Intermittent fasting plus early time-restricted eating versus calorie restriction and standard care in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial

Nat Med. 2023 Apr;29(4):963-972. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02287-7. Epub 2023 Apr 6.


Intermittent fasting appears an equivalent alternative to calorie restriction (CR) to improve health in humans. However, few trials have considered applying meal timing during the 'fasting' day, which may be a limitation. We developed a novel intermittent fasting plus early time-restricted eating (iTRE) approach. Adults (N = 209, 58 ± 10 years, 34.8 ± 4.7 kg m-2) at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes were randomized to one of three groups (2:2:1): iTRE (30% energy requirements between 0800 and 1200 hours and followed by a 20-h fasting period on three nonconsecutive days per week, and ad libitum eating on other days); CR (70% of energy requirements daily, without time prescription); or standard care (weight loss booklet). This open-label, parallel group, three-arm randomized controlled trial provided nutritional support to participants in the iTRE and CR arms for 6 months, with an additional 12-month follow-up. The primary outcome was change in glucose area under the curve in response to a mixed-meal tolerance test at month 6 in iTRE versus CR. Glucose tolerance was improved to a greater extent in iTRE compared with CR (-10.10 (95% confidence interval -14.08, -6.11) versus -3.57 (95% confidence interval -7.72, 0.57) mg dl-1 min-1; P = 0.03) at month 6, but these differences were lost at month 18. Adverse events were transient and generally mild. Reports of fatigue were higher in iTRE versus CR and standard care, whereas reports of constipation and headache were higher in iTRE and CR versus standard care. In conclusion, incorporating advice for meal timing with prolonged fasting led to greater improvements in postprandial glucose metabolism in adults at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. identifier NCT03689608 .

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Fasting
  • Glucose
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Fasting


  • Glucose

Associated data