A new study led by researchers at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, has measured the effect of a short term fast on markers of blood sugar control in a small number of people with type 2 diabetes.
The research, published in the Diabetes Care journal, explores the impact of breakfast skipping on postprandial blood sugar levels, insulin and free fatty acids (FFAs), among other markers.
The testing was performed for two days. On the first test day, 22 participants ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, while on the other, they did the same except they fasted the whole morning until about 1.30pm.
The composition of test meals provided was close to that of a typical Western diet, with about over half of calories coming from carbs, a moderate amount of protein and a relatively low-fat content.
The study participants were middle-aged, had a mean HbA1c of 60.7 mmol/mol with no signs of diabetes-related complications and habitually ate breakfast.
After comparing the values for glucose, insulin and FFAs throughout the two-day test, researchers found that breakfast skipping led to slightly higher blood sugar levels after lunch and dinner.
The concentration of FFAs in response to breakfast skipping stayed elevated until lunch, which tends to indicate that fatty acids from storage fat were being released to meet energy needs during the fast.
The most interesting finding perhaps is that insulin levels were significantly lowered after each meal on no breakfast.
This suggests that, if followed for a longer period of time, breakfast skipping may help reduce or slow down the development of insulin resistance.
While researchers highlighted the importance of breakfast in light of the blood sugar surges seen without it, the study still supports fasting for controlling insulin levels.
There is speculation that, should participants had eaten low-carb around the fasting windown, post-meal blood sugar surges could have been avoided or reduced.
The fact that intermittent fasting and breakfast skipping could help improve insulin sensitivity is important, as increasing evidence suggests that insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia can raise risks for vascular complications, like atherosclerosis.

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