Losing weight is often a goal for people with type 2 diabeteswhich is strongly associated with to be overweight or obese. However, it is unclear which diet strategy works best for people with this metabolic disorder.
A new randomized controlled study in people with type 2 diabetes has shown that study participants who restricted their eating to between noon and 8 p.m. a day lost more weight than those who reduced their overall calorie intake by counting calories. Both diet strategies produced similar improvements in blood sugar.
“Many people find counting calories very difficult over the long term, but our study shows that looking at the clock may offer an easy way to cut calories and lose weight,” said Vicky Pavlou, RDN, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who conducted the new research. “Although time-restricted eating is becoming increasingly popular, no other studies have examined an eight-hour eating window in people with type 2 diabetes.”
Pavlou will present the findings at NUTRITION 2023, the American Society for Nutrition’s annual flagship meeting taking place July 22-25 in Boston.
Eating only during an eight-hour window has already been studied for obese people. However, the researchers, led by Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wanted to find out if this strategy might be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes.
The study included a group of 75 people of various races and ethnicities between the ages of 18 and 80 with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Participants were placed in one of three groups: time-restricted eating, calorie restriction, or control. People in the time-restricted eating group only ate between noon and 8 p.m. while the calorie-restriction group could eat at any time of the day but counted their calories on the MyFitnessPal mobile app with the goal of reducing their calorie intake by 25% of their maintenance calories; THE calories needed maintain their current weight. The control group continued to follow their normal diet.
Over the course of the six-month study, researchers found that those on the time-restricted diet lost 3.55% of their body weight compared to the control group. That would be the equivalent of a person weighing 275 pounds losing just under 10 pounds. The calorie restriction group did not lose weight compared to the control group. Compared to the control group, blood sugar (HbA1C) levels decreased in both the time-restricted group (-0.91%) and the calorie-restricted group (-0.95%).
The researchers also assessed whether these dieting strategies improved cardiometabolic risk factors, but the weight loss achieved with the time-restricted diet did not reach the 5% mark typically needed to improve these factors. Additionally, study participants were taking cholesterol and blood pressure medications, making it difficult to observe improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors.
Our study shows that time-restricted eating can be a good alternative for people with type 2 diabetes who want to lose weight and improve blood sugar levels. However, there are several types of medication for people with type 2 diabetes, some of which can cause low blood sugar and others that must be taken with food. Therefore, it is important to work closely with a dietitian or physician when implementing this dietary approach.”
Vicky Pavlou, RDN, PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago