Intermittent fasting may help manage blood sugar levels even without weight loss, according to new animal research in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.
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Intermittent fasting involves skipping a meal or significantly restricting calories on certain days of the week. It has been linked with weight loss and the associated reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol in previous studies. To evaluate the potential effects of the eating style on blood sugar levels, researchers worked with mice bred to have genetic obesity and high insulin and blood sugar levels. The mice do not produce leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone that is thought to play a significant role in obesity in humans.
Both the obese mice and a control group of lean mice were placed on an alternate-day feeding pattern for two-and-a-half weeks, with unlimited access to food on feeding days. Although neither set of mice lost weight during the trial, both groups experienced improved blood sugar control on non-feeding days.
Because the improved blood sugar levels occurred only on non-feeding days, the benefits of intermittent fasting “likely vary considerably on a day-to-day basis,” the researchers note.
Want to learn more about intermittent fasting and diabetes? Read “Intermittent Fasting: Not So Fast.”
Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.