Type 1 food fasting, a water fast and a juice fast

I figured someone might be able to use some of this data. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 29 years (I'm 30). In the past year I have done 2 fasts: 1 was for 7 days no food, but did have juice on hand for any drastic drops in bg. The other was 2 days of 1 smoothie only, 2 days of only water, then 2 more days of 1 smoothie only. First off it can be done. I did it. I was alone when I did the water only and was with a roommate with the juice fast.

The first fast with juice was chaotic. I was on a pump and dropped my basal rates in 1/2, then three days in, in 1/4 of standard rates. It seemed to be working, but weird things would happen. I checked my bg every couple of hours or so. There was a particular time I felt clammy and anxious, so I figured I was low. Checked my bg and it was 223, which is just about where I wanted to keep it. But I felt terrible low, so 15 min later I checked again. It 47. This was no good. I drank some fresh squeezed carrot and orange juice. It went up shortly thereafter. The weird blood sugar sensitivity didn't leave for about 4 days after coming back to normal food. For instance, I went climbing 2 days after breaking the fast and my bg was at 250 and I had just eaten a can of pasta. Started climbing, bg plummetted. Went down to 40's. Ate two handfuls of glucose, came up to 150's, but plummetted again as soon as I started climbing. I literally had to stuff glucose tabs into my face all day and I couldn't keep it from dropping. So be aware if you choose to do this.

Fwiw, some miraculous things happened after this juice fast. I had arthritis in my big toes that was so bad that it caused vomitting on a couple of occasions. The doctors put me on IBprofin 800 mg and Voltarin, and the pain was was still so excrutiating that caused dizziness and vomitting. I couldn't move my big toes at all without pain. On the 6th day of this fast, I woke up to my toes wiggling without any pain, but still a little pressure. 7th day, pain free, and it's never really came back.

The second fast was in the early part of October this year. The 2 day smoothie part was to prime my body for the water only part. The smoothie days were pretty regular. The 2 day water only part actually turned out to be very enlightening. I was on MDI shots, with levimir as my long acting and novolog as my fast acting. I'm not a fan of pumps anymore, but thats another story. I stopped taking my long acting all together so I wouldn't bottom out. I actually got some really valuable data from this experiment. My blood sugar would raise 100mg/dl per 2 hours. Not 50 per hour, but 100 per two hours; as it was sometimes nothing the first hour, then 100, or 25, then 75, etc. This was with purely nothing in my system, no food, no anything.

It was kind of revealing to me, this trending upwards of 100 points every 2 hours IS Diabetes. That is what it is. I know that sounds kind of dumb, but this flux upwards (that I now have numbers for) is what it means to be diabetic. Anyways, I just treated the highs every two hours and my bgs were quite consitent (for once...). When I came back to foods, everything went back to normal. Back to my standard dose of levimir and novolog, and back to normal foods. As far as what I felt like during the fast, I felt horrible. Like I had the flu, but I don't think that had anything to do with my Diabetes. Anyways, i thought this might help a few people out there that are curious about fasting and diabetes.

Thanks for sharing the information, I think n=1 experiments are interesting.

Why did you fast?...was it for physical or spiritual reasons?

I'm familiar with fasting, all of my experience has been with spiritual fasts, no food but some watered down sports drink or Dex4 for low BG. I have fasted for many days without any serious physacal problems. My BG will climb around mealtimes for the first couple of days but my liver eventually runs out of stored glucose and my BG settles down. I also limit my activity and would never consider doing something strenuous, I'm looking for spearatal enlightenment, I'm not fasting to impact my body's physical condition.

I have not experienced any real issues with my pump basal but if I go for a walk, I will set a 25% temp for a couple of hours.

I agree. Thanks for sharing the results. I wouldn't really say that I fast but in the past I've tried fasting, never more than 2 days. Mostly for basal tests. Always ending with a mild disaster. So hats off for being able to pull off 7 days.

So if you took your long-acting, could you have run flat? I think the theory is that you could have avoided the 100 mg/dl/ 2 hour rises with basal insulin but I'm not sure how Levemir works as I went from R/NPH to pumping. I had a very brief NPH respite when my pump blew up Sat, 07/02/11 and I was pumpless until 07/05/11 when the replacement arrived but it was pretty unscientific.

I agree that fasting is horrible. I don't fast. I agree it's interesting to hear about your experiment though! [edited to fix date typo!]

I read this yesterday and thought about it. I agree with AR about the basal insulin, as well as Gene's about using fasting when basal testing.

The purpose of basal insulin is to keep your glucose levels consistent at all times. So, if basals are correct, you should be able to continue them as normal and remain at a consistent glucose level through the entire fast. If you had to jimmy your basals that much, they may have been incorrecct on the pump. I am not that familiar with Levimir.

As an example, I fasted for three days a couple of years ago, water only, and left my basal reading on the pump the same. I pretty much flatlined through the whole three days.

Maybe some of the first fast was due to juice and smoothies, both high sugar/carbs and or the length of the fasts. The second, I would attribute the experience to the lack of insulin in your body.

Interesting discussion...

Your post was very interesting. I was just reading some information on the successful use of ketogenic diets for treating epileptics, particularly children. Apparently, the change in metabolism has a pronounced neuroprotective effect, and in some cases it prevents seizures altogether. Also, it has been found that this diet decreases inflammation and pain in rats. By fasting, you increased the level of ketones in your body. Therefore, it's not surprising that you experienced relief from your arthritis. Perhaps, you may want to consider going on a low carb/high fat diet permanently. You might get lasting relief from your arthritis and it would make it easier for you to stabilize your bgs too.

Sorry, but anything that "increased the level of ketones in your body" should be avoided in my opinion. Use of ketones to solve other problems is not good practice for Type 1 diabetics.

Sorry, but I have been at this for 50 years and ketones and DKA would be as low on my list as a low blood glucose reading of, say, 10....

I think that ketogenic [ok] is different than ketosis [bad]. I think you sort of "run hotter" if you don't eat carbs. I've read that it's a super way to burn fat too so it's useful if you can keep it up. I can't say I've done it, as I have a huge evening snack habit I've never even bothered overcoming but, if I avoid a lot of carbs during the day, I feel a sort of weird taste buzz in my mouth that may be somehow related to this. Or not. I'm a horrible scientist.

“The purpose of basal insulin is to keep your glucose levels consistent at all times. So, if basals are correct, you should be able to continue them as normal and remain at a consistent glucose level through the entire fast.”

Theoretically you’re right about this. In reality, I have the problem that it takes more insulin to control my BG in the morning if I don’t eat breakfast than if I do. So I can’t totally isolate my basal insulin from my bolus insulin.

Usually I eat a small breakfast of about 15 carbs. I bolus about 1.2 units of insulin for that. If I don’t eat, my BG tends to rise all morning and it can take 2-4 units of insulin to bring it back to normal. So there is no way I can add 2-4 units of insulin to my basals, because I’d go low 95% of the time.

I fasted for both spiritual purposes as well as physical purposes. My life has been dedicated to spiritual pursuits, and fasting is a pragmatic hands on spiritual process with objective verifiable conclusions.

The major prompt for the fast though was physical, because my toes hurt so bad that I simply couldn't rock climb anymore. The shoes hurt too bad too even put on. This was devastating. Climbing is one of the most important things in my life and has in many ways changed my life; so a life with out climbing just could not happen.

So I read that fasting helps arthritis. And it did. My arthritis is fundamentally gone now, although it comes back in very mild flare ups every now and then. I just eat a bunch of Turmeric if that happens (which I think this spice is quite possibly one of the most amazing healing herbs on the planet.)

In any case, my basal rates dropped so dramatically, along with my bgs, during the first fast that I didn't want any reactions so I just didn't use any for the second fast...plus it was only going to be water and I was going to be alone...so I couldn't risk any complications. Thank you for your reply.

The fear was going low without being able to catch it. So I didn't administer any long acting insulin on the second fast. Also, my body is really hard to read. I use 11 units of Levimir at night every night. This always drops my blood sugar about 100 points throughout the night, so I have to eat before I go to bed to bump it up that hundred points so I don't bottom out. On the other hand it tends to flare up in the morning till around 11 or 12. It seems I'm a little insulin resistant in the morning, both to short acting and long acting. This being the case, I didn't know what my basal should be for a complete water fast. If it dropped it in the middle of the night without any stored glycogen and since I was not producing glucose via gluconeogenesis, I could die. I live alone, so I can't have mistakes. But if and when I do it again I will probably give some long acting, still though not sure how much.

Thank you Cary for your reply. I have tried the higher fat, low carb diet already. I've actually tried a quite a few diets for a variety of outcomes. I have tried the variants of paleo, primal, and atkins diets, as well as vegetarianism, veganism, and 80/10/10 raw veganism-which I felt the best on, but my bgs were rather chaotic. I have a lot of data from these experiments, all of which lasted no less than 3 months (I feel if you don't give a lifestyle change at least 3 months, you can't really know if it works or not. If you want to discuss any of the outcomes feel free to email me). The diet I tried in response to this was in line with Dr. Bernstein's diet, so was very low carb and high good fats and protein. I basically copied "The Primal Blueprint" diet and worked in my own variables according to costs and sugar.

The theory is that the lower the carbs, the lower the variables in your bg. I restricted my diet down to <30 carbs a day, increasing my protein and fat for calories. Eggs, salmon, olive oil, greens, and trail mix were staples. My bgs were just a tad more stable, but the main problem was that I felt awful. I had no energy, no pick up. They said that eventually I would change into burning fats instead of carbs for energy, or I would put my body into to Ketosis, which as was mentioned earlier is different than Ketoacidosis. This is just another form of fuel burned for energy, and theoretically more efficiently, ketoacidosis is toxicity. But I just couldn't get any energy. I went for 6 weeks of <30 carbs (2 weeks is sufficient time to turn on to ketosis and off of carb burning). I never felt any pick up in energy, and noticed that my coffee intake just about doubled at week 6. I want off coffee eventually, so this was no good. I kept at the diet turning up the carbs a little at a time. I felt the best between 100-150 carbs aday, but this feeling of "best" is miles away from how good I felt while Raw Vegan, but again, my bgs were very hard to manage while Raw Vegan 80/10/10. Maybe do you have a different experience with high fat low carb? If so, I'd love to hear it, and how you got it to work.

Oh and I've gotten rid of my arthritis pain completely. The juice fast completely took it away, but it slowly came back, but never back to the way it was. The pain is maybe 5% of what it was and has only came around once this year. Now if I feel any pain, I just eat some Turmeric and it's gone.

Fasting and diet changes are so much more difficult with T1 and I can hardly believe your fortitude. Kudos for thinking for yourself and going off the beaten path which really paid off. Chronic pain is no picnic and few people would ever have gotten off that train. Tx for sharing.

Isn't that (ketogenic) the idea behind Atkins? I had two non-diabetic friends who got on that bandwagon and lost a ton of weight-serious reduction. But it is unstastainable and they have gained back much, much more weight then was lost. It is sad.