If you’ve never heard of the 6M diet, it’s an eating plan often recommended for diabetics to help stabilize and lower overall blood sugar levels that includes six small meals spread out through the day. Many also use it as a weight loss plan, but findings from a new study suggest that a diet consisting of three meals a day might be better for blood sugar and overall health — but only if they’re timed the right way.
Tel Aviv University researchers set out to determine whether they could influence blood sugar, weight, appetite, and certain genes by timing meals according to the body’s biological clock. The idea of the biological clock or circadian rhythm suggests that for good health, you’d eat your most starchy or carb-heavy meal in the morning, have a substantial lunch, and a small, light dinner.
For the study, the researchers recruited 28 subjects with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly instructed to follow either a 3M diet or a 6M for a period of three months. According to a press release, the 3M group was advised to eat, “a meal of bread, fruits, and sweets in the early hours of the morning; a substantial lunch; and a small dinner specifically lacking starches, sweets, and fruits.“ The 6M group ate six small meals spaced evenly throughout the day. Over the three month period, the scientists measured the participants’ weight, blood glucose, appetite, as well as the expression of “clock” genes that regulate things like metabolism and sleep.
By the end of the study, the 3M diet performed better than the 6M diet in all categories. Subjects on the 3M diet showed significant weight loss and decreased overall blood sugar. Fasting blood sugar and daily blood sugar was also significantly lower in the 3M diet group, while hunger and cravings were also reduced. Not only that, but some participants were able to lower — and some even came off of — their prescription insulin. “Their need for diabetic medication, especially for insulin doses, dipped substantially. Some were even able to stop using insulin altogether,” says Daniela Jakubowicz, lead author of the study.
Gene expression was also influenced in the group eating a 3M diet, and this could have implications for other health conditions, according to the researchers. “In addition, the 3M-diet improved the expression of biological clock genes. This suggests that the 3M-diet is not only more effective in controlling diabetes. It may also prevent many other complications such as cardiovascular disease, aging and cancer, which are all regulated by the biological clock genes,” Jakubowicz said. Wow!
So if you’re looking to gain better control of your blood sugar, lose a few pounds, or get healthier and prevent disease, this research suggests that eating a 3M diet might be worth a try. As always, speak to your doctor before starting any new plan. We’re wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!