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Intermittent Fasting And Its Effects On Type 2 Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Spandana NagulapallyMasters in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics

We all want to shed those extra pounds and look our best. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will benefit in the long run and can curb a number of lifestyle-related diseases.

To achieve great health, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. Popular methods to lose weight are popping up left, right and center. Before adopting any method, it is very important to consult a specialist and know about its pros and cons thoroughly.

One such method that has become quite popular of late is the intermittent fasting. A number of people across the world have adopted intermittent fasting since the method has proven to promote weight loss. [1]

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Well, it is not just weight loss. Studies have revealed that intermittent fasting can also prevent several lifestyle-related diseases and is especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. [2]

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a fasting method that includes regular intervals of eating and fasting. Since the method has helped a number of people help lose weight, intermittent fasting has become extremely popular.

However, intermittent fasting has its own share of side effects. The day is split into the eating period and the fasting period. And it only says about when to eat and not what to eat. Therefore, one must be conscious of what they eat during the eating period.

intermittent fastingIntermittent fasting can also happen weekly where you split the week into eating days and fasting days. Many of us are fasting every day while we sleep and we break this fast with our breakfast.

But under intermittent fasting, you can continue a little longer by skipping your breakfast and having the first meal of the day at noon. You can limit yourself to eat till 8 pm. This is the cycle of eating period.  After 8 pm, you can continue to fast throughout the night.

There are various types of intermittent fasting. It involves the hours of staying without food and hours of eating. They are measured in ratio and fractions.

Types of intermittent fasting:

1. 12/12 method:

This is when you eat for 12 hours in the day and fast for 12 hours.

Say for example you eat your breakfast at 10 in the morning and have your last meal before 10 in the night; you fall under the 12/12 method of intermittent fasting. Many of us are already doing this without knowing.

2. 16/8 method:

Under this, you fast for 16 hours of your day and eat for 8 hours. Usually, under this method, people tend to skip breakfast and consume their first meal during noon. A person following this method can fit in a minimum of 2 meals a day or mostly 3. Under this method, you also have to stop yourself from eating at midnight.

3. 20/4 method:

Now, you are fasting for 20 hours of your day and eating only 4 hours. Under this, a person can fix in only one meal of the day and fasts all through the day. This method is difficult since you cannot fix more than two meals under this method.

4. 5:2 diet:

Under 5:2 diet, you eat for five days and fast for two days a week. You restrict your calorie intake for the fasting two days and eat regularly during the rest of the five days.

5. Eat stop eat:

Under this eat stop eat method; you do not have to stick for the 5:2 diet method. You can choose between eating and fasting for a complete 24 hours depending on the days. There is no proper schedule under this method.

It is not possible to follow every fasting method. While some methods can be followed effortlessly, others can pose a challenge and have serious implications on health. Therefore, before picking a fasting method, it is very important to consult a health specialist.

Intermittent fasting for type 2 diabetes:

The main cause of Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance – a condition in which the body doesn’t respond to insulin. How does this type 2 diabetes happen?

Various factors contribute to type 2 diabetes. Though genetics play a major role, factors like bad lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and being overweight increases the risk of developing the disease earlier.

But the above-stated factors can be dealt with by changing the way you live and intermittent fasting can help you get there. [3]

Here are some of the ways how to Intermittent Fasting can improve your lifestyle and help tackle Type 2 diabetes better.

1.Weight management

Overweight people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should focus on losing the excess weight. To achieve this, they should adopt healthy eating habits and incorporate physical activities every day.

When they practice intermittent fasting, their body uses the stored fat for energy. This boosts the weight loss process.

2. Burning more calories

When a person practices intermittent fasting, their calorie intake is restricted. This improves body metabolism and can prevent cardiovascular diseases.  

3. Improve insulin sensitivity

Studies have noted that intermittent fasting has the ability to improve insulin sensitivity and can control the glucose level in the body. This propels weight loss. [4]

4. Exercise caution

Though Intermittent Fasting seems to have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, studies also have indicated that intermittent fasting can lead to hypoglycaemia – a condition where blood sugar level is dangerously low.

Therefore, diabetic patients must be very careful while practising Intermittent Fasting and it is advised that they consult a physician before following intermittent fasting. [5]

Disadvantages of intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting is one of the best inventions of mankind; nevertheless, it has its own drawback. Here are some of the disadvantages that you need to consider before commencing intermittent fasting.

1. Disturbance in body sugar levels

Intermittent fasting disturbs the body sugar levels. The human body needs to have proper sugar levels. This is especially important for people with diabetes.

Too high or too low blood sugar can become a major problem for the body and sometimes even survival. Regular consumption of meals can help you maintain the glycaemic index in the body.

Skipping major meals of the day will lead your body to feel fatigued and weak all through the day. Upon that, the intermittent diet requires you to fast for days of week or hours of the day.

2. Issues with breakfast

Breakfast has been declared as one amongst the most important meal for the day, and hence it is neither healthy nor beneficial to skip the breakfast. Regular skipping of breakfast will lead to catabolism in the body.

This means that the body muscle begins to break down. Hence it is important to consume your breakfast in an hour after waking up to avoid catabolism in the body.

3. Leads to hormonal imbalances

A hormonal imbalance is not good for the body. Diseases like PCOS have their root cause to hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance can often lead to early or late periods for women.

Also, it can hinder conception and delay when left untreated. Under hormonal imbalances, the body anyways struggles, and fasting adds up to the problem.

4. Acidic body

It is important to feed your body with nutrients and proteins that will help the body to grow and work. Skipping meals will make your body prone to acidity.

When a person skips meals, his/her body is running on an empty stomach. If the stomach is empty for long, there is an increased secretion of gastric juices that attack the inner lining of the stomach walls and causes acidity and ulcers. This cans also shut your body down.

It is important to remember that every heath regimen will have its own pros and cons. As long as it is not overdone, one can get the best out of it. A type 2 diabetic patient can adopt intermittent fasting but only after consulting with their doctor.

Similarly, studies conducted on intermittent fasting with regards to diabetes were solely on type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes or idiopathic diabetes should not practice intermittent fasting and are recommended to consult their doctor before taking up any regimen. 

 

FAQs

Q: Can Type 2 diabetics do intermittent fasting?

A: Yes, type 2 diabetes can do intermittent fasting.

Q: Can intermittent fasting cure type 2 diabetes?

A: No, intermittent fasting cannot cure type 2 diabetes.

Q: Does fasting lower blood sugar level?

A: Yes, intermittent fasting can bring down the excess blood sugar levels.

Q: Is intermittent fasting safe for diabetes?

A: Intermittent Fasting is generally safe. However, people with diabetes should be careful while practising intermittent fasting since there are chances that their blood sugar levels can dangerously drop.

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