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Intermittent fasting diets for type 2 diabetes remission

We're going to explore whether an intermittent fasting diet can help you put your type 2 diabetes into remission.

What are intermittent fasting diets?

Intermittent fasting is also called time restricted eating. There are different types of intermittent fasting diets but all of them split your day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. 

During a fasting period, you will eat very little, or nothing at all. You'll only have non-alcoholic drinks such as water, coffee, tea and sugar-free squash but you can drink these at any time. 

These diets are not the same as religious fasting

The most common fasting diets are: 

  • 16:8 method: With this diet you’ll eat your meals and snacks within an 8-hour period of the day. You may choose to eat all your food between 9am-5pm, or 10am-6pm. For the other 16 hours of the day, you will fast, avoiding solid food but drinking fluids.  
  • The 5:2 method: With this diet you will have 2 days where you have a very low-calorie intake, usually aiming for around 500-600 calories. The other 5 days of the week you’ll eat normally, without restrictions.   

Do fasting diets work for type 2 diabetes remission?

We know that weight loss is the key to type 2 diabetes remission. Research tells us that intermittent fasting can help people to lose weight because they tend to consume fewer calories during the eating hours than they do when they eat at any time of the day. 

There is also some new research that shows that fasting 16 hours of the day and eating within an 8-hour window might help you lower blood sugar levels and lose weight in the short-term. 

People have put their type 2 diabetes into remission following an intermittent fasting diet. But we need more research before we can say that fasting diets can help you go into remission long-term.

"Intermittent fasting is one of the tools I used to lose weight. It helped me think about what I eat, how much I eat and when I eat. Something clicked and it worked for me." – Read more of Mohammed's type 2 remission story

Is an intermittent fasting diet right for me?

It's particularly important to speak to your healthcare team before starting an intermittent fasting diet if you treat your type 2 diabetes with insulin and other diabetes medication.

This is because intermittent fasting changes what you eat and when. You may be reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat and this can have a big impact on your blood sugar levels.

Your healthcare team will be able to give you advice on any adjustments to your insulin or diabetes medication that are needed to keep you safe while you're intermittent fasting. 

Tips for trying intermittent fasting

  • Some people tell us they find it challenging during the period where they're not eating. They say they can feel hungry and get cravings. But we know that this can reduce over time for some people.
  • If you decide to go ahead with an intermittent fasting diet, make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids during the fasting periods. This helps the body stay hydrated.
  • When you're in an eating window, you should make sure you eat a nutritious meal with plenty of vegetables and fruits to help make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs. 
  • Although the focus is on when you eat with intermittent fasting, rather than counting calories like on a low-calorie diet, you should still think about what you're eating. 
  • Try to eat balanced and nourishing meals and snacks that are high in wholegrains, fruit and veg, beans and pulses. Otherwise, you are unlikely to see the weight reduction you are looking for and put your type 2 into remission. 

Where can I go for more information?

  • The best place to start is a chat with your health care team. They'll be able to advise whether an intermittent fasting diet is right for you, based on your personal circumstances. Read more about why this is important in our type 2 remission and your medical team guide.
  • Our online forum can be a great place to get support from people who have experience of trying intermittent fasting for type 2 diabetes remission. 
Next Review Date
Content last reviewed
29 January 2024
Next review due
29 January 2027
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