Four Weeks of 16/8 Time Restrictive Feeding in Endurance Trained Male Runners Decreases Fat Mass, without Affecting Exercise Performance

Nutrients. 2021 Aug 25;13(9):2941. doi: 10.3390/nu13092941.


Background: Time restricted Feeding (TRF) is a dietary pattern utilized by endurance athletes, but there is insufficient data regarding its effects on performance and metabolism in this population. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of a 16/8 TRF dietary pattern on exercise performance in trained male endurance runners.

Methods: A 4-week randomized crossover intervention was used to compare an 8-h TRF to a 12-h normal diet (ND) feeding window. Exercise training and dietary intake were similar across interventions. Runners completed a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan to assess body composition, a graded treadmill running test to assess substrate utilization, and ran a 10 km time trial to assess performance.

Results: There was a significant decrease in fat mass in the TRF intervention (-0.8 ± 1.3 kg with TRF (p = 0.05), vs. +0.1 ± 4.3 kg with ND), with no significant change in fat-free mass. Exercise carbon dioxide production (VCO2) and blood lactate concentration were significantly lower with the TRF intervention (p ≤ 0.02). No significant changes were seen in exercise respiratory exchange ratio or 10 km time trial performance (-00:20 ± 3:34 min:s TRF vs. -00:36 ± 2:57 min:s ND).

Conclusion: This investigation demonstrated that adherence to a 4-week 16/8 TRF dietary intervention decreased fat mass and maintained fat-free mass, while not affecting running performance, in trained male endurance runners.

Keywords: 16/8 diet; intermittent fasting; runners; sport performance; time restricted feeding.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue*
  • Adult
  • Athletes / statistics & numerical data
  • Athletic Performance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Composition*
  • Diet
  • Endurance Training / methods*
  • Fasting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Running*
  • Time
  • Young Adult