Nutritional interventions often rely on subjective assessments of energy intake (EI), but these are susceptible to measurement error. To introduce an accelerometer-based intake-balance method for assessing EI using data from a time-restricted eating (TRE) trial. Nineteen participants with overweight/obesity (25–63 years old; 16 females) completed a 12-week intervention (NCT03129581) in a control group (unrestricted feeding; n 8) or TRE group (n 11). At the start and end of the intervention, body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and daily energy expenditure (EE) was assessed for 2 weeks via wrist-worn accelerometer. EI was back-calculated as the sum of net energy storage (from DXA) and EE (from accelerometer). Accelerometer-derived EI estimates were compared against estimates from the body weight planner of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Mean EI for the control group declined by 138 and 435 kJ/day for the accelerometer and NIDDK methods, respectively (both P ≥ 0·38), v. 1255 and 1469 kJ/day, respectively, for the TRE group (both P < 0·01). At follow-up, the accelerometer and NIDDK methods showed excellent group-level agreement (mean bias of −297 kJ/day across arms; standard error of estimate 1054 kJ/day) but high variability at the individual level (limits of agreement from −2414 to +1824 kJ/day). The accelerometer-based intake-balance method showed plausible sensitivity to change, and EI estimates were biologically and behaviourally plausible. The method may be a viable alternative to self-report EI measures. Future studies should assess criterion validity using doubly labelled water.