However, while it doesn’t prevent people from eating what they please, the pressure of having to maintain a perfect fasting window (typically around 16 hours) without slipping up, or having to incorporate two extremely low calorie days a week, isn’t always appealing or practical. Enter: Time Restricted Eating.
Time Restricted Eating (TRE), also known as Time Restricted Feeding, is similar to intermittent fasting in a number of ways, but a growing body of research says it’s equally effective and a whole lot easier. Curious? Read on for everything you need to know about this rising wellness trend.
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Although, technically speaking, intermittent fasting takes multiple forms, from the aforementioned calorie-restricting days to time-based fasting, TRE could be considered a type of the popular diet. However, as its implementation is significantly different, some purists may disagree.
The term Time Restricted Eating was coined by Dr. Satchin Panda from the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, and rather than focusing on the window of time spent avoiding food (as one does with intermittent fasting), TRE focuses on selecting the actual times that we do eat in relation to our body’s circadian rhythm (natural sleeping patterns), with the fasting window positioned deliberately to allow the digestive system time to rest, and therefore better metabolise the food we do eat.
This non-eating window is considerably more lenient than the traditional 16 hour period in time-based intermittent fasting, and allows for a much more practical implementation into daily life.
We, as humans, are classified as ‘diurnal’ beings, which means that we are most active during the day and designed to rest during the evening (which is perhaps a bit at odds with our modern lifestyle). After we go to sleep for ‘X’ number of hours sans an alarm clock to bolt us out of bed the next morning, our ‘internal clock’ does it naturally according to when it thinks we should rise, and almost every organ in our body follows this internal clock as well. Ultimately, this inner clock also dictates to the organs when it’s time to be active and when it’s time to rest and recover.
This is our circadian rhythm. It naturally follows a 24 to 24.5 hour cycle that controls our cells’ metabolic activity, including the timing of hormone production and when our body commences a repair process (this is why sleep is fundamental to post-workout muscular recovery).
However, even without the clock, you can still somewhat work out your rhythm by monitoring your own eating habits in relation to your sleeping times. It is suggested that eating in a window in which sunlight is available helps bring together both our light- and food-related internal clocks for maximum effect.