Time-restricted eating: How this diet is winning the weight loss battle for diabetics

The lowdown on Time-Restricted Eating (TRE): it’s the buzz in the diet world, and it’s got diabetics’ attention [1]. 

But here’s the scoop – it’s not just about shedding pounds. It’s about managing blood sugar, too. Let’s dive into the specifics [2].

The study scoop

A group of researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago embarked on a mission to see if TRE could do the heavy lifting for people with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

They recruited 75 participants, aged 18 to 80, all grappling with obesity and T2D. The study ran for six months, starting in January 2022. Now, here’s the cool part – the participants were split into groups.

And then there were three

  1. TRE Group: These folks got an 8-hour eating window from noon to 8 pm – no calorie counting required.
  2. Calorie Restriction (CR) Group: They had to cut their daily energy intake by 25%. Calorie counting alert.
  3. Control Group: These participants didn’t get specific diet instructions; they just went about their usual eating habits.

The results roll in

Alright, let’s talk numbers. The TRE group was strict, sticking to their eating window six days a week. Conversely, 68% of the CR group met their calorie-cutting goals over the six months.

Per CNN “findings show time-restricted eating is a viable alternative for people with type 2 diabetes who are sick of calorie counting for weight loss,” according to lead study author and nutrition professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, Krista Varady.

The TRE group saw a significant drop in body weight by month six, shedding about 3.56% of their initial weight. Meanwhile, the CR group had a milder drop of 1.78%, not quite reaching statistical significance.

Here’s where it gets interesting – both TRE and CR groups saw their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels drop by around 0.9%.

For context, lower HbA1c levels are a good thing for folks with T2D, as it indicates better blood sugar control. No big differences were found between the TRE and CR groups in this regard.

And the health parade doesn’t end there. Things like time spent in the “normal blood sugar” range, medication effectiveness, blood pressure and blood lipid levels stayed pretty much the same across the three groups.

The cherry on top? No significant adverse events were reported in any of the groups.

So, what’s the bottom line? This study shows that TRE, without the inconvenience of counting calories, helped people with T2D lose weight and manage their blood sugar levels. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too, minus the guilt.

But here’s the thing – this is just one study. To seal the deal, we need more research with larger groups and longer timeframes.

Still, the results are promising. So, if you’re in the T2D ring, TRE might be your secret weapon in the fight against the scale and high blood sugar.

Just remember, it’s always a good idea to chat with your doctor before making any major dietary changes. They’re the experts, after all.

Learn more about this study published in JAMA Network Open.

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[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37889487/
[2] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2811116

Photograph: YMikhaylova/Envato
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