Time Restricted Eating Vs Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner’s Guide


What Is ‘Time Restricted Eating’ And How Is It Different To Intermittent Fasting?

Unlike intermittent fasting, working with the body’s natural circadian rhythm is a big focus of TRE. That is to say, it’s all about adapting your meal times according to when you plan to be asleep to reap the maximum benefits and allow the gut time to rest and reset. In order to to make sense of how to apply TRE into your lifestyle, it’s necessary to first understand exactly how the circadian rhythm works.

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 jolt 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).

How Exactly Does Time Restricted Eating Work?

Unlike 5:2 intermittent fasting, working with the body’s natural circadian rhythm is a big focus of TRE. That is to say, it’s all about adapting your meal times according to when you plan to be asleep to reap the maximum benefits and allow the gut time to rest and reset. In order to to make sense of how to apply TRE into your lifestyle, it’s necessary to first understand exactly how the circadian rhythm works.

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 jolt 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).

So, How Do You Do Time Restricted Eating?

As shown by Dr. Panda’s research, ‘when’ we eat is just as important as ‘what’ we eat. With many of us suffering from disrupted circadian rhythms (particularly shift workers), the first step is to figure out your ideal eating times by determining your natural internal clock’s.

In order to help people find out exactly that, Dr. Panda created MyCircadianClock, an app that “helps you understand your body’s rhythms” while also contributing to their ongoing clinical trial. While we know from the studies that a 12-hour eating period is likely to be the sweet spot for most of us, exactly which times it will span across will varying according to each individual’s lifestyle, which is where this clock’s usefulness comes in.

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.

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