But in an ironic twist, losing weight may be more difficult if you have type 2 diabetes. And the reason isn’t just a lack of willpower. Too often, diet plans don’t work for people with diabetes because the metabolism changes associated with blood sugar problems may increase appetite, slow down fat burning, and encourage fat storage.
British researchers created this revolutionary new diet, which strictly limits caloric intake for two days of the week but permits larger portions for the remainder. Women who followed the plan lost almost twice as much fat as those who restricted calories every day. Within three months, participants reduced insulin resistance by 25 percent more on nonfast days and inflammation by 8 percent more than people who dieted continuously.
Why Does this Particular Diabetes Diet Plan Work?
It counteracts the effects of “diabesity, ” where blood sugar problems and excess body fat meet. Just a small amount of excess weight and a genetic tendency for metabolism problems can trigger a cascade of health issues, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune system problems, and hormonal imbalances.
This constellation of health problems is caused by a modern lifestyle that is out of sync with our genetic inheritance. Researchers theorize that because humans evolved during alternating periods of feast and famine, many of us inherited various “thrifty genes” that cause us to conserve energy (hoard fat stores) when calories are scarce and swiftly store energy (plump up fat cells even more) when food is plentiful. Thousands of years ago, humans with robust sets of thrifty genes were much likelier to survive and pass them on to future generations.
This excess fat also causes chronic inflammation. Fat tissue contains an abundance of immune molecules called cytokines, which respond to the excess fat as if it were an infection. This activates a process that seems to dull the body’s sensitivity to these key hormones: insulin, which cues cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream; the “stress hormone” cortisol; and leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and appetite.
Researchers believe that intermittent fasting helps to reduce or quell inflammation and normalize the function of key hormones. By reversing this metabolic imbalance, intermittent fasting seems to control or prevent diabetes better than other ways of eating.