Time-restricted eating may help improve metabolic status

People who time-restricted their eating had decreased body weight and fat mass and improved lipid values but did not show improvements in waist circumference, HbA1c level, or blood pressure, a systematic review and meta-analysis found.

Time-restricted eating as part of periodic fasting appears to improve some measures of metabolic status, according to a recent study.

Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that evaluated the effect of time-restricted eating on weight loss and other metabolic parameters in adults. Studies were included if time-restricted eating was evaluated over at least four weeks. The results were published Oct. 3 by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

A total of 17 randomized controlled trials involving 899 participants were included. Four trials enrolled participants with a body mass index (BMI) below 25 mg/kg2, nine trials enrolled participants with a BMI of 25 to 30 mg/kg2, and four trials enrolled participants with a BMI of 30 mg/kg2 or greater. Study duration ranged from four weeks to 12 months. The most common form of time-restricted eating involved 16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour eating window daily.

In pooled meta-analysis, time-restricted eating was associated with a significant decrease in body weight (weighted mean difference [WMD], −1.60 kg [95% CI, −2.27 kg to −0.93 kg]) and fat mass (WMD, −1.48 kg [95% CI, −1.59 kg to −1.38 kg]). A subgroup analysis found that these effects were particularly evident in participants who were overweight (WMD, −1.43 kg [95% CI, −2.05 kg to −0.81 kg] and −1.56 kg [95% CI, −1.67 kg to −1.44 kg], respectively) and that this group also had reductions in triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Time-restricted eating did not appear to have significant effects on waist circumference, body mass index, HbA1c level, or blood pressure.

The authors noted that some of their results showed high heterogeneity and that the sample sizes of the included studies varied widely, among other limitations. “These data suggest that [time-restricted eating] may be an effective strategy to improve certain metabolic states in adults and may reduce the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” they wrote. They called for additional studies with greater power to confirm their findings.