Intermittent Fasting

Healthy Living

Intermittent Fasting

Ginger VieiraContributor: Ginger Vieira, Author and Diabetes Expert

This article is an excerpt from Diabetes Strong

If your first reaction to “intermittent fasting with type 1 diabetes” is…”Oh my gosh, my blood sugar would be so low! I could never do that!” …then definitely keep reading. I will cover everything you need to know about intermittent fasting with type 1 diabetes.

What’s the point of intermittent fasting?
There are 3 general reasons a person might want to pursue intermittent fasting.

  1. Weight-loss: This is the most obvious and most common reason to give it a try.
  2. Simplicity: Reducing the number of hours each day that you have to think about food, track food, make decisions around food, and cook food can be really freeing! Instead of frantically and unexpectedly skipping meals because of a hectic schedule, intermittent fasting allows you to properly and methodically skip eating during parts of the time.
  3. Energy: Once you get going, and you’re no longer freaking out about, “How hungry will I feel!?!”…this approach to eating can actually give you quite a boost of energy because your body will be burning fat for fuel instead of relying on sugar from your blood. Body fat is an endless source of energy.

Before we get started:
If your blood sugar drops just because you don’t eat for a handful of hours, you’re taking too much background/basal insulin via pump or injection. Talk to your CDE or primary care doctor about “basal testing.” (Or check out Gary Scheiner’s book, ‘Think Like a Pancreas’ and do the basal testing yourself!)

Basal testing literally consists of purposefully skipping a meal (or two) in order to see if your insulin keeps your blood sugar steady, or if your blood sugar significantly rises or falls out of your personal goal range. If it rises, you’re not getting enough background/basal insulin. If it falls, then you’re clearly getting too much.

How intermittent fasting works
When you wake up with an in-range blood sugar (ideally between 70 to 130 mg/dL as a person with type 1 diabetes…the 130 mg/dL being on the higher end but offering some room for imperfection in a complex disease) and you don’t eat breakfast, which means you don’t take a bolus of insulin, your body will continue to burn fat for fuel because you have yet to introduce actual fuel. You have yet to turn on that switch telling your body to rely on glucose for fuel instead of fat.

The moment you eat or drink something containing calories, your body says, “Alright! Now it’s time to burn glucose!”

What an intermittent fasting schedule looks like
There are a lot of different ways you can approach fasting, and after doing this for several years on and off, I’ve found I can flexibly create my own approach that feels most natural to me.

Here are 3 of the most popular fasting schedules, adapted from Dr. John Berardi’s guide to intermittent fasting:

  • 24-hour fast: You eat dinner on Thursday (for example), and then you don’t eat again until dinner on Friday. This should generally only be performed once per week. (Read Dr. Berardi’s guide to see what happens if you do a 24-hour fast too often.)
  • 16-hour fast: You eat dinner on Thursday (for example), and then you don’t eat again until 1 or 2 p.m. the next day. It’s important to note that you should still eat a normal day’s worth of calories during that 8-hour eating window. If you’re trying to lose weight, that amount of calories might only be 1200 to 1600, but you still need to get your calories while following a fasting program.
  • Periodic fast: You suddenly decide to go 24 hours without eating, unrelated to your fasting or eating schedule throughout the rest of week. I like using it when I know I’m going to be eating a really heavy meal (Thanksgiving, holidays, pizza or Chinese food, etc.). I’ve also used this when I know I’m going to be sitting in a car for a long time on a road-trip, or if I know I’m going to be somewhere new with my kids and I really don’t want to risk any low or high blood sugars – I just want to remove diabetes from the equation altogether so I’ll fast as long as I can that day.

Continue reading the full article here:

Ginger Vieira has lived with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease since 1999 and fibromyalgia since 2014. She is the Digital Content Manager at BeyondType1 and BeyondType2, and is the author of several books, including: Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes, Dealing with Diabetes Burnout, Emotional Eating with Diabetes, and Your Diabetes Science Experiment. Ginger has written for many websites, including: DiabetesMine, Diathrive, MySugr, Omnipod, and more. Her background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in professional writing, certifications in coaching, personal training, and yoga, and 14 records in drug-free powerlifting back in her youth! Find Ginger on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.