Intermittent fasting can help ease metabolic syndrome

For metabolic syndrome, the necessary change to lifestyle and weight loss can really be challenging. Thankfully, a new study has found that eating within a certain time can help you tackle that.
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For metabolic syndrome, the necessary change to lifestyle and weight loss can really be challenging. Thankfully, a new study has found that eating within a certain time can help you tackle that.


Metabolic syndrome is known as one of the main risk factors for serious conditions, such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Other risk factors for serious conditions are high blood pressure and obesity, among others.


This is not a small problem in the U.S., where one-third of adults have metabolic syndrome. The worst part is that this condition affects about 50% of people aged 60 and above in the U.S.


Obesity is also closely linked to metabolic syndrome, affecting about 39.8% of adults in the U.S. Receiving a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome provides a critical window of opportunity for making committed lifestyle changes before conditions such as diabetes set in.


However, it is not always easy to make the necessary lifestyle changes to improve one’s health outlook. Such changes include being active as possible, managing stress, quitting smoking and losing weight.


For the first time, new research has looked into intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, as a way to lose weight and manage blood pressure and blood sugar for people with metabolic syndrome.


The research, which is published in the journal Cell Metabolism, is set apart from previous studies that looked at the health and weight loss benefits of time-restricted eating in healthy people and mice.


Dr. Pam Taub, the co-corresponding study author says, “People who have metabolic syndrome/prediabetes are often told to make a lifestyle change to prevent progression of their risk factors to disease.”


“These people are at a crucial tipping point, where their disease process can be reversed.” “However, many of these lifestyle changes are hard to make. We discovered there was an unmet need in people with metabolic syndrome to come up with lifestyle strategies that could be easily implemented.”


Clinical testing of time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting

Equipped with the knowledge that intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating had been effective in treating and reversing metabolic syndrome in mice, the authors of the study set out to test these findings in a clinical setting.


Dr. Taub says, “There are a lot of claims in the lay press about promising lifestyle strategies not backed up with data. We wanted to study time-restricted eating in a rigorous, well-designed clinical trial.”


Participants could eat anything they wanted, when they wanted, within 10-hour windows. The good news for the 19 participants with metabolic syndrome was that they could decide how much to eat and when they ate, as long as they restricted their eating to a window of 10-hour or less.


Dr. Taub says, “The participants in the study had control of their eating window.” They could determine which 10-hour period to consume calories. They also had flexibility in adjusting their eating window by a couple of hours based on their schedule.”


Dr. Taub says, “Overall, participants felt they could adhere to this eating window and we didn’t restrict how many calories they consumed during their eating windows.”


Most of the participants are obese, and 84% were taking at least one medication, such as a satin or an antihypertensive. Metabolic syndrome is associated with at least 3 high triglycerides (body fat) levels, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, low high-density lipoprotein or “good,” cholesterol.


Weight loss and better sleep

“As participants began to adhere to this eating window, they began to feel better with more energy and better sleep, and this became a positive reinforcement for them to continue with the 10-hour eating window,” said Dr. Taub.


Almost all the participants ate breakfast later (around 2-hour after waking) and dinner earlier (about 3-hour before bed).


This study lasted for 3 months. During which the participants showed a 3% weight and body mass index reduction, on average, and a loss of 3% visceral or abdominal fat.


Dr. Taub says, “All these improvements reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.”


In fact, most of the participants showed a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improvement in fasting glucose. People also reported having more energy and 70% of them reported an increase in the amount of time they experienced sleep satisfaction.


The participants said that the strategy was easier to follow than exercising or counting calories and over two-third kept it up for around a year after the study ended.


Dr. Taub recommends that anyone interested in time-restricted eating talk to their health provider first.

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