Intermittent Fasting and Type 2

What is it?

Losing weight gives people more energy, sleep better, and even improve your overall mood! For people with type 2 it can also reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions or complications due to diabetes.  In some cases, maintaining a healthy weight can even cause type 2 diabetes to go into remission! There are many successful ways to lose weight through creating a calorie deficit by using more calories than you eat while eating a healthy diet and exercising for 150 minutes a week.  However, many people are also seeing benefits in intermittent fasting.  

Intermittent fasting or IF has gained popularity in the last decade.  The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. The New England Journal of Medicine did an in depth study of intermittent fasting and found many benefits including: improved metabolism, lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, and improved ability of the body to flush out toxins.  

Two Popular Approaches

There are many kinds of fasting.  A growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.  So how do you get started? First, pick a plan.  There are many plans varying from highly restrictive and complex to easy to follow.  Our two favorites are pretty straightforward and safe for most people.

  • The 5:2 approach, you eat normally for five days in a row; then for two days in a row, you eat just 400 to 500 calories per day. On these two days, it's best to choose low-carb, high-fiber foods, such as vegetables; grilled or steamed fish; boiled eggs; natural yogurt; low-calorie soups; and black coffee or tea.  This is a good approach for people who want to eat normally for the five days and just worry about restrictions for two days of the week. 
  • The 16:8 approach, each day is the same: you fast 16 hours in a row, and then eat normally within an eight-hour period, like between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  You choose an eight-hour eating window each day and consume most of your calories in the middle of the day. This tends to be the most popular approach because it is an easy to follow routine and the least restrictive (you’re eating every day).  It is also considered to be pretty sustainable long term for these reasons. 

Generally, all IF plans Limit the hours of the day when you eat, and for best effect, you plan to eat earlier in the day (between 7 am to 3 pm, or even 10 am to 6 pm, but definitely not in the evening before bed).  Research continues to show that eating before bed can cause the body's metabolism to slow. The body slows down its functions at night to prepare for sleep, but consuming foods, especially those high in carbs, can make it harder to digest and result in weight gain.

Reminders for Healthy Fasting

After you pick your plan, plan your exercise and what you will eat during your non-fasting hours!  If you have type 2 and want to try intermittent fasting, you should continue to monitor the quality and variety of healthy foods you are eating (no matter what hours of the day you’re eating them).  You should still be eating healthy complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, vegetables, beans, lentils and fruits and avoid processed and refined simple carbohydrates like sugar, bleached flours, white bread etc. Additionally, you should still make physical activity a daily priority.  No diet or fasting can replace the positive effects of a quality balanced diet and daily exercise.  

Before you try intermittent fasting, you should check in with your primary care practitioner as it might not be a good fit for you.  If you have medications that you must take with food to avoid stomach irritation, or if you are prone to constipation, intermittent fasting might not be a good fit.  There are many ways for you to lose weight and reduce body fat! Healthy habits are the key to weight loss with type 2 diabetes. If it is time for you to start losing weight healthily and successfully, check out our online community, Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together for support and healthy strategies for weight loss with type 2 diabetes!