The prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to escalate, with contributing factors including genetics, lifestyle choices, and obesity. In the ongoing pursuit of effective diabetes management and weight loss strategies, a recent study has yielded promising results. The research, conducted at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), explored the impact of intermittent fasting, specifically time-restricted eating, on both weight loss and blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Krista Varady, a co-author of the study, commented on the findings, stating, “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 calories.”
The study, which spanned a six-month period, involved 75 participants who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: time-restricted eating (with no calorie counting) in which participants could consume food only between noon and 8 p.m., a calorie-restricted diet involving a 25% daily energy reduction, or a control group. The average age of participants was 55, representing a diverse mix of ethnic backgrounds, including White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black individuals.
Results indicated that those who adhered to the time-restricted eating pattern achieved greater weight loss over the six-month duration compared to participants in the calorie-restricted group. Encouragingly, both treatment groups experienced similar reductions in long-term blood sugar levels, as measured by hemoglobin A1c levels, which provide an average blood sugar reading for the preceding two to three months.
Notably, participants in the time-restricted eating group reported higher adherence to their dietary regimen compared to their calorie-restricted counterparts. The researchers attribute this partly to the common advice given by healthcare professionals to individuals with diabetes, which frequently involves calorie reduction as a primary treatment method. Many participants had previously attempted and struggled with calorie-restricted diets. The time-restricted eating approach allowed them to consume their preferred foods within an eight-hour window, potentially making the dietary plan more sustainable.
During the study, none of the treatment groups reported any adverse side effects, and occurrences of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) did not differ significantly between the treatment and control groups.
The inclusion of Hispanic and Black participants in the study is significant, as these groups are particularly vulnerable to diabetes. Therefore, the findings regarding the effectiveness of time-restricted eating hold particular relevance.
The researchers intend to follow up this relatively small-scale study with larger trials. They emphasize that individuals with type 2 diabetes considering a time-restricted diet should consult with their healthcare providers before embarking on such a dietary plan.