time-restricted eating

Researchers studied whether time-restricted eating improved BMI, abdominal fat, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Thirty percent of the US population is at risk for metabolic syndrome – a deadly combination of risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Initial treatment of metabolic syndrome includes lifestyle changes, such as eating a low-calorie, healthy diet and beginning an exercise program. However, this approach is not always successful in managing metabolic syndrome and physicians often have to treat patients with medications.

There is a real need for a treatment program for metabolic syndrome that is easy for patients to follow and works with current medications.

American researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies recently completed a study on intermittent fasting, called time-restricted eating, to determine whether it had any effect on metabolic syndrome. Their results were published in the journal, Cell Metabolism.

The researchers followed 19 patients that had at least three symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Most of the patients were obese and had high blood sugar. At the beginning of the study, patients were fitted with a continuous glucose monitor and a unit to monitor the patient’s circadian rhythms. Blood samples, blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar data were collected. The patients were trained to use an app to track calories, exercise, and sleep. For the first two weeks, patients did not make any changes to diet or exercise.

For the next 12 weeks, the patients self-selected a 10-hour daily window in which they would eat all their calories. No other caloric intake was allowed outside of the 10-hour time-restricted eating window other than water. Patients continued to track their calories, activity, and sleep on the app.

At week 13, patients visited the researchers to have the CGM and a circadian monitor placed again. During week 14, the devices were removed and the patients underwent the same tests as at the beginning of the study.

Researchers statistically analyzed the patients’ data and determined that participants decreased their daily caloric intake by almost 9% just by following the time-restricted eating guidelines. Participants also rated their sleep quality had increased by 23%. The participants also lost weight, had lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and had reduced abdominal fat.

Study co-author Satchin Panda, PhD, said in a press release, “Time-restricted eating is a simple dietary intervention to incorporate, and we found that participants were able to keep the eating schedule. Eating and drinking everything (except water) during a 10-hour window allows your body to rest and restore for 14 hours at night. Your body can also anticipate when you will eat, so it can prepare the body to optimize metabolism.”

The study results suggest that time-restricted eating offers a promising treatment option to supplement the traditional treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Written by Rebecca K. Blankenship B.Sc.


  1. Wilkinson M, Manoogian E, Zadourian A et al. Ten-Hour Time-Restricted Eating Reduces Weight, Blood Pressure, and Atherogenic Lipids in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome. Cell Metab. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.11.004
  2. Metabolic Syndrome | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Nhlbi.nih.gov. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome. Published 2019. Accessed December 6, 2019.

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