Eating more of one’s daily calories earlier in the day may counter weight gain, improve blood sugar fluctuations, and reduce the time that blood sugar is above normal levels, a new study suggests.
“This type of feeding, through its effect on blood sugar, may prevent those with prediabetes or obesity from progressing to type 2 diabetes,” said study lead author Joanne Bruno, MD, PhD, an endocrinology fellow at NYU Langone.
Presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting on June 15, the new report evaluated early time-restricted feeding (eTRF), which involves restricting calories to the first eight hours of the day. Previous studies have found this form of intermittent fasting may improve cardiometabolic health and blood sugar levels. However, the team wanted to determine whether these improvements are related to weight loss or the fasting strategy.
Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the work is the first to evaluate the effects of eTRF on glycemia and inflammation independent of weight loss.
For their study, the researchers compared eTRF (80 percent of calories consumed before 1:00PM) to a usual feeding pattern (50 percent of calories consumed after 4:00PM) among 10 participants with prediabetes and obesity.
The patients were randomized to eTRF or usual feeding patterns for the first seven days and were changed over to the alternative arm for the next seven days. Food was provided to meet the patients’ caloric needs for weight maintenance to determine the weight-independent effects of this strategy. Patients wore continuous glucose (blood sugar) monitors throughout the study.
“We decreased the time these individuals were having high blood sugar levels with just one week of eTRF feeding,” said study senior author José O. Alemán, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone. “The findings show that eating a majority of one’s calories earlier in the day reduces the time that the blood sugar is elevated, thereby improving metabolic health.”
Dr. Alemán and colleagues discovered the participants’ weights were stable throughout the study. eTRF led to a decreased mean amplitude of glycemic excursion and decreased time above range (blood glucose exceeding 140 mg/dL) compared to the usual eating pattern group. The time in range was similar between the eTRF and usual feeding pattern group.
“Based on this data, eTRF may be a helpful dietary strategy for diabetes prevention,” concluded Dr. Bruno. “Further studies are needed to understand the true overall benefit of these intervention strategies.”
Funding for the study was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute institutional training grant T32HL098129 and National Institutes of Health grant K08 DK117064. Further funding was provided by The Rockefeller University’s Shapiro-Silverberg Fund for the Advancement of Translational Research.
In addition to Dr. Bruno and Dr. Alemán, other NYU Langone researchers involved in the study were Shabnam Nasserifar, MD; Sally M. Vanegas, PhD; Collin Popp, PhD; and Souptik Barua, PhD.