One in 10 people in the U.S. has diabetes. Over the next twenty-five years, the number of those with diabetes is expected to rise to as much as one in three.
To find out if intermittent fasting could help Type 2 diabetics do this, researchers from the University of Illinois enrolled 75 participants and placed them in three groups: 1) those who followed time-restricted eating (intermittent fasting) rules; 2) those who were asked to reduce their calories by 25 percent; and 3) a control group that did not follow any special weight-loss diet. Over the course of six months, the participants’ weight, waist circumference, blood sugar levels and other health indicators were measured.
Volunteers who followed a regimen of time-restricted eating lost about 6 pounds on average. The intermittent fasters shed around 10 pounds on average. They also lost more fat.
The results were promising. Those volunteers who fasted intermittently, boasted the most impressive results. This group only ate during a window from noon to 8 pm. While the calorie-counting volunteers lost on average about 6 pounds, the intermittent fasters shed around 10 pounds on average. They also lost more fat.
“I was surprised,” Krista Varady, the study’s lead author, a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, said in press release. She noted that her previous studies in this area showed weight loss was the same among time-restricted eaters as calorie-counters — but not more.
In this latest study, however, “They didn’t need to count calories or carbs or anything like that,” she said. “They ended up reducing their calorie intake just by eating in that 8-hour window.”
Despite its success, most medical experts agree that people with Type 2 diabetes should not take up intermittent fasting without supervision.
“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,” said Varady. “For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting calories.”
With this in mind, Varady is increasingly offering the fasting alternative to her patients. “Many do feel liberated in some ways by this dietary strategy,” she says. “I’m hopeful that restricted feeding will get its due.”
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.