By now you may have heard of the phrase: time restricted eating. You may be wondering what it is and how it works.  Here is some background on it. It has to do with the cycle of the planet, our internal clock, as well as our ancestors. Think about it. Hundreds of years ago, people woke up with the sun, worked hard manual labor throughout the day, and went to bed when it was dark.  There are a few beneficial things here. One, they weren’t sitting at desks all day, or hanging out on the couch eating potato chips. They were up and moving during the day and eating healthier foods. Two, circadian rhythm (our internal clock, which runs on a day/night schedule), is correlated with our metabolism among other things.

Sleeping, Tired, Bed, Feet

Circadian rhythm (CR) works as such:  at night our melatonin rises and our body cools. This helps kick start our metabolism and therefore start the fat burning process. When we wake up in the morning, melatonin decreases. Due to our body recharging, in the morning is when our body is best able to metabolize. Why? Because it has been at least twelve hours since we ate. This gives our metabolism plenty of time to gear up. We eat healthy throughout the day, get ready for bed…and the cycle begins again.  

In this day and age, can you see how we are disrupting these patterns?  Some of the culprits are: erratic eating patterns (can raise blood sugar), stress, staying up late, using a lot of technology (blue light), and late night eating.

Now it is time to explain time restricted eating (TRE)!  TRE is restricting your eating hours to a window of time, usually an 8-12 hour span.  For example (using a 12 hour window): after a great night’s sleep, eat breakfast at 8, a small snack at 10, lunch at 12, another snack at 3, dinner at 6, with a small snack at 7:30.  You are done eating by 8. That gives your metabolism enough time to kick start during the night. Leaving yourself an 8 or 10 hour window will give your body even more time. But this can be much harder to achieve!  

Studies have found that this type of pattern can reduce fat and lower blood sugar. There was a study with mice, where some ate whenever (no schedule) and others ate on a TRE schedule. The mice that ate off the schedule had health problems, where the mice on TRE were perfectly  healthy.

Thinking of trying it? Here are some tips:

-If it sounds too hard to eat between those times, try to at least cut a few hours out of your eating time.  For example if you usually start eating at 6:30 and end at 9, start at 7:30 instead and end at 8. Then slowly cut back more until you have hit at least a 12 hour window.

-Save eating carbs for morning when you are in your optimal

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metabolizing stage.

-Eat healthy! Whole foods and whole grains are best. Cut out as much table sugar and saturated fat a you can.  Eat small meals and snacks throughout your window. Big meals will mess with your blood sugar.

-Try to consume less food at dinner time and more earlier in the day when your metabolism is blazing.

-Feed within a 8-12 hour window for best results. Metabolism peaks at 12 hours without food.  Keep it the same window every day.

-Get enough sleep each night (it all depends on the person, but 7-8 hours as a guideline)

-limit technology time

-Eat around the same time each day.


-Exercise at least 150 minutes per week. This should include cardio, resistance, and flexibility

-drink plenty of water during the 24 hour cycle

Is time restricted eating for you? That is up to you. That is up to you! I will be trying it myself to see how it works for me.

Haley Thiele is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist from Grimes, Iowa. She owns S.T.A.R. Fitness.

Facebook page: @starfitnessgrimes