Time-restricted eating found to be effective for type 2 diabetics
A new study has found that for type 2 diabetics, eating only between certain hours of the day, on an intermittent fasting or a time-restricted diet, is more effective for weight loss than calorie-controlled eating and has the same positive effect on blood sugar control.
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise. Because of that, the condition, which is associated with genetics and lifestyle risk factors, including being overweight or obesity, poor diet, and insufficient physical activity, has been the subject of much research.
Now, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) have examined the effect of intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, on weight loss and blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.
“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 Krista Varady, one of the study’s co-authors. “For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting calories.”
The researchers recruited 75 participants for the six-month trial, randomizing them into one of three groups: eating only from noon to 8 p.m. (time-restricted eating without calorie counting), 25% daily energy restriction (calorie-restricted diet) or control. The mean age of participants was 55, and the cohort included White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black participants.
They found that participants who followed a time-restricted diet lost more weight over six months than participants who reduced their calorie intake by 25%. Both treatment groups had similar reductions in long-term blood sugar levels, as measured by hemoglobin A1c levels, which provides an average blood sugar level for the preceding two to three months.
The researchers noticed that participants in the time-restricted eating group found it easier to follow the dietary regime than their calorie-restricted counterparts. They suggest that it may be because people with diabetes are often told by treating medical professionals to cut back on calories as a first-line treatment for the condition, and they’d already tried – and struggled with – a calorie-restricted diet. It may have helped, too, that those on the time-restricted diet could eat what they wanted, but only during the eight-hour window.
None of the treatment groups reported any adverse side effects during the study. Occurrences of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) did not differ between the treatment and control groups.
The researchers say that their inclusion of Hispanic and Black participants is important, as diabetes is particularly relevant among those groups, so having studies documenting the success of time-restricted eating is useful.
They plan to follow up this relatively small study with larger ones. The researchers were careful to point out that those people with type 2 diabetes wanting to start a time-restricted diet should consult with their treating medical professional before doing so.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Open Network.