The super-fit actress, Halle Berry, has been fairly outspoken about her diet regimen—and, everyone seems to want to listen because, hello, who wouldn’t want to know exactly what she eats with that body?
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There are a few different types of intermittent fasting. One way is to eat a very low calorie diet a couple days a week and then eat a “normal” diet the remainder (and majority) of the week. But you’re also intermittent fasting if you restrict your eating within a set time period during the day—usually 6, 8, or 12 hours a day. Berry follows the latter—restricting herself to just two meals a day, though it’s not clear how many hours she eats within. Her trainer, though, has said he follows the 16:8, fasting for 16 hours and eating within 8 hours every day.
Berry also credits her diet and fitness regime for helping “cure” her diabetes—she weaned herself off of insulin for her type 2 diabetes a few years ago. But for a condition that has dangerous consequences if you aren’t diligent about both your diet and your medication, is restricting your eating via intermittent fasting (IF) safe?
“Generally speaking IF is safe for people with diabetes. My preference is for a 16:8 or a 14:10 plan, says Virginia-based Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, author of Diabetes Weight Loss-Week by Week. “I know that it can be done safely, but I don’t prefer the alternate day fasting or the 5:2 regimens.” The 5:2 regimen is where you’d eat a very low-cal diet 2 days a week and then eat your normal, but still healthy, diet the other 5 days a week.
Weisenberger explained that these types of fasting are less in sync with our natural body rhythms and often harder to stick with—though some people like it. “Most importantly, if people with diabetes are taking medications that have the side effect of hypoglycemia, they will need to work with a member of their healthcare team to adjust medications for safety,” cautions Weisenberger.
It’s also OK for people with diabetes to follow the ketogenic diet, with one exception: “People who take SGLT2 inhibitors (a class of medication that causes you to excrete additional glucose out of the body through the urine), such as canagliflozin (Invokana) and empagliflozin (Jardiance), shouldn’t follow keto because of the potential for ketoacidosis—not to be confused with ketosis),” advises Weisenberger.
She also says that in general she prefers other non-keto diets because people with diabetes need nutrients and phytonutrients that come in carb-containing foods (such as fruit and whole grains.) And that advice rings true for anyone—diabetic or not—and it’s a major drawback of going keto, especially long-term. For example, a healthy gut microbiome requires a variety of fiber, and to get that you need to eat a variety of plant foods, which, ahem, contain carbohydrates.
Bottom line: whether you’re working towards a body like Halle Berry’s or not, combining two strict diets is very hard. And while it is “safe” for people with diabetes, if you have diabetes, don’t take on such a restrictive diet, let alone two simultaneously, without first consulting with your healthcare team.