Intermittent Fasting Helps Diabetes Patients Lose More Weight Than Calorie Counting, Study Finds

To control diabetes, people living with the disease are often encouraged to drop some pounds. There are a variety of ways to get your weight in check, including intermittent fasting, but is that a healthy way for diabetes patients to lose weight? A new study finds it is, and it may be more effective than just focusing on calorie reduction.

Research recently published in JAMA Network Open investigated how safe and effective time-restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, is for weight loss and glycemic control in those with diabetes. The researchers say this form of dieting has become popular, but there hasn’t been a lot of longer-term research regarding its impact on type 2 diabetes.

Plate of cooked vegetables

To conduct the study, the team split up 75 study participants into a control group, a time-restricted eating group that could only eat between noon and 8 p.m., and a group that was told to cut their daily caloric intake by 25%. After six months of this, HbA1c scores were found to be about the same in the two dieting groups, showing that intermittent fasting appears to be safe. It was also found to do more for weight, with participants in the time-restricted eating group dropping more pounds than those who simply cut calories.

Dr. Krista Varady, senior author and professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, says, “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.”

Plate of fish in teriyaki sauce

The researchers believe that the findings may be due to the fact that diabetes patients were already asked to lower their calorie intake and may have struggled with that form of dieting before the study. Plus, with a shorter time frame to eat, they dropped calories by default.

There were no serious adverse impacts observed throughout the study, with low blood sugar and high blood sugar incidents about the same in the diet groups and the control group. The research also involved primarily Black and Hispanic patients, who have higher rates of type 2 diabetes than other ethnicities, so knowing how these interventions can help these populations has far-reaching impacts.

The team notes that more research is needed, but it adds to the scientific evidence of the benefits of intermittent fasting. This form of dieting has also been found to help with diabetes-related hypertension and may be beneficial against breast cancer growth and Alzheimer’s symptoms. If you’d like to read more about its possible help with diabetes, click here.

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