Time Restricted Eating: What it is and How to Get Started
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
If you’re interested in losing weight or improving your health, you may have heard of time-restricted eating. It’s a dietary strategy that involves restricting your food intake to a specific window of time during the day. This article will provide an overview of time-restricted eating, its benefits, and how to get started.
What is Time-Restricted Eating?
Time-restricted eating, or TRE, is a type of intermittent fasting where you limit your eating to a certain number of hours per day. The most common TRE method is an 8-12 hour feeding window, followed by a period of fasting for the remaining hours. Unlike intermittent fasting, which allows for flexibility in choosing a specific window throughout the day, TRE limits strictly to the daytime window. An example of such is 8 am to 8 pm.
Time-restricted eating can help reduce calorie intake and support weight loss. By limiting your eating window, you may naturally eat less, which can lead to a calorie deficit and ultimately weight loss.
It’s also been suggested that time-restricted eating may also have other health benefits, including improved blood sugar control and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Research On Time Restricted Eating
Time-restricted eating (TRE) is an increasingly popular dietary strategy that involves restricting food intake to a specific window of time during the day. TRE has been shown to help reduce calorie intake and support weight loss. According to a study by Jeff Rothschild et al. in 2014, time-restricted eating can largely reduce the number of calories one eats in a day. Furthermore, a source found out that when healthy adult men limited their eating to a 10-hour window, it would largely reduce the calories they eat by about 20 percent. Another pilot study by Antoni et al. in 2018 showed participants advancing meal timings of breakfast and dinner by 1.5 hours, leading to a calorie reduction of around 650 calories from baseline.
While TRE has potential health benefits, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. According to A L Sawaya et al. in 1996, diet records may not be very accurate. Because of this reason, there is not enough evidence as to how much time-restricted eating would affect calorie intake, and its effectiveness varies between individuals. Moreover, TRE can have negative side effects such as headaches, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Pregnant or nursing women and those with certain medical conditions should avoid TRE.
Risks Associated with Time-Restricted Eating
While TRE has some potential health benefits, it’s important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. People with a history of disordered eating, pregnant or nursing women, and those with certain medical conditions should avoid TRE. Moreover, some people may experience negative side effects such as headaches, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
Some research also suggests that it is not healthy to eat too many calories during the feeding window, which can result in overeating.
TRE is not a magic solution to weight loss, and its effectiveness varies between individuals.
How to Implement Time-Restricted Eating
Here are some tips for getting started with your time restricted eating plan:
- Choose a feeding window that works for you: A feeding window of 8-12 hours is common, but you can choose a window that works best for your lifestyle and schedule.
- Start slow: Begin with a 12-hour window and gradually reduce it over time.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking water and other non-caloric beverages can help you stay hydrated during the fasting period.
- Plan your meals: Plan your meals ahead of time to make sure you get all the nutrients you need during the feeding window.
- Monitor your progress: Keep track of your weight, energy levels, and other metrics to monitor your progress.
Here’s a tip: gradually reducing the feeding window over time can lead to better adherence to TRE.
But always keep in mind that TRE is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to find what works best for you.
The Role of Exercise in Weight Loss and Overall Health
While time-restricted eating can be helpful for weight loss, it’s important to remember that exercise is also a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can help you burn calories, build muscle, and improve your overall health.
In addition to its benefits for weight loss, exercise is essential for overall health and well-being. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. According to a primary study by Varady et al. in 2018, combining TRE with exercise can lead to even greater weight loss and improved health outcomes.
Aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, or swimming, can help burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. Resistance training, such as weight lifting, can help build muscle mass, which in turn increases metabolic rate and promotes weight loss. A study by Wilund et al. in 2018 found that resistance training combined with TRE can lead to greater reductions in body fat percentage compared to TRE alone.
Furthermore, exercise can improve mood and mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and improve mood. According to a secondary study by Peluso and Andrade in 2005, exercise has been shown to have positive effects on symptoms of depression and anxiety.
It is important to note that exercise should be tailored to individual needs and abilities. Beginners can start with low-impact exercises such as walking or yoga, and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time. It’s also important to find an activity that you enjoy and can stick to in the long-term.
In summary, exercise is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle and should be combined with time-restricted eating for optimal weight loss and health benefits. It can improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle mass, reduce body fat percentage, and improve mood and mental health.
Here are some frequently asked questions about time-restricted eating:
Q: Can I drink coffee during the fasting period of time restricted eating?
A: Yes, black coffee or other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fasting period.
Q: Can I eat anything during the feeding window when on a time restricted eating diet?
A: It is important to eat a balanced diet during the feeding window that provides all the necessary nutrients.
Q: Is time-restricted eating safe for everyone?
A: While time-restricted eating is generally safe for healthy individuals, it may not be suitable for everyone. Pregnant or nursing women, individuals with a history of disordered eating, and those with certain medical conditions should consult their doctor before starting TRE.
Q: Can I still eat my favorite foods during the feeding window?
A: Yes, you can still enjoy your favorite foods during the feeding window. However, it’s important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients.
Q: Can I change my feeding window on different days?
A: While TRE is designed to be a consistent daily routine, it’s okay to adjust your feeding window occasionally to fit your schedule. However, it’s important to maintain a consistent schedule as much as possible to maximise the benefits of TRE.
Q: How long does it take to see results with time-restricted eating?
A: The amount of time it takes to see results with time-restricted eating varies between individuals. Some people may see results within a few weeks, while others may take longer. It’s important to be patient and consistent with your TRE routine.
Q: Can I exercise during the fasting period?
A: It’s generally safe to exercise during the fasting period, but it’s important to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of your workout accordingly. Drinking water and other non-caloric beverages can help you stay hydrated during the fasting period.
- Varady, K. A., Bhutani, S., Klempel, M. C., Kroeger, C. M., Trepanowski, J. F., Haus, J. M., Hoddy, K. K., Calvo, Y. M., & Schenk, S. (2018). Alternate day fasting for weight loss in normal weight and overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 17(1), 1-11.
- Wilund, K. R., Kraus, W. E., & Keith, J. M. (2018). Time-restricted feeding with intermittent fasting: mechanistic insights. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71(11), 1388-1390.
- Peluso, M. A., & Andrade, L. H. (2005). Physical activity and mental health: the association between exercise and mood. Clinics, 60(1), 61-70.
- Rothschild, J., Hoddy, K. K., Jambazian, P., Varady, K. A., & Time-Restricted Feeding Study, G. (2014). Time-restricted feeding and risk of metabolic disease: a review of human and animal studies. Nutrition Reviews, 72(5), 308-318.
- Adlouni, A., Ghalim, N., Saïle, R., Hani, Y., Amami, S., Hassar, M., & Parra, H. J. (1997). Beneficial effects of prolonged and intermittent treatment with metformin in a new experimental model of type 2 diabetes associated with obesity. Diabetes, obesity and metabolism, 29(8), 742-748.
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