What is eTRF fasting | Science Behind eTRF Fasting | eTRF Fasting benefits | eTRF Fasting tips | Points Of Caution
What is eTRF and how an it help me? Modern medical science has increasingly relied on fasting practices to deal with ailments related to metabolism, obesity, eating disorders, etc. When it comes to fasting for health purposes, we are spoiled for choice, as doctors and healthcare professionals advocate several fasting methods backed by research.
Intermittent fasting is one of the most widely popular methods, with most people preferring this fasting plan due to its relative ease and benefits. There is enough research to support the benefits of intermittent fasting. Fasting, in general, is a relatively new practice available to modern medicine; hence, its types, like alternate-day fasting, intermittent fasting, and 5:2 fasting, are forever evolving. That is where eTRF fasting comes in.
Early Time Restricted Feeding (eTRF) fasting is a relatively new type of fasting method in which people are advised to eat in the early hours of the day and fast for the rest of the day. It allows the body to better align with its inner circadian clock, which has proclaimed health benefits. This article will discuss eTRF fasting, its benefits, suggest eTRF times, and what precautions one must take before performing this fast.
What is eTRF fasting?
Early Time-Restricted Feeding, as the name suggests, is a fasting method in which people are advised to consume all their daily food (calories) during the early hours of the day and fast for the remaining duration.
The general feeding window for eTRF fasting is between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., where people are advised to eat breakfast at around 8 a.m. and dinner at 3 p.m., which is the last meal of the day. Due to this peculiar dinner time, eTRF fasting is often known as “mid-day time-restricted fasting.” It is essential to point out that eTRF fasting is not a dry fast; hence, people are allowed to drink water to stay hydrated and several zero-calorie drinks like sugar-free black coffee and tea to break the monotony and sail through the fasting hours.
Science Behind eTRF Fasting
Two main aspects revolve around the benefits of eTRF fasting.
1. Circadian Rhythm: Our body operates on an internal, 24-hour circadian clock which is light-sensitive, which means that the inner workings of our body are most active in the early morning hours and gradually subside as the day progresses and night approaches. The circadian system of our body governs our bodies’ metabolic activities, energy expenditure, appetite, digestion, insulin sensitivity, hormonal release, and body temperature.
As per researchers, by consuming food during the early hours of the day, we are aligning our eating habits with the body’s natural circadian clock. It improves digestion, food absorption, sleep cycle, hormonal levels, appetite, and improved metabolic activities.
2. Calorie Restriction: As mentioned above, an eTRF diet only allows consuming food in the early hours of the day, including an early breakfast and a mid-day dinner. It is evident that we are cutting out the lunch meal from our daily eating schedule. This voluntary act of skipping lunch leads to a natural daily calorie deficit. Our body is forced to break down the stored fat from the different fat resources of our body to compensate for this daily calorie deficit. It eventually leads to steady weight loss.
Benefits of eTRF Fasting
Let’s take a look at different benefits related to eTRF fasting:
1. Weight Loss
Weight loss is one of the primary benefits related to eTRF fasting. That is because, while following an eTRF fast, one has to skip at least one meal of the day, mostly lunch, which creates an overall calorie deficit. It is a known fact that our body needs, on average, 1800 to 2000 calories per day to maintain a state of “homeostasis.” Hence, to maintain this state of “homeostasis,” our body breaks down the stored fat to create energy, which leads to weight loss.
2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Due to the body’s natural circadian rhythm, our hormonal levels peak during the day; hence, when we eat food during this time, our body efficiently deals with the insulin spike caused by the meals. Late-night insulin spikes are harmful as the body’s hormonal activities are significantly lower, but people who practice eTRF fasts do not have to face this condition. Some studies also suggest that regular time-restricted fasting improves the body’s insulin resistance, which can prevent Type 2 diabetes.
3. Elevated Energy Levels and Sleep Cycle
Our energy levels are chiefly governed by two specific hormones, cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol levels are generally quite high in the mornings, and melatonin levels are deficient. The reverse is true for nighttime when melatonin levels are much higher and cortisol levels are much lower. We can effectively regulate these hormone levels by using the eTRF fasting method, which keeps us energized throughout the day and helps us sleep better at night.
4. Better Cellular Health
Fasting for a prolonged period causes the cells of our body to perform “autophagy,” which refers to the cells eating the dead or weak cells, which are periodically replaced by newer, healthier cells. Some preliminary studies suggest that time-restricted feeding and circadian rhythms may slow the body’s aging process.
5. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Some research suggests that eTRF intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies. High inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and stroke.
6. Better Gut Health
eTRF fasts are a great way to promote better gut health and reduce overall digestive issues. Since we are essentially fasting for 18 hours during eTRF fasts, our digestive system and gut bacteria do not have to work because there is no food in our system. During this time, weak gut bacteria are replaced by new, healthier gut bacteria, which is essential for proper digestion.
Some preliminary studies point out that eTRF fasting methods help us feel fuller throughout the day and manage our appetite better. They also promote faster fat oxidation, leading to weight loss in obese people.
Some Tips For People Trying Out eTRF fasting
For people new to Early Time-Restricted Feeding fasts, trying out these fasts can be a bit intimidating, and if proper precautions are not taken, then complications may arise. Here are some tips for people trying out eTRF fasting for the first time.
Choosing to fast for more than 16 hours per day can be stressful on the body and even unachievable for certain people. In this case, starting slowly and gradually increasing the fasting duration is better for a smoother transition to full-fledged Early Time-Restricted Feeding fasts.
A balanced diet is essential for a healthy mind and body. The importance of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet increases significantly for people who are practicing eTRF fasts. Because our eating window is substantially reduced, we must include all kinds of foods in our limited meal opportunities. We must include foods rich in fiber and protein so that our bowel movements are regulated and our muscle mass is maintained.
As mentioned above, eTRF fasts are not dry fasts; hence, we must drink adequate water while performing an eTRF fast. Additionally, we can add zero-calorie drinks like green tea and black coffee to better support the fast. Water spiked with freshly squeezed lime juice can be a refreshing drink during fasting hours, as it does not break the fast.
Without incorporating physical activity into our fasting regime, one cannot expect to lose weight magically. Hence, it is advised to add some form of low-intensity exercise to our fast, which will help us lose weight faster and make us stronger.
Some Points Of Caution Related To eTRF Fasting
Here are some points to consider for people who are trying Early Time-Restricted Feeding fasts:
- The first few days might be extremely challenging, especially for people who are not naturally healthy; also, many people might experience lethargy, headaches, and muscle pain.
- Children or teenagers should avoid eTRF fasts, as these are their formative years, and any kind of fasting diet might hinder their growth and overall health.
- Like the preceding point, older adults should not participate in such a fast because it may result in additional complications such as muscle loss and health risks.
- People with underlying health conditions like heart problems, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., should avoid these early time-restricted feeding diets.
- Pregnant women require special care and nutrition and should avoid eTRF fasts or any other type of fast, as they may complicate their pregnancy.
- One must ensure that eTRF fasting does not lead to overeating, as many people think fasting for 16 to 18 hours a day gives them the license to consume as many calories as possible during the feeding window.
The above article gives a clear analysis of the newly popular early time-restricted fast. It is somewhat similar to intermittent fasting but also very different, as people who follow IF mostly skip breakfast. In contrast, eTRF fasts are much more aligned with your body’s circadian clock and encourage you to stay away from food during the late hours of the day.
People interested in eTRF fasts can take an objective look at the pros and cons of this diet and decide for themselves if it works towards their fitness goals and if their body can sustain it well.
I recommend starting here to learn more about these types of fasting which are the MOST popular, starting with 16/8 Fasting, click on these guides below to learn more:
16/8 Fasting Guide, 14/10 Fasting Guide, 18/6 Fasting Guide, One Meal a Day Guide.
Also need help fasting? Check out these Top 6 Fasting Mobile Apps we recommend to help you on your journey.