New Intermittent Fasting Study Shows Good News For Shift Workers

People who work 24-hour shifts face different challenges than people who work regular day hours. WebMD reports that people who work in shifts show a higher incidence of heart diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, becoming overweight, and cancer. Other problems linked to shift work include depression, mood disorders, and ulcers. With these statistics in mind, researchers decided to conduct an experiment to see if intermittent fasting had any positive effects on shift workers' health.  

Intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, has become popular over the years because of its purported health benefits. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that intermittent fasting involves eating meals within a certain window. An example of this might look like eating within an eight- or 10-hour window, and not eating the remaining hours of the day. Time-restricted eating is flexible, meaning you can do it a few days a week, and you can plan an eating schedule that fits in with your lifestyle.

Firefighters volunteered for the study

For the study, researchers followed 137 firefighters from San Diego who worked 24-hour shifts for 12 weeks. The participants were split into two groups: one group ate their meals within a 10-hour window and the other group ate whenever they wanted. All of the participants were asked to follow a Mediterranean diet, which consists of mainly plant-based foods with limited amounts of lean meat (via MedlinePlus).

At the end of the study, findings showed that participants who had at least one risk factor for heart diseases saw the greatest benefits, which included lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Researchers noted that more research over a longer time frame was needed to get a better idea on how intermittent fasting benefits shift workers. That said, they concluded that restricting the hours that they eat may help lower the risk of heart disease and other metabolic disorders.