When you eat could be more important than what you eat, says a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence for “time-restricted eating”.
Adelaide researchers have found restricting men at risk of type 2 diabetes to a nine-hour eating window helped them control their blood sugar levels.
Time-restricted eating – or TRE – is a type of intermittent fasting. Other methods include fasting two days a week. The study by University of Adelaide researchers and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute has been published in the journal Obesity.
It is a small study – involving 15 men for one week – that confirms what other published studies have found.
Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn, from the university’s Adelaide Medical School and SAHMRI, said the men ate their normal diet between 8am and 5pm or later in the day.
The results were improved glucose control regardless of the start and finish times chosen. “In fact, we told them to keep eating all the foods they usually eat,” she said.
“Our results suggest that modulating when, rather than what, we eat can improve glucose control.
“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.”
There are a range of studies that show the benefits of TRE and other forms of intermittent fasting, although many have been done in mice and some people spruiking diets claim unproven benefits.
A recent University of South Australia study found another form of intermittent fasting – when people eat normally five days a week then fast for two – also improved blood glucose control.
Earlier this year, a different University of Adelaide study published in Obesity found obese women who fasted intermittently and also consumed fewer calories lost more weight than those who ate less but didn’t fast, fasted but ate the same, or did not restrict their diet at all.
Fred Rochler is part of a follow-up study where he eats normally 9.30am to 7.30pm daily for eight weeks. “I found my fasting blood glucose tolerance improved significantly,” he said.
This story was reproduced with permission from The Advertiser.