Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Glycaemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating regimen that involves limiting food intake to a certain period of time, followed by a fixed period of fasting and consuming water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages. The fasting period can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Research has demonstrated the benefits of IF relating to weight reduction, brain health, and longevity.
Is intermittent fasting safe for people with diabetes?
Carter et al. performed a clinical trial in which 137 adults with type 2 diabetes were divided into two groups - one intermittent energy restriction group (500–600 kcal/day for two days per week and normal diet every other day) and a continuous energy restriction group (1200–1500 kcal/day). After 12 months of intervention, the two groups showed similar reductions in HbA1C levels and greater reductions in weight in the intermittent energy restriction group.
A similar clinical trial by Gabel et al. compared an alternate day fasting regimen with continuous energy restriction. Over the 12 month intervention period, there were similar reductions in body weight, BMI, and fat mass in both groups, but significant decreases in fasting insulin levels (− 44%; p < 0.05) and HOMA-IR (− 53%; p < 0.05) - a marker used to measure levels of insulin resistance - in the alternate-day fasting group compared to the continuous restriction group.
Intermittent fasting is a promising intervention for effective weight loss and glycaemic control and, when done safely under medical supervision, could provide some benefits to people with diabetes. However, more research is needed to assess its effect on insulin-dependent diabetes management.
- Gabel K, Kroeger CM, Trepanowski JF, et al. Differential Effects of Alternate-Day Fasting Versus Daily Calorie Restriction on Insulin Resistance. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019;27(9):1443-1450. doi:10.1002/oby.22564
- Carter S, Clifton PM, Keogh JB. Effect of Intermittent Compared With Continuous Energy Restricted Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Noninferiority Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2018 6 July; 1(3): e180756. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0756. PMID: 30646030; PMCID: PMC6324303.
College of Health Sciences
Abu Dhabi University