Ever since I wrote How Intermittent Fasting Cured My Hypoglycemia I’ve received an overwhelming number of emails and questions. In fact, there are so many people dealing with this issue right now. This article will hopefully help answer the top questions I get about intermittent fasting (IF) and reactive hypoglycemia:
- Can you do intermittent fasting if you have reactive hypoglycemia?
- If so, how do you do IF when you have hypoglycemia?
The short answer is very carefully.
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But joking aside, anyone with reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar that happens after a meal) will tell you that you cannot go long without food. If you do, you may have troublesome and even serious symptoms, like the ones listed below.
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Symptoms Of Reactive Hypoglycemia
- blurry vision
- heart palpitations
- cravings for sweets
- extreme fatigue
- pale skin
- fainting spells
- ringing in the ears
- coma, in severe untreated cases
If you’re dealing with any of the symptoms above then you’ll likely relate to this next section.
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Why I Started Intermittent Fasting
Initially, my doctor recommended I try IF. Because I have chronic Lyme disease and other chronic health issues, my case is more complex than some. And less complex than others.
What’s great about this is that IF has helped improve my health and I’ve seen it do the same for many other people too. Plus, it’s one of the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off. So if you’re searching for a weight loss plan I highly recommend it for that too.
After having four children within six years’ time (and breastfeeding them all) I’m familiar with the weight loss yo-yo. IF has helped me lose 30 pounds and keep it off over the past few years.
But now on to the question so many of you are asking about…
Can You Do Intermittent Fasting With Hypoglycemia?
My first suggestion is to make sure and talk to your doctor about whether IF is right for you. I’m not a doctor and I don’t give medical advice. I only share what has worked for me based on my personal experience.
Note that if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have disordered eating then IF is not advised.
In the beginning, I started very gradually stretching out the time between meals.
Each day I’d try to go 15 to 30 minutes longer than the day before and before I knew it my body had adjusted and I was fasting for 16 hours straight with minimal hunger.
There were a few days in the beginning when I didn’t feel great and was shaky. My approach was not to “tough it out” but eat a little healthy, whole food when I felt shaky.
Self-denial is not your friend here. I didn’t deprive myself and I believe this helped me transition more smoothly.
I’m sure you’re aware that sugar is bad for your health. But when you’re dealing with hypoglycemia it’s crucial to eliminate sugar from your diet. In addition, it’s helpful to eat plenty of protein and healthy fats.
Now let’s take a look at how the timing played out.
Intermittent Fasting Schedule Example 16 8
Here is a rough example of my eating/fasting program in the beginning days:
Day 1: Breakfast at 8:30 am. Lunch at 12 pm. Dinner at 5 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
Day 2: Breakfast at 9:00 am. Lunch at 12:30 pm. Dinner at 5 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
Day 3: Breakfast at 9:30 am. Lunch at 1:00 pm. Dinner at 5:30 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
Day 4: Breakfast at 10:00 am. Lunch at 1 pm. Dinner at 5:30 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
Day 5: Breakfast at 10:30 am. Lunch at 1 pm. Dinner at 5:30 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
Day 6. Brunch at 11 am. Afternoon snack at 2 pm. Dinner at 5:30 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
As you can see, a sort of transition happened around here. I eventually phased out breakfast completely (except for my healthy coffee. In the beginning, I was dirty fasting, but have transitioned to doing more clean fasting because it’s much more effective. You can read all about that in What Is Clean Fasting And How Does It Work?).
I would have a light lunch, dinner, and light snack before bed or dinner and a snack before bed…depending on the day.
After setting this 16:8 schedule I stayed with it for months. (A16:8 is when you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours.)
Don’t forget that fasting is highly individualized. My schedule works great for me but might not for you. So adjust the timing to fit your lifestyle and your body’s needs.
Feeling Better With Fasting
It has been exciting realizing the gradual improvements in the way I’ve felt and in my leaner body composition.
In truth, I didn’t feel great for the first week or so of fasting. But I didn’t feel worse than normal, and I could tell my body was adjusting to the new eating schedule.
I had fewer weak spells and hypoglycemic symptoms by the end of the first week so that encouraged me to continue.
After the first couple of weeks, I saw sustained improvements. Then as the months went by I continued to feel better until I wasn’t having any hypoglycemia symptoms and rarely felt hungry because I became fat-adapted (keto helped with this) and my body composition had changed.
Eventually, the relentless cravings for sweets and the disturbing symptoms of hypoglycemia became a thing of the past.
IF Progress Update
Now, most days I do 16:8 or 18:6 and I often alternate fasting days. (There are occasional acceptions.) The 18:6, as I’m sure you can guess, is when you fast for 18 hours and eat for 6 hours.
Some weeks (especially following a holiday or vacation when I’ve indulged in rich foods) I do a 24-hour fast. So these days might look something like this:
Day 7: Lunch at 2 pm. Dinner at 6 pm. Snack at 8 pm. or
Day 8: Dinner at 5 pm. Snack at 8 pm.
I’ve also done some extended 36-hour fasts for the added autophagy benefits like improved immune health.
Summary – Intermittent Fasting And Hypoglycemia
If you’re tired of dealing with hypoglycemia and your doctor believes you would benefit from intermittent fasting I highly encourage you to try it.
If you decide to try it my best advice is to be patient and give it time. Remember that your body is going through many changes. Be gentle and kind to yourself and don’t force anything to happen before it’s time. IF is a process and you’re most likely to have long-term success if you take it gradually.
The health benefits of fasting are certainly worth looking into. If you have questions I’m here for you and happy to help!
Have you been diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia? Have you tried intermittent fasting, and if so what results have you noticed?
Get the conversation started below – I’d love to hear from you!