The Intermittent Fasting diet is a major successful and popular treatment protocol for both weight loss and Type 2 Diabetes.
Many people ask me what is the intermittent fasting diet and I always answer that it’s actually not a diet but rather a way of eating in intervals during the day.
Intermittent Fasting Means Eating In Intervals
Intermittent fasting means eating in intervals of eating-stop eating, and eating again. It is a great tool for combating both obesity and Insulin Resistance.
It is not a diet that suggests what you should be eating. But it is rather a way of eating that involves periods of eating and not eating anything at all.
There are many ways of doing intermittent fasting. A simple way of getting started with intermittent fasting is fasting in between meals which means no snacking in between meals. This will give your pancreas a break from releasing insulin during this time, and will help to lower your insulin level. This is very important because it is the high insulin level that prevents fat burning.
Then there is a 16:8 Fasting which means eating in an 8-hour window and fasting 16 hours a day. This is a very popular and easy way of getting more into Intermittent Fasting. For example. If you get up and have your breakfast say at 8 am, you then have lunch at 12 pm, and dinner at 4 pm. Then the next meal will be your breakfast at 8 am the next morning. That is 16 hours later. And such a break of not eating anything for 16 hours will have a greater impact on your insulin level. Fasting for longer periods of time will naturally decrease your insulin level more and quicker.
When you lower your insulin level you will gradually decrease your insulin resistance and slowly enter the fat burning state when your insulin level gets down.
Other Ways of doing Intermittent Fasting
The 5:2 Diet is where you normally eat for 5 days and then fast for 2 days. On the two days of fasting, you don´t get to completely fast. You restrict your calorie intake to 500 calories for a woman and 600 calories for men. This low caloric intake will still trigger the same hormonal responses as a complete fasting regimen allows for. The two fasting days can be done on consecutive days or spaced apart as you desire.
The 5:2 diet is also a good way of getting started with fasting, as you don´t eliminate eating but only restrict your caloric intake.
Time-restricted fasting is where you limit the time of the day, where you eat, instead of limiting your intake of calories. The idea is that you are free to eat as you want within a given time frame of the day, and for the rest of the day, you fast. It’s typically a 4 – 11 hours window of eating, while fasting the remaining time of the day, 13 – 20 hours. The benefit of this diet is that a person can restrict their food intake without having to count their calories.
Alternate day fasting is a method of fasting, where you fast every other day. On the fasting days, you can choose to completely fast by not eating any calories at all or, you do one meal of 500 calories. On the other days, you eat normally. This is a good way of learning to build up to an extended fast of say 7 to 14 days. It has also proven efficient for weight loss and sustaining muscle, protein, and bones.
24 hours fast is where you fast for 24 hours daily. It doesn´t mean that you go a full day without eating any food at all. It merely means that, if you choose to fast in the evenings, you stop eating after your dinner meal and don´t eat again until dinner the next evening. This could also be done from breakfast to breakfast the next morning or from lunch to lunch the next day. The idea is that you go 24 hours from consuming one meal to the next meal. This is an easy way to incorporate fasting into your day. If you choose to fast from dinner to dinner, that means that you will skip breakfast and lunch the next day and only have your dinner. You can fast in this way without anybody even knowing you are fasting, and it won´t disrupt family dinners either. There is no concern for nutrient deficiency, as you still eat regularly. Just make sure you eat healthy, unprocessed fresh food, including enough protein. You can do this regimen daily or two to three times a week.
This type of fasting, be it from lunch, dinner, or breakfast the first day to the equivalent meal the next day. So one has 24 hours in between. This can be done two, three times a week. It can also be a daily sixteen-hour fast, only eating within 8 hours.
36 hours fast is, where you skip eating for a whole day three times a week. For example, if on day 1 you decide to fast after your dinner at 7 p.m., you don´t eat for the whole day 2, and only start eating breakfast again on day 3. This repeated two more times makes up for 3 times 36 hours fast every week. When the desired weight is achieved and no further diabetes medication is needed, you can reduce that rhythm as long as the results are maintained.
42 Hours Fast During three days of the week, one fasts the entire day, and one leaves all breakfasts out of the entire week. One may only consume fasting fluids during fasting days and eat whole, unprocessed unprepared low carbohydrate foods with high natural fats. On eating days, this extended fast gives more time for the blood glucose level to drop and therefore is most suitable for type 2 diabetes without medications. If on medication consult, the physician is mandatory as the blood sugar could also drop too low.
Two to Three-day fast is just simply fasting for 2 to three days. This is an extended way of fasting. It is good if you have very high blood sugar or struggle with stubborn weight.
This fasting method is rarely used to treat Type 2 Diabetes, though, as day 2 of fasting is always very difficult to get through because the body is changing from glucose metabolism to fat metabolism. But after day two, it becomes much easier, because the body begins to burn ketone bodies instead of glucose. And because it becomes much easier to fast after day two, it would be a pity to stop fasting right then. Therefore, it is recommended to keep on fasting for 7 to 14 days, which are very effective in treating Type 2 Diabetes. But it certainly anyhow is beneficial, just like every other fasting option, simply because it gives the pancreas a break from producing insulin and thereby the Insulin Resistance is decreased. In fact, every time you don´t eat, you do yourself a favor when you have Type 2 Diabetes.
Seven- to Fourteen-Day Fasts is an extended fast and is the most efficient way of fasting for people with severe Type 2 Diabetes. Because it allows for a quicker improvement in blood glucose and insulin levels and weight loss. There is also a greater need for people with severe diabetes to reverse their condition to avoid organ damages, which are irreversible once they occur. Around after a little week, 5 – 6 days, that is, where the improvements in blood glucose occur, and medications can be reduced. That would take much longer with only a smaller fasting duration. This fast is usually stopped after the 14 days, to avoid the re feeding syndrome after the fast, where it can be difficult to get people into eating right again. But in general, people are advised to do Alternate-Day fasting, before going on an extended fast. That way, they can build up and get prepared for an extended fast duration.
During this regime, one is only allowed fasting fluids, as mentioned after the hunger of day two; it usually gets easier. The 7 days fast should not be undertaken more than once a month, and the 14 days fast not more than every six weeks. In between a 42-hour fast should be followed. This regimen to start with is most helpful when severe diabetes or morbid obesity needs urgent control.
What Happens When We Fast
When we fast, the opposite happens as to when we eat and store energy.
Insulin goes down, and the body begins to burn fat.
First, the liver and the muscles are emptied of glycogen which is stored sugar in the liver and the muscles. This can take up from 24 to 36 hours. Afterward, the body begins to break down stored fat for energy and you begin to lose weight.
Insulin is a Fat storing and Fat burning hormone
When we eat, insulin is released by the pancreas to get the blood sugar into the cells. It is a fat burning hormone as well as a fat storing hormone. For example when you have elevated insulin levels as in the case of obesity and diabetes, you cannot burn of the fat, because you have too much insulin in your body. Instead, it will store the excess blood glucose as fat around the belly.
It is important to notice that in the presence of insulin you cannot burn fat if you have a slow metabolism.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Weight loss: without consciously having to restrict calories.
Reduce Insulin Resistance: also lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%.
Reduce inflammation: which is a key reason for many chronic diseases.
Heart health: reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammation, blood sugar, and Insulin Resistance.
Cancer: Animal studies with rats show that intermittent fasting decrease cancer cells.
Brain health: increases the brain hormone BDNF and can aid in the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Anti-aging: prolonging of lifespan in rats. Studies showed that rats who fasted lived 36–83% longer.
Intermittent Fasting is an excellent way of loosing weight and reducing and even curing insulin resistance.
Obese people and people with type 2 diabetes have elevated insulin levels and are in fat storing mode.
When you do Intermittent Fasting you lower your insulin level and decrease your insulin resistance which will help you to put your diabetes into remission, and at the same time you get into the fat burning state again.