Study: Consistent intermittent fasting can cause remission in over 50% of patients with Type 2 diabetes
03/15/2023 // Zoey Sky // Views

According to a study, intermittent fasting may offer significant health benefits for those with Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers who conducted the study found that the dietary intervention resulted in complete remission for more than half of the study volunteers.

Details of the study were published in the AAA Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating is an eating plan that involves consuming calories only during a specific "window" of time, which is often for periods of eight to 10 hours.

Fasting means your body naturally gets fewer overall calories.

The fasting state also causes:

  • An increase in growth hormone levels
  • An increase in norepinephrine
  • A decrease in insulin levels

These changes in your hormones are also linked to an increase in your metabolic rate. These factors of intermittent fasting can also help with weight loss.

There are several ways to do intermittent fasting, such as skipping meals and eating only during a certain time. You can also restrict your calorie intake on certain days of the week and eat normally on other days.

The most common intermittent fasting diets include a 16-hour daily fast, a 24-hour fast on alternate days, or a two-day-a-week fast on nonconsecutive days.

Over half of patients with diabetes in remission after intermittent fasting

For the study, researchers observed volunteers with Type 2 diabetes who followed an intermittent fasting routine for three months. The patients experienced significant improvements in their condition.


Scientists revealed that an impressive 90 percent of the 36 patients were able to reduce their prescribed treatments, such as insulin and blood sugar-lowering medications.

At least 55 percent of the participants experienced total remission. They remained free of Type 2 diabetes for at least one year after discontinuing their medications.

Remission is defined as hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) levels under 6.5. HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar control over time.

Dongbo Liu, the study's lead author, thinks the study results can offer significant benefits for the more than 537 million adults across the globe with Type 2 diabetes.

"Type 2 diabetes is not necessarily a permanent, lifelong disease," explained Liu. (Related: Intermittent fasting helps reduce inflammation, scientists find.)

But how did intermittent fasting help the participants with diabetes?

Researchers found that fasting was beneficial due to the body's sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythms.

They suggested that following a "consistent daily short window of feeding" can improve someone's well-being by helping to align the circadian rhythms of multiple organs. This then helps the body with the coordination of different processes and helps to manage diseases.

They also warned that chronic circadian rhythm disruption, which shift workers often go through, may compromise the immune system. The disruption also increases the risk for chronic metabolic diseases by triggering various health issues like weight gain, glucose intolerance and fatty liver disease.

Intermittent fasting offers benefits for people who are obese or have cancer or heart disease

The study on intermittent fasting and Type 2 diabetes built on earlier research that looked into the benefits of intermittent fasting. According to data, intermittent fasting can also help reduce body weight, even though volunteers are not usually instructed to consciously reduce caloric intake.

Recent human studies also suggest that time-restricted eating can help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Experts also think that intermittent fasting can help improve glucose sensitivity, lower high blood pressure, reduce inflammation and decrease unhealthy cholesterol levels.

According to an animal study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, time-restricted eating influences gene expression in a way that can help manage diseases.

Results of the animal study revealed that at least 40 percent of the genes in the animals' adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pancreas were affected, which is promising because these organs have an important role in hormonal regulation.

Consistent overnight fasting can help boost your well-being

Intermittent fasting offers benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes, but the researchers highlighted that "maintaining a consistent, long overnight fast can significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease."

Individual recommendations vary, but the eating window that is often between eight and 12 hours long should not "open" until at least one hour has passed after waking. The eating window must also "close" at least three hours before the onset of an eight-hour sleep cycle.

The scientists emphasized that consistency is important and that those with Type 2 diabetes should maintain the same schedule on workdays and weekends.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, consult your physician before starting intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting and diet tips for diabetics

The following foods should be part of a balanced diet if you have Type 2 diabetes:

  • Beans
  • Cage-free (pasture-raised) eggs, which are full of high-quality protein
  • Cold-water (wild) fatty fish
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Organic chia seeds, which are full of dietary fiber yet low in digestible carbs

The following lifestyle habits are also key for diabetes prevention and management:

  • Avoiding fried, sugary and heavily-processed foods
  • Regular physical activity
  • Getting enough restful sleep

Lui advised that diabetes remission is possible if those with the disease try to lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits. If you have diabetes, trying intermittent fasting can help you manage your condition and improve your overall health.

Things to do before trying intermittent fasting with diabetes

If you have diabetes, here are some things to do before trying intermittent fasting:

Consult your doctor

Talk to your physician before starting intermittent fasting. This is important because this will help you finalize a safe approach and adjust any of your medication doses as needed.

You should be twice as careful if you are on insulin because if you’re on it and restrict your eating, you may be at a greater risk of low blood sugar. This is bad because it can result in dizziness and confusion, along with life-threatening symptoms such as seizures, or loss of consciousness.

If left untreated in people with diabetes, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can be fatal, warned the American Diabetes Association.

Devise a plan that works for you

Intermittent fasting plans vary depending on various factors. Some people may restrict calories two or three days a week or limit eating to certain periods of the day.

There are also stricter plans that include fasting for up to 36 hours at a time for seven or 14 days, but the latter isn't ideal if you have Type 2 diabetes.

Whatever your IF plan is, you need to find one that you can stick with long-term because consistency is key for your future health.

Prepare for side effects

Intermittent fasting may cause uncomfortable side effects like cramps, constipation, diarrhea or headaches, especially if you are not used to the time-restricted eating plan.

You should also listen to your body. If you don't feel fine, stop fasting. Intermittent fasting can make you hungry, but you shouldn't be lethargic or start throwing up after you change your eating habits.

Eat nutritious foods 

You may be eating less food, but you still need to follow a balanced diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods, such as non-starchy vegetables, protein and healthy fats.

You should also take a multivitamin and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and headaches. Following a balanced diet will help you lose or manage your weight and keep your blood sugar steady as you fast.

Keep your expectations in check

While intermittent fasting offers many health benefits, it doesn’t work for everybody and your medical team may not recommend it if you aren't well enough to try it.

Always consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting because going for long periods without eating if you have Type 2 diabetes can be dangerous. In some cases, it might not offer benefits for you.

Get support

Once you confirm that you can safely try intermittent fasting, you can follow the plan with your family or a friend. You can also join an online community or social support network so you can motivate each other to stick with it.

Visit for more articles about studies on diabetes and natural treatments.

Watch the video below to know more about intermittent fasting and its benefits for your heart health.

This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on

More related stories:

Health and nutrition: Study links eating a plant-based diet to lower risk of diabetes.

People with Type 2 diabetes may suffer from magnesium deficiency, warn researchers.

Intermittent fasting is key to a "healthy lifestyle," experts suggest.

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