Intermittent Fasting for Prediabetes

Intermittent fasting for Prediabetes

Intermittent fasting is one of the methods to restrict calories so as to reverse diabetes and prediabetes. For prediabetes, intermittent fasting may normalize abnormally high blood sugars.

However, for those with diabetes, it may control the blood sugars, or help diabetics achieve their glycemic targets, if not reverse diabetes.

Intermittent fasting also known as intermittent energy restriction or time-restricted eating is a dietary regime that consists of alternate periods of fasting and eating.

In basic terms, intermittent fasting induces periodic eating breaks to induce energy deficit and improve metabolism.

Intermittent fasting is good for the management of prediabetes. Because prediabetes is an early condition in which a person is at risk of getting type 2 diabetes in near future, but it can be managed by simple lifestyle modifications.

Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance and helps in weight loss – two main factors that are important for the management of prediabetes.

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Intermittent Fasting Types

  • Fasting on a regular basis:

Fasting for up to 24 hours once or twice a week, with food intake as necessary or desired on the remaining days.

  • Feeding on a timetable:

It entails eating for only 8 hours a day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.

  • Fasting on alternate days:

Fasting for 24 hours followed by ad libitum feeding for the next 24 hours. On fasting days, people typically consume 0-25% of their daily caloric needs.

  • The 5:2 rule:

It is a variation of the periodic fasting method that involves restricting caloric intake on two non-consecutive days per week (500 kcal for women and 600 kcal for men), with sensible eating on the other days but no formal energy restrictions.

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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Prediabetes

Intermittent fasting has a great impact on the metabolic functions of the body which is why it is known to have a great role in treating prediabetes.

1.   Reprogramming of energy mechanisms

An intermittent fasting regime excludes energy intake in the evening and at night, this synchronization in food intake causes an effective postprandial hormone release which leads to better energy metabolism.

A study suggests that one overnight fasting interval in humans reduces the basal concentrations of insulin and glucose. [Ref]

2.   Reduces Insulin Resistance:

The main symptom of prediabetes is fluctuation in blood sugar levels as a result of insulin resistance.

Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and keep type 2 diabetes at bay.

Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have significant benefits for insulin resistance and to result in a significant decrease in blood sugar levels

According to a study fasting blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes were reduced by 3-6% over the course of 8-12 weeks. Fasting insulin levels dropped by 20-31%. [Ref]

3.   Weight loss:

Intermittent fasting is mainly considered a dietary regime for weight loss and being overweight puts you at risk of falling into the pre-diabetes category.

That’s why the weight loss resulting from intermittent fasting can be helpful in prevention and the management of prediabetes.

Research suggests that intermittent fasting causes a subsequent reduction in the daily energy intake causing approximately 1% – 8% weight loss. [Ref]

Another study that accessed the effect of alternate-day fasting and periodic fasting, suggested that both types result in 3% – 8% weight loss. [Ref]

4.   Regulation of Gut Microbiome:

The gut microbiota plays an essential role in homeostasis, metabolism, and nutrition. An individual whose gut microbiome is disturbed is more likely to be prediabetic because of disrupted metabolism and homeostasis.

A study suggests that intermittent fasting increases the diversity of human gut microbiota. [Ref]

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Intermittent Fasting and Prediabetes induced Neuropathy:

Although prediabetes is an early precursor of type 2 diabetes, it has got a lot of attention because of its increasing prevalence.

According to American Diabetes Association, about 70% of prediabetes patients will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

One of the microvascular complications of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, which is also being seen among the prediabetic population.

Studies suggest that prediabetic patients have a higher risk of developing Peripheral Neuropathy even before the onset of diabetes. [Ref]

Diet therapy has been shown beneficial in preventing the risk of prediabetes and diabetic complications.

Intermittent fasting is a convenient method of energy restriction and it also has a positive role in the prevention of peripheral neuropathy.

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting is useful in ameliorating diabetic complications. [Ref]

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How Intermittent Fasting helps in the treatment of Prediabetes?

Intermittent fasting decreases insulin resistance and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin this way it balances the glucose metabolism and prevents the excessive growth of adipose tissue – resulting in weight loss.

And consistent and solid research evidence suggests that weight management can delay the progression of prediabetes.

The restrictive energy intake that is offered in intermittent fasting substantially decreases HbA1c and fasting blood glucose levels. When blood glucose is in normal ranges, prediabetes remission can also occur.

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Tips to Manage Intermittent Fasting:

Here are some tips to manage intermittent fasting:

  • Make sure to have a balanced diet when not fasting and avoid overeating. Include foods from each food group and keep an extra focus on protein and fiber-rich foods
  • Eat foods that are more slowly absorbed just before fasting. Those with a lower glycemic index score are included. They are frequently high in fiber and digest slowly keeping you full for a longer time period.
  • Eat foods that will fill you up and keep your blood sugar stable during the fast. Fruits, vegetables, and fresh salads are some examples.
  • Limit your intake of fatty or sugary foods when you break your fast. Instead of frying, try grilling or baking.
  • To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of fluids during the fast. All types of other drinks should be avoided
  • Check your blood glucose levels before, during, and after the fast
  • If you experience hypoglycemia symptoms, break the fast right away, and before resuming the fast, consult with your healthcare provider.
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Limitations of Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is generally safe for people with prediabetes. But if you have any of these conditions do not start intermittent fasting on your own:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Electrolyte disturbance
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Postural hypotension
  • Gout
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Eating disorders

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

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