Managing our blood sugar can be a delicate balancing act. Too high, and you open the door to conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Too low, and you might find yourself feeling sluggish and irritable. The good news? Intermittent fasting is a natural way to help your blood sugar stay on the right track.
In this article, we’ll highlight what intermittent fasting is, how it impacts your body, and, most importantly, how it can be a game-changer for keeping your blood sugar in check!
Why People Choose Intermittent Fasting Over Traditional Diets
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a method where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting, which can help improve health by giving your body time to rest and reset.
Here’s why more and more people are choosing intermittent fasting (IF) over traditional diets:
- Fasting isn’t about counting calories or obsessing over portion sizes. It keeps it simple by focusing on the “when” rather than the “what” of your meals.
- IF encourages your body to burn stored fat for energy. For some people, this is more effective than just cutting calories.
- Do you snack between meals without even realizing it? Fasting periods set a clear boundary for when you should eat, making it easier to avoid overindulging.
If you’re new to IF and unsure where to start, check out ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting’ for a guide on picking the right method to match your goals and lifestyle.
6 Ways Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Glucose Levels
1. Improve insulin sensitivity
When you eat, especially foods high in carbohydrates, your body goes to work breaking down those sugars into glucose. This glucose enters your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar levels to rise. Usually, your pancreas steps in by producing the hormone insulin, which helps your cells grab the glucose and use it for energy. But if you’re constantly bombarding your system with sugar, your cells start resisting insulin’s signals, leading to unpredictable and high blood sugar levels over time. Limiting the hours you eat allows your body to tap into its stored energy reserves. And without a constant stream of glucose coming in, your blood sugar levels can finally start to stabilize.
2. Lower your fasting blood sugar
Your fasting blood sugar tells us how much glucose is in your bloodstream after you’ve gone without food for a period, usually 8-12 hours (like when you’re sleeping). This measurement is crucial because it indicates how well your body regulates blood sugar levels. If it’s consistently high, it could be a red flag for issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or metabolic syndrome.
In studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar was reduced by 3–6% over 8–12 weeks in people with prediabetes. When fasting, your body starts using up glycogen stores, the stored form of glucose in your liver and muscles. And when this runs low, your cells become resourceful, breaking down stored fat or ketones for energy. This shift in energy metabolism can lower your fasting blood sugar levels over time, giving your pancreas and insulin production a break.
3. Balance hormones that regulate your appetite
Many people struggle with their weight, and it’s not always as simple as calories in versus calories out. The balance of two key hormones, ghrelin and leptin, can play a significant role in whether you gain or lose extra pounds.
Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” is produced in your stomach and increases when it’s empty, sending signals to your brain that it’s time to eat. Too much ghrelin can lead to overeating.
Leptin is the “satiety hormone” produced by your fat cells. It works opposite to ghrelin, signaling to your brain when you’re full and satisfied. When you reduce calorie intake for a set period, your body becomes more receptive to leptin’s “I’m full” message, which can help with portion control. Too much stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep can disrupt this balance, leading to unwanted weight gain.
During fasting stretches, both ghrelin and leptin get a chance to reset, helping you tune in to your body’s natural hunger signals.
4. Break down and clean out damaged cells
After fasting for a while, usually 12-16 hours, your body switches into “cleanup mode,” a process called autophagy. With no incoming food, it starts looking for other sources of energy and nutrients.
Where does it find them? In those worn-out and damaged cells throughout your body. Autophagy targets damaged cells and proteins, breaking them down and recycling their parts for fuel or repair. It’s like spring cleaning for your body but on the cellular level. During fasting periods, your body finally gets to catch up on much-needed maintenance without the constant influx of food. And over time, this process may reduce inflammation and prevent insulin resistance – a key factor in blood sugar regulation.
5. Improve fat metabolism
Picture your body as a storage unit for calories. Eating more than you need stashes those extra calories as fat, often in places you’d rather avoid – like your belly, thighs, and hips. During a fast, your insulin levels drop. This signal gives your body the green light to begin the fat-burning process (lipolysis), which targets those stubborn fat cells, especially the ones hanging around your waistline. Fasting also triggers hormones like norepinephrine, epinephrine, and human growth hormone (HGH), which break down fat cells and promote fat loss and muscle preservation.
6. Support healthy weight loss
Tired of jumping from one diet to another with minimal results? Weight loss is (mostly) about one thing: consuming fewer calories than your body burns. With IF, you set specific meal times, and outside of that window, you don’t eat. This method naturally cuts down on calorie intake because you’re not eating around the clock. Plus, with a structured eating window, you’re less likely to eat out of boredom, stress, or habit. Instead, you become more aware of your meals, leading to smarter and healthier food choices.
The Missing Link: Why You Need Magnesium When Fasting
If you’re looking into intermittent fasting, you’re likely aware of the challenges it can bring, especially when it comes to controlling your hunger and maintaining your energy levels. What you may not know is that magnesium, an essential mineral, is significant in the success of your journey. Let’s go into the how and why behind this.
Magnesium helps control hunger: This mineral supports appetite regulation by helping your body produce the hormone leptin, which tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. With an adequate magnesium supply, you can better manage your hunger, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce sugar cravings that can derail your fasting goals.
Magnesium supports energy production: As we discussed earlier, when fasting, your body switches gears and starts burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. During this process, magnesium steps in by aiding in the conversion of energy (known as ATP) into a form that your cells can readily use. This results in more sustained energy levels and fewer energy crashes during your fast.
Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity: Acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in insulin signaling and glucose transport into cells. When magnesium is in short supply, this process hits a roadblock, leading to higher levels of sugar left in your bloodstream after a meal.
Magnesium supports muscle function: If you’ve ever experienced muscle soreness after a workout or an intense fasting period, it could point to a nutrient deficiency. Magnesium may help reduce muscle soreness by relaxing muscle contractions and improving blood circulation. This allows essential nutrients and oxygen to reach your muscles more efficiently, preventing cramps, spasms, and discomfort – common annoyances during fasting.
Choosing a Magnesium Supplement
During a fast, your kidneys excrete more magnesium, resulting in a deficiency over time. By taking a liquid magnesium supplement, you can help counteract this loss and ensure that your body has the right building blocks for insulin function. Opt for a picometer-sized liquid magnesium formula, such as ReMag® – for daily support. Compared to traditional pill forms, liquid supplements tend to be gentler on your stomach, making them a more comfortable choice to support you while fasting.
Potential Challenges and Considerations of IF
While intermittent fasting can significantly benefit glucose regulation, it’s important to consider potential challenges and limitations. Fasting may not be appropriate for certain groups, including:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Individuals with a history of eating disorders
- Those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or gastrointestinal disorders, should consult their healthcare providers before attempting intermittent fasting.
Disclaimer: *Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.
Take Control of Your Glucose Levels
Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for managing glucose levels and improving your overall health. And when combined with the often-overlooked mineral, magnesium, the results can be truly transformative. Give it a try, and over time, you’ll find it easier to avoid those unhealthy cravings and welcome a healthier, more balanced relationship with food and your body.