With type 2 diabetes, limiting your daily food intake can be more helpful than strictly adhering to specific calorie amounts. Both blood sugar levels and body weight can improve significantly by restricting your diet to eight hours a day.
A research team led by Dr. Krista A. Varady from the University of Illinois in Chicago (USA) investigated. The results are published in the specialist magazine “JAMA Network Open”.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss?
Time-limited food intake is enjoying growing popularity in the form of so-called intermittent fasting, with the main focus being the hoped-for weight loss. To date, however, there has been a lack of longer-term randomized clinical studies on the effect on type 2 diabetes, the researchers report.
In the new study, they examined whether time-restricted food intake can contribute to weight loss and improving blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes and how the effect compares to daily calorie restrictions.
Six-month clinical trial
A total of 75 adults with type 2 diabetes and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 39 (above 30 is considered obesity) took part in the six-month randomized clinical trial and were randomly assigned to one of three groups.
A group should only eat between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. without counting calories. The second group was asked to follow strict daily calorie guidelines, while the third group had no dietary restrictions and served as a control group.
Participants in the time-restricted eating group adhered to the prescribed eating window on average 6.1 days per week, and in the calorie-restricted group, 68 percent adhered to their prescribed calorie goals over a six-month period, the research team reports.
Significant reduction in body weight
The average calorie intake fell by 313 kilocalories per day with time-restricted food intake, while it only fell by 197 kilocalories per day with calorie restriction, the researchers continued.
After six months, there was a significant reduction in body weight in the group with time-restricted nutrition compared to the control group. According to the experts, this was not detectable in the calorie restriction group.
Improvement in blood sugar levels
The so-called hemoglobin A1c value (HbA1c) fell compared to the control group both with calorie restriction and with time-limited food intake, the team reports. No serious adverse events occurred with the individual diets.
According to the researchers, the results suggest that a time-restricted diet can be an effective alternative strategy for reducing body weight and HbA1c levels in type 2 diabetes.
Further studies required
However, further larger clinical studies with longer follow-up periods are required to make clear recommendations.
In principle, the effect of time-limited food intake is still controversial today and recent studies have also indicated an increased risk of eating disorders due to intermittent fasting. Further research needs to clarify to what extent such a risk also affects obese people with type 2 diabetes. (fp)