Is Time Restricted Eating Beneficial?

Time-restricted eating (TRE) is defined as a dietary regimen that restricts eating to specific hours of the day, and then fasting the rest of the time. TRE has become extremely popular for weight loss since it reduces blood sugar levels during the fasting hours and forces the body to pull fat from storage to be used as fuel once the body's available energy (such as glycogen stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells) is used up.

Time-restricted eating means eating within a specific time window—12,10, or 8 hours—and not eating the other 12, 14, or 16 hours of the day. That’s why the first meal of the day is called breakfast: We break the fast. If you eat dinner at 6 p.m. and breakfast at 8 a.m., that’s a 14-hour fast.

Snacking and late-night eating interferes with your body’s ability to rest, repair, and regenerate. Time-restricted eating doesn’t restrict calories; it limits your feeding window to optimize repair. For example, you might consume all of your meals between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., or 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Constricted windows of time, like eating only within an 8-hour window of time, are not always the best choice if you’re already thin, chronically fatigued, or pregnant, or have an eating disorder. But there is a form of fasting that most of us can do and should do every day—the 12-hour window: 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day. The 12-hour window allows your body to have a natural period of rest and detoxification.

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