Intermittent fasting has become a buzzword in natural health.
And it’s easy to see why.
The practice of restricting eating to a specified time frame (such as eight hours a day) has been associated with numerous health benefits. In fact, intermittent fasting is linked to everything from weight loss to reduced inflammation and the improvement of serious health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and more.
Research has even found intermittent fasting effective in combatting insulin resistance and lowering A1C levels to reduce the problems of type 2 diabetes.
Yet, despite its benefits, many people struggle with the actual practice of time-restricted eating.
Headaches, hunger, fatigue, nausea and even insomnia can be part and parcel of any type of fasting and can make it difficult for those who would otherwise love to grab all of the diabetes protection it might offer.
That’s why researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago set out to discover if there was an easier way to accomplish the same goals and ward of blood sugar problems — without the growling stomach.
Eating duration versus early eating
The researchers analyzed data from 10,575 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They divided participants into three groups depending on total duration of food intake: less than 10 hours, 10-13 hours, and more than 13 hours per day. They then created six subgroups based on eating duration start time (before or after 8:30 a.m.).And their results might surprise you…
The Northwestern team found there was no significant difference in fasting blood sugar levels between eating interval groups.
In other words, intermittent fasting didn’t improve blood sugar.
And here’s the other big shocker — insulin resistance was actually higher with shorter eating interval duration.
Put together, this means that intermittent fasting wasn’t the answer to warding off diabetes.
Okay, that was the bad news, but don’t worry. The good is coming.
While time-restricted eating didn’t work, the study showed that both insulin resistance and blood sugar levels were improved across all groups when breakfast is eaten before 8:30 a.m.
Early birds get better blood sugar levels
It looks like simply eating your first meal of the day prior to 8:30 a.m. could be enough to keep blood sugar and insulin resistance in check.
“These findings suggest that timing is more strongly associated with metabolic measures than duration, and support early eating strategies,” said lead researcher Marriam Ali, M.D., of Northwestern University.
So while we’ve long known the benefits of being a breakfast eater, like more energy and focus and healthy body weight, it looks like what time you eat that breakfast also plays a big role in your disease risk.
Great breakfast options to incorporate include to get your day started right include:
- Whole grains – Cook up some creamy oatmeal or opt for a whole wheat bagel.
- Lean protein – Add in a hard-boiled egg, a tablespoon of peanut butter, or go all out with omega3-rich salmon for breakfast.
- Dairy – Yogurt and cottage cheese make a good addition to any breakfast.
- Fruits and veggies – Top your yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit or whip up a smoothie packed with the fruits and vegetables you love.
Just remember, when it comes to diabetes protection the early bird gets the jump on better blood sugar.
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BENEFITS OF BREAKFAST — University of New Hampshire