Time-restricted eating is effective for weight loss, but it can also improve mood and blood pressure. Time-restricted eating or time-restricted feeding refers to when eating is limited to a certain number of hours each day. A person on time-restricted eating (TRE) plan will only eat during specific hours of the day. Outside of this period, they will fast.
What is time-restricted eating?
TRE means that a person eats all of their meals and snacks within a particular window of time each day. This timeframe can vary according to the person’s preference and the plan they choose to follow. Typically though, the eating window in time-restricted programs ranges from 6–12 hours a day.
TRE may help a person eat less without counting calories. It may also be a healthy way to avoid common diet pitfalls, such as late-night snacking. However, people with diabetes or other health issues can consider speaking with a doctor before trying this type of eating pattern.
How does time-restricted eating affect weight loss?
Several studies of both normal-weight and overweight people restricted eating to a window of 7–12 hours, reporting weight loss of up to 5% over 2–4 weeks. However, other studies in normal-weight people have reported no weight loss with eating windows of similar duration. According to a 2021 randomized controlled trial in Nutrition & Diabetes, 30 males and females with obesity who followed 8 weeks of TRE with a commercial weight loss program saw clinically meaningful weight loss of approximately 24 pounds (lb) on average, compared with about 20 lb in the 30 people not doing TRE.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained attention as a simple weight loss method. Intermittent fasting refers to eating windows separated by defined periods of fasting (>12 hours and up to 48 hours, or more). Time-restricted feeding (TRF) prevents weight gain in mice challenged with an isocaloric high-fat diet (HFD) and reduces weight and metabolic outcomes in already obese mice. Weight loss without a decrease in calorie intake suggests that TRF could affect energy expenditure to achieve a negative calorie balance.
It is unclear that intermittent fasting is superior to other weight loss methods in regards to the amount of weight loss, biological changes, compliance rates, and decreased appetite. Certain people who typically eat one or two meals a day or do not eat for long stretches of time may show better compliance with this type of regimen.
(Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Please consult a doctor before starting any fitness regime or medical advice.)
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