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Does Fasting Help Blood Sugar Levels

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Potential Benefit Of Intermittent Fasting For Diabetes: It May Boost Weight Loss

Fasting Blood Sugar Levels

In previous years, dietitians and scientists thought of IF as a negative practice, so there isnt a wealth of high-quality clinical research on how it may affect people with diabetes, says Jason Fung, MD, a nephrologist in Toronto and coauthor of The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting. But attitudes have begun to change, and some newer studies suggest the approach may have benefits, including for people with diabetes.

For example, a small study published in August 2021 in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research found that IF lowered insulin resistance in 13 adults with type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream people with type 2 diabetes are resistant to insulin, which results in higher blood sugar levels.

Its thought that losing weight through IF can lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity, too, says Michael Mosley, MD, a science journalist and coauthor of The FastDiet.

In addition, a review of existing research published in February 2021 in the journal Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology included several studies that found IF reduced fasting glucose levels, weight, and post-meal blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Even with these studies, though, further research needs to be conducted to see whether IF is truly safe for people with type 2 diabetes as a whole, experts say.

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May Aid In Cancer Prevention And Increase The Effectiveness Of Chemotherapy

Animal and test-tube studies indicate that fasting may benefit the treatment and prevention of cancer.

In fact, one rat study found that alternate-day fasting helped block tumor formation .

Similarly, a test-tube study showed that exposing cancer cells to several cycles of fasting was as effective as chemotherapy in delaying tumor growth and increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs on cancer formation .

Unfortunately, most research is limited to the effects of fasting on cancer formation in animals and cells.

Despite these promising findings, additional studies are needed to look at how fasting may influence cancer development and treatment in humans.

Summary Some animal and test-tube studies suggest that fasting could block tumor development and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Recommended Reading: What To Expect Intermittent Fasting

Increasing Blood Sugar When Fasting

Why does my blood sugar level increase from 86 to 112 mg/dl when I do a 20-hour fast? Is that normal? Im on an LCHF diet.

Thank you doctor,Alvaro

Answer:This is a normal process. When you fast, insulin levels start to drop and this triggers a surge of counter-regulatory hormones, including noradrenalin and growth hormone. This is normal, and meant to pull some of the stored sugar from the liver into the blood. If your liver is full of sugar, it may release lots of sugar into the blood, causing the blood sugar to rise.

So, yes, blood sugar may rise during fasting. The most important question to consider, though, is where this sugar came from. If you are not eating, the rise in blood sugar may only come from your own body. You are simply moving sugar from the liver to the blood. It means that there is too much sugar stored inside your body and you need to empty it out, either with LCHF diet or intermittent fasting

Dr. Jason Fung

Drawbacks To Consider Before Starting Intermittent Fasting

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Although IF/TRF may carry health benefits and is generally safe for people with diabetes, there are some drawbacks:

  • It is difficult to start a new eating routine! Transitioning from a round-the-clock eating schedule to one with planned feeding and fasting times can be stressful, and it might not align well with your daily life. For example, if you exercise in the morning or are an athlete, it might not be possible to participate on an empty stomach.

  • Any style of fasting will affect your blood glucose levels and insulin requirements. Especially when starting a fasting regimen, you will need to closely monitor these indicators to make sure that your glucose levels stay in range. If you have type 1 diabetes or are dependent on insulin, you should also test your ketone levels consistently to avoid the risk of ketoacidosis .

  • IF/TRF can have side-effects, such as shakiness, hypoglycemia, irritability, hunger, increased heart rate, sweating, chills, and dizziness.

  • Know that IF/TRF can lead to unhealthy eating habits, including disordered eating. If you are concerned that you or someone else with diabetes may be experiencing disordered eating, contact the Diabulimia Helpline or We Are Diabetes the National Eating Disorders Alliance is a resource for anyone with or without diabetes.

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How To Start Fasting

There are many different types of fasts, making it easy to find a method that fits your lifestyle.

Here are a few of the most common types of fasting:

  • Water fasting: Involves drinking only water for a set amount of time.
  • Partial fasting: Certain foods or drinks such as processed foods, animal products or caffeine are eliminated from the diet for a set period.
  • Calorie restriction: Calories are restricted for a few days every week.

Within these categories are also more specific types of fasts.

For example, intermittent fasting can be broken down into subcategories, such as alternate-day fasting, which involves eating every other day, or time-restricted feeding, which entails limiting intake to just a few hours each day.

To get started, try experimenting with different types of fasting to find what works best for you.

Summary There are many different ways to practice fasting, which makes it easy to find a method that fits into just about any lifestyle. Experiment with different types to find what works best for you.

Ways To Use This Information For Better Health

  • Avoid sugars and refined grains. Instead, eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats .
  • Let your body burn fat between meals. Dont snack. Be active throughout your day. Build muscle tone.
  • Consider a simple form of intermittent fasting. Limit the hours of the day when you eat, and for best effect, make it earlier in the day .
  • Avoid snacking or eating at nighttime, all the time.
  • Adapted from a Harvard Health Blog post by Monique Tello, MD, MPH

    Read Also: How To Get Started Fasting

    Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be

    Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, its very reasonable to choose a reduced calorie plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet. But research suggests that not all IF approaches are the same, and some IF diets are indeed effective and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet.

    We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes.

    Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day , or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.

    Just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didnt lose a single pound.

    Intermittent Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar

    Low Blood Sugar, Intermittent Fasting & Your Liver Dr. Berg

    The benefits of intermittent fasting extend far beyond weight loss. Studies show it can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease because it improves the regulation of your blood sugar, increases your resistance to stress, and suppresses inflammation.

    A case study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed patients with type 2 diabetes who participated in an intermittent fasting protocol lost weight and managed to stop insulin therapy. In studies where weight loss didnt occur, fasting still improved the glucose levels of participants.

    This latter finding is significant because it confirms that a reduction in bloodstream glucose is not a secondary benefit of weight loss, but a direct result of intermittent fasting. This reduction in blood sugar could be due to the changes in signaling pathways and metabolic rhythm that fasting invokes, as well as an increase in ketones.

    Improvements in blood sugar tend to be dependent on fasting. Your blood sugar will typically improve after 2-4 weeks of compliance with a fasting protocol, and it dissipates if you return to eating three meals or more per day.

    You may be able to maintain your weight loss after you stop fasting, but long-term fasting is recommended if you need to continue to regulate your blood sugar.

    Recommended Reading: Alternate Day Fasting Results 1 Week

    How To Start Intermittent Fasting

    The first step, always, is talking with your physician or care team. They should be able to help you weigh the benefits and risks, identify dietary approaches to avoid nutritional deficiencies, and, if necessary, adjust any medications youre taking to avoid problems. Safety must come first, Horne says.

    However, dont be surprised if your health care provider isnt enthusiastic about fasting diets. These plans are still relatively new, and theyre generally not taught in medical school. People may encounter pushback, or their physician may not be very familiar with these regimens, Horne says. If your doctor says that fasting isnt right for you, thats one thing. But if she or he seems dismissive of fasting diets in general, it may be worth seeking a second opinion from a provider who has experience with these plans.

    Intermittent fasting can be risky for some. But there is now evidence that it may be a helpful, or even superior, alternative to classic weight-loss plans for people with Type 2 diabetes.

    What To Eat For High Blood Sugar To Lower It

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    Can You Fast If You Have Diabetes

    Yes in some circumstances, but it depends on how healthy you are.

    Ultimately, it is a personal choice whether or not to fast. However, if you do choose to fast, then you must consult your doctor or healthcare team, to make sure that you are able to look after yourself properly. We’ve got lots more information about fasting and how to do it safely.

    Drink Water And Stay Hydrated

    Chart for normal fasting blood sugar levels

    Drinking enough water could help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.

    In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine.

    One review of observational studies showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels (

    34 ).

    You can do so at home using a portable blood glucose meter, which is known as a glucometer. You can discuss this option with your doctor.

    Keeping track allows you to determine whether you need to adjust your meals or medications. It also helps you learn how your body reacts to certain foods .

    Try measuring your levels regularly every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log. Also, it may be more helpful to track your blood sugar in pairs for example, before and after exercise or before and 2 hours after a meal.

    This can show you whether you need to make small changes to a meal if it spikes your blood sugar, rather than avoiding your favorite meals altogether. Some adjustments include swapping a starchy side for non-starchy veggies or limiting them to a handful.


    Checking your blood glucose and maintaining a daily log enables you to adjust foods and medications when necessary to better manage your blood sugar levels.

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    May Be Beneficial For Heart Health

    Heart disease is currently the worlds biggest killer .

    Its known that various health markers are associated with either an increased or decreased risk of heart disease.

    Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including:

    • blood sugar levels

    The effects of fasting on heart health need to be studied more in-depth in humans before recommendations can be made.


    Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers.

    Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes

    When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular waste removal process called autophagy .

    This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.

    Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease .


    Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.

    Read Also: Water Fasting Weight Loss Results

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    How Can People With Type 2 Diabetes Try If Safely

    Intermittent Fasting, Low Blood Sugar & Adrenals Dr. Berg

    A person with diabetes should consult their doctor before starting IF to ensure that it is safe for them. A person will also need their doctors guidance on adjusting the dosages and timing of their medications to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

    Individuals trying IF should check their blood sugars more frequently ideally, every 24 hours especially when first starting out.

    People with hypoglycemia should break their fast immediately and treat their low blood sugar with 15 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glucose tablets or gels. They should consult with a doctor before restarting the fast.

    It is also important to drink additional fluids during the fasting period to reduce the risk of dehydration and hypotension. A doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the dose of some diabetes medications, diuretics, and antihypertensives.

    People should maintain a balanced diet on nonfasting days and avoid processed, fatty, and sugary foods. Doing so will mean that they do not reverse the positive effects of the fasting days.

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