Not eating for days at a time? Not my idea of fun but intermittent fasting is hot.
Not a new practice generally speaking (by a long shot) but new to the “diet industry”, intermittent fasting is one of the trendier diet fads out there.
Maybe you’ve already heard the claims that intermittent fasting (or IF) can help you drop weight fast, crush sugar cravings and control your blood sugars.
So what’s the scoop?
Well, if you’re not totally clear on what IF is, it’s basically a way of eating that involves significantly reducing the number of meals eaten either each day or a few days of the week, which results in a net caloric deficit throughout the week.
So can it help you lose weight and reverse prediabetes?
The answer is…maybe. If you can stick to it.
But no more than any other strategy that result in you taking in fewer calories than you need.
Intermittent fasting is basically a way of eating that involves significantly reducing the number of meals eaten either each day or a few days of the week, to result in a net caloric deficit throughout the week.
For a complete run down on all the different types of IF, check out this stellar article from Examine.com
Practically speaking, I’ve seen some people try it for a few weeks (at most) but then typically find that it’s just not an easy way to eat and live life.
With all the variations of IF out there, it’s tough to study its effectiveness. Although there is some research that points to its potential benefits, and potential downsides.
For example, there’s a few studies that show it may be harmful for people with type 2 diabetes with one study showing an impaired blood sugar response in people with type 2 diabetes (2).
This basically means that as your insulin should be coming out to take care of the glucose (sugar) that’s coming into your blood stream, it’s not doing a very good job. So the glucose stays in your blood stream, which is not a good thing.
In my version of Modified Daily Fasting, you aim to get a 13-14 hour fast each day. So, for example, a typical "fast" would be from 6pm - 7am.
A review published in 2014, looked at the differences between intermittent fasting vs. calorie restriction on the prevention of type 2 diabetes by analyzing the research published to date (3).
The authors found intermittent fasting can caused a weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks, which was not significant from traditional caloric restriction methods.
The authors of the review suggested these preliminary findings showed promising results for the use of IF as an alternative to more traditional “calorie restriction” for weight loss and type 2 diabetes risk reduction in overweight and obese populations, but more research would be needed.
So what to do?
If you want to add the potential benefits of intermittent fasting to your eating plan but you’re not interested in doing anything extreme, here’s what I’d suggest: a Modified Daily Fast.
With modified daily fasting, you have a better chance of getting the benefits of a free and clear blood stream for the maximum amount of time, without the inconvenience of not being able to eat all day.
In my version, you aim to get a 13-14 hour fast each day. So, for example, a typical “fast” would be from 6pm – 7am.
This allows your body to do a few things:
- Clear the glucose from your blood stream from your main meal
- Helps to reduce the strain on your pancreas by lowering the total amount of insulin needed for the full 24-hour period
- And helps your body switch to burning fat in the evening, not using any new glucose that would have normally come into the body
When you have prediabetes, I always recommend finding a way to reduce the strain on the pancreas.
It can be taxing on the pancreas to be constantly pumping out insulin to cover glucose coming into the blood stream. When you give the pancreas a good break every day, you allow the beta cells of the pancreas a nice rest and potentially, help to delay the progression to type 2 diabetes.
When you’re the kind of person who wants to do anything and everything reasonably possible to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, a strategy like modified daily fasting may be something you’ll want to try on for size.
If you think this strategy could be helpful for you, let me know in the comments below if you’re curious to try it out.
Hugs and high fives,
PS Like any lifestyle change, be sure to commit to a trial process. Generally speaking, I recommend a good 8-12 weeks of a trial period for any intervention before you can really say yay or nay if it’s useful for you or not.
- The lowdown on intermittent fasting,” Examine.com, published on 6 April 2017, last updated on 22 October 2018,https://examine.com/nutrition/the-low-down-on-intermittent-fasting/
- Jakubowicz D (2015). Fasting until noon triggers increased postprandial hyperglycemia and impaired insulin response after lunch and dinner in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care. Oct;38(10):1820-6. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0761. Epub 2015 Jul 28.
Barnosky, A et al (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research; Vol 164, Issue 4: 302-311