Let’s be honest, we can all get swept up in fads.
Whether it’s music, fashion, or TV shows, there is something attractive about things that are part of the popular landscape. The whole “everyone else is doing it” mindset can get it’s claws on us, even when we’re well into adulthood.
(Remember Pokemon Go?)
This is never more the case than with diets. We all know someone, or have been someone, who has tried a diet simply because it’s popular, and it seems like everyone we know is giving it a go.
This series, “Diabetics and Diets”, will look at some popular diets, the pros and cons of them, and whether or not they might be a good idea for type 1, type 2, and pre-diabetics.
So, let’s dive in shall we?
Intermittent fasting is one of the hottest diets right now. While it gained some popularity several years ago, it has never been more prevalent than it is at the moment.
In a nutshell, Intermittent Fasting breaks up days, or weeks, into two distinct periods. The first of which, food is consumed. The second, a period in which no food is consumed, or a period of fasting.
(Because you’re fasting, but intermittently…so…intermittent fasting. So clever.)
While there are many ways to set up these periods of eating/fasting, some of the most popular are 12:12, 8:16, and 5:2.
Let me explain what those mean.
This set up consists of dividing the day into two, twelve hour periods. The first would be a twelve hour period, or window, to eat. The second would be a twelve hour window of fasting. For example, you might set up your eating window from 7am-7pm. This would make your fasting window 7pm-7am.
This is essential the same concept as 12:12, but with different length windows. In this set up, your window to eat food would be eight hours, and your window to fast would be sixteen hours. An example of this would be eating between 8am and 4pm, and then fasting from 4pm until 8am the next day.
The set up for 5:2 is different from 12:12 and 8:16 in that the numbers represent days of the week instead of hours in a day. In a 5:2 set up, you eat normally five days a week, and then “fast” two days a week. I put fast in quotation marks because typically, people don’t truly fast. The typical recommendation is that on these two “fasting” days, an individual eats roughly five hundred calories on each day. Although, technically not a fast, five hundred calories is an incredibly small amount of food.
As I mentioned, while these are three of the more popular ways to set up Intermittent Fasting, there are a host of different ways to divide up your day, or your week.
Many people (both diabetics and non-diabetics) have had success with Intermittent Fasting. By creating set times to eat and to fast, it can be easier to reduce the amount an individual is eating during the course of a day, or week. Of course, this requires a certain amount of self control to avoid eating during the fasting periods. But then, all diets require some amount of self control, right?
There is also some evidence to suggest that Intermittent Fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity, which could be beneficial for diabetics in controlling their blood sugars, and for those with pre-diabetes to keep diabetes at bay.
The first “con” that needs to be addressed, is that there is nothing magic about Intermittent Fasting. It has worked well for a ton of people, but so have a lot of dietary strategies.
What makes Intermittent Fasting work for people is that they are able to create a caloric deficit, and be consistent. The two most important factors for weight loss. While this may not technically be considered a con of this diet, I feel it needs to be addressed as diets that gain popularity tend to come with the assumption that they will work no matter what.
For the average human, there aren’t a whole lot of cons that come with Intermittent Fasting, aside from potential hunger during their fasting window.
However, for diabetics, it could be a different story.
The extended periods of fasting could impact blood sugars negatively. There is a high risk of blood sugars dropping (hypoglycemia) during a fast. I know that the possibility of increasing sensitivity to insulin could be attractive to diabetics (including myself), but it is my opinion that there is too high of a chance for blood sugars to drop, and I don’t think its worth the risk. Especially when you consider there are plenty of other ways to create a caloric deficit and stay consistent.
(SIDE NOTE: if Intermittent Fasting has worked well for you, and your blood sugars are stable, great. I’m not saying it can’t work for diabetics. I’m saying I wouldn’t recommend it.)
It is my opinion that Intermittent Fasting can absolutely be beneficial for losing weight. However, I think it has potential to be unsafe for diabetics. My vote is to find another plan that provides more stability for your blood sugars.
Stay tuned for more in this “Diabetics and Diets” series.
In the mean time, feel free to drop a comment below with your thoughts, and give The Diabetic Trainer a follow on social media!