Time-restricted eating resulted in similar increases in muscle protein synthesis and regular meal plans. Time-restricted eating benefits included lower glucose and glycemic control than normal meal plans.

This article meticulously examines Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting, shedding light on the nuanced differences and impacts of each dietary approach on protein synthesis. It delves into how Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting can influence muscle growth and overall well-being, supported by scientific studies and evidence. The comparison of Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting is crucial for individuals seeking optimal dietary patterns to enhance their health. The article  offers practical advice and considerations for those contemplating adopting Time Restricted Eating vs Intermittent Fasting as part of their lifestyle.


  • Time-restricted eating resulted in similar increases in muscle protein synthesis and regular meal plans.
  • Time-restricted eating benefits included lower glucose and glycemic control than normal meal plans.

Introduction to Time-Restricted Eating

Time-restricted eating/TRE (i.e., eating within a certain time frame) has grown in popularity due to its numerous health benefits, such as losing weight and improving blood glucose levels. (Jamshed et al., 2019; Parr et al., 2020; Sutton et al., 2018) Time-restricted eating vs. intermittent fasting (IF) are often considered the same, but there are differences.

The IF principle is simple: each 24-hour day is split into two segments: a period for eating and one for fasting. The most popular IF plan is the 16/8 plan. Fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window of time. Intermittent fasting focus on time spent not eating.


TRE is a form of intermittent fasting. However, unlike IF, time-restricted eating focuses on eating within a certain time frame. Most people start with an 8-hour eating window, for example, between 10 am and 8 pm. Then you’ll not eat outside of this designated window.

Some studies have found that eating a high-protein breakfast for muscle gain is a good strategy to start your day. (Kim et al., 2021) Other studies have found the benefits of morning protein timing for weight loss and body fat reduction. (Aoyama et al., 2021)

One of the big concerns with TRE is whether it will reduce protein synthesis and result in muscle loss. There has been much confusion regarding protein intake for those looking to gain lean body mass over the past few years. The main question is, “How much protein should I eat to gain muscle?” and “How long does protein synthesis last?”


Muscle protein synthesis (PS) is adding new muscle protein. Every time you eat a meal, essential amino acids from foods stimulate muscle PS, whereas not eating for several hours causes muscle protein breakdown. Increases in new muscle are when PS is greater than muscle tissue breakdown. In other words, you need a certain amount of protein to gain muscle.


Protein per day is based on your calorie needs.  If you are dieting, you will need more protein to reduce lean mass losses, with roughly 1.5 grams per pound of body weight.

If you are in calorie maintenance or surplus, 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient. 20 grams of protein has been found to increase protein synthesis for up to 5 hours. (Groen et al., 2015; Moore et al., 2009).

Three daily meals consumed over 15 hours would likely maximize protein synthesis for the average adult. (Areta et al., 2013)

Time-restricted eating Time-restricted eating Time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting Early time restricted eating Protein synthesis Evidence based muscle
Total protein intake is a better predictor of muscle gains than frequency.


It has long been suggested that you consume six meals a day to gain muscle. This myth should be put to rest.

Total protein intake is a better predictor of muscle gains than frequency.  Studies have shown that you can eat three meals a day and have equal gains in muscle mass when protein intake is similar.(Schoenfeld & Aragon, 2018)

Another common question for lifters looking to gain muscle is, “How many protein shakes a day to gain muscle?” Protein shakes can help if you are not consuming enough protein. If you are getting enough protein (.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight or greater), then protein will not increase muscle mass beyond this point. (Pasiakos et al., 2015)


Nutrient timing (i.e., protein directly after strength training) was considered an essential anabolic window after exercise. Lifters thought that if you missed your post-workout protein shake after a training program, you were missing out on serious muscle gains.

Does protein timing matter for gaining muscle? If you are consuming adequate protein throughout the day, protein after exercise is of lesser importance. Total protein intake is a better predictor of gaining muscle than protein timing.

In 2013, a study made people looking to gain muscle question whether eating smaller; mini meals was best for increasing muscle mass. Researchers found that 4 servings of 20 grams of protein maximized PS compared to smaller servings (8 servings of 10 grams of protein) or larger servings (2 servings of 40 grams of protein). The study’s practical applications are that the smaller frequency of protein was not as important as the amount or dose.


Some researchers are concerned that restricting protein intake for long periods can reduce PS and lead to muscle loss. (Lees et al., 2021) A new study published in Obesity can alleviate some of these concerns regarding PS and TRE.

Researchers assigned subjects to an 8-hour TRE group (i.e., 3 meals eaten between 10 am and 8 pm) or a 12-hour eating window (i.e., 3 meals eaten between 8 am and 8 p) for 10 days. At first glance, the group that TRE is consuming protein later should result in lower PS with longer periods of not eating.

The calories, protein, fats, and carbohydrates were evenly matched (56%

carbohydrate, 30% Fat, and 14% Protein). The only difference was that the TRE group had longer periods of not consuming food. The researchers measured protein synthesis and continuous glucose monitoring along with body composition.


At the end of the study, there was no difference in PS between the TRE and the control groups.(Parr et al., 2022) The TRE also had better glycemic control (i.e., lower 24 glucose levels) than the control group. Both groups tended to lose muscle mass, but the researchers acknowledge that they failed to set calories high enough (i.e., subjects had a higher activity level than calculated) to maintain their muscle mass.

Time-restricted eating Time-restricted eating Time restricted eating vs intermittent fasting Early time restricted eating Protein synthesis Evidence based muscleThe researcher stated, “Short-term TRE does not impair rates of muscle protein synthesis in adults with overweight/obesity. However, long-term interventions are urgently needed to determine whether TRE-induced weight loss can be achieved without compromising muscle health.” Other studies have found that TRE, combined with resistance exercise, does not impair muscle growth. (Tinsley et al., 2019)


Aoyama, S., Kim, H.-K., Hirooka, R., Tanaka, M., Shimoda, T., Chijiki, H., Kojima, S., Sasaki, K., Takahashi, K., Makino, S., Takizawa, M., Takahashi, M., Tahara, Y., Shimba, S., Shinohara, K., & Shibata, S. (2021). Distribution of dietary protein intake in daily meals influences skeletal muscle hypertrophy via the muscle clock. Cell Reports, 36(1). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109336

Areta, J. L., Burke, L. M., Ross, M. L., Camera, D. M., West, D. W., Broad, E. M., Jeacocke, N. A., Moore, D. R., Stellingwerff, T., Phillips, S. M., Hawley, J. A., & Coffey, V. G. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol, 591(9), 2319-2331. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2012.244897

Groen, B. B., Horstman, A. M., Hamer, H. M., De Haan, M., Van Kranenburg, J., Bierau, J., Poeze, M., Wodzig, W. K., Rasmussen, B. B., & Van Loon, L. J. (2015). Post-prandial protein handling: you are what you just ate. PLoS One, 10(11), e0141582. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141582

Jamshed, H., Beyl, R. A., Della Manna, D. L., Yang, E. S., Ravussin, E., & Peterson, C. M. (2019). Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans. Nutrients, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061234


Kim, H. K., Chijiki, H., Fukazawa, M., Okubo, J., Ozaki, M., Nanba, T., Higashi, S., Shioyama, M., Takahashi, M., Nakaoka, T., & Shibata, S. (2021). Supplementation of Protein at Breakfast Rather Than at Dinner and Lunch Is Effective on Skeletal Muscle Mass in Older Adults. Front Nutr, 8, 797004. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.797004

Lees, M. J., Hodson, N., & Moore, D. R. (2021). A muscle-centric view of time-restricted feeding for older adults. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 24(6), 521-527. https://doi.org/10.1097/mco.0000000000000789

Moore, D. R., Robinson, M. J., Fry, J. L., Tang, J. E., Glover, E. I., Wilkinson, S. B., Prior, T., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(1), 161-168. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/1/161/4598235

Parr, E. B., Devlin, B. L., Radford, B. E., & Hawley, J. A. (2020). A Delayed Morning and Earlier Evening Time-Restricted Feeding Protocol for Improving Glycemic Control and Dietary Adherence in Men with Overweight/Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020505

Parr, E. B., Kouw, I. W. K., Wheeler, M. J., Radford, B. E., Hall, R. C., Senden, J. M., Goessens, J. P. B., van Loon, L. J. C., & Hawley, J. A. (2022). Eight-hour time-restricted eating does not lower daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates: A randomized control trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23637

Pasiakos, S. M., McLellan, T. M., & Lieberman, H. R. (2015). The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review. Sports Med, 45(1), 111-131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2


Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2018). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1

Sutton, E. F., Beyl, R., Early, K. S., Cefalu, W. T., Ravussin, E., & Peterson, C. M. (2018). Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metab, 27(6), 1212-1221.e1213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010

Tinsley, G. M., Moore, M. L., Graybeal, A. J., Paoli, A., Kim, Y., Gonzales, J. U., Harry, J. R., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Kennedy, D. N., & Cruz, M. R. (2019). Time-restricted feeding plus resistance training in active females: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 110(3), 628-640. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz126


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