Time-restricted eating and concurrent exercise training reduces fat mass and increases lean mass in overweight and obese adults

Physiol Rep. 2021 May;9(10):e14868. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14868.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether time-restricted eating (TRE), also known as time-restricted feeding, was an effective dietary strategy for reducing fat mass and preserving fat-free mass while evaluating changes in cardiometabolic biomarkers, hormones, muscle performance, energy intake, and macronutrient intake after aerobic and resistance exercise training in physically inactive and overweight or obese adults. This study was a randomized, controlled trial. Overweight and obese adults (mean ± SD; age: 44 ± 7 years; body mass index [BMI]: 29.6 ± 2.6 kg/m2 ; female: 85.7%) were randomly assigned to a TRE or normal eating (NE) dietary strategy group. The TRE participants consumed all calories between 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., whereas NE participants maintained their dietary habits. Both groups completed 8 weeks of aerobic exercise and supervised resistance training. Body composition, muscle performance, energy intake, macronutrient intake, physical activity, and physiological variables were assessed. A total of 21 participants completed the study (NE: n = 10; TRE: n = 11). A mild energy restriction was observed for TRE (~300 kcal/day, 14.5%) and NE (~250 kcal/day, 11.4%). Losses of total body mass were significantly greater for TRE (3.3%) relative to NE (0.2%) pre- to post-intervention, of which TRE had significantly greater losses of fat mass (9.0%) compared to NE (3.3%). Lean mass increased during the intervention for both TRE (0.6%) and NE (1.9%), with no group differences. These data support the use of TRE and concurrent exercise training as a short-term dietary strategy for reducing fat mass and increasing lean mass in overweight and obese adults.

Keywords: aerobic training; intermittent fasting; obesity; resistance training; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fasting / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Resistance Training / methods