Intermittent Fasting is Safe and Effective for Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes

Intermittent Fasting for Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes

Time-restricted eating is also known as intermittent fasting. It involves eating within a specified time frame during the 24 hour day and not eating anything during all the other hours of the day. A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago was  published in JAMA -Network Open. It shows that intermittent fasting it is very effective in helping  people with Type 2 diabetes lose weight and control their blood sugar levels.

Participants in the study ate only during an eight-hour window between noon and 8 p.m. each day. They had no food intake for the other 16 hours in the day. There were 75 study participants. They lost 25% more weight over six months than participants who followed a more traditional diet based on calorie restriction. The study confirms past studies that have shown similar benefits from the Intermittent Fasting method of losing weight. A prior report on Intermittent Fasting  published in the British Medical Journal reported that some adherents to this dietary method lessened  or even eliminated the need for diabetes medications or insulin.

In the study from the University of Chicago, participants who ate only during the eight-hour window between noon and 8 p.m. each day actually lost 25% more weight over six months than participants who were instructed to reduce their calorie intake. Both groups had similar reductions in long-term blood sugar levels, as measured by a test of hemoglobin A1C, which shows blood sugar levels over the past three months. Participants’ weight, waistline circumference, blood sugar levels and other lab health indicators were measured over the six months study period.

Lead researcher Dr Krista Varady observed that those study participants in the time-restricted eating group found it easier to follow the regimen than those in the calorie-reducing group. She attributes that to the likelihood that these diabetic patients had likely been previously advised to lose weight by their doctors who advised them to cut back on their food intake and they were unsuccessful. So this new form of dieting was simple and in the end, easier to comply with.

Even though the study subjects were not instructed to reduce their calorie intake, they wound up reducing the calories they ate because during the time period during which they could eat was limited and food and calorie intake naturally became less than eating throughout  the day, which they were accustomed to. She explained it this way: “Our study shows that time-restricted eating might be an effective alternative to traditional dieting for people who can’t do the traditional diet or are burned out on it. For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting calories.”

There were no serious adverse events reported during the six-month study.

This study highlights the need to find innovative approaches to weight loss because 1 in 10 adults in U.S. residents have diabetes, and that number is expected to rise to 1 in 3 adults  by the year 2050 if current trends continue.

Finding more options for controlling weight and blood sugar levels is therefore, is crucial.

Dr Varady recognizes that this small study was small and should be followed up by larger ones. She advises people with diabetes to consult their doctors before starting this sort of diet.


There are two basic approaches to intermittent fasting. One way limits eating in a given twenty four hours to 8 hours as in the above experiment. This window may be a bit longer -10 hours  for a more modest approach. The other way to use intermittent fasting is to schedule 2 days per week as a complete fast from foods, taking in only liquids- water black coffee, tea, and broths. Another variation involves fasting 3 days per week but allowing a very light meal on those days.  Both

the time limited method and the use of fasting days have been shown to be effective.

Intermittent Fasting and Cell Repair

Interval eating is related to autophagyTrusted Source, a major discovery in science and dietetics.  In 2016 the Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel prize for his work on autophagy.

Autophagy is a natural catabolic process that involves the controlled breakdown of unneeded cells in the body, preventing the buildup of metabolic toxins that lead to disease states. It is the body’s self-cleaning process. Intermittent fasting promotes the mechanisms of autophagy to occur, cleansing the body.

The use of intermittent fasting has been shown to have other health beyond losing weight. It helps those with high blood pressure, preserves lean muscle tissue in those engaging in muscle building exercise, and seems to improve mental focus. Intermittent fasting has many advocates for its use in those who are not overweight to take advantage of its other health benefits. The prior study referenced above, published in the British Medical Journal, was a small study with only 3 subjects between 40 and 67 years old. These men, all taking medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, were also at the start of the study taking oral both oral diabetes medications as well as injecting insulin on a daily basis to control their diabetes. This study involved only three people, and so clearly this  needs to be further studied to draw broad conclusions about diabetes treatment of the general population.

Of the three individuals, Two of them fasted on alternate days for 24 hours, while the third fasted for three days per week. On the days designated as “fasting” days they were allowed tea, coffee, water or broth, and they ate one very low calorie meal in the evening. They continued this for 10 months after which time they had blood tests for fasting blood glucose, and HbA1C which reflects an average glucose reading 24/7. Their  weight, and waist circumference were re-measured. They all reported that they were able to stick to their dietary schedule without too much difficulty.

Dietary control has always been a mainstay for treating diabetes. This particular method seems like a very promising alternative to simply being on a  health diabetic diet day by day.

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