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The (critical) importance of TRE

The (critical) importance of TRE (Time-Restricted Eating)


A little while back I had the chance to share with you “My Five Pillars”, or the 5 major factors to successfully lowering insulin, fasting, healing, etc, IMO. The very first pillar on my list is TRE.




Time Restricted Eating (TRE) is generally described as eating in a "set time window" and fasting in between. The famous '16/8' or '18/6' Intermittent Fasting schedule describes fasting for 16 or 18 hours, respectively, and eating in the 8 or 6 hours remaining. Many people interpret this to mean one long 6-8 hour "eating window". The Fasting Method by IDM has consistently tried to address this.

An important component of IE and IF (Intermittent Fasting) is addressing what “eating” means. In other words, what’s considered “eating” and what’s considered “fasting”. “Does <blank> break my fast?” Once again, I leave you with the idea that ANYTHING that raises insulin (e.g. cream, flavoured waters, chewing gum, sweeteners, diet sodas, etc.) should be considered “eating” (as it raises insulin) and not fasting, therefore should only be consumed in your "TRE windows" and not during fasting. At no point did I mention the words calories or carbs. Many things that don’t have calories or carbs raise insulin. So this idea that only things with carbs and/or calories raise insulin, is false.

Will you have the same results if you eat (i.e. raise your insulin) 3, 4 or more times in a 6-8h eating "window" as you would if you raised insulin only once or twice in that same "window" (or didn’t raise it at all)? Definitely not! THIS is the critical importance of TRE.

I encourage you to look at your eating and fasting days as how many times you will raise insulin during your "TRE windows" and how long you will fast in between these "windows". Of course long fasts generally are expected to show bigger results (healing), but this could be counterproductive if your longer fasts are followed with too many insulin rises/spikes (binging, grazing, snacking, etc).

What’s an appropriate TRE window? Historically, TFM has suggested 30 to 60 minutes per window (maybe 90 minutes on special occasions). A more recent concept of TRE, which we support, is rather than describing TRE as an “eating window” rather look at it as a TRE “meal”. This means you bring EVERYTHING that raises insulin into that meal. That includes cream, flavoured waters, chewing gum, (any) sweeteners and anything else that raises insulin (I had to say that again). Even though we don’t recommend these, if you choose to consume them, make sure they are in your TRE "meal", and not between (your fasting window).

Are these items different from “fasting aids” aka crutches or training wheels? Yes, and those are addressed in our resources and other posts (I wrote one called “Fasting Aids, Yea or Nay?”). Of course you "can have" some Fasting Aids on days that you are FASTING!


What "can you have" on EATING (non-fasting) days, in between TRE (meals)? Plain water, black coffee and/or herbal teas. This is an eating day with (at least) 2 eating windows, NOT a fasting day. NO fasting aids for eating days, obviously! You don't want to have "Eating aids", these are nothing more than "snacks" (insulin spikes continuously throughout the day).

How many TRE meals should you have in an eating day? Many people following our program choose to have two meals, 6-8 hours apart. How about a fasting day? Maybe one TRE (or none if you’re going for a complete and clean fasting day, let’s say, for the goal of weight loss or autophagy).

TRE is something you should focus on at all times. On the weekends, during trips, holidays and even special occasions. No matter what you’re choosing to eat, give TRE the importance it truly deserves!

If you're having trouble with TRE (avoiding snacks), you need to address WHAT you are eating, not your fasting ... to be continued.

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