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What Is Time Restricted Eating?

Published January 28, 2019 (Revised: December 21, 2019) Read Time: 8 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

Fact-Checked By: Ana Reisdorf MS, RD

time-restricted-eating
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/12/what-is-time-restricted-eating-thumbnail-0063.jpg" } }, "headline":"What Is Time Restricted Eating?", "datePublished":"2019-01-28", "dateModified": "2019-12-21", "description":"What is time restricted eating, and can it help you lose weight? Here's what you need to know about timing your food intake to a set window.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/12/what-is-time-restricted-eating-thumbnail-0063.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is time restricted eating?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Time restricted eating (also called time-restricted feeding) is a nutritional protocol where you limit food consumption to a set number of hours per day." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What is the difference between intermittent fasting and time restricted eating?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "In a practical sense, the two are the same thing. Time restricted eating refers to a dietary approach where you eat your meals in a condensed window of time. And intermittent fasting, a term heard often now in health and weight loss circles, is pretty much the same thing. The two terms can be used interchangeably." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Can you drink coffee on a time restricted diet?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "A plain cup of black coffee during your off hours is fine. One cup of black coffee only contains 5 calories, which won't significantly interfere with any of the benefits listed above. You can also drink water, tea, and even apple cider vinegar. But to adhere to your eating schedule, you shouldn't add anything to your coffee that significantly increases calories (creamer, sugar, etc.)." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Is time restricted eating good for weight loss?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes. As mentioned above, time restricted eating can both reduce cravings and help you eat less. These are immensely beneficial when it comes to weight loss. But on its own, time-restricted eating probably won't get you results. If, for example, you're eating lots of junk food, not exercising, and lead a stressful life, you might find it hard to lose weight even with techniques like TRE or IF." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What Is Time Restricted Eating?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What Is The Difference Between Intermittent Fasting And Time Restricted Eating?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">4 Health Benefits Of Time Restricted Eating</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Can You Drink Coffee On A Time Restricted Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Is Time Restricted Eating Good For Weight Loss?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Time Restricted Eating: Wrap Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>More and more, people are using nutritional protocols like time restricted eating and intermittent fasting.</p> <p>These techniques ask people to limit <i>when</i> they eat each day to a set "window" of time (i.e. an 8 hour window is common, like from noon to 8pm).</p> <p>At surface level, you might guess the benefit of doing this is burning fat. After all, if your stomach has nothing to digest for 16 hours each day, it'll have to turn to stored body fat for energy. </p> <p>Or maybe you're not sure how eating this way could be beneficial at all.</p> <p>Turns out, there's more to it than fat loss. The benefits of timing your meals are actually pretty substantial.</p> <p>Here's what you need to know about time restricted eating, the health benefits of eating your meals in a condensed window, and how it might help you lose weight.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>What is time restricted eating?</h2> <p><i>Time restricted eating</i> (also called time-restricted feeding) is a nutritional protocol where you limit food consumption to a set number of hours per day.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627766/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup></p> <p>The remaining hours of the day are spent <i>fasting</i>, which means you eat no food at all.</p> <p>The most common time restricted eating schedule follows an 8:16 split, meaning you eat all your food for the day in an 8-hour window (i.e. noon to 8pm), then fast for 16 hours (in this case, 8pm until noon the next day).</p> <p>Other forms* of time restricted eating include:</p> <ul> <li>5:2, meaning you eat normally for 5 <i>days</i>, then fast for 2 whole <i>days</i>*.</li> <li>Weekly 24-hour, meaning one day per week you don't eat the whole day.</li> <li>Fast during the day, eat one large meal at night</li> </ul> <p><i>*While some people do use these methods, more extreme restriction schedules do not necessarily equal better results. In fact, the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Canadian Medical Association Journal</a> says a 5:2 time restricted eating split may do more harm than good for your eating habits.</i></p> <p>For most people, though, the benefits (discussed below) of time restricted eating can be achieved using just the 8:16 split.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>What is the difference between intermittent fasting and time restricted eating?</h2> <p>In a practical sense, the two are the same thing. </p> <p>Time restricted eating refers to a dietary approach where you eat your meals in a condensed window of time. </p> <p>And <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-to-use-intermittent-fasting-to-accelerate-your/" rel="noreferrer">intermittent fasting</a>, a term heard often now in health and weight loss circles, is pretty much the same thing. The two terms can be used interchangeably.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/time-restricted-eating-weight-loss-0063.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/time-restricted-eating-weight-loss-0063.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/time-restricted-eating-weight-loss-0063.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/time-restricted-eating-weight-loss-LR-0063.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="time restricted eating weight loss"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>4 health benefits of time restricted eating</h2> <p>These benefits will help you understand why time restricted eating has become more popular.</p> <h3>1. Fasting may help you lose weight </h3> <p>According to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024699/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Nutrients</i></a>, dietary strategies that reduce hunger and food cravings increase the odds that you'll stick to your weight-loss diet.</p> <p>And guess what? Time-restricted eating (TRE) is a proven tool for reducing hunger. Consider: </p> <ul> <li>A 2019 study in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31339000" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Obesity</i></a> found time-restricted feeding helped suppress ghrelin, a hormone in your body responsible for making you feel full. The study also found TRE helped with fat loss.</li> <li>A 2017 study in the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27550719" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>European Journal of Sports Science</i></a> found people who practiced time-restricted feeding ate fewer calories during the day. And even though they ate less, participants managed to preserve their <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/top-7-post-workout-foods-for-lean-muscle/" rel="noreferrer">lean muscle mass</a>, too.</li> <li>Fasting may increase ketone production in the body in as few as 12 hours.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup> Ketones are chemicals made by the liver in the absence of glucose or during periods of starvation to fuel your brain and body, and are primarily responsible for the success many people have when using a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101/" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>.</li> </ul> <p>The potential weight loss benefits are probably the biggest reason time restriction is popular right now. But it's not the only benefit.</p> <h3>2. It may protect you from diseases</h3> <p>Turns out, there's also a lot to like about condensing your meals from a health standpoint, too. Namely, it's potential to treat and decrease your risk of disease.</p> <p>The science says time-restricted eating can also:</p> <ul> <li>Improve your cholesterol levels.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29576352" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup> This is a big deal, because high cholesterol increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279318/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup></li> <li>Reduce your risk of metabolic diseases, according to a 2014 study in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24739093" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Nutrition Reviews</i></a>.</li> <li>Enhance mitochondrial health (mitochondria are the "powerhouse" mechanisms inside each cell—they're responsible for energy), which can protect you from a variety of brain diseases.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27810402" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5675848/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup></li> <li>Help treat patients with type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose and insulin levels and may also help with weight loss.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>Impressive, right? And that's not all. Restricting food can also help you look and feel younger, too.</p> <h3>3. It may prevent aging</h3> <p>Think of all the cells in your body as one big neighborhood. When a handful of cells are diseased or damaged the cells around it are affected, too. If this happens long enough, the whole "neighborhood" (your body) can become sick or diseased.</p> <p>This, at least in an oversimplified context, is one of the primary reasons we age.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7031747" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup></p> <p>But time-restricted feeding can help. The same <i>Nutrients</i> study mentioned earlier found that limiting the feeding window increases <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/fasting-and-autophagy-understanding-your-body/" rel="noreferrer">autophagy</a> (the body's natural way of getting rid of old or damaged cells), which has known anti-aging benefits.</p> <p>Basically, when the body gets a break from digesting food, it has a chance to use the autophagic processes to eliminate these cells.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4644734/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup></p> <p>And finally, depending on your fitness goals, time restricted eating may be beneficial as part of your fitness plan as well.</p> <h3>4. It won't negatively affect your fitness goals</h3> <p>There's a lot of information out there about fitness nutrition, especially pertaining to the types and amounts of food you should eat before and after workouts.</p> <p>For example, a 2018 study found that eating whole foods after working out promotes optimal results.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852800/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup></p> <p>Given that, it might seem like not eating or restricting food intake would negatively affect performance. But actually, there are some benefits to fasted exercise:</p> <ul> <li>Fasted exercise increases the amount of free fatty acids in the blood after training.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29315892" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup> (This means more fat is burned for energy than if you eat before you workout.)</li> <li>Intermittent fasting promotes fat loss but doesn't affect lean muscle retention, according to a 2015 animal study in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4733124/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Endocrinology</i></a>.</li> </ul> <p>Simply put, you'll burn more fat during your workouts and not lose muscle mass. And if you time your workouts around your feeding "window", you can reap the nutritional benefits of a wholesome post-workout meal.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coffee-and-time-restricted-eating-0063.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coffee-and-time-restricted-eating-0063.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coffee-and-time-restricted-eating-0063.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/coffee-and-time-restricted-eating-LR-0063.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="coffee and time restricted eating"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>Can you drink coffee on a time restricted diet?</h2> <p>A plain cup of black coffee during your "off" hours is fine.</p> <p>One cup of black coffee only contains 5 calories, which won't significantly interfere with any of the benefits listed above.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/3898/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5797418/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup></p> <p> You can also drink water, tea, and even <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/apple-cider-vinegar-weight-loss/" rel="noreferrer">apple cider vinegar</a>.</p> <p>But to adhere to your eating schedule, you shouldn't add anything to your coffee that significantly increases calories (creamer, sugar, etc.).</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Is time restricted eating good for weight loss?</h2> <p>Yes. As mentioned above (see health benefit "1. Fasting may help reduce hunger"), time restricted eating can both reduce cravings and help you eat less. These are immensely beneficial when it comes to weight loss.</p> <p>But on its own, time-restricted eating probably won't get you results. If, for example, you're eating lots of junk food, not exercising, and lead a stressful life, you might find it hard to lose weight even with techniques like TRE or IF.</p> <p>Time-restricted eating can promote weight loss as part of a holistic health and fitness program. Consider other habits like:</p> <ul> <li>Eating <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/" rel="noreferrer">healthy foods</a>.</li> <li>Consistently <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer">exercising</a>. </li> <li>Finding an <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/accountability-partner-key-to-weight-loss/" rel="noreferrer">accountability partner</a> to help you stick to your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals-you-can-achieve/" rel="noreferrer">goals</a>.</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com" rel="noreferrer">Surrounding yourself</a> with other like-minded people.</li> </ul> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <h2>Time restricted eating: wrap up</h2> <p>Time restricted eating (also called time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting) is a nutritional protocol where you eat your meals in a condensed window of time. A common schedule you may use is to eat for 8 hours each day, then fast for 16. </p> <p>There are more extreme versions of time restricted eating, but if weight loss or health improvements are your goal, the 8:16 split is plenty for you.</p> <p>Benefits of eating your food in a condensed window include: reduced food cravings and risk of disease, the promotion of autophagic processes (anti-aging benefits), and additional fat burning during workouts <i>without</i> sacrificing lean muscle.</p> <p>As a tool by itself, time restricted eating alone won't help you lose weight or get healthy. But if you check all the other health "boxes", like eating well and working out, it might help you get results faster.</p> </section> </article>

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