A study published in JAMA Network Open has found that intermittent fasting can help obese people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and control their blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes are often encouraged to lose weight to better manage their blood sugar and reduce the need of taking too many medications. Calorie restriction is often the first line of therapy. But many patients find it difficult to adhere to it because calorie intake must be carefully monitored daily.
To compare the efficacy of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction, 75 obese people with type 2 diabetes, average age 55, were divided into three groups: one group was asked to eat only between noon and 8pm each day; another group was asked to reduce their calorie intake by 25 per cent and the third group continued their normal routine.
Six months later, those on the time-restricted diet lost more weight than those who reduced their calorie intake (3.6 per cent vs 1.8 per cent). They also found it easier to follow the regimen than those in the calorie-restricted group.
Both groups had similar reductions in long-term blood sugar or haemoglobin A1C level. No serious adverse events were reported, and incidences of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) were similar across the groups. On average, the time restricted group consumed 313 fewer calories per day even though they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted in their time window. However, the calorie control group actually reduced only 196 calories per day.
"Our findings will hopefully give doctors and dietitians confidence to implement time-restricted eating in individuals with diabetes who need an alternative diet to help with weight loss and blood sugar management," the study concluded.