By restricting the time period during which they could eat, researchers have seen promising results for controlling blood glucose levels in men at risk of Type 2 diabetes in a small study.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) assessed the effects of time-restricted eating in 15 men for one week.
“The men, who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, limited their food intake to a nine-hour period per day,” says associate professor Leonie Heilbronn from the University’s Adelaide Medical School and SAHMRI.
Heilbronn says participants undertook time-restricted eating either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or later in the day, from midday to 9:00 p.m.
“They ate their normal diet during this time,” explains Heilbronn. “In fact, we told them to keep eating all the foods they usually eat.”
The blood glucose response to a standard meal was assessed each day of the study. The investigators found that time restricted eating improved glucose control, regardless of when the men chose to stop eating.
“Our results suggest that modulating when, rather than what, we eat can improve glucose control,” says Heilbronn. “We did see a tiny amount of weight loss in this study, which may have contributed to the results.”
Fred Rochler, who is participating in a follow-up study, has undertaken a time restricted eating regime in which he ate his normal diet only from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. over a similar eight-week trial.
“The restricted eating regime was initially challenging, but soon became more manageable,” Rochler says. “I only ate up until 7:30 p.m. as I found this worked well with my lifestyle.”
After the trial, Rochler found that his fasting blood glucose tolerance improved significantly. “It changed from ‘increased risk’ level to ‘normal,'” Rochler says. “This was without changing any of the foods that I like to eat,” Rochler points out.
Heilbronn says time-restricted eating regimes demonstrate that we can enjoy foods that are perceived to be ‘bad’ for us.
She says if we eat them at the right time of day when our bodies are more biologically able to deal with the nutrient load, and perhaps more importantly if we allow our bodies to have more time fasting each night.
“While these early results show some promise for controlling blood glucose, a larger study over a longer duration is required to fully investigate the effectiveness of this pattern of time-restricted eating,” she says.
This research is supported by funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
The study is published journal Obesity.
The University of Adelaide.
- The University of Adelaide. Time-restricted eating shows benefits for blood glucose. EurekAlert! Retrieved: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/uoa-ies042319.php