Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) 101: Everything You Need To Know

abou time-restricted eating

If diet plans that tell you what to eat aren’t your thing, perhaps diets that focus on when to eat are. Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) is a type of intermittent fasting strategy that involves getting all of your meals in during a shorter span of time each day. Unlike other diets, you don’t have to count calories, portion control or make any major restrictions in your diet. You just have to choose a smaller window to consume all of your food for the day for effortless fasting, fewer calorie consumption and an exceptional amount of health advantages and weight loss.

What is Time-Restricted Eating?

You’ve likely heard of intermittent fasting by now – an eating plan that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. It is currently one of the most popular eating strategies around and for all the right reasons. Well, Time-Restricted eating (TRE) is a type of intermittent eating plan that alternates between eating and fasting. However, unlike many other diets, including many IF ones, the focus is on the time of day you eat, instead of on what you eat. So instead of focusing on reducing calories, eliminating sweets and carbs, calorie counting and portion control, your main goal is to simply get all of your meals and snacks in during a specific period each day.

With this type of eating plan, you pick a specific window each day where you’ll be consuming all of your meals. The timeframe you follow is entirely based on your personal preference and you can choose a plan that best suits your needs. However, most TRE plans consist of an eating window that ranges from 6 to 12 hours a day.  Anytime outside of that window, you’ll be fasting.

An example of a time-restricted eating plan may look like this:

  • Starting and finishing all of your food in an 8-hour period, such as from 9 am to 5 pm
  • Fasting for the remaining 16 hours, such as from 5:01pm to 8:59am

The same schedule gets repeated each day.

The Benefits of Following a Time-Restricted Diet

Hundreds of clinical studies have found intermittent fasting to offer a wide range of health benefits – from the improvement of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders and cancer to increased weight loss, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and many more.

Here is a quick look at the proven benefits of time-restricted eating, or intermittent fasting.

Increased Weight Loss

With time-restricted eating, you typically consume fewer calories throughout the day than if you were to have a free-for-all in terms of when you can eat. As a result, many people experience weight loss when following this type of plan.

Studies found that obese individuals who follow a time-restricted eating plan for 8 weeks saw a loss of approximately 24 lbs. on average.  Time-restricted eating plans have also resulted in more weight loss and changes in body composition compared to traditional diet plans.  Additionally, studies found that those who experience a loss in body fat did not experience adverse effects on their muscle strength or lean mass

Reduced Risk Factors

A major benefit of following an intermittent fasting plan, or a time-restricted eating schedule in particular, is the ability to reduce your risk factor for a variety of health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, to name a few.

This is said to be the result of TRE improving several markers responsible for your heart health, such as insulin sensitivity, pancreas functioning, blood pressure and oxidative stress.

Intermittent fasting has also shown promising results in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and reducing its severity.

Improved Gut Biome

Your gut microbiome plays an essential role in your overall health and wellness, as an imbalance of unhealthy and healthy microbes in your gut can contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and other disorders. Time-restricted eating studies have found that it can produce small changes to your gut microbiome to boost your health and reduce the risks associated with an unhealthy gut.

Decreased Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress and inflammation are factors commonly linked to a vast array of health conditions, including premature aging, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, asthma, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease and many others.

Following an intermittent fasting plan has shown to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body, which in turn, can have many health benefits pertaining to aging and the development of several physical, mental and neurological diseases. 

Prevent the Big “C”

Cancer is something everyone worries about and intermittent fasting has shown to help prevent cancer. It has also been shown to reduce the side effects associated with cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, which can often feel far worse than the condition itself.

Boost Brain Health

Intermittent fasting, such as time-restricted eating, has been shown to improve several metabolic features known to play an important role in brain health. For example, it can reduce oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, inflammation and insulin resistance and even increase the growth of nerve cells, all of which benefits brain function.

Starting a Time-Restricted Eating Plan

Time-restricted eating strategies focus solely on the period of time that you consume your food and snacks during the day. You aren’t required to count calories, portion control or make any major food restrictions. Although, eating a clean, healthy diet is highly recommended as it will certainly increase your benefits.

But other than that, all you have to do is pick a window that works for you and stick with this eating-fasting pattern every day.

Here are some tips to help get you started:

Start Gradually

While you may be tempted to jump right into a 6-hour window, it may be easier for you to start with a schedule that is closer to your current one and gradually closing it in over time. For example, if you currently start eating at 7 am and finish eating at 9 pm, bring this timeframe in by 30 minutes in the morning and at night. So, start eating at 7:30 am and finish eating at 8:30 pm. Continue making these 30 minute changes until your desired eating-fasting plan is established.

Eat More Filling Foods

As your body adjusts to fasting for longer periods of time, hunger may creep up on you from time to time, making it difficult to stick with your fasting schedule. To help combat this, aim for foods that offer high satiety such as foods high in fiber and protein. Here are some examples:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Whole grains

Focus On Meals Instead of Snacks

Snacking is often the root of all evil when it comes to weight loss, as most of us grab unhealthy options. So, try to focus on your meals more than you do your snacks. Put the majority of your attention towards getting your three meals in each day. If you want to add in some healthy snacks in between your meals, feel free to do so, but get most of your nutrients in with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Time-restricted dieting is an eating plan that focuses on the time you eat, instead of on what you eat. It’s a type of intermittent fasting, and one that has shown to have promising results that can benefit your physical, mental and neurological health.

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