May 30, 2022
Intermittent fasting isn’t new, and the concept is relatively simple: fast for a certain number of hours a day and eat for the rest. So, if you decide that a 16:8 intermittent fasting diet is for you, then you’re fasting for 16 hours (typically with most of those hours while you sleep) and eating for 8 hours per day. For example, you may decide to start eating at 11:00 a.m. every day and end at 7:00 p.m. There are other variations, but this format is common.
The benefits of intermittent fasting also vary but many report weight loss, insulin resistance, reduced inflammation, heart and brain health, improved energy, and more. There are endless apps, books, videos, and nutritionists touting its benefits.
But is it safe for those with diabetes?
The answer is complicated and before we get into the topic, we want to remind you that if you’re living with a disease like diabetes, you should always contact a member of your diabetes care team to understand what specific diet plan is right for you. And like anything else, ease into it and recognize quickly when a change is needed or if it’s not working for you.
For those with diabetes, intermittent fasting can present two risks: hypoglycemia when our blood sugars drop too low due to fasting and/or hypoglycemia when our blood sugars are too high due to overeating when we’re hungry after a fast. Neither obviously are good.
The real challenge is finding the balance and making sure your insulin doses and medications are properly maintained so that you can fast and your sugars remain in the healthy range.
Some physicians may also instruct you to omit fast-acting insulin doses (unless it’s a correction dose) that you may use for a meal or snack. All the more reason to develop a safe plan with your doctor.
While the results can vary widely, if weight loss is achieved it may lead to using less medication. Other benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced appetite, and improved insulin sensitivity.
For some T1Ds who wake up with an in-range blood sugar level, there is a sense of relief that you won’t be experiencing a high or low after breakfast because ideally, your blood sugar will remain steady.
There are many reasons to think about intermittent fasting with diabetes but only under the care of a medical professional. For some it may work wonders. For others, it may not work at all. It’s important to know your body and how your habits can or cannot change. Unfortunately, there is no exact science, and more research is needed.
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Disclaimer: THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS A MEDICAL ADVICE. For those with existing medical conditions, those who are taking medications, or are uncertain about any information we share, proper consultation with your trusted physician is strongly recommended.
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