Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Managing Diabetes: Our Experts Weigh in
Nowadays, there is a lot of buzz about intermittent fasting that involves limiting your meals to a specific window of time. It may feel like a panacea for every disease like obesity, heart problems, cancer and even diabetes as intermittent plans help you cut back on your calories.
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years but has been around for ages. As the name describes the term, intermittent fasting follows a pattern of fasting and then eating in a restricted time.
There are different types of intermittent fasting, like the 16:8 method, where you will be fasting for 16 hours daily. Time-restricted eating significantly reduces your calorie intake as you will consume food only in the non-fasting hours or days.
But will it be safe to cut back on your calories drastically and alternate it with a fixed period of eating if you have diabetes? Will it help you to have a better control of your blood sugars and even reduce your diabetes medications? What does medical research have to say?
To get answers to all these questions, we reached out to our expert at Fitterfly — Ms Shilpa Joshi, Registered Dietitian & Head of Metabolic Nutrition with 20+ years of experience in diabetes management. Additionally, Shilpa is also the National Vice President of the Indian Dietetic Association and Hon. Secretary of the All India Association for Advancing Research in Obesity.
Intermittent Fasting Diabetes: Expert Opinion & Medical Research
As a Registered Dietitian and expert in the field, Shilpa was sceptical about new nutrition trends like intermittent fasting because most of them don’t have a lot of science to back them up. She said, “Intermittent fasting may be helpful to get your blood sugars in control. But it cannot be part of your mainstream treatment. Your doctor’s prescription alongwith healthy lifestyle changes that include healthy food choices, regular exercise, adequate rest and stress management form the pillars of diabetes management”.
“Although there are a few research papers that claim benefits of this popular diet in diabetes, we still have a lot to learn about the long-term risks for people with diabetes. Additionally, every individual is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes management,” Shilpa added.
A few studies have claimed that intermittent fasting has benefits like improving – insulin sensitivity, fasting blood sugars, postprandial blood sugars and reducing – weight and diabetes medications. These early findings may seem promising, but they are NOT CERTAIN. This is because these studies were done on a smaller study population and lab animals. A larger sample size and long-term studies are required to conclude the benefits of intermittent fasting in people with diabetes.
Therefore, don’t get swayed away with the trend. Instead, consult your doctor or a Diabetes Educator & Nutritionist to help you keep your diabetes in control safely and scientifically. To help you make informed decisions, Team Fitterfly has designed a Diabetes Management Program – Diabefly Pro. Diabefly Pro offers holistic care with its team of experts, including a Nutritionist & Diabetes Educator, a Certified Physiotherapist and a Clinical Psychologist.
Intermittent Fasting: Can diabetes be reversed?
If you are trying for diabetes remission/reversal, this information would have surely caught your attention – a few people have ‘reversed’ their diabetes through intermittent fasting.
Well, it might be possible to put diabetes into remission and stop medications for a few people through intermittent fasting, which could be perhaps due to weight loss. But you cannot make definitive conclusions about how intermittent fasting can increase the likelihood of remission in most people with diabetes.
However, you can try other effective strategies that can help you reverse diabetes naturally and scientifically. It is possible to reverse diabetes in the right set of people at the correct stage of diagnosis.
Intermittent Fasting Diabetes: The downfalls of fasting
While the benefits of intermittent fasting for managing diabetes are being publicised online, please know that it poses some risks too. Intermittent fasting carries a risk if you have diabetes. The most significant danger of intermittent fasting in people with diabetes is hypoglycemia. The long fasting period can cause your fasting diabetes range to drop too low (as low as 70 mg/dL).
The symptoms of hypoglycemia like shakiness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness and low energy appear when your fasting diabetes sugar drops even lower to 55 mg/dL. It can be a fatal condition and requires immediate medical attention. To know more about how to manage hypoglycemia, click here.
And, after long hours of fasting, you may eat more than you typically do. This can result in hyperglycemia or high blood sugars. Hyperglycemia leads to poor glycemic control, increasing your risk for diabetes complications like heart problems, stroke, nerve, kidney, and eye damage.
Based on her past experiences with patients living with diabetes, Shilpa said, “Intermittent fasting has resulted in poorer blood glucose control and low energy throughout the day among her clients”.
Giving Intermittent Fasting a try with Diabefly Pro – A safe & scientific way
The risks outweigh the benefits if you are trying to manage your diabetes by following the intermittent fasting diet plan. Alternate periods of fasting and eating can cause hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
But if you still want to give it a try for all the noise around, make sure you work closely with your diabetes care team – your Doctor and your Diabetes Educator & Nutritionist.
Shilpa recommends, “People with advanced diabetes or who are on medications for diabetes like insulin injections or diabetes pills should not attempt intermittent fasting on their own.”
Shilpa further adds, “The medication regimen has to be changed to suit the intermittent fasting protocol like if you are on 16:8, 14:10, 20:4 protocols of eating and fasting. Therefore, intermittent fasting should be done strictly under the guidance of medical professionals only.”
Our Diabefly Coaches will keep a close eye on your progress and will make changes in your diet and exercise as and when needed based on your blood sugar levels. Diabefly Pro’s multidisciplinary approach will give you better control over your blood sugars and will help you lose weight safely and sustainably.
Try intermittent fasting in a safe and scientific way with Diabefly Pro – a 360-degree care program for diabetes management that offers personalised safe technology for people with diabetes. It is trusted by top doctors, including renowned Endocrinologists and Diabetologists in India.