Fasting and diabetes may seem like an unlikely duo, but with the right guidance, they can coexist to support better health. In this article, we explore the benefits and risks associated with fasting when you’re diagnosed with diabetes and find out practical tips for a safe and effective approach.

Fasting involves abstaining from food for a specific duration, often for religious, medical, weight loss, or blood sugar control purposes. There are various types of fasting for diabetes, each with its own unique approach:

Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting is a unique eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting to promote weight loss and better health.

Alternate-Day Fasting: This type of fasting for diabetes requires you to eat normally on one day, followed by consuming 25% of your usual energy intake (< 800 calories) the next day, continuing this pattern throughout. This is an especially helpful technique for overweight people who are struggling to restrict consuming certain foods.

Time-Restricted Eating: Here, you limit your eating to specific hours, such as from 10 am to 6 pm, and fast for the remaining time. In the following paragraphs, we'll go over the ins and outs of fasting for diabetes and also elaborate on its benefits.

Can You Fast if You Have Diabetes?

The question of whether fasting for diabetes is beneficial or not often arises. Fasting with diabetes can have varying effects on blood sugar levels, depending on the person and their type of diabetes. Some may find that fasting helps stabilise blood sugar levels, while others could experience substantial fluctuations. Intermittent fasting may also improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in those with type 2 diabetes. So, is fasting good for diabetics? The answer varies, and it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider before starting any fasting regimen to ensure it's safe and suitable for your specific condition. Let’s explore the risks and benefits in the next sections.

Hyperglycemia and Dehydration: The Hidden Risks of Fasting with Diabetes

Hyperglycemia and dehydration are two common risks that may arise when you’re fasting for diabetes management or for any other reason, particularly in high temperatures. Hyperglycemia is a condition characterised by abnormally high blood sugar levels and can be dangerous when fasting, as it may potentially lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

During fasting regimens where dehydration poses a risk, it is essential to prioritise hydration. Individuals of all ages participating in intermittent fasting should consume enough water to compensate for the fluids typically obtained from food in order to maintain proper hydration levels.

Some other risks associated with fasting for diabetics include

  • Hypoglycemia: While fasting with diabetes, the chances of your sugar dipping low is the number one risk. This can happen, especially if you take the medication and still continue to fast. Hypoglycemia signs are usually shivers and headaches. When you feel signs of hypoglycemia, always check your sugar levels first and follow the 15:15 rule, where you have 15g of sugar directly, wait for 15 minutes, and then recheck your levels.
  • Irritability and mental disturbances: When you do not give your body enough fuel, it's natural to feel irritable and drowsy, at least in the initial stages. If it’s a prolonged fasting state, then supplements would be necessary, according to the advice of your health care provider.

Benefits of Fasting for Diabetics

There is much more research needed to prove that fasting for diabetics is beneficial, but some health benefits of fasting with diabetes are as follows:

  • Lowers cholesterol: Fasting for diabetes helps in reducing inflammation in the body. This may help lower cholesterol in the body.
  • Reduces weight: Fasting for diabetics aids in reducing weight due to decreased calorie intake. Also, our body stores extra glucose in the form of glycogen in the liver. So when you fast for more than 12 hours, your body burns fat instead of glycogen, leading to weight loss. It has been seen that reduced weight also helps in lowering Hba1c levels with average sugar control measured over 3 months.
  • Reducing insulin resistance: Fasting can help people with diabetes manage their insulin resistance. When we fast, our bodies become more sensitive to insulin, which helps regulate our blood sugar levels. This means that our bodies need less insulin to process the food we eat, which leads to more stable blood sugar levels.

The Do’s and Don'ts of Fasting in Diabetes

Fasting and diabetes can go hand in hand, provided you keep certain pointers in mind.


  • Consult with your healthcare provider before attempting to fast. Ask if it is safe for you to fast, and if so, how often you need to check your blood sugar levels or adjust your medication dosages.
  • Always keep your glucometer close by and be mindful of low blood sugar symptoms. If you experience any symptoms, take appropriate action to correct them.
  • When breaking your fast, opt for a balanced meal instead of a carbohydrate-heavy one to lower your risk of hypoglycemia.
  • Refrain from engaging in high-intensity exercise during fasting hours. Instead, opt for light physical activity, such as a slow walk or light cardio exercises.


  • Don't ignore symptoms: Be aware of the signs of hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and dehydration, and take appropriate action if you notice any symptoms.
  • Don't overeat during non-fasting hours: Consuming large meals may lead to blood sugar spikes, so opt for smaller and more balanced meals instead.
  • Don't skip monitoring your blood sugar: Even if you feel fine, it's essential to monitor your blood sugar levels during fasting to ensure they remain within a safe range.


Fasting with diabetes can be a safe and effective practice for diabetics when done correctly. By following the dos and don'ts of fasting and understanding the risks and benefits involved, diabetics can achieve their health goals without compromising their well-being. Remember, it is important to prioritise your health and safety when it comes to fasting with diabetes. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new diet or fasting routine, and listen to your body's signals throughout the process. With the right approach, fasting can be a valuable tool for managing diabetes and improving your overall health.