For anyone interested in fasting and treatment of diabetes, I recommend two videos out of the UK.
Eat, Fast, and Live Longer
Eat, Fast, and Live Longer is well known for educating people about the 5:2 diet, where subjects can pick 2 days per week to consume just 600 calories (500 for a woman), and eat whatever they want the rest of the week. It also covered several other strategies, which got less attention, including calorie restriction, alternate day fasting, and prolonged fasting — all of which I will cover in separate blogs. For the section in this video on extended fasting, check out from 18:22 to 36:15, where Dr. Michael Mosley of BBC does a 3½ day fast, drinking only soup packets at night! He gets great metabolic results!
The Truth About Carbs
The other relevant BBC video I really liked was The Truth About Carbs. It is well known for popularizing the UK’s famous Low Carb Program, which is an online program that provides health tracking, education, and motivation to battle prediabetes and diabetes. The video does a good job discussing the different types of carbohydrates and how they are processed differently by the body. You can expect 100 calories of green, leafy vegetables to be processed very differently from 100 calories of soda!
Even for non-diabetics, there’s a really interesting section of the video describing why exercisers should spit, not swallow sports drinks to get an energy boost without the calories! Check out from 18:53 to 25:59, where Dr. Xand van Tulleken repeats the experiment during two different exercise sessions.
Overall, I am a fan of these videos. The BBC isn’t funded by advertisements, so they can openly report on research that does not involve pharmaceuticals or medical devices.
At a personal level, I have tried 5:2, and I do think 5:2 works for weight loss. Still, there are two reasons I prefer prolonged fasting for diabetes management (and reversal!)
- I found myself obsessing about food for the 2 days when I limited myself to 600 calories. Mentally giving myself the opportunity to eat 600 calories seemed to just open the floodgates to want to eat more. I prefer following fewer rules and having fewer opportunities to break them.
- Some researchers contend that 5:2 does not provide the metabolic benefits of prolonged fasting for diabetes and that even the weight loss from 5:2 is more akin to calorie restriction.
I believe that the UK’s Low Carb Program also works, and the practices remain an important complementary step to fasting and keeping insulin levels low when eating. The reason I didn’t sign up for the digital program is that the content is very similar to that found in the classic work at the time I was diagnosed with diabetes — Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution (originally published in 1997).
To me, a big part of coping with diabetes and managing it is to be educated about what’s out there. I’ve referred these two videos to many others because they very compactly present the research with both a journalistic and entertaining twist.