Posted on Oct 27, 2023, 5 p.m.
Time-restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, may help those with type 2 diabetes lose weight and control their blood sugar levels according to a recent study from the Univerisity of Illinois Chicago published in JAMA Network Open.
The researchers explain that 1 in 10 American residents has diabetes today, and that number is expected to increase to 1 in 3 if current trends continue, making it important to find more options for prevention, and intervention, as well as for controlling weight and blood sugar levels for these patients. Over half of the participants were Black and another 40% were Hispanic, diabetes is particularly prevalent among these groups, so having documentation of the success of time-restricted waiting is notably useful for them.
This study enrolled 75 participants who were put into three groups: a control group, those who reduced their calories, and those who followed time-restricted eating rules. During a study period of six months, measurements of participant weight, waist circumference, blood sugar levels, and other indicators of health were recorded. No serious adverse events were reported during the study, and occurrences of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia did not differ between the three groups.
Those in the time-restricted group only ate during an 8-hour window between noon and 8 PM every day, and those in the calorie-reducing group were instructed to reduce their caloric intake by 25%. According to the researchers, those in the intermittent fasting group lost more weight over the 6 months than those in the reduced calorie group. However, both groups had similar reductions in long-term blood sugar levels as measured by a test of hemoglobin A1C.
It was noted that those in the time-restricted group had an easier time following their diet plan than those in the calorie-reducing group. Those with diabetes are generally told to cut back on their calories, and many struggle with this first line of defense and most often fail. Those in the intermittent fasting group were not told to reduce their calories, but they ended up doing so without knowing it by eating within a fixed time window.
“Our study shows that time-restricted eating might be an effective alternative to traditional dieting for people who can’t do the traditional diet or are burned out on it,” said Varady, a professor of kinesiology and nutrition. “For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting calories.”
This small study can act as a successful proof of concept showing that time-restricted eating is an easier diet plan to follow that is safe for those with type 2 diabetes. However, it should be followed up by larger studies, and those with diabetes should consult with their doctor before starting or making any changes to their diet.
The other current and former UIC authors on the paper are Vasiliki Pavlou, Sofia Cienfuegos, Shuhao Lin, Mark Ezpeleta, Kathleen Ready, Sarah Corapi, Jackie Wu, Jason Lopez, Kelsey Gabel, Lisa Tussing-Humphreys, Vanessa Oddo, Julienne Sanchez and Dr. Terry Unterman. Other authors are from Northwestern University, the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and the University of Southern California.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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