Firstly, there are a number of different types of intermittent fasting.
The term intermittent fasting implies a reduced energy intake on an intermittent basis. Some examples of intermittent fasting diets are:
- 16/8 method: Each day you fast for 16 hours and only eat during the remaining 8 hours. It is
also called a time-restricted diet.
- The 5:2 diet: In a week you eat normally for five days and on the other two days you eat no
more than 500-600 kcal (2100-2500 KJ).
- Alternate day fasting: Three to four 24-hour fasts each week. You eat dinner only on days of the fast and lunch and dinner on the other days, with a focus on low-carb meals.
How it works
Intermittent fasting has been used successfully for weight loss, with the resultant reduction in body fat helping the body deal with blood sugar levels. Weight loss improves insulin resistance to allow the glucose to be metabolized. Some other advantages to health from fasting have also been seen. There is not a lot of evidence for the long-term effects of fasting, so it is currently advisable to do it for a short time frame, maybe a few weeks to a couple of months, and then have a break from it, get a medical check-up, and then return to it if it suits your lifestyle, and if it has had a positive impact.
Is it safe?
Intermittent fasting can be safely undertaken if you have diabetes; however, there are some considerations. Firstly, you should discuss it with your doctor to determine if it is suitable for you, particularly if you are taking any medication. Your doctor will also discuss any other health conditions that you may have that could create complications. Managing hypoglycemia and dehydration is a priority if trialling this type of eating. If you are on medications that can cause hypoglycemia, it is important to monitor your blood glucose levels more frequently even if the dose is reduced. But this is not an issue for those who are pre-diabetic, just trying to manage glucose levels without medication.
The bottom line: For most people, practicing intermittent fasting for short durations is a safe way to improve metabolic health. As with any intervention, it’s important to start slowly with fasting and be mindful of your body’s response. The most important thing is to understand how your body reacts to different eating schedules, and to work toward gradually reversing the underlying mechanisms that contribute to type 2 diabetes.
Fasting may not suit everyone, and the general management of diabetes starts with reducing sugars, managing portions of carbohydrate foods (breads, cereals, fruit, potatoes), including more wholegrain and high fiber options of carbohydrate foods, lots of vegetables and salad, and quality lean proteins in main meals.
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