Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Diabetes?

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Diabetes?
Cordelia Tan

Cordelia Tan | Author

Cordelia Tan, is a passionate advocate for women's health and well-being. Known as Fasty's number one fan, she expertly blends Eastern and Western health practices, offering a holistic approach to diet and wellness. Her work focuses on empowering women with knowledge and practical strategies for a healthier life.

Intermittent fasting, emerging as a wellness practice, has demonstrated the potential to mitigate the increasing prevalence of diabetes. Based on a 2023 diabetes study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), it is projected that the number of diabetes cases will increase from 529 million to 1.3 billion by 2050.

Fasting diets have gained popularity due to their proven weight loss results. But, could intermittent fasting also be beneficial for managing insulin resistance? If so, can diabetics safely practice intermittent fasting?

With so many questions to answer and plenty to talk about, let’s dive right into the role of intermittent fasting in diabetes.

What Does Our Body Experience While Fasting?

Intermittent fasting consists of modifying your eating pattern to specific eating and fasting times throughout the day. Some fasts require limiting calorie intake, while others limit food and drink consumption entirely. If you want to maintain a strict calorie intake for optimal fasting results, use the Fastic app to stay within your designated calorie limits at every meal.

When the body fasts, there is no source of fuel coming in, therefore the body has to resort to alternative sources for energy. In this case, the body breaks down glycogen (stored glucogen) for fuel and once it’s depleted, the body enters a state of ketosis (the process by which fat is burnt for energy). 

When insulin levels drop during fasting, several physiological processes take place:

  • promotion of fat breakdown

  • encouragement of autophagy (cellular renewal and cleaning)

  • increased growth hormone secretion 

  • enhanced insulin sensitivity

What Happens to Insulin Levels During Fasting?

During fasting, insulin levels decrease, prompting the pancreas to secrete glucagon. Glucagon then acts on the liver, stimulating it to break down glycogen and release it into the bloodstream. Additionally, glucagon stops the liver from taking and storing glucose, therefore more glucose stays in the blood. 

Does intermittent fasting help with blood sugar? During fasting, insulin sensitivity increases and insulin levels decrease, assisting in regulating blood sugar levels. This helps lower the risk of developing insulin resistance-related conditions. 

Can Fasting Help Reduce Diabetes? 

Not directly. However, fasting can be good for prediabetes and diabetes. It encourages a better lifestyle, with healthier eating habits and fat burning — all beneficial for diabetes management.

is intermittent fasting good for insulin resistance

Potential Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Diabetics

Just like intermittent fasting can help manage IBS symptoms, it can also offer health benefits to people with diabetes, such as: 

  • promote weight loss, as previously mentioned, 

  • regulate fasting blood glucose levels,

  • and improve insulin sensitivity.

Is intermittent fasting good for type 2 diabetes? According to the same study by the IHME, almost all global cases of diabetes (96%) are type 2 diabetes. Current evidence suggests that intermittent fasting is an efficacious treatment for type 2 diabetes. A recent clinical trial of the effects of time-restricted eating in adults with type 2 diabetes found that time-restricted eating (TRE) was effective for weight loss and lowering hemoglobin A1c levels. 

All in all, according to scientific research and studies, it can be concluded that intermittent fasting is safe for type 2 diabetes. Nonetheless, due to obvious reasons, it is essential to approach it under professional medical guidance. This ensures it is done safely and all individual health conditions and medication regimens are considered.

Circadian Rhythm and Insulin Levels: Relation to Intermittent Fasting

The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural internal clock that regulates biological processes such as hormone release, metabolism, and sleep-wake cycles. The circadian rhythm is influenced by light and darkness throughout a 24-hour cycle. 

The relationship between circadian rhythm and insulin resistance is that in the morning before eating fasting insulin levels are higher and insulin sensitivity is greater. To make things short, insulin secretion is heightened in the morning compared to the evening, while insulin sensitivity usually declines as the day progresses. 

Noting the relation between these two, it can be concluded that eating earlier during the day aligns better with the body’s natural rhythms, reducing the risk of higher glucose and insulin levels during the night. Adhere to a rigorous fasting schedule using the Fastic app, its reminders will help you follow an eating schedule that adapts best to your circadian clock.

Which Intermittent Fasting Regimen Is Best for Diabetes?

There is no-size-fits-all fasting plan for people with diabetes. Nonetheless, some plans may be better suited for diabetes management than others. 

16:8 Plan

This plan consists of eating during a 6-hour window and fasting for 18 hours. It allows for a regular everyday routine. It is not necessary to limit your calorie consumption during the eating window. Similar regimens are the 20:4 and the 14:10.

5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet requires you to eat as usual for 5 days and restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 kcal for 2 non-consecutive days. This method is a bit more strict since you must undergo intense food intake limitations.

Alternate-day Fasting

As its name suggests, you alternate eating and fasting days. You can opt to restrict calorie intake or not on non-fasting days. This method is a level higher in the intensity ladder.

Regardless of what level of intensity you want from the fast, you must consult with a healthcare professional so they can better guide you toward the best and safest fasting protocol for your particular health condition.

Does Fasting Make Diabetes Worse?

Practicing intermittent fasting does not necessarily make diabetes worse, though it can increase the chances of experiencing side effects, including:

  • nausea

  • dizziness

  • headaches or migraines

  • weakness or fatigue

So, is intermittent fasting bad for diabetics? It is not inherently bad, but it can have negative effects if not practiced thoughtfully, particularly regarding medication and individual health considerations.

How Can Intermittent Fasting Negatively Affect Diabetics? 

Intermittent fasting can negatively impact people with diabetes. Long fasting periods can cause hypoglycemia due to not adjusting insulin or medication doses when reducing food intake. On the other hand, intermittent fasting can also cause hyperglycemia when stress hormones encourage the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream. This can occur during fasting by eating too many carbohydrates (during eating windows) and not adjusting medication accordingly. 

Moreover, inadequate nutrient intake can lead to blood sugar fluctuations. Making adjustments to medication under medical guidance is crucial to prevent diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease or retinopathy.

Considerations for Diabetics: Practical Tips During Intermittent Fasting

In general, practicing intermittent fasting must be done cautiously. People with diabetes should be even more careful as to how they go about it to prevent any life-threatening effects. 

Here are some tips for you to safely implement intermittent fasting while managing diabetes:

  • Adjusting medication and timing of meals might be necessary to manage blood sugar levels effectively and prevent complications. 

  • Frequently monitoring blood sugar levels is advised.

  • Maintain proper hydration levels by drinking sugar-free electrolyte-dense liquids during fasting, following a nutrient-rich diet, and engaging in low-intensity exercises. 

  • Importance of consulting your healthcare provider before incorporating IF into your lifestyle.

Help Your Body Manage Diabetes with Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be good for diabetics if approached safely and under the correct medical indications. Download the Fastic app for comprehensive support throughout your journey in managing diabetes.

Disclaimer: It is advised to speak with a health professional before beginning intermittent fasting or a diet program. There may be side effects for people with certain medical conditions.

With Fastic, millions of people have achieved their desired weight, overcome disease and regained their quality of life.

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