Diet: Fasting

Updated On Jan 13, 2022

Fasting is any defined period of time in which someone chooses not to eat. Fasting may occur due to dietary reasons, spiritual/religious reasons, or prior to going into surgery.

Managing diabetes during Ramadan

  1. Know that there is no compulsion to fast when you’re not healthy 
  2. Make the decision to fast with the doctor treating your diabetes 2 months before Ramadan
  3. Have a trial run of fasting before Ramadan
  4. During your fast, don’t skip Sahur (pre-dawn meal), choose foods with low glycaemic index, drink 8 glasses of sugar-free fluids, monitor your blood glucose levels, know the signs when you should stop fasting 
  5. Break your fast promptly and eat in moderation

Intermittent fasting

  • Alternate day fasting – eat regular diet one day, and then eat fewer than 600 calories the next day, repeating this pattern throughout the week. Eat a regular healthy diet 5 days a week and cut down to about 500-800 calories on the other 2 days 
  • Time-restricted eating – get all your calories for the day during a specific number of hours
  • Between meals, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. Intermittent fasting allows the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat
  • Has been indicated as being safe and incredibly effective when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet 

Benefits of fasting

  • Cut down on inflammation 
  • Help with weight loss
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improve the way your body manages glucose (blood sugar) and cut down on insulin resistance 
  • Reverse diabetes 
  • Lowering insulin dose 

Risks during fasting

  • Feeling drowsy and irritable 
  • Headaches 
  • Hypoglycemia, causing you to feel shaky, pass out or even go into a coma 
  • Hypoglycemia is especially a risk for type-1 diabetics as they are on insulin
  • Hyperglycemia after breaking your fast (eating too many carbohydrates or carbohydrate-rich foods)
  • Dehydration if someone is fasting and does not take in fluids to reduce their thirst

Before you try fasting

  • Talk to a health professionals first 
  • Watch out for signs of low blood sugar
  • Be careful with what you eat after fasting (e.g. avoid eating too many carbohydrates)
  • Don’t do difficult exercises while you’re fasting 
  • Stay hydrated