No wonder people are asking about time-restricted eating vs intermittent fasting for weight loss. There are so many different definitions that it’s hard to get a grip on what the terms actually mean.
Some authority sites state that time-restricted eating is a form of intermittent fasting and others say that they are the same thing. There are so many contradictory definitions for the terms that it becomes very confusing.
Here’s my take on the two methods:
Time-restricted eating is a diet plan that requires people to limit eating to specific hours of the day during which they can eat what they like.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves periods of fasting and eating while following a specific diet plan and restricting calories.
Let’s now take a closer look at the finer details of time-restricted eating vs intermittent fasting for weight loss?
Related reading: Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss. Which is Best?
What is Time-Restricted Eating?
A time-restricted eating plan is a type of eating plan where a person will eat only at a particular time in a day. The time can vary, depending on the person’s preferences and the plan that they have chosen to follow.
However, the usual eating window ranges from 4 or 6 to 12 hours. Outside of the eating window you must not consume anything with calories. But, you are allowed to drink water or any non-caloric beverages like black coffee or tea to stay hydrated.
In one study done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 11 overweight men and women were asked to eat only between 8 AM and 2 PM each day for four days as part of the time-restricted eating plan. After that, they extended their eating time to 8 PM for four more days.me
At the end of the study, researchers found that the participants were able to ramp up the amount of fats they burned at night during the restricted eating plan. What’s more, restricted eating has resulted in less cravings throughout the day.
Eliza Whetzel-Savage, a registered dietitian of Middleburg Nutrition in New York believes that a restricted eating plan can rev up a person’s metabolism. According to her,
“When you cut the eating window down, you are creating a fasting period in which the body will have to use its own stored glycogen from carbohydrates and fat as fuel. When the glucose and glycogen stores are used, the body switches over to a ketogenic state and burns fat for fuel.”
Although you might think you would get hungry when you follow this way of eating it can normalize the level the hunger hormone, ghrelin, in your body.
Amazingly enough it seems that you may be able to to lose weight with this method even though you can eat what you like during the eating period. But, it may not work for you if your calorie intake is not lowered naturally because of the lack of hunger.
However, as a nutritionist I don’t think that continuing to eat what caused you to put on weight in the first place is sensible or healthy. You should still aim for eating a healthy diet and avoid junk and processed foods. After all we are meant to eat to live and not live to eat!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular eating pattern where a person cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It does not specify the type of foods that one can eat or at what time these foods should be eaten but it generally combined with some sort of diet.
Nutritionists and dieticians will agree that the diet should be healthy to get all the benefits of IF. It should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and good quality meat, fish and eggs. It’s important to avoid sugar and processed foods.
Related reading: 6 Damaging Effects Of Sugar On Your Body
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
As well as weight loss IF can improve immunity and metabolism, lower blood sugar and reduce inflammation which should improve conditions like arthritis and asthma. It can even help to clear out toxins and damaged cells through a process known as autophagy which lowers the risk for cancer.
Related reading: 5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Metabolism To Lose Weight
The main concept is to fast for a certain number of hours in a day, then go back to eating for a certain number of hours again.
Intermittent fasting has become so popular and several dieting methods were created based on this concept.
There’s also a keto version of this diet. The intermittent fasting on keto requires dieters to follow an eating method that cycles between normal eating and fasting. But during their eating time, dieters must focus on eating healthy fats and protein and limit their intake of carbs.
The 5:2 diet is also a popular type of Intermittent Fasting. On this diet, women are required to eat less than 500 calories while men should eat less than 600 calories for two non-consecutive days in a week.
You do not need to eat certain foods during these two days. However, you must limit the amount of food you eat at a certain period in a day.
Time-Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting
Given the definitions above, let us find out more about the difference between time-restricted eating vs intermittent fasting for weight loss.
With intermittent fasting, your eating method will be based on the type of diet that you follow. It’s usually best to start with a shorter fasting time and gradually increase the time so your body adapts to not eating at certain times of the day.
There are various types of intermittent fasting from the simplest form of 12 hours fasting to a more exacting 19-21 hours. IF does not have to be done everyday. You can fast one a day a week if you prefer and still reap the benefits.
So if you go for time-restricted eating also called time-restricted feeding, you will be eating only for a certain time during the day. Your eating window is usually during the day, between an 4 to 12-hour window during which you can eat what you want.
On the other hand, with intermittent fasting, your diet may involve caloric restriction. The type of foods you will eat will depend on which type of diet you are following.
For followers of the keto diet, your eating time during intermittent fasting must follow the typical macro ratio for keto, which is 70% fats, 25% proteins, and only 5% carbs.
Related reading: How to Calculate Macros for Weight Loss
Since followers of the time-restricted eating plan are allowed to eat any food, this concept will not apply to keto. However, intermittent fasting while on keto is definitely possible.
Since keto is designed to put your body into ketosis due to the low carb intake, you’re already depriving yourself of glucose. This is the exact same thing that you will experience with intermittent fasting.
Related reading: How Ketosis Works for Burning Fat Faster?
Comparing time-restricted eating vs intermittent fasting should now be easy. If you decide to try time-restricted eating, you will spend most of your waking hours eating any preferably healthy food you want. But after your eating window, you are not allowed to consume anything except for water and calorie-free beverages.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, can take on several forms. You can go for alternate-day fasting or you can adopt a very-low-calorie diet for two days a week and eat normally but healthily on the other five days.
While some people have found success in time-restricted eating, others find this diet less effective for them. It’s the same thing for intermittent fasting. The diet works great for some people, but not for others.
The only way to find out which method can work for you is to try them out. In the end, you should choose the eating plan that you can sustain in the long run. If you have any serious health condition you should get the advice of your doctor before you do any fasting.