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Short-term time-restricted feeding is safe and feasible in non-obese healthy midlife and older adults

Abstract

Chronic calorie restriction (CR) improves cardiovascular function and several other physiological markers of healthspan. However, CR is impractical in non-obese older humans due to potential loss of lean mass and bone density, poor adherence, and risk of malnutrition. Time-restricted feeding (TRF), which limits the daily feeding period without requiring a reduction in calorie intake, may be a promising alternative healthspan—extending strategy for midlife and older adults; however, there is limited evidence for its feasibility and efficacy in humans. We conducted a randomized, controlled pilot study to assess the safety, tolerability, and overall feasibility of short-term TRF (eating <8 h day−1 for 6 weeks) without weight loss in healthy non-obese midlife and older adults, while gaining initial insight into potential efficacy for improving cardiovascular function and other indicators of healthspan. TRF was safe and well-tolerated, associated with excellent adherence and reduced hunger, and did not influence lean mass, bone density, or nutrient intake. Cardiovascular function was not enhanced by short-term TRF in this healthy cohort, but functional (endurance) capacity and glucose tolerance were modestly improved. These results provide a foundation for conducting larger clinical studies of TRF in midlife and older adults, including trials with a longer treatment duration.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in Mendeley Data at https://doi.org/10.17632/w83t9s27dx.2

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Acknowledgments

We wish to acknowledge Hailey Lynch and Ross Tanick for their technical assistance with data collection and data entry and senior biostatistician David Weitzenkamp from the Center for Innovative Design & Analysis for offering insight and consultation during the statistical analysis.

Funding

This work was supported by NIH grants AG000279 and AG053009.

Author information

C.R.M., B.A.D., and D.R.S. conceived and designed the clinical trial with input from C.M.P. C.R.M., M.J.R., M.R.M., L.R.J., and J.J.R., and E.N. collected and analyzed all of the data. S.A.J. performed all dietary counseling and analyses. Y.W. performed the statistical analyses. B.P.Z. conducted and analyzed all plasma ketone assays. M.C. provided medical oversight of all study subjects, evaluated inclusion/exclusion criteria, and reviewed adverse events. C.M., M.J.R, and D.R.S. drafted the manuscript. All the authors helped interpret the data, provided critical revisions of the manuscript, and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Christopher R. Martens.

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Martens, C.R., Rossman, M.J., Mazzo, M.R. et al. Short-term time-restricted feeding is safe and feasible in non-obese healthy midlife and older adults. GeroScience (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-020-00156-6

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Keywords

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Calorie restriction
  • Aging
  • Healthspan