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Time Restricted Eating: The Basics



What is Time Restricted Eating (TRE)? Time restricted eating simply means eating within a certain time frame. For example, if you eat only between the hours of 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., that is a 12-hour period of eating, and a 12 hour period of not eating (a time called “fasting”). If you eat only between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., that is a 10-hour eating window, and a 14-hour fasting window.

Why does TRE help people with type 2 diabetes? When we eat, our bodies store food energy (calories). When we don’t eat (or fast), our bodies use the stored food energy (in the form of glucose and body fat). Fasting allows your body to naturally burn blood sugar and body fat for energy. TRE is helpful in phase 3 as you’re learning to avoid rises in glucose.

Is it safe? Yes. Fasting simply gives your body a natural break from eating, hence the English word “break-fast.” Fasting has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years throughout the world.  

Benefits of TRE Fasting has many established health benefits including weight loss, improved blood glucose, reduced fatty liver, improved cholesterol, increased energy, improved concentration and less bloating. 

Who should NOT fast? People who are pregnant, breast-feeding, underweight or suffer from eating disorders should speak to their physician first. 

How do I get started? Start with a 12-hour TRE regimen — meaning 12 hours of eating followed by 12 hours of not eating. Speak to your health provider if you want to consider longer fasting periods. During your fasting period, do not eat anything — no snacks, fruit, bread, etc. — or drink anything with calories. You may take medications, vitamins and/or supplements. 

Can I drink? Yes, but only if it has no calories. Water, tea, herbal tea and coffee are OK. Juice, soda, sugary drinks, soup and diet drinks (even those with zero calories) should be avoided.  

Won’t I be hungry? Maybe. But it will pass as your body takes the energy it needs from your body stores (blood glucose and body fat). Slowly drink a cup of hot tea, and by the time you are done, it should mostly have passed. 

On medication? Please check with your doctor in case any medication adjustments are necessary. This is especially true for type 2 diabetes medications and insulin in particular. 


Would you like to read more about TRE? See the Level2 Medical Guide to TRE.