The study found that people with diabetes who restricted their eating to a daily 10-hour window had blood sugar levels in the normal range for about three hours longer than when they ate whenever they pleased.
The patients also experienced lower 24-hour blood sugar levels and consistently lower morning fasting glucose levels when they participated in a time-restricted eating pattern.
For the small study, 14 adults with Type 2 diabetes were asked to limit their food intake to a 10-hour window each day, with 6 p.m. being the cutoff point. They wore a continuous glucose monitoring device that measured their blood sugar every 15 minutes.
People were told to eat how they usually would during their intake window, with no food restrictions. They spent three weeks on the intermittent fasting diet and another three weeks eating without any time limitations.
During the time-restricted eating, the participants had normal blood sugars for an average of 15 hours per day, compared to 12 hours when they ate whenever they wanted.
The 10-hour window was also safe for the participants, who didn’t experience any significant increase in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or any other serious side effects.
When you fast, your body breaks down glycogen stores, which is sugar stored in the body. When they’re gone, your body turns to using fat. In essence, it optimizes sugar metabolism to limit excess sugar in the bloodstream. It can also contribute to some fat loss.
A 10-hour eating window is also relatively generous, as other types of intermittent fasting set a six- to eight-hour eating window.
What’s also interesting about this study is that there were no dietary limitations. Had the participants been instructed, for example, to eat more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, while limiting processed foods, the results may have been even better.
Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness reporter for Bel Marra Health, which first published this article.