I’m not a fan of diets. Diets usually call for counting calories, carbs, and fat and are based on deprivation. Most diets offer the promise of ‘X’ number of pounds lost each week if you stick with a stringent plan. Once you go off the diet the weight comes back and many people put back on more weight than they lost. Diets offer a short -term solution to a long -term problem.
Except for the Eight Hour Diet. On the eight hour diet you pick at least three days a week where you limit your food intake to eight hours. If you start eating at 8 a.m. you’re done at 4 p.m. Start at noon and you’re done at 8 p.m.
The Eight Hour Diet is the creation of David Zinczenko, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health magazine and Editorial Director of Women’s Health magazine. Zinczenko, who is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on health and fitness, has based his diet plan on the concept of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. Some studies have indicated that fasting increases longevity and reduces the risk of chronic disease.
Studies on animals have shown a number of health benefits derived from fasting that include reduced serum glucose and insulin levels, enhanced cardiovascular and brain functions, and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
In a nutshell, what intermittent fasting does is gives all of the organs that are involved in the digestion process – and that is most, if not all, of them – a rest. Once your body has digested all of the food you’ve eaten, your large and small intestine, pancreas, and liver get to take a break until you eat again.
In the case of the Eight Hour Diet your body’s digestive system gets a 16 hour break at least three times a week. How could 16 hours of rest three times a week for the most crucial organs in our body be a bad thing?
What’s Right About The Eight Hour Diet
First of all, let me put in a disclaimer in about my so-called review of the Eight Hour Diet. I have not tried the diet. A co-worker bought the book, brought it to me, said she was going to try it and asked me what I thought.
After reviewing the book I found there were a number of positives about the program. Here they are:
1. You don’t have to count calories, carbs, fat, or protein. You are allowed to eat whatever you want for eight hours(which is then followed by 16 hours of fasting) and you don’t have to track it. Of course, the book warns that the principle of garbage-in-garbage-out always applies. If you go on an eight-hour free-for-all and consume the most calorie dense foods possible you probably won’t be as successful with the diet. But, if you eat as you normally would for eight hours, followed by a 16 hours fast, you should lose between one and two pounds a week.
2. You choose. Pick the three ‘fast’ days every week that best align with your schedule. If you find it is easier to limit your food consumption to eight hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, do that. If you have more control during the week and don’t want to think about the diet on the weekend, fast on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It’s up to you to find which days are best for your schedule each week. If you want to see results faster, do the eight-hour diet for four or more days each week.
3. The diet encourages you to eat healthy foods. That may sound like a no-brainer, however many of the popular diets (Ideal Protein, Body by Vi, Shakeology) are based on two pre-packaged shake mixes followed by a highly processed heat-and-eat meal a day, which isn’t exactly health food. This plan recommends you eat these superfoods everyday: eggs and lean meats, walnuts and other nuts, yogurt and other dairy, blue and purple berries, fruits, green vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals. These are the foods we all should be eating everyday anyway, so no big deal. Right?
4. There are no restricted foods. Is it sounding too good be to true? Possibly, but with the Eight Hour Diet, not only do you not have to track calories, carbs and fats, you don’t have to take your favorite foods off the menu. On this diet you continue to eat the foods you like. The only restriction is how many hours you have to consume them.
5. The concept of intermittent fasting has been proven to be effective. Although there are more studies to be done, the research does show that intermittent fasting can help people lose weight without cannibalizing lean muscle tissue. Because you are not depriving yourself of calories, your body won’t have to use muscle tissue for fuel. The end result is a metabolic rate that is higher and burns calories more efficiently over a 24-hour period.
6. It’s a lifelong strategy – Let’s say you go decide to try the eight hour diet. You lose 20 pounds over a 12-week period. Then, you start to skip the fasting days and the pounds start to creep back up. The only thing you need to do is re-incorporate the fasting days back into your life. Get back to eating the superfoods and do the 8-on-16-off three days a week and you’ll get the waistline back under control.
Tell Me I’m Wrong
I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m a fan of this ‘diet’. But is it really a diet? To me it seems like an eating plan that encourages people to eat highly nutritious low-calorie foods, as well as some of their favorites. Just not 24/7. In a round-about way this diet helps you control how much food you consume because you only have eight hours to consume it.
Then there is that sweet spot where you let your system rest. And it deserves a rest. Your pancreas needs a break from pushing out insulin. Your intestines could use some down-time from churning through all the junk you shove through it everyday. And your liver? If you knew what your liver had to go through to process the stuff you eat and drink everyday you would realize that it needs a break too.
Over To You
Have you tried the Eight Hour Diet? I would love to know what your experience with it was? Please leave a comment in the box below.
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