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Effect of fasting on young adults who have symptoms of hypoglycemia in the absence of frequent meals


Background and Objectives:

Among otherwise healthy adults, there is a subgroup of individuals who develop symptoms of hypoglycemia during episodes of food restriction. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether such individuals develop hypoglycemia or react abnormally in other metabolic aspects during a 24-hour fast.

Subjects and Methods:

Ninety medical students were asked if they wanted to participate. Sixteen were selected; none dropped out. A 24-hour fast was performed at a hospital ward. Blood samples and questionnaires were taken at eight specific times.


During the fast, the sensitive group reported significantly higher scores on ‘irritation’ and ‘shakiness’. However, no hypoglycemia occurred and the lowest detected blood glucose concentration was 3.7 mmol/l. There were no differences between the groups in plasma glucose, cortisol, growth hormone (GH), insulin, β-hydroxybutyrate (β-OH) and lactate levels. The blood pressures and heart rates were also similar.


Adults, despite subjective signs of hypoglycemia, can fast without any metabolic or endocrine derangement.

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This work was supported by the Freemasons in Stockholm Foundation for Children's Welfare and the Swedish Research Council #K2002-72X-009941-11B.

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Correspondence to J Alkén.

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Contributors: CM has contributed to the initiation of the study, designed the study protocol, participated in the writing of the manuscript and has been the supervisor of the study. EP has contributed to the study design and participated in the data collection. JA has contributed in all parts of the study

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Alkén, J., Petriczko, E. & Marcus, C. Effect of fasting on young adults who have symptoms of hypoglycemia in the absence of frequent meals. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 721–726 (2008).

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  • Fasting
  • experience
  • hunger
  • blood glucose
  • ketone bodies
  • hypoglycemia


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