Reverse Diabetes with the Mini-Fast Program

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Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/18/2014

Reverse Diabetes with the Mini-Fast Program

I advise all my patients with type 2 diabetes to lose weight and reverse their diabetes using my mini-fast with exercise program, or intermittent fasting diet..

Here’s how my intermittent fasting diet works:

  • You get up in the morning and drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee or tea. You can use a little creamer or low-calorie sweetener like xylitol or stevia, and you can take your supplements if they don’t upset your stomach. But do not eat breakfast or drink anything other than coffee, tea or water.

  • Do 20–45 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—walking, jogging, cycling or whatever you enjoy doing.

  • After you exercise, get on with your day, but continue fasting until lunch. Drink water, coffee or tea. Don’t worry about being too hungry to make it through the morning. This fasting/exercise combo dampens the appetite, and the caffeine in coffee and tea helps blunt hunger as well.

  • At lunchtime, break your fast and eat normally for the rest of the day. Get plenty of lean protein and low-fat, low-glycemic carbohydrates. Be sure you make healthy, sensible food choices. You don’t have to count calories, but you don’t want to pig out at lunch or dinner, either.

But What About Breakfast?

Yes, this intermittent fasting diet goes against the conventional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But the difference here is that I’m suggesting that you wait to “break your fast” around noon, instead of upon arising.

The caloric reduction that skipping breakfast bestows is huge. As long as you eat normal, healthy meals at lunch and dinner—without making up for the calories you didn’t eat in the morning—you will reduce your caloric intake by about 30 percent. If you do it for six days, it’s the equivalent of a two-day total fast, and one month is similar to fasting for 10 days.

How the Intermittent Fasting Diet Melts Excess Weight

The intermittent fasting diet takes advantage of, and expands upon, the 10–12 hours you normally fast while sleeping.

By morning, your body is beginning to deplete the glycogen in your liver (from the carbohydrates eaten at your evening meal) and is starting to rely more on fat for energy. As your glycogen stores are progressively exhausted, your liver starts converting fat into ketones, which the brain and other tissues use as fuel. This fat-burning state is called ketosis.

Aerobic exercise while in the intermittent fasting state is a crucial part of the program because it rapidly puts you into ketosis. Overnight fasting is a start, but exercise really kicks things into high gear. The fuel used during the morning walk you’re taking in place of eating breakfast comes from burning fat, which is exactly what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.

Even better, if you continue fasting after exercising, you will stay in the ketotic state, further reducing fat stores.

What the Research Says

The exercise-enhanced intermittent fasting diet has been evaluated in a clinical trial that involved volunteers with an average weight of 199 pounds, BMI of 32.2 (30 and over is considered obese), waist circumference of 42.6 inches, and fasting insulin of 13.2 IU/mL (a level indicative of insulin resistance).

After 12 weeks, the participants lost an average of nine pounds and an even more impressive 16 pounds of fat (25 percent of their initial fat mass) plus three inches around the waist. Additionally, the group’s fasting insulin fell by one-quarter, into the normal range.

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