My first personal experiment of 2019 has been to schedule my “feeding window,” into a smaller time period each day. Specifically, I only eat between 10A and 6P. That is an 8 hour window of eating, with 16 hours of not eating. I’m not adjusting my volume of food. I’m not adjusting my caloric intake. I’m just not grazing throughout the day. This protocol is known as: Time-Restricted Eating (TRE.)
Before getting into the goals and results, I know some trendy folks will blink a couple of times and ask: “Isn’t that Intermittent Fasting, Jon?” To which I would retort, “No, Trendy Friend! It is simply Time-Restricted Eating.” True Intermittent Fasting involves lowering caloric intake for a few days. See above, I’m not reducing, I’m just scheduling aggressively.
So, WHY am I doing TRE? The primary reason is to digest for fewer hours each day. This in turn moves my biological clock to a more natural rhythm, levels hormonal responses to food outside of the feeding window, reduces blood sugar spikes, and hopefully allows my body’s natural maintenance processes to proceed, since they are less encumbered. That’s the theory, at least.
How does the schedule look? Pretty easy! On Sunday night, I eat by 6PM and don’t snack before going to sleep. Monday morning, I have my usual 20oz bottle of water when I wake up (hydrate!) Then about an hour later, a cup of green tea (nothing added.) Finally, at 10AM, I have my normal shake. 6PM – 10AM is a sixteen hour fast. Lunch is normal. Dinner is normal, just done by 6PM. Rinse and repeat until Friday.
What have been the hard parts of the experiment? Timing and a brief period of morning cravings. Prior to trying TRE, I didn’t realize that my dinner times varied so wildly. Some days I’d eat at 6PM (no problem) other days it would be 8PM (not good!) and occasionally my hectic schedule wouldn’t slow until 9PM (bad bad bad!) This TRE experiment quickly taught me that I have to plan my last meal, or it is going to be a hangry night. And for the first three or four days, my mornings were pretty challenging. Those challenges passed quickly and now I definitely scheduling a meal before 6PM.
What have been the best parts of the experiment? Once the daily cravings passed and I settled into the schedule, TRE was very easy. It just required a more specific focus on time. In the morning, I’m not hungry at all. I feel more focused throughout the day. (No post-lunch crashes!) And I’m not waking up in the middle of the night for any reasons.
Will I stick with it? Yes! I don’t see any reason why I won’t keep going. Three weeks wasn’t difficult after the first few days. And I feel like I appreciate the more structured routine than my previous “I’ll eat whenever,” attitude.
Some stray notes: I lapse a little on the weekend (mainly to fuel in the morning before training.) And when I occasionally feel threatened by hunger (those nights when I train after 6PM) I drink an extra bottle of water.
I’m marking this experiment as a success and plotting additional tweaks down the road. Do you have questions or thoughts? Do you have any experiences to share? Let me know!