Research into the effectiveness of time-restricted eating has shown that it promotes weight loss and better blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Experts behind the latest study say it demonstrates that for many people, “counting time is easier than counting calories”.
Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago carried out a study involving 75 participants.
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The results show that people whose eating was restricted to an eight-hour window, from midday to 8pm, lost more weight during a six-month period compared to those who were tasked with cutting their calorie intake by 25%.
Intermittent fasting also proved to be effective at reducing long-term blood sugar levels, as both groups showed improvements over three months.
The participants were divided into three groups – the intermittent fasting group, the calorie reduction group, and a control group.
The research team said the intermittent fasting group found their programme easier, possibly because they would have already been advised to reduce their calories intake by their doctor and may have struggled with this. Additionally, while the fasting group was not told to reduce the number of calories they consumed, they did so naturally because of the reduced window of eating time.
Senior author Krista Varady, a professor of kinesiology and nutrition, said: “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.”
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The researchers said this small-scale study should be followed up by larger ones, and that people with type 2 diabetes should consult with their doctor before embarking on this type of diet.
With around one in 10 people in America living with diabetes – and that figure expected to rise – it is of paramount importance that people are given ways to help them lose weight and control their blood sugar levels.
In this latest study, just over 50% of the participants were Black and a further 40% Hispanic. This is noteworthy as type 2 diabetes is particularly common within these groups.
Read the study in the journal JAMA Network Open.