Intermittent Fasting. What is it and is it safe to do with type 1 diabetes? I was recently asked to post about intermittent fasting, so here goes nothing. **Please see excerpt at the bottom of this post if you have any doubts! One thing I want to clarify right off the bat, I’ve never been a big breakfast eater, so I’ve theoretically been intermittently fasting for quite a few years!
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is simply taking an extended period of time off from eating. Most of us do this each night for at least 8-12 hours. Important note: it’s still important to drink liquids like water, black coffee, or tea.
The easiest way that I’ve incorporated intermittent fasting into my lifestyle is by following the 16/8 rule. Basically, that boils down to 16 hours of fasting, and an 8 hour time frame to eat. For me, this is simple as I don’t eat breakfast, I never really have. So I generally eat my first meal of the day at 12:30 (noon), my last meal at 18:00 (6pm), followed by fasting until lunchtime the next day. Although Dr. Bernstein does not support intermittent fasting, I still do it. It is not an extra choice that I make, I simply just do not eat breakfast (although I do on the weekends).
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Stable blood sugar. For me, the benefits of fasting from my supper time meal until noon the next day are clear. My blood sugar is stable from 18:00 on day 1 until 12:30 on day 2, all without much effort. That mean’s I eat between 12:30 and 18:00. That ranges from 16-18 hours of stable blood sugars. However, basal rates need to be checked to make sure that intermittent fasting is a safe option. Actually, running a basal test is also, in effect, fasting!
Some other benefits that intermittent fasting is thought to provide are: weight loss, better fat burning, lower blood sugar levels.
When can intermittent fasting be dangerous?
Blood sugar issues. In order to be successful with intermittent fasting, it’s important to have basal rates on target so that blood sugars do not fluctuate in either direction, low or high. Once blood sugar is out of range, it should be corrected. Example: I’ve had times where I drop low in the morning without eating, lower than 65 mg/dl. At this point, I needed to eat a glucose tab in order to bring my blood sugar to normal range (70-100 is my target). The same goes for too high of a blood sugar.
Overeating. If overeating becomes an issue, perhaps it’s better to eat three meals a day instead of overeating as a result of hunger.
Elevated cortisol levels. This is a big one! If insulin resistance seems to become an issue, maybe intermittent fasting isn’t the best approach. It is thought that cortisol may be released when skipping meals for an extended period of time, leading to insulin resistance. I personally do not experience this, but be mindful.
In the end, it’s important to do what’s best for you. If intermittent fasting seems to deliver the opposite results of what you’re striving for, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider doing it in the first place.
Does anyone else fast with type 1 diabetes? What have been your experiences?
**I am not a doctor and I am NOT qualified to give medical advice. The above is my opinion and a bit of research which is not meant to substitute medical advice.