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Can Diabetics Do Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting has many benefits that go beyond weight loss and include living a healthier life. Can diabetics do intermittent fasting to achieve these benefits?
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The benefits of intermittent fasting are quite impressive for people with diabetes

Intermittent fasting should be considered as a treatment option for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, but not everyone is a great candidate for this treatment. Before making a decision about doing intermittent fasting, you must consult with your doctor.

Written by
Vera Bokor
Health and Wellbeing Coach

Diabetes and intermittent fasting, do they work together well? 

Should diabetics do intermittent fasting or not?

The first thing which we need to understand, that there are different types of diabetes and the second, that there are different types of fasting. You may wonder if type 2 diabetics can do 16/8 intermittent fasting, for example.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce or respond to insulin, which leads to increased blood sugar levels (glucose). Excess glucose can be excreted in the urine, cause kidney failure, nerve damage, heart problems, skin infections and other complications (1, 2). It’s a serious condition and can be deadly if it isn't managed well.

The best option would be to not have this disease at all and intermittent fasting can help with it.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

A person measuring blood sugar.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterised by high blood sugar. The difference between them is that type 2 is developed through life, and leads to insensitivity to excessive insulin. Type 1 is typically an autoimmune condition that happens suddenly, where the pancreas is not able to produce insulin on its own (3).

In other words, type 2 diabetes is a disease caused by excessive insulin resulting in insulin resistance. In type 1, it is a lack of this hormone and people with this type of diabetes need to inject insulin. Usually, type 1 diabetics are sensitive to insulin, but if they eat a lot of carbohydrates and sugar and increase the dose of injection, they can develop insulin resistance over time (4).

Intermittent fasting and diabetes

More and more people are looking for ways to cure diabetes naturally. One of the most popular methods of treatment for this condition is intermittent fasting, which has been shown to have positive effects.

Intermittent fasting is a type of eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. This improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance; helps with weight loss and other metabolic processes in people with diabetes (5). 

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IF and type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes and intermittent fasting cannot be seen as two opposing things. Both of them can exist together and lead to successful results. Nowadays science says that intermittent fasting can be a cure for type 2 diabetes. There are a few groups of diabetics in this type and depending on the group, you need to pick the right approach to intermittent fasting:

  • People with type 2 diabetes who are not on any medications are great candidates for intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a powerful method to bring insulin down and increase insulin sensitivity. You need to practise different fasting protocols and see which one works for you.

  • Diabetics on metformin or a similar drug.

These people are also good candidates, but in such a case, you need to consult your doctor to adjust the medication, because without doing it, your blood sugar can drop down too quickly. It will be a good idea to monitor your glucose levels yourself closely to prevent hypoglycemia (low glucose levels). 

  • Insulin-dependent type 2 diabetics. 

This group can still do intermittent fasting, but it should be done under medical supervision. Here your doctor may advise you to stop taking short-term insulin and adjust long-term insulin while fasting because without consuming any food you can get overmedicated which will lead you to hypoglycemia (6). 

IF and type 1 diabetes

Empty mug with a spoon.

For type 1 diabetics, intermittent fasting is a potentially beneficial practice. Here we split type 1 diabetics into two groups:

  • Type 1 diabetics, who are insulin sensitive and who keep a good diet to manage their condition are probably not suitable for intermittent fasting and shouldn’t consider fasting as a treatment for their disease.

  • People with type 1 diabetes, who consume a lot of carbohydrates and take a high dosage of insulin to manage their blood sugar, who have developed insulin resistance can benefit from intermittent fasting. It can lead to improved blood sugar levels, better insulin sensitivity, weight loss and reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This group must consult their doctor before taking any action (7, 8).

The bottom line

The main issue with diabetes is blood sugar and insulin. In both cases, type 1 and type, you need to bring glucose down with the least amount of insulin, that’s where intermittent fasting shows great results by improving insulin sensitivity and achieving other health benefits (9). 

Both types of diabetics will benefit from a proper diet, read the article “What is the daily Diet Plan for Type 2 Diabetes ?” .


  1. NHS. UK.
  2. NHS. UK.
  3. Fung J. M.D.The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally. April 2018
  4. Bjornstad P., Snell-Bergeon J. K., Nadeau K. J., Maahs D. M. Insulin sensitivity and complications in type 1 diabetes: New insights. World J Diabetes. 2015 Feb 15; 6(1): 8–16.  doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i1.8
  5. Jackson I, et al. Effect of fasting on glucose and insulin metabolism of obese patients. Lancet. 1969; 293(7589): 285–287. DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00613.2006
  6. Furmli S, Elmasry R, Ramos R, Fung J. Therapeutic use of intermittent fasting for people with type 2 diabetes as an alternative to insulin. BMJ Case Rep. 2018; 2018: bcr2017221854. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2017-221854
  7. J Reiter J, Wexler I D , Shehadeh N , Tzur A,  Zangen D. Type 1 diabetes and prolonged fasting. Diabet Med. 2007 Apr;24(4):436-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2007.02098.x. 
  8. Kobeissy A, Zantout M. S., Azar S. T. Suggested insulin regimens for patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus who wish to fast during the month of Ramadan. Clin Ther. 2008 Aug;30(8):1408-15. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2008.08.007.
  9. Grajower M. M., Horne B. D. Clinical Management of Intermittent Fasting in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 873. doi: 10.3390/nu11040873

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