Diet: Intermittent fasting protects against diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Diet: Intermittent fasting protects against diabetes and metabolic syndrome

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Healthy weight loss without exercise and calorie reduction

The discovery of the circadian rhythm has been one of the greatest sensations in medical research in recent years. Accordingly, every cell in the body follows a 24-hour cycle that is adapted to the alternation between day and night. Based on these findings, a current study now shows that there are considerable health benefits if you adjust your diet to your internal clock. A good way to do this is by intermittent fasting.

University of California researchers found that limiting food consumption to a ten-hour window a day can lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure, and more stable insulin levels. The study was recently published in the renowned journal "Cell Metabolism".

Are we fundamentally wrong?

The ever increasing number of overweight people shows that many people eat too much fat and sugar. Around every third adult in Germany suffers from the so-called metabolic syndrome - and the trend is rising. This syndrome describes a group of risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood lipid levels and high blood sugar levels, all of which rock up to one another, increasing the risk of life-threatening diseases such as a heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

New form of nutrition recommended for metabolic syndrome

Those affected are often advised to eat healthier, exercise more and take medication if necessary. However, practice shows that these measures are often insufficient to fully manage the risk. The researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have now found a new method to counteract the metabolic syndrome: intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a form of nutrition in which you only eat in a certain time window. The research team recommends that you only eat food within a period of ten hours a day. Nothing should be eaten for the remaining 14 hours. Only drinking water is allowed.

How does intermittent fasting affect the body?

For the study, participants had to limit their daily nutrient intake to ten hours or less over a period of 12 weeks. It was shown that all subjects lost weight, reduced belly fat, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol and / or had a more stable blood sugar and insulin level within the Sudien period.

Act better before it's too late

Cardiology professor Pam Taub from the study team points out that there is a critical time window for intervention in the metabolic syndrome. "As soon as people become diabetic or take several medications such as insulin, it is very difficult to reverse the disease process," emphasizes the expert. It is just as difficult to get people with prediabetes or metabolic syndrome to adopt a permanent and meaningful lifestyle.

Diet in accordance with the internal clock

"The metabolism is closely linked to the circadian rhythm," explains the professor. The team used this aspect to develop a diet that can help those who are overweight and / or have a metabolic syndrome, without reducing calories or increasing physical activity!

Irregular eating disrupts the biological rhythm

For the researchers, temporary fasting opens up a diet that supports the natural circadian rhythm and health. Since just about every cell in the body depends on this rhythm, irregular eating habits disrupt the entire system and thus promote the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome - including increased belly fat and abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides.

Intermittent fasting: one of the simplest interventions

"Time-limited eating is a simple dietary intervention that needs to be integrated, and we found that the participants were able to meet the eating plan," added Professor Satchin Panda from the research team. Through the ten-hour window, the body can rest and regenerate for 14 hours. In addition, the organism can predict when the next meal will come and optimize the metabolism accordingly.

Eat at will within ten hours

Study participants were allowed to eat whatever they wanted within the three months, as long as it happened within the ten hour window. Outside of this time frame, the participants were only allowed to drink water. At the end of the 12 weeks, the subjects achieved an average weight reduction of three percent and a body mass index reduction of 4 percent. In addition, many participants saw their cholesterol and blood pressure drop and there was an improvement in fasting glucose levels.

Other health benefits

In addition, 70 percent of the participants reported better sleep. "Patients also reported that they generally had more energy, and some were able to lower or stop taking their medication after the study was completed," Taub said.

Many continued intermittent fasting

As the research team reports, more than two thirds of the participants continued to eat on a time-limited basis up to one year after the study was completed. "Adjusting this 10-hour time-limited diet is also an inexpensive way to reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and improve health," Panda added.

The team now plans to conduct another clinical trial with a larger number of participants to support the results. "Knowing how to optimize the circadian rhythm could lead to a new treatment option for people with metabolic syndrome to protect them from life-threatening diseases," said Professor Taub. (vb)

In line with this topic:
Our diet affects hormones and the internal clock.
Diet: Fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity fluctuate strongly during the day.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Satchidananda Panda, Pam R. Taub, Michael J. Wilkinson, et al .: Ten-Hour Time-Restricted Eating Reduces Weight, Blood Pressure, and Atherogenic Lipids in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome, Cell Metabolism, 2019,
  • Salk Institute: Clinical study finds eating within a 10-hour window may help stave off diabetes, heart disease (accessed: December 6, 2019),

Video: Intermittent Fasting - How it Works? Animation (June 2022).