Time-Restricted Eating and Gut Health
Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) is a brother of Intermittent Fasting (IF). Personally, my preference goes out to TRE when it comes to gut health and healthy eating in general. Read on to find out why!
The information on Positive Gut is for informational purposes only. The information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any concerns about your health, always seek the advice of your doctor.
What Is Time-Restricted Eating?
TRE is a type (or pattern) of eating where you generally try to have an eating break of at least 12-14 hours every day.
Practically speaking, this means you would eat from 8 am to 6 or 7 PM and have your eating break from 6 or 7 pm to 8 am.
If you have an earlier breakfast, your ‘dinner’ time would automatically be earlier too.
This time is beneficial for your digestive tract to have a break but it also makes sure you start up your Migrating Motor Complex (MMC).
What is Migrating Motor Complex (MMC)?
MMC is a beautiful function in our bodies, that is horribly underused nowadays. It is basically a big cleaning cycle that your body starts up. This starts when we haven’t eaten or drank anything other than water for 12 hours. Around the 12 hour mark, your body will start a 10-minute cycle. During this cycle, your digestive tract starts moving and all residues are being moved down. It really makes sure nothing gets left behind.
After the first cleaning cycle, it takes about 90-minutes before the next cycle begins. If you restrict your eating with a 12-14 hour window where you don’t eat, you will get at least 1-2 ‘cleaning sessions’ in.
The fewer residues you have in your bowels, the smaller the chance is of the food residues causing you bloating. And this can also be beneficial when it comes to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Having a properly functioning MMC means there will be less food lingering high up in the intestines for the bacteria to eat.
If you suffer from digestive issues on a regular basis, it can be worth it to look further than just TRE. Schedule a free IBS symptom assessment in my dietitian practice, and I’ll show you how I can help.
How Often Should I Do Time Restricted Eating?
There is not necessarily an ideal amount of times a week to do TRE. But try to aim for as often as possible. If I had to give a number, I’d say at least 3-4 times a week. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to do it every day and that’s fine! Find a frequency that works for you and that you can keep up. A positive change in habits will only provide benefits in the long run if you actually manage to keep it up!
Try it out if you’re curious, and see how you feel. If you try it, I’d recommend to at least give it a go for a minimum of 2 weeks. You won’t notice much of a difference if you do something once.
Time-Restricted Eating or Intermittent Fasting?
I know TRE sounds very similar to IF. And basically, it kinda comes down to a difference in name. But the biggest difference for me is that IF can take on extreme forms where people skip their meals for days on end. This can have its health benefits. But it can also cause real problems with distorted eating. Apart from that, it can be relatively dangerous for people that have a history of eating disorders (or the people that are sensitive to it but might not know it yet).
Any form of restricted eating can have its dangers. With TRE you’re at least eating the ‘normal’ meals during the day and are only skipping an evening snack or having an early dinner. This makes it much easier to keep track of it.
Nonetheless, if you have a history of eating disorders, always consult with your GP or dietitian first, before you start a new diet or eating pattern.
Looking for ways to improve your gut symptoms and improve digestion? Schedule a free IBS symptom assessment and I’ll show you how I can help.
What If I Can’t Do Time Restricted Eating?
TRE is not for everyone. If you try it, and find out it doesn’t feel right for you, just let it go. Or if you have to take medication in the evening, and need some food with that, that is more important.
The main thing about your food pattern is that it suits you and makes you feel good.
Have you ever tried Time Restricted Eating? How did that work for you? Let me know in a comment below!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!