Intermittent fasting may be an effective weight loss strategy for improving glucose tolerance in people at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- For weight loss, intermittent fasting and calorie restriction show comparable results in terms of blood sugar levels when their effects are assessed on an empty stomach.
- A new study compared these two methods after meals.
- For those at risk for type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting provides greater benefit.
Calorie restriction, or limiting calorie intake, is a proven technique for weight management and prevention of type 2 diabetes. However, intermittent fasting, which consists of alternating periods of fasting and periods of eating , is increasingly popular as an alternative for weight loss. Both approaches appear to provide similar results when evaluated in the fasted state.
But a new study published in Nature compared the effects of intermittent fasting with calorie restriction on blood sugar after a meal in adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Participants in the intermittent fasting group followed a diet with a meal time restriction, while that the calorie restriction group did not have to respect a time limit for meals. The results show that intermittent fasting led to a greater improvement in glucose tolerance compared to the calorie restriction group. However, the differences between the groups diminished after 18 months.
Study of blood sugar after meals
The participants – a group of 209 adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes – were split into two groups, one practicing intermittent fasting and the other daily calorie restriction. Results showed after 6 months a modest benefit for post-meal blood glucose for intermittent fasting compared to daily calorie restriction in adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes. This measurement of post-meal blood glucose may provide better indicators of diabetes risk and control.
Meal times and fasting advice could have an influence
The study also highlighted the importance of meal timing and fasting guidance for the effectiveness of these practices. The researchers noted that the intermittent fasting group had more regular meal times and stricter fasting guidance than the calorie-restricted group. These results suggest that the instructions provided to people practicing intermittent fasting may be a key factor in their success. These results are important because they show that the benefits of intermittent fasting can be even greater if the practices are properly designed and followed.
Intermittent fasting as a choice for healthy eating
Intermittent fasting offers flexibility that may appeal to some people compared to calorie restriction, which may be harder to follow for extended periods of time. Additionally, according to a study published in Obesity Reviews in 2021, intermittent fasting may be more sustainable in the long term than calorie restriction for weight loss. This study also showed that intermittent fasting can lead to improvements in blood pressure, dyslipidemia and inflammation, which are risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes.
The potential of intermittent fasting in a clinical setting
Although intermittent fasting shows promise for improving glucose tolerance in people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, more research is needed to determine how best to apply it in a clinical setting. Both of the studies mentioned above involved participants who were healthy or at high risk for type 2 diabetes, but studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of intermittent fasting in people with type 2 diabetes. the long-term effects of intermittent fasting on health and the risk of developing other chronic diseases should be studied.