2nd July 2024

The EARLY Study: New research on Dr Mosley’s 5:2 diet for type 2 diabetes

This article discusses a recent study that compared the 5:2 diet against two different forms of diabetes medication concerning reducing HbA1c levels and BMI.  The study, published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),1  demonstrated that intermittent fasting with low-calorie meal replacements may be an effective way for people with type 2 diabetes to lose weight and control blood sugar levels, compared to standard diabetes medication.

We are delighted with the results of this study and are proud that Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet has demonstrated significant benefits for those with type 2 diabetes. Mosley first created the 5:2 diet back in 2012 when he’d recently discovered he had type 2 diabetes. Michael wanted to see if there was a way to avoid taking drugs for his diabetes, so he worked closely with researchers who were looking into the benefits of intermittent fasting. Michael followed the 5:2 himself and not only lost weight but managed to reduce his blood sugars below the diabetic range, reversing his type 2 diabetes without medication. 

Since then, the 5:2 diet has helped thousands of people across the world lose weight and improve their blood sugar levels, as well as other health indicators. We are so pleased to share the results of this recent study into the effectiveness of the 5:2 diet, as it further highlights the impact and potential Michael’s 5:2 diet can have on those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Background of the EARLY study (2024)

The EARLY study was conducted in China across 9 clinical centres. This randomised trial took a total of 405 patients, who were overweight or obese with early type 2 diabetes,  and allocated them to three groups receiving either:

  • Metformin (a medicine to treat type 2 diabetes);
  • Empagliflozin (an alternative medicine to treat type 2 diabetes); or,
  • Following a 5:2 pattern of eating using meal replacements (MR) on the two fasting days each week. During their non-fasting days, the participants continued to use a meal replacement for their evening meal in addition to a breakfast and lunch of their choosing. 

The treatment took place over 16 weeks with an 8-week follow-up to determine the results, particularly focusing on HbA1c levels, body weight, body measurements and biochemical measurements (often used to determine diagnosis of diseases).

The impact of the 5:2 diet from the EARLY study

After 16 weeks of treatment, the 5:2 diet was shown to have the greatest impact on participants:

HbA1c: At week 16, those in the 5:2 group saw a significantly greater reduction of HbA1c than those receiving metformin and empagliflozin. The average reduction in the 5:2 group was 1.9% compared to 1.6% for those taking metformin and 1.5% for empagliflozin. 

Weight Loss: The 5:2 group achieved staggering results with an average weight loss of 9.7kg over 16 weeks compared to the metformin and empagliflozin groups who lost 5.5kg and 5.8kg. The 5:2 group also experienced a BMI reduction of 3.35 and dropped an average of 9.9cm in waist circumference.

Other improvements included a stronger reduction in blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and a larger improvement in triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood).


The EARLY study is one of many that has recognised the impact of the 5:2 diet on metabolic health. 

Before the research of intermittent fasting and the benefits of rapid weight loss, most medical professionals deemed type 2 diabetes to be a non-reversible disease that required lifelong medication. The EARLY study, along with others, is instrumental in showing that people with type 2 diabetes don’t necessarily have to rely on medication for the rest of their lives. Lifestyle interventions, such as intermittent fasting, exercise and healthy eating are what Mosley spent most of his career advocating, and it’s great to see that the research is continuing to look into the benefits of his work.


Guo LXi YJin W, et al. A 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Meal Replacement Diet and Glycemic Control for Adults With DiabetesThe EARLY Randomized Clinical TrialJAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(6):e2416786. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.16786


More interesting reads

Lose weight for better health with science-based methods and real, delicious food

Weight loss for better health is easier than ever. Try our Programme for free today!

More info
mobile app

Nutritious products for busy days

Shop Now
The Fast 800 product range: shakes, vitamins, soups proteins and shakers

Subscribe to our Newsletter

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop