Time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting: Let the battle begin! But what is the difference and how to choose?
There is a new trend in the world of health and wellness that has captured the attention of many: time restricted eating (TRE) and intermittent fasting (IF). Both practices involve restricting the hours in which you eat, but they differ in the way that they are implemented.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the differences between time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting and helping you decide which option might be best for you.
What is Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting?
First, let’s talk about the basics of time restricted eating. TRE is a practice in which you eat only during a certain window of time each day. This window is typically limited to eight hours or less. For example, if you start eating at 11am, you would need to stop eating by 7pm.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, involves eating normally for a certain number of days each week and then fasting for the remaining days. The most common type of IF is the 16/8 method, which involves fasting for 16 hours each day and then eating during an eight-hour window.
Another popular type of IF is the 5:2 method, which involves eating normally for five days each week and then restricting calories to 500-600 for the remaining two days.
So, what are the benefits of time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting? Read on!
What is Time-Restricted Eating (TRE)?
Time-restricted eating (TRE) offers a practical, easily adaptable method for managing daily food intake and shedding pounds. It simplifies the need for meticulous calorie tracking, relying instead on a defined eating window. Additionally, recent research indicates that TRE extends its benefits beyond weight loss, particularly for individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The widely studied and recommended eating window spans eight hours, though windows up to around ten hours still offer advantages. Studies consistently show TRE contributes to modest yet reliable weight loss. A meta-analysis of 17 controlled studies encompassing 899 participants revealed an incremental weight loss of 1.60 kg on a TRE schedule.
Diabetes benefits of time-restricted eating
Preliminary data on individuals with type 2 diabetes reveals further metabolic perks of TRE. Dr Courtney Peterson, a researcher at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, highlights improved beta-cell responsiveness, heightened insulin sensitivity, enhanced glucose disposal, an increased time within the glycemic range, and minimal hypoglycemic incidents. All these contribute to better glycemic control, independently of weight loss.
One significant advantage of TRE is its neutrality towards food preferences and quality. As noted by Dr Lisa S. Chow, an endocrinologist and professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, TRE transcends calorie restriction. Timing plays a crucial role in metabolic health markers. Regardless of weight loss achieved through TRE, consuming meals earlier in the day yields better results.
A prominent 2021 study in China randomized 120 adults with type 2 diabetes and overweight to TRE using a 10-hour eating window (8:00 AM-6:00 PM) or unrestricted eating for 12 weeks. The TRE group exhibited a noteworthy average reduction of 0.88 percentage points in hemoglobin A1c compared to controls, along with an additional weight loss of approximately 2.15 kg.
Timing of time-restricted eating
Dr Lisa S. Chow pointed out that self-selected eating windows tend to be later in the day. Recognizing the significance of compliance with a restricted eating window, it might be valuable to grant individuals the freedom to select the most suitable eating time for them.
A 2022 report added weight to this approach. It analyzed data from almost 800,000 individuals using different TRE apps. The data revealed that most participants commenced eating between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM and concluded between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
While TRE isn’t a panacea for obesity, it’s a promising starting point. For those who incorporate dinner within their TRE window, an essential message is to make dinner the final meal of the day, eliminating later snacking – important consideration for time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting and Is It Right for You?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way of eating has been credited with a host of health benefits, ranging from weight loss to improved brain function and a decrease in inflammation. Let’s explore what intermittent fasting is, how it works, and whether it’s the right approach for you.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. Each cycle includes a period of time when you eat and a period during which you fast. There are various types of intermittent fasting, but the most popular strategies include the 16/8 method, the 5:2 method, and alternate-day fasting.
- The 16/8 method entails fasting for 16 hours and restricting your eating to an eight-hour window. For example, you can eat from 12 pm to 8 pm and then fast for 16 hours before beginning the process again.
- The 5:2 method involves eating normally for five days and restricting calories to 500–600 on two non-consecutive days throughout the week.
- Alternate-day fasting entails alternating between fasting for 24 hours and eating normally.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t restrict the kinds of foods you eat, although some people may choose to eat healthier meals during eating windows for optimal health outcomes when choosing between time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting.
Fasting periods are a chance to reset the body and help it recover from the stress of digestion. When you fast, your body switches to using stored fat for energy instead of glucose. This may lead to weight loss and can help you maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help with Weight Loss?
Many people turn to intermittent fasting as a way to meet certain health goals. For example, it can be used to aid in weight loss, reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, improve brain function, and enhance longevity.
However, fasting isn’t suitable for everyone. People who are underweight, pregnant or breastfeeding, or prone to disordered eating should speak to a healthcare provider before trying intermittent fasting.
Fasting can trigger disordered eating patterns in some individuals, and it may be challenging to maintain a healthy relationship with food while deciding between time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a popular way of eating that offers various health benefits. It is a flexible and simple way to improve health outcomes, and it can be adjusted according to individual needs and preferences. However, it is not necessarily a good fit for everyone. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before starting to fast, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
By incorporating intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, you may boost your overall wellness and improve certain aspects of health; however, it is essential to be mindful of what feels right for your specific needs before jumping onto a fasting plan.
Choosing Between Time Restricting Eating vs Intermittent Fasting
So, which option is right for you? It ultimately depends on your lifestyle and personal preferences. TRE may be easier to fit into your daily routine because it only requires you to limit your eating window, rather than changing your eating habits entirely. IF may be more challenging, but some people enjoy the discipline and structure that it provides. It’s important to note that both practices require discipline and consistency for best results.
When deciding which option to choose, it’s also important to consider your overall health goals. If you are looking to lose weight, both TRE and IF have been shown to be effective.
However, if you are looking to improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, TRE may be the better option as it has been linked to improved blood sugar control and decreased inflammation.
Final Thoughts: Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting
In summary, both time restricted eating and intermittent fasting can be effective tools for weight loss and improved health. TRE involves limiting your eating window each day, while IF involves fasting for certain periods of time.
When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider your lifestyle and personal preferences, as well as your overall health goals.
Regardless of which option you choose, remember that consistency and discipline are key to success. Happy fasting!