Written by Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Eating “time-restricted” food is a popular way to lose weight, and a new study suggests it could give shift workers a way to eat healthier.
Time-restricted eating is a form of intermittent fasting, where people limit themselves to eating during a certain period of time each day. Outside that window, they swear on everything other than zero-calorie drinks.
Time restriction has become a popular weight loss strategy, in large part due to its simplicity. Instead of counting calories, people just have to watch the clock. Small studies have shown that narrow eating windows – six hours is common – can help people shed some pounds.
There is also some evidence of benefits other than weight loss, according to Dr. Pam Taub, MD, a cardiologist and professor at the University of San Diego School of Medicine.
in one recent studyShe and her colleagues found that time-restricted eating helps obese people lose some weight. Beyond that, hmm “Bad” cholesterol levels It fell to a greater degree than expected from the weight loss alone, Taub said.
For the new study, her team wanted to know if Time Restricted Eating It could be a healthy change for shift workers — specifically, firefighters on a 24-hour shift.
Studying shift workers is important because their erratic schedules put them at greater risk of being overweight and “cardiovascular” diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, Taub said.
The human body is normal circadian rhythms It dictates that people be active and eat during the day, and sleep—and not eat—when it gets dark. Shift work eliminates those rhythms.
The new study involved 137 San Diego firefighters who worked 24-hour shifts — meaning they were on duty for 24 hours straight, twice a week.
Tope and her colleagues randomly assigned the firefighters to two groups: one who stayed with their usual eating schedule, and the other adhered to a 12-week time restriction — narrowing their daily eating window from an average of 14 hours to 10 hours.
Both groups were also encouraged to follow a Mediterranean dietWhich focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, and grains rich in fiber and “good” fats like olive oil.
One of the main goals, Top said, is to find out if eating time-restricted food is safe for firefighters — who used to snack whenever they felt they needed energy.
It turns out that the eating plan does not cause any problems. Taub said firefighters in the time-restricted group did not report any problems with fatigue or other symptoms that could interfere with their ability to do their job.
Overall, the firefighters were healthy to begin with, and the researchers saw no obvious differences between the two study groups over a 12-week period. But when they focused on subgroups with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, they found some effects of time-restricted eating. Among the firefighters with High blood sugar or diastolic blood pressure (lower number in a blood pressure reading), those on time constraints showed greater improvement in these numbers.
However, it is not clear that the time limitation, in and of itself, is commendable, according to the researcher who reviewed the study results.
Eating a Mediterranean diet can certainly improve blood sugar or blood pressure, said Christa Faraday, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies intermittent fasting.
And while firefighters in both groups were encouraged to go to the Mediterranean, Faraday noted that the time-restricted group ended up making an additional change: They reduced drinking alcohol by nearly 50% (likely because they weren’t consuming calories yet). 7 p.m.).
Furthermore, Faraday said, subgroup analyzes were based on only a small number of firefighters with unhealthy blood sugar or blood pressure, reducing the reliability of the results.
She also doubted that a 10-hour period of eating – which means 14 hours of fasting – would make much of a difference by itself.
“This is actually a big window,” Faraday said. “You really have to narrow it down to six to eight hours.”
All that said, Faraday is dedicated to the study of time restriction in shift workers. “I think it’s great to be able to recruit so many people to study, and to get the firefighters to improve their diets,” she said.
She said it would be useful to study other types of shift workers – particularly people who routinely work overnight and have their sleep/wake schedules turned upside down.
Taub agreed, and said her team wanted to study workers who aren’t otherwise healthy — that is, people who are infected metabolic syndromea group of cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, hypertension, and hypoglycemia.
For now, the evidence suggests, Taub said, that limiting time is a “simple step” that shift workers can take.
“This is a study that shows, in this group of shift workers, it’s possible, it’s safe, it’s something you can try,” she said.
Faraday said that for people who want to lose weight, time restriction is a simple approach and worth trying. But, she added, there is still little evidence that it has health benefits beyond weight loss.
SOURCES: Pam Taub, MD, professor, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; Christa Faraday, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition, University of Illinois, Chicago; cell metabolism October 4, 2022, online
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