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Just what we need – another quirky diet Gwyneth Paltrow likes. But, does “intuitive fasting” make sense for managing diabetes?
Welcome to DiabetesEveryDay…. I’m Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and a person successfully living with diabetes. Please subscribe to my channel and sign up for my newsletter.
Newsflash… As if we don’t have enough “diets” out there, the newest promise endorsed by a celebrity, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow, has made it to the news and book stands… It’s called intuitive fasting. That’s right, it takes two buzzword diets and follows the premise of intermittent fasting… Eating only at specific times of the day or night. But the little switch here is that with intuitive fasting, you are supposedly the boss of when you fast instead of following the guidelines set with intermittent fasting….. Except there are guidelines.
The promises are similar to intermittent fasting: boosting metabolism, improved energy, and weight loss. BUT… there is a specific 4-week plan that has you fasting at different times of the day or night.
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The 4 week plan
- The first week consists of fasting through the night and breaking the fast by eating breakfast (well, that’s nothing different than what we usually do and how our body is already regulated).
- Week 2 (14 hours fast and eat in the 18 hours) you fast for nearly 60% of a 24-hour day and then eat for an 18-hour period. This can definitely get confusing on which 24-hour time frame you are on. I mean, 14 plus 18 is 32 hours, so these fasting and eating time periods have to shift around day today, I suppose.
- Week 3 – you are advised to eat only in a 2–4 hour window out of a 24-hour time frame. This can be very scary if you are on medications, especially for diabetes. It’s this on and off again that will mess with your body and the effectiveness of your medications-your blood sugars may drop too low, and that is dangerous.
- And then in week 4, you are back to eating during a 12- hour period and fasting for a 12 -hour period, like in week 1.
This method of eating can be dangerous for people with diabetes especially. Remember, our body isn’t using insulin correctly or not making insulin at all, so we need to monitor our blood sugar levels as part of diabetes management, and… our blood sugar can rise or drop if we aren’t eating on a regular schedule. Yes, rise or drop. Other diabetes medications also lower blood sugar, and if your diet is changing, it will affect your blood sugar management.
Putting yourself in a starvation state doesn’t necessarily mean that your blood sugar will stay perfectly in the target range. Sometimes our body reacts to not eating or skipping meals. It is stressful to the body and the body will spill more glucose into our blood as a way to “save us” from starving. That glucose will give us energy while we aren’t feeding it.
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The Science To Back It Up
Intuitive eating has science to back it up. Intuitive Eating was developed by two fellow dietitians back in 1995. It focuses on self-care and putting your focus on healthy eating through 10 principles, including making peace with food, honoring your hunger, and saying no to dieting, to name a few. There are over 100 studies on this type of eating plan; in other words, it’s evidence-based. Intuitive fasting is a bit misleading since it implies that you decide. In the end, however, it’s the restrictions of the “diet” that claims to know the best time for you and your body to fast… Who would intuitively eat one time per day?
As a person with diabetes, a registered dietitian, and a diabetes educator, I say no thank you to this intuitive fasting plan. In my opinion and in my personal experience, consistency is an effective diabetes management strategy. So, I will continue successfully managing my diabetes, my weight, and my overall health by fasting after dinner through my night’s sleep and break my fast with breakfast every morning.
Until next time, cheers to your health.
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