Now even those afflicted by type-2 diabetes can safely lose weight and control their blood sugar levels with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, a new study has found.
Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study has discovered that participants, who ate only during an eight-hour window between noon and 8pm daily, actually lost more weight over six months than those who were instructed to reduce their calorie intake by 25%. Additionally, both groups had similar reductions in long-term blood sugar levels, as measured by a test of haemoglobin A1C, which shows blood sugar levels over the past three months.
For the study, researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) enrolled 75 participants and split them into three separate groups—those who followed the time-restricted eating rules, those who reduced calories and a control group. Over a period of six months, researchers monitored the participants’ weight, waist circumference, blood sugar levels and other health parameters.
Dr Krista Varady, a senior author of the study, said that participants in the time-restricted eating group had an easier time following the regime than those in the calorie-reducing group. Researchers believe this is partly because patients with diabetes are generally told to cut back on calories by their doctors as a first line of defence. It is likely that many of the participants had already tried and struggled with such form of dieting.
On the other hand, while participants in the time-restricted eating group were not instructed to reduce their calorie intake, they still ended up doing so by eating within a fixed window of time.
“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. For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting clarities,” explained Dr Varady.
Researchers observed no serious adverse events during the six-month period of the study. Occurrences or hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) did not differ between the diet groups and control groups.
Diabetes has become a global concern as growing number of people continue to be diagnosed with the disease. Researchers, therefore, consider finding more options for controlling weight and blood sugar levels for diabetes patients a crucial field of research.
In this particular study, just over half the participants were Black and another 40% were Hispanic. This is notable, according to the researchers, as diabetes is prevalent among such groups of people and having studies that document success of time-restricted eating for such groups is particularly useful.
While this study was comparatively small, Dr Varady believes that larger studies would soon follow. Their study, she says, acts as a proof of concept to show that time-restricted eating is safe for those with type-2 diabetes. However, readers are cautioned to consult their doctors before starting such a diet.