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Limiting the time when you eat helps controlling blood glucose levels

Posted April 26, 2019

Type 2 diabetes is commonly caused by poor life choices – not exercising enough and eating too much of junk food. This is a really serious condition. However, if behaviour can cause it, it can also prevent it. Now scientists from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute demonstrated that time-restricted eating helps controlling blood glucose levels in men at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Time-restricted eating is a good way to control blood glucose levels without really worrying what you’re eating. Image credit: Sam Howzit via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

15 men involved in the study were limiting their food intake to a nine-hour period per day – they could only eat from 8.00am to 5.00pm or from midday to 9.00pm. During this small window of eating they were allowed to consume their usual diet, which is not necessarily made up from healthy food. They were eating cakes and meat and everything they eat on a normal day. Scientists measured their blood glucose levels every day of the week, trying to notice changes from when participants were not putting limits on their eating time. And they did find something surprising.

Researchers found that time-restricted eating helps controlling blood glucose levels. In other words, eating just for nine hours per day helped reducing blood glucose levels, regardless of what kind of food was consumed. This is a huge help for men who are already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists were also asking participants to stand on scales and they did notice a tiny amount of weight loss in this study, which probably influenced the results as well. Although time-restricted eating at first was really challenging for these people, soon they got used to the new eating rhythm and did not report any major discomfort. Seeing their glucose levels drop from ‘increased risk’ to ‘normal’ was also extremely motivating.

Of course, a big part of the success of this method is that patients can eat any food they like. Of course, it would be even better if they limited their unhealthy food intake and started exercising. Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn, one of the authors of the study, said: “Time-restricted eating regimes demonstrate that we can enjoy foods that are perceived to be ‘bad’ for us, 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”.

These are very promising results. Such a time-restricted diet is relatively easy to implement and really doesn’t have negative side effects. However, scientists say that a larger study is needed to really evaluate the success of the methods.


Source: University of Adelaide

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