Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Lori Geurin
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- Is Reactive Hypoglycemia A Sign Of Diabetes?
- Is Reactive Hypoglycemia Reversible?
- Does Intermittent Fasting Help Lower Blood Sugar?
- What Triggers Reactive Hypoglycemia?
- Can I Fast If If I Am Hypoglycemic?
- How Long Does It Take For Intermittent Fasting To Lower Blood Sugar?
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My Personal Experience With Reactive Hypoglycemia
I first came across the term reactive hypoglycemia (RH) in an internet research article.
On numerous occasions, I was on the verge of fainting with my head between my knees or lying down on the couch while my husband tried to bring my sugar levels back up with a banana and
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A Hypoglycemia Wake-Up Call
My doctor ordered me a fasting 3-hour glucose tolerance test. If you’ve ever been through this, you know the experience takes half a day. You have to drink a cold, syrupy (and nauseating) liquid, then wait at the doctor’s office, having your blood drawn multiple times at 1-hour intervals to check your glucose levels. I remember feeling okay after the first blood draw and sleepy and sick after the second.
Then, after the third blood draw, I was ready to leave because I felt extremely weak and nauseated. The office was only a 10-minute drive from my house, so I didn’t think much of it. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
So I got in my car and drove about a half-mile from the doctor’s office. When I got to a sharp curve I’d driven many times before. I could feel myself fading in and out of consciousness. I nearly passed out, driving off the road and almost into a ditch.
It was frightening. If I’d known how out of it I truly was, I would never have ventured to drive myself home. I was thankful I was safe and didn’t cause an accident. Although it certainly wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made, it was definitely a wake-up call.
RELATED: What Is The Best Intermittent Fasting Tea? Black, Green, Or Herbal?
Intermittent Fasting Video
Here’s a quick video on intermittent fasting and hypoglycemia from Dr. Eric Berg.
Failing a Glucose Test and Treatment Plan
My doctor phoned me a few days later to tell me that my test results revealed reactive hypoglycemia, as expected. She inquired about my post-blood draw feelings, and I confessed my near-collision. Then she said she wasn’t sure how I’d gotten home since my glucose levels were so dangerously low. She suggested I start learning about intermittent fasting.
I was cautiously optimistic, having learned from experience that my complicated health condition made me a difficult case. I had no idea what I’d found that would cure my hypoglycemia. And at this point, everything started to change for me and my health…
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Wondering if hypoglycemics can do intermittent fasting? Check out Losing Weight With Insulin Resistance: A Guide for Beginners to learn the answer!
How Intermittent Fasting Eliminated My Hypoglycemia Symptoms
After making a plan with my doctor, I immediately began researching how to reverse hypoglycemia. I found information about intermittent fasting and how it reduces insulin resistance and can prevent Type 2 diabetes.[*] I started the 16:8 fasting plan (very gradually, at first), and within a couple of weeks, I noticed dramatic improvements in my health.
To learn how I did this, check out the intermittent fasting guide.
The fatigue, persistent hunger, and sugar and carbohydrate cravings all vanished. I used to suffer from horrible brain fog due to the neurological impact of untreated Lyme disease, but IF has also helped with that. Also, I have a hard time concentrating, but during my fasts, I’m more focused and able to concentrate.
RELATED: Intermittent Fasting and Fatigue
I wish I’d learned about IF years ago since it has improved my health and simplified my life. So, if you’re wondering whether there’s a treatment for reactive hypoglycemia, I recommend speaking with your doctor to see whether intermittent fasting might benefit you too.
Learn all about the intermittent fasting types.
What Is Reactive Hypoglycemia?
Reactive hypoglycemia (or postprandial hypoglycemia) is a condition in which you have low blood sugar shortly after eating. It’s generally within hours of eating.
Symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia
Symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia generally include:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Mild sweating
- Feeling jittery or anxious
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Cold sweats
RELATED: Does Black Coffee Break a Fast?
Questions About Reactive Hypoglycemia and Intermittent Fasting
Is Reactive Hypoglycemia A Sign Of Diabetes?
Yes, it may indicate that you’re at risk for developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often preceded by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin, or worse, your cells stop responding to it. When this happens, sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood. This condition, known as “hyperglycemia,” causes symptoms like increased thirst and urination.[*]
Is Reactive Hypoglycemia Reversible?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to reverse the symptoms of hypoglycemia with some lifestyle changes.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help Lower Blood Sugar?
Yes! One study showed how intermittent fasting reduces blood sugar and fasting insulin levels.[*]
Another study shows how IF can improve insulin resistance. These fasting benefits are beneficial for anyone, particularly people dealing with blood sugar issues and type 2 diabetes.[*]
What Triggers Reactive Hypoglycemia?
The scientific understanding is murky, but it appears that it happens when your body produces too much insulin as a result of eating a meal high in carbs. The body continues to release insulin long after you’ve finished eating.
And this extra insulin boost causes your body to fall below normal levels.
What’s fascinating is that many healthcare experts advocate eating more frequently to help manage the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia. However, for me (and a lot of other people), this just makes matters worse.
I discovered that eating less frequently, intermittent fasting was the key!
Here are 50 things to do instead of eating while intermittent fasting.
Can I Fast If If I Am Hypoglycemic?
Yes, but I always advise consulting with your doctor first to ensure that IF is right for you and your unique health demands. One study looks at a group of young adults who have reported hypoglycemia and how they responded to a 24-hour fast.[*]
How Long Does It Take For Intermittent Fasting To Lower Blood Sugar?
One nurse explains how he brought his type 2 diabetes into remission with a combination of intermittent fasting and walking after meals. He said intermittent fasting (OMAD fasting) for a week lowered his blood sugars. He was also following a keto diet plan.
Blood Glucose Levels
Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is what our bodies use for energy. When blood glucose levels are low, our bodies break down glycogen in the liver and muscles to release glucose. When blood glucose is high, excess glucose will be stored by the body as a source of energy for later use.
Many things can affect blood glucose levels, such as diet, physical activity, stress levels, and illness. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, regulates blood glucose levels by controlling how much glucose enters the bloodstream from the liver, muscles, and fat cells. People with diabetes have lower than normal insulin levels or do not respond properly to insulin, which can cause high blood sugar levels.
To monitor blood glucose levels, diabetics use a glucometer, which is a small handheld device that measures blood glucose levels.
There are many different ways to manage high and low blood glucose levels, including changes to diet, physical activity, stress levels, and medication. Some common strategies include eating foods high in fiber and protein (which help keep blood sugar stable), staying active to increase metabolism and burn excess glucose, managing stress through relaxation techniques or exercise, and following medication regimens prescribed by a doctor.
If you are a diabetic, monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly and talking to your doctor about the best strategies for managing high or low blood sugar is important. By making small changes to your diet, activity level, stress level, and medication regimen, you can help keep blood sugar at healthy levels and prevent complications from diabetes.
INTERMITTENT FASTING PDF
Curious if intermittent fasting could boost your health and results? Get the FREE fasting PDF and find out exactly what fasting can do for you. Just click the link below.
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What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Fasting isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for ages. The cavemen and cavewomen did it back in the paleolithic era. Our bodies were designed to live through periods of feast and famine. It was a necessity.
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a timing concept. It is not about what you eat. But it is about when you eat or when you don’t eat.
Most of you have probably been told you should never skip breakfast – that it is the most important meal of the day – or so they say.
Likewise, you have undoubtedly heard that you should eat frequent meals and snacks to avoid hunger and boost weight loss. Yet, it doesn’t matter how many ‘experts’ repeat this information because the research does not support it.
Author of The Belly Fat Book, Dr. Dennis Clark, remarks:
“The recommendation of eating six small meals per day, to keep the furnace burning hot, has become dogma in some circles. However, the common advice for frequent meals to keep the body’s furnace burning hot makes no sense physiologically or biochemically.”
Of course, this is probably why, when I followed their advice, I was constantly hungry, gained weight, had non-stop cravings, and developed hypoglycemia in the first place.
(Learn about clean fasting to improve your fasting results and see what the intermittent fasting experts have to say.)
Get our intermittent fasting how to guide to learn all about IF!
Proven Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
- Increased longevity (*)
- Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (*)
- Lowered risk of cancer (*)
- Lowered risk of type 2 diabetes (*)
- Regulated hormones (*)
- Cell repair – autophagy (*)
- Weight loss and loss of belly fat (*)
RELATED: Break Your Fast, Still Burn More Fat.
Final Thoughts – How Intermittent Fasting Eliminated My Reactive Hypoglycemia Symptoms
As you can see above, IF has some powerful benefits for health and longevity, including weight loss, a sharper memory, increased energy, and disease prevention. If you’re dealing with hypoglycemia like I was, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about whether IF may be a good option.
For the basics on how to get started with IF-ing, please check out The Quick Guide To Intermittent Fasting. Also, if you’d like to see how I transitioned gradually to intermittent fasting (including my eating/fasting schedule), be sure to read the follow-up to this article, Intermittent Fasting And Hypoglycemia.
For more on intermittent fasting, be sure to check out:
- Quick Tips For Intermittent Fasting Like A Rockstar
- The Top 7 Myths About Fasting Revealed
- Intermittent Fasting: The Effortless Way To Lose Weight
- 9 Questions About Intermittent Fasting Answered
- 5 Favorite Intermittent Fasting Methods Explained
How To Use Intermittent Fasting For Reactive Hypoglycemia
If you missed it earlier, you can grab your FREE copy of my Intermittent Fasting Ebook here. It will help you learn about, prepare for, and get started on intermittent fasting. It covers all of the fundamentals of IF in detail.
Printable Intermittent Fasting Tracker
Many people are concerned about weight loss, especially women starting families or pursuing careers. Intermittent fasting may help you lose weight without feeling hungry or restricted. The key, though, is to employ the most effective techniques! That’s where an intermittent fasting tracker comes in handy.
RELATED: 11 Steps To Lose Weight Easily: Staying Motivated And Maintaining Your Diet
Here are six benefits of using an IF tracker:
- Provides encouragement and support when you’re having trouble sticking to your plan
- Keeps track of your progress so that you can evaluate what works best for YOU
- It helps you stay organized
- It motivates you to continue when you want to give up.
RELATED: 11 Steps To Lose Weight Easily: Staying Motivated And Maintaining Your Diet
We created an easy-to-use printable intermittent fasting tracker to help you get the most out of your fasting lifestyle. You may see the tracker in our Thrive Berry Etsy shop by clicking through the image below.
Have you tried intermittent fasting for reactive hypoglycemia, and what benefits have you noticed? Share below!
18 thoughts on “How Intermittent Fasting Eliminated My Reactive Hypoglycemia Symptoms For Good”
I have both reactive and nocturnal hypoglycemia. My Dr thinks caused by Lunesta sleep aid. I am now off the sleep med for 2 nights and my glucose monitor did not show low dips but I still feel very low. How long before you felt the turn around of your hypo symptoms when starting IF and Keto? I know everyone is different but just want some ray of hope in a time frame. Thanks for all you do. Pam
Hi Pam, I’m glad you reached out! I understand how difficult it can be to manage hypoglycemia, especially when trying to find the right treatment plan that works for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, I want to share my own experience with you.
When I started Intermittent Fasting (IF), I noticed improvements within the first few weeks. However, it took several months for me to feel consistently better. During that time, I remained patient and committed to the lifestyle changes I was making.
I encourage you to stay positive and be patient with your own journey. It’s great that you’ve been monitoring your glucose levels and are off the sleep med, as this is a big step towards improvement. If you’re feeling low, try to focus on getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods.
I hope this encourages you, Pam. If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out. Wishing you all the best on your journey! xx, Lori
OMG I’m so glad I came across your article and I’m definitely checking out your book. I just started this – like yesterday – and I’ve been hypoglycemic most of my life. My grandmother was and then at my age, around 38, turned into diabetes – I am not looking forward to that. I was also told to eat constantly and have for years and struggled so much with my weight. I know I’m only on day 2, but really hoping to see a change soon. I’ve been scared because that shaky feeling you get when you don’t eat scares the crap out of me. I’ve had a car accident passing out from low blood sugar when I was young. I keep food all around me just so in case I crash I have something available to spike me back up. I’m really hoping this works. I wanted to do Keto for many of the same reasons, but I’m more of a plant-eater so going primarily meat was not really a palatable option for me. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Liz! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with hypoglycemia because I think so many people can relate to it. I understand what you mean about the shaky feeling you get when you don’t eat. That used to happen to me many times a day also but not anymore…thanks to the improved health I’ve gained from fasting.
It has helped me get back in touch with my body and learn when I am truly hungry. I’m excited to see how it helps you to! My best advice is to not push yourself too hard at first. Take things slow. Listen to your body and approach it from a lifestyle perspective. I’d love to hear how you’re doing in a few weeks. Thanks again reading and sharing!
Is black coffee and/or bullet coffee ok for hypoglycemia?
They’re both okay for hypoglycemia if you’re not fasting. If you’re in your fasting window black coffee is fine, but bulletproof coffee is considered dirty fasting and won’t get you the best results. Please check out What Is Clean Fasting And How Does It Work? for more on clean and dirty fasting. Thank you, Elena!
Agreed! I started IF a month ago. I am 38 but was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia right when I turned 18. I was always very healthy and weighed only 105 lbs. After being diagnosed, I was told I needed to eat small meals every 2-3 hrs to keep my blood sugar stable. I would definitely feel it if I went too long. Weak, Shaky, dizzy, feeling like I was going to pass out. I am doing an 18/6 (although some days its up to 16/8). I am starting to feel better, have more energy, the weight is steadily going back down. In hindsight, I look at how I was before my diagnosis. I naturally didn’t want to eat until around 10:30-11 every day and the bulk of my food was right after school around 3:30 then I barely ate much at dinner around 6-7. Why I started passing out and was diagnosed was b/c I started my first normal 9-5 job, and not being able to wait till 12 to eat, I started forcing myself to eat breakfast to make it through. My weight issues started after that diagnosis and I gained the “Freshman” 30 my first semester in college and the weight continued from there. I really wish I would have known all of this sooner. I could have felt so much better these last 20 years. I’m sticking with it and considering one full fasting day a week being added to see how that helps. I am actually even finding the energy to clean 1 hr every night, and I have been getting up to exercise every morning before work. Loving It.
Hi Crystal, Thanks so much for sharing about your experience with IF! I think it will resonate with so many readers.
I’m happy and excited that you’re having great success with IF. Gaining the energy to do everyday activities and exercise is everything when you’ve been dealing with the symptoms of hypoglycemia. I truly understand that. 🙂
Hopefully one day traditional medical doctors will get on board with recommending IF to their patients (many already are). But until then we’ll keep doing our IF thing, sharing and reaping all the health benefits.
I’m encouraged by every success story like yours. There are so many. Thanks again for sharing and hope to hear from you soon! X, Lori
Hey, this resonated with me. I was diagnosed as hypoglycemia when I was 13 ( I passed out a few times and would wake up minutes later feeling like crap). I learned to eat every 2-3 hours and bring snacks when working out. I am now 32. Although my symptoms have decreased (mostly because I manage them and always have peanut butter crackers or something jic) I still have episodes about once a year if I skip too many meals. How did you make it until 1pm without eating or getting shaky?
Hey Brenna! Thanks for sharing your experience – that’s such a great question! My doctor recommended IF for me to see if it would help with several chronic health issues I was having, one of which was the hypoglycemia. IF is proven to improve insulin resistance but people with diabetes are cautioned against doing it. That said, there are many health experts online who will tell you not to do IF if you have hypoglycemia. I shared my story here to show there are always exceptions but not to encourage anyone to go outside their physician’s recommendations. Just want to make that clear. 😉
In the beginning (the first few days to a week) of my IF journey, I was shaky at times, but I learned to ease into it and let my body adjust. For instance, instead of jumping in with both feet from the start, forcing myself to follow a strict schedule, if I was feeling symptoms I’d go ahead and eat. Then the next day I would stretch my eating time out 10 or 15 minutes later, giving my body time to adjust to the new feeding schedule.
After the first few days, I could tell a big improvement in how I felt overall and was feeling hungry less and less. In comparison, before IF I was eating frequent small meals and snacks a couple hours apart throughout the day just to prevent passing out. And before IF I felt hungry ALL the time. By the end of the second week, I was in a rhythm and felt better than I had in a long time.
Over the course of the following months, my body continued to improve in many ways I hadn’t seen since contracting Lyme disease. Now I look forward to my fasting time because it’s when I get my most focused.
This summer our family took several trips and over those weeks I got a bit off track at times with IF due to scheduling and time zone differences. I noticed a big difference in the way I felt and started having some minor hypoglycemia issues again due to being OFF the intermittent fasting. That was further confirmation to me that IF works!
Now that I’m back on track I’m not having any of those issues again. There’s no doubt in my mind that IF has done wonders for my blood sugar, memory and focus and even chronic pain levels.
I can’t speak to the 5:3 method because I found that I prefer the 16:8 (or 18:6 or other variation). I like the daily fasting schedule best but many people like the 5:3 also. If your doctor’s on board with IF for you, you might get good relief from your symptoms and rarely feel hungry again (after your body adapts). Please let me know if you have any other questions and feel free to email me at email@example.com
Also, you might want to check out https://www.marksdailyapple.com/who-should-and-shouldnt-try-fasting/ and search “hypoglycemia” on the page. There are several people in the comments who share similar success stories of having their hypoglycemia cured by IF.
Hope this doesn’t overwhelm you but I wanted to explain it well. I’m here if you want to chat!
Lori, my DH has hypoglycemia that he’s having trouble controlling and he also had gastric bypass surgery 14 years ago. I’ve been LCHF (for the most part) for about 4 years. I’d love for both of us to try IF. Is there a recommended water intake during the fasting period?
Hi Lisa, That’s a great question! The recommended water intake during fasting is usually the same as when you’re not fasting, but I sometimes drink a bit more, depending on my activity level. Also, keep in mind that if you’re drinking caffeinated coffee or tea during the fasting period they will have a diuretic effect so you may want to drink more to make up for this loss of fluids.
According to MayoClinic.org, drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is a “reasonable goal” for daily water intake. If you work out hard, are pregnant or nursing, have health problems or live in a warmer climate you may need a little more. And other days you may need a little less depending on the circumstances.
I don’t foresee changes with your husband’s water intake needs, but I’d definitely check with your husband’s doctor before intermittent fasting to see if there are any special considerations due to the gastric bypass. I’ve read about how important it is for gastric bypass patients to have excellent nutrition so they get adequate calorie and nutrient intake but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. 😉
Also, don’t you love LCHF?!
Please feel free to email me at healthylife@LoriGeurin.com if you have other questions. X, Lori
This was spot on for me. Now at 28, I’ve felt symptoms of low blood sugar basically everyday in my 20s. Alcohol and Coffee seemed to exacerbate the issue. I can definitely cut caffeine, but do you still drink alcohol?
Hey Adam, I’m glad this resonated with you! So sorry you’ve been dealing with the annoying symptoms of low blood sugar. Great observation about the alcohol and coffee.
It’s important to consider that drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause a healthy person to have a hypoglycemic crash. That said, it would only exacerbate preexisting low blood sugar issues. If you want to have a drink, consider choosing one that’s low carb. Also, have it with a meal (during your “feasting”) or when you have some food in your stomach.
I hope this helps answer your question and hope to see you back here soon – Thanks!
I have reactive hypoglycemia as well. How did you make it through the first (or perhaps most) of the 16 hours without having to eat some carbs? I have to eat anywhere from 4g-14fg of carbs every couple hours usually. I’d love to try IF but am worried about that 16 hour off period especially if sleeping or the first 2-3 hours after my last meal in the 8th hour
Hey, Chad, That’s a great question and I understand your concerns. Before I started fasting I couldn’t imagine going more than 2 or 3 hours without eating anything because of the hypoglycemia symptoms (faintness, dizziness, ears ringing, weakness, etc).
It took a couple of days for my body to adjust to the new eating pattern, but after that I started seeing a lot of improvements in my symptoms. At first, the symptoms became less and less severe. After doing IF for more than a year now I rarely ever feel shaky or faint. And that’s saying a lot because it was a daily occurrence before. Maybe you can relate?
Also, when I started IF I simultaneously began eating a hypoglycemic diet plan that was high in protein, soluble fiber, healthy fats and veggies and cutting way back on sugar and simple carbs. I believe the combination really set everything in motion for me.
It is an adjustment for your body to make so it takes a bit of time to feel the full benefits, but let me tell you….it has been so incredibly worth it for me. I would have been doing IF years ago if I’d known how it would help. I used to be hungry all the time, even an hour after I ate. Plus, the cravings were non-stop too. It’s so nice to not have to deal with these issues any more.
I’m not a physician so I recommend talking to your doctor about IF and see if he or she thinks it’s a good option for you. I really hope you’re able to try it and see if you notice improvements with the hypoglycemia. Would love an update on how it’s going.
Thanks so much for reading and hope to see you back soon!
Hi Anna, Thanks so much for your comment and question! As you know, IF is a timing concept so many people say you can eat whatever you want during the 8-hour window, which is technically true. But for people wanting to lose weight, gain muscle or those with special health concerns I would be more intentional about choosing plenty of healthy, whole foods and trying to stay away from sugar, white flour and processed foods as much as you can.
Here’s a post I wrote about what to eat while IM-ing for maximum results: https://lorigeurin.com/intermittent-fasting-nutrition/
Personally, I eat gluten-free about 80% of the time to reduce inflammation. I love the Paleo way of eating – plenty of veggies, protein, healthy fats and fruit, but I do eat beans and peanut butter, so not strictly Paleo.
The ketogenic eating plan has many health benefits too, and I’m currently into that for health purposes – high in healthy fats, plenty of veggies and moderate amounts of protein.
During my “feasting” 8 hours I generally eat as much as I’m hungry for. Most days this means eating 2 meals and maybe a snack before bed, but I don’t obsess about it. IM has helped my body find balance and it’s so nice not having to deal with all the cravings I used to have! I don’t count calories, but I do watch my sugar and carb intake. Everyone is different and finds what works best for them.
I hope this helps answer your questions. Please let me know if you have more. I’m happy to help in any way I can!
Hi Lori, thank you for this article, I’m interested in IF and I would like to know what you eat during your 8 hours window. I digest slowly and for example if I eat at noon difficult for me to eat again 8 hours later, that’s why I’d like to see how you manage your 8 hours time. Thank you again