A new study published in Cell Metabolism highlights the benefits of a new kind of intermittent fasting. Instead of taking whole days off of eating, in this method you only eat certain hours during the day, restricting eating to a 10-hour window of time. You then fast for 14 hours each day; thus the plan can be called a 14:10 eating plan.
The small study was done by the Salk Institute and the University of California, San Diego. Researchers studied 19 people who were obese or had metabolic syndrome. Called time-restricted eating (TRE), this version of intermittent fasting proved beneficial in the trial participants.
After practicing time-restricted eating for 12 weeks, the group experienced:
- An average of 3 to 4 percent reduction in body weight and BMI
- Three percent reduction in belly fat
- Better energy level and quality of sleep
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced calorie intake of 9 percent
- Improvements in fasting glucose and A1c levels
Many subjects continued with time-restricted eating after the trial was over.
The benefits of TRE include:
- Giving the organs of the body time to rest and recover
- Mimicking the body’s circadian rhythms
- An easy-to-follow eating plan
There were several limitations to this study, especially its small size. A new larger study is planned underwritten by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
What is metabolic syndrome?
The study participants all had metabolic syndrome, which is sometimes synonymous with prediabetes. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of the following health conditions: hypertension (high blood pressure), high blood sugar, excess weight around the midsection, and abnormal cholesterol levels. You don’t need to have all four conditions in order to have metabolic syndrome—having just two can put you at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
What you should know
There are some instances where intermittent fasting could be dangerous. Intermittent fasting is not for:
- People under 20
- Underweight people
- Those with an eating disorder
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People with medical conditions or overactive thyroid
Before beginning time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting, check with your doctor or dietitian. Be sure to remain on any medications you are prescribed until you’re doctor says it’s okay to discontinue them, and always stay hydrated.