Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity are critical if we want to live truly healthy lives. Insulin is a master growth hormone made in the pancreas that controls the levels and activities of most other hormones in the body.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the muscles, fat, and liver no longer respond to insulin and cannot remove glucose from the blood. When this occurs, the pancreas begins pumping out more insulin to help escort glucose into your cells. When this happens continually, over time, it results in insulin resistance and blood sugar spikes.
Which Diet is Best?
Certain diet plans have been proven to work better at maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, such as keto, paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and low carb, plant-based. However, assuming you have eliminated fake, packaged, processed, junk foods and simple carbs like cakes, cookies, candy, grains, and white flour and sugar foods, when you eat can make all the difference.
[Also Read: Diet Plan for Diabetics]
Time-Restricted Eating Benefits
One of the most effective ways to lower blood sugar is by implementing intermittent fasting. During intermittent fasting(1), your body spends less time in a food-processing mode and has more time to rest, rejuvenate, and heal.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduces both insulin and blood glucose levels regardless of the particular diet.
According to recent research, to keep diabetes and other metabolic conditions at bay, it is important to control not just what and how much you eat, but also when you eat your daily meals.
These studies conducted in mice have shown that time-restricted eating can improve blood glucose levels, even when the animals have a high-fat diet. This is similar to intermittent fasting in that it involves eating all the meals within a restricted time period.
Australian and American researchers sought to replicate these findings of animal studies in humans by conducting a one-week trial of 15 men between the ages of 30 and 70 at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
These men limited their food intake to 9 hours each day, consuming their meals from 8 am to 5 pm or noon to 9 pm. The only change they made was to restrict their eating to a specific time.
The participants’ blood glucose levels were measured every day for the entire week, over which the study took place. The findings indicated that time-restricted eating improved their glucose control.
[Also Read: Healthy Dinner Options for you]
Choosing Early Rather than Late Meals
One study participant also took part in an 8-week follow-up study, agreeing to restrict his meals to 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. He found this time-frame fit his lifestyle, and his fasting blood glucose improved greatly, changing from being at “increased risk” to normal without changing anything else.
Another study found that people who ate three meals a day rather than six smaller meals and ate those meals earlier in the day needed less insulin, improved blood sugar, and lost more than 10 pounds. During this study, the participants were asked to eat breakfast before 9:30, lunch between noon and 3 pm, and dinner between 6 and 8 pm.
The lead researcher believed these improvements occurred because the participants were eating according to their biological clock, making eating earlier in the day more effective, leaving time at night for the body to fast, cleanse and sleep.
[Also Read: Frozen Meals That Can Replenish Your Body]
The Bottom Line
Even if blood glucose control is not an issue for you, eating most of your calories earlier in the day when you are most active and more likely to use them as energy just makes good sense.
When you eat too close to bedtime, your body ends up doing the hard work of digestion during the night when it could be performing cleaning processes. That food tends to be stored since you are sleeping and not active and will lead to weight gain.
So try to have your last meal by 7 pm or at least 3 hours before you go to sleep. You may find you shed some weight, your blood sugar levels improve, and you sleep more soundly.
About The Author:
Ann Musico is a certified holistic health coach and founder of the Three Dimensional Vitality Website. She is also an author of several books, including Today is Still the Day, a wellness blogger and independent nutritional consultant.