Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular nutritional trends and people often look to it for weight loss. But are there any health benefits behind the hype? If you’re looking to manage your insulin levels, the answer is yes. But the relationship between intermittent fasting and insulin resistance will only work for you if you have the right intermittent fasting schedule.
Lifestyle and Insulin Levels
Insulin is a necessary element for your body to properly break down food. When you eat a meal, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. To combat this spike, your pancreas releases insulin which attaches to cells and allows them to absorb glucose. However, when you are insulin resistant, this process doesn’t work properly. This can lead to fatigue, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, and health complications such as type 2 diabetes.
While there are many lifestyle changes you can make for healthy insulin levels, one of the most effective is intermittent fasting.
A 2021 study found intermittent fasting is effective at reducing body weight, lowering fasting glucose levels, and lowering insulin resistance. This same study recommended it could be a good non-medical treatment for those with type 2 diabetes.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle choice where you plan periods of fasting (abstinence from eating) and periods of eating. Because it controls when you eat, not what you eat, it’s more of an eating pattern than a diet.
Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Levels
If you are constantly eating, you are constantly raising your insulin levels by adding glucose into your bloodstream. Over time, you could become insulin resistant. So much insulin is being released into your bloodstream, your cells can no longer absorb insulin as they should. Since intermittent fasting restricts how often you eat, it means that there is a less frequent need for insulin.
While cycles can vary, a common intermittent fasting cycle is fasting for 16-hours a day and eating as you like for eight hours. Some fasts start at 12-hour fasting cycles while working your way up to a 16-hour cycle as some individuals should and cannot fast at a long period of time. Some cycles can be as extreme as fasting for 24 hours a couple of times a week. More extreme intermittent fasting cycles are not healthy. Those looking to reduce insulin resistance should consider a less extreme fasting cycle.
A 2018 study found that an 18:6 intermittent fasting cycle (where you fast for 18 hours and eat for six) is the best to regulate insulin levels. However, many doctors and scientists have recommended that the best intermittent fasting cycle to reduce insulin levels is the one that fits your lifestyle.
To figure out what is best for your lifestyle, contact a holistic health practitioner or doctor. Thrive Carolinas is a great resource on how to use intermittent fasting to lower insulin resistance. Check out services or schedule an appointment today.