Intermittent fasting word on notepad with clock, fork and knife on white plate, weight loss and diet concept

Fasting, also known as time-restricted eating (TRE), could help people with metabolic syndrome to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.

A new study has used glucose level and smartphone data to assess the health benefits of TRE in people with signs of metabolic syndrome.

The study participants were instructed to continue eating their regular diet but to fit all meals within a 10-hour window. This meant that another 14 hours each day were dedicated to fasting.

Participants logged their mealtimes and sleeping patterns via a smartphone app and glucose levels were recorded via flash glucose monitoring (FreeStyle Libre). Participants treated with statins or blood pressure drugs remained on their medication through the study.

At the end of the study, 19 participants had kept to the intervention and provided enough data to be included in the analysis.

While the participants were instructed to keep eating the same foods as they usually would, the research team noticed that the participants ended up consuming 9% fewer calories per day.

Dr Panda said: “We told people that they could choose when they ate their meals, as long as they remained within the 10-hour window. We found that universally, they chose to eat breakfast later, about two hours after waking, and to eat dinner earlier, about three hours before going to bed.”

Over the course of the 12-week trial, participants lost an average of 3.3kg of body weight. The results showed a reduction in LDL cholesterol, and the researchers noted, “Our ability to do this with TRE as ‘add-on’ therapy to statins is intriguing and, given its potential clinical implications, warrants further investigation.”

Blood pressure levels reduced on average and sleep quality improved. The results showed improvements in HbA1c among participants that had elevated fasting blood glucose and/or HbA1c at the start of the study. Triglyceride levels, however, were not significantly different after the intervention, which surprised the researchers given that weight reduction had occurred.

The findings have been published in the Cell Metabolism journal.

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