasting in patients helps them to trigger insulin production less frequently. This combination may also improve insulin resistance. With reduced insulin resistance, your liver and cells may experience less stress. However, before using keto and IF make sure you consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting may have some huge benefits for people with diabetes. It may help in your weight loss journey. It may also help in blood sugar control levels and insulin levels. I will still insist you consult your doctor before attempting any of these programs. A combined effort with your doctor or a medical team helps in determining the best way to go about it. Due to the risk of hypoglycemia, I do not recommend full-blown intermittent fasting. It may be even worse if you are experiencing poor glycemic control. Instead, practice responsible periodic fasting that will not lead to adverse health effects.

Founder, Certified Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis Health Coach.

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