Intermittent fasting trumps calorie cutting for diabetics: New study

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Intermittent fasting helps in weight-loss and blood sugar control.

NEW YORK, Oct 28, (Agencies): A recent study suggests that adhering to an 8-hour eating window daily can be a beneficial strategy for individuals with type 2 diabetes, aiding in weight loss and blood sugar control. This approach often referred to as time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting, proved to be more sustainable for participants compared to calorie reduction, a common recommendation for managing type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, involved 75 participants randomly assigned to one of three interventions over a six-month period. Those practicing time-restricted eating were permitted to consume any desired foods between noon and 8 p.m. each day, while for the rest of the day, they could consume only water or zero-calorie beverages. This specific eating window was chosen to accommodate social activities and family dinners, making it a more convenient option for participants.

Results indicated that individuals in the time-restricted eating group experienced greater weight loss over six months when compared to those asked to reduce their daily calorie intake by 25%. On average, the time-restricted eating group lost approximately 4.3% of their body weight, a figure comparable to some previous trials focusing on 8- or 10-hour eating windows, albeit of shorter durations.

This weight loss outcome also aligned with the 5.2% weight loss observed in a one-year study of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a Medicare-covered lifestyle change program involving healthy eating, exercise, and stress management. In contrast, participants who reduced their daily calorie intake by 25% in the recent study only lost about 1.75% of their weight over six months.

Calorie restriction has long been a recommended strategy for weight management in type 2 diabetes, although it can be challenging as it necessitates calorie tracking. Participants in this study who opted for calorie restriction received guidance from a dietitian and utilized a tracking app.

The third group in the study, the control group, was instructed to maintain their regular eating habits and body weight. All participants were asked to maintain their typical physical activity routines.

Interestingly, both the time-restricted eating and calorie reduction groups displayed similar improvements in long-term blood sugar levels, measured by the HbA1c test, with an average decrease of approximately 0.7 percentage points. These reductions were considered substantial, particularly as both groups started with an average HbA1c level of around 8. According to the study’s lead author, Krista Varady, this decrease suggests that continued adherence to the time-restricted eating regimen for a year may potentially lead to diabetes remission.

Diabetes remission is typically defined as maintaining HbA1c levels below 6.5% for at least three months after discontinuing diabetes medication. Additionally, participants in the time-restricted eating group found it easier to adhere to their dietary regimen, with an 87% adherence rate over six months, while the calorie-restriction group achieved their daily calorie target 68% of the time.

During the study, no severe adverse events were reported, and occurrences of low and high blood sugar levels were comparable across all three groups. The participants were predominantly Black (over 50%) and Hispanic (about 40%), two demographic groups with higher diabetes rates in the United States.

While this study is considered small and requires further validation through larger and potentially longer-term investigations, it offers promising evidence that time-restricted eating could be an effective and accessible approach for individuals with type 2 diabetes seeking weight loss and improved blood sugar control. Health experts recommend consulting with a healthcare professional before embarking on this approach and suggest that regular support, such as dietary counseling, can enhance its success by helping individuals make healthier food choices and maintain their regimens.

This news has been read 789 times!

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