Exploring the Difference Between Time-Restricted Eating and Intermittent Fasting

The Difference Between Time Restricted Eating and Intermittent Fasting

Time-restricted eating (TRE) and intermittent fasting (IF) are two popular approaches to controlling food intake and achieving health-related goals. Both approaches involve limiting the amount of time you spend eating and when you do eat, but they are not the same. While they may seem similar, they differ in the way they are structured and the goals they aim to achieve.

What Is Time Restricted Eating?

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an approach to eating that involves periods of fasting and eating. It typically involves going for extended periods of time (usually 16 to 18 hours) without consuming food, followed by shorter “feeding” windows. During the fasting periods, no food or beverages (other than water) are consumed.

The Difference Between TRE and IF

The main difference between time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting is the focus. Intermittent fasting focuses on how long you’ll go without food; TRE focuses on the times you plan to eat. When are you most hungry? If you’re trying to control your eating times, TRE may be the better option.

In addition, TRE does not necessarily involve any level of calorie restriction. Unlike intermittent fasting, which involves caloric restriction, time-restricted eating permits a person to eat as much as they want during the eating window. This makes it a great option for those who don’t want to cut calories but still want to take control of their eating habits.

Finally, while both TRE and IF involve predetermined timing in pausing or abstaining from eating followed by shorter eating windows, the way they are structured can vary. While some intermittent fasting regimens also limit eating to a similar time window as time-restricted eating, most intermittent fasting protocols allow for longer fasting periods and require more consistent scheduling.

Benefits of Time Restricted Eating and Intermittent Fasting

Time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting have been linked to a number of potential health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lower blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better sleep

Limiting the eating duration may be an effective strategy to reduce the overall caloric intake; however, TRF does not necessarily have to involve calorie restriction. There is some evidence to suggest that the structure of the eating window may be more important than the number of calories consumed.

A Comparison of TRE and IF

Time-Restricted Eating


  • No calorie restriction required
  • Flexible: eating window can be adjusted to fit individual needs
  • Easy to follow


  • May be too restrictive for some people
  • Can be difficult to stick to
  • May lead to “binge eating” in some people

Intermittent Fasting


  • Flexible: can be adjusted to fit individual needs
  • May lead to fewer calories consumed
  • Easy to follow


  • Can be difficult to stick to
  • May lead to “binge eating” in some people
  • May be too restrictive for some people

Which Is Best?

It’s hard to say which approach is better for everyone, as everyone’s needs and preferences are different. A relatively new approach called time-restricted eating (also called intermittent fasting) — limiting meals to a certain window of time each day — may be an effective way to reduce overall calorie intake.

In comparison to calorie restriction, time-restricted eating plus early time-restricted eating (iTRE) was found to be more effective for weight loss in a study of overweight and obese individuals. Additionally, some studies have found that time-restricted eating may be more effective for reducing overall calorie intake than intermittent fasting.

In the end, the best approach for any individual will depend on their goals and preferences. While both TRE and IF can be effective, it’s important to find the approach that works best for you.

Does intermittent fasting involve following a time-restricted feeding schedule?

Time-restricted eating is a form of intermittent fasting that involves eating within a certain number of hours during the day. It differs from other intermittent fasting methods as it focuses on limiting the hours in which food is consumed rather than the amount of food eaten.

Is it possible to shed pounds with time-restricted eating?

An analysis of people who finished the study showed that eating within a shorter time frame was more successful in helping them lose weight and body fat. This suggests that eating over a period of 12 hours or less may be more beneficial for weight loss than eating over a longer period of time; however, further research is needed to determine if these results apply to fat loss.

What is the distinction between going without food for 16 hours and 18 hours?

One reason to consider the 18/6 plan over the 16/8 plan is that it has the potential to offer even more health and metabolic advantages. This plan extends the daily fasting period to around 18 hours, rather than the usual 16 hours.

What is the distinction between a 12-hour fast and a 16-hour fast?

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