Study Reveals Intermittent Dieting Plan That Enhances Glycemic Control in Diabetic Patients

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Intermittent fasting, a widely used strategy, could also prove advantageous for managing blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.

study published in the journal Jama Network suggests that following a specific intermittent fasting plan, such as the 5:2 intermittent fasting technique and a meal replacement diet, might help improve glycemic control among those with type 2 diabetes.

The 5:2 technique is a dieting technique where individuals eat regular food for 5 days and cut caloric intake on fasting days to 500–600 calories per day.

For the study, researchers evaluated 405 adults in China who were either obese or overweight and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the past year. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either metformin, empagliflozin, or follow a 5:2 meal replacement plan for 16 weeks.

In the 5:2 meal replacement plan, participants eat one meal that consists of prepackaged foods or drinks in place of three regular meals on two days each week. On the other days, they could eat anything for breakfast and lunch but should watch their calorie intake and have a meal replacement for dinner.

All the participants also received guidance on exercise, diet, and diabetes education every four weeks.

During the trial period, those following the 5:2 meal replacement plan experienced the largest decrease in average HbA1C blood glucose levels, along with greater weight and a notable reduction in waist and hip circumference compared to the other groups.

“In this randomized clinical trial of 405 adults, the 5:2 meal replacement approach achieved better glycemic control at 16 weeks compared with metformin and empagliflozin,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“We found that among Chinese adults with overweight or obesity and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, the 5:2 MR approach achieved significant improvements in glycemic control and weight loss within a 16-week period, while also improving blood pressure and triglyceride and HDL-C levels. Therefore, 5:2 MR may potentially serve as an effective initial lifestyle intervention instead of antidiabetic for early-stage type 2 diabetes,” the researchers noted.

Based on their study findings, the team calls for further investigation to estimate the additional benefits of combining the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet with the meal replacement technique.

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