Newswise — It is a sign of the times, lots of diets and lifestyle changes come at us at dizzying speed as the new year begins. 

Join a gym? Check. 

Sign up for a meal delivery service? You bet. 

Join a popular diet/attend a meeting/hire a nutritionist? Yes sir. 

What a lot of people are talking about now is intermittent fasting. It’s also called time-restricted feeding (TRF) and has been shown to provide potential benefits cardiometabolic health including improvements in body composition, reduces inflammation and improvements in blood lipids. 

What Dr. Matthew McAllister, assistant professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, has learned from IER research is that a set amount of time fasting and a set amount of time eating is improving heart health and reducing factors such as diabetes. 

“What we are doing is time-restricted feeding. It is a way to use fasting each day to promote various aspects of cardio-metabolic health,” McAllister says. Subjects are instructed to consume calories in one eight-hour period — for example between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or between noon and 8 p.m. For 16 hours of the day there is no eating or drinking — aside from water — just activity or sleeping.

McAllister says that subjects are not reducing calories, just adjusting the time in which they eat. “The reason I wanted to do this study, my initial thought was that if you are going to restrict the time, you would eat less calories. And the reduction of daily calories would cause weight loss and other health benefits. But these benefits are found with no change in caloric intake — things like loss in body fat, reduced blood pressure, reduced inflammation.”

Graduate student Lilliana Renteria explains that the research studied two groups, consisting of 22 healthy, active men. One group ate the same amount of calories, that they normally eat, and the other group was allowed to eat as many calories as thy would like. Both groups benefitted equally from the diet. One group fasted for eight hours of the day. She suggests a 2018 article in Time magazine that points to the popularity of intermittent fasting.

“We do have evidence, of reduced blood pressure, reduced body weight and improved blood cholesterol,” McAllister says. The evidence also indicates that subjects could benefit with alternate days of fasting during a week.

McAllister says they plan to bring the study to populations that have greater health risks, such as firefighters who are No. 1 at risk of heart disease.

“They have disrupted sleep and other occupational stressors that increase risk for heart disease. They have periods when they eat at random times.”

They will showcase their project in the Texas State University Innovation Lab @ SXSW Interactive Festival on March 10.