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The 8-Hour Diet: Do the claims really work?

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Happy Monsoon! To kick off the monsoon, I'm switching up my column a bit. I'll dig into diet, fitness, and wellness-related claims to see if all the hype matches the promises. If you made a resolution to lose weight this season, check out this trendy diet.


THE 8 HOUR DIET


Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman are just a couple of A-listers who swear by this trendy diet based on the book, The 8 Hour Diet written by David Zinczenko - known for the Eat This, Not That! series and Peter Moore, editor-in-chief, Men's Health.


THE CLAIM


The back book cover says, "Eat whatever you want and drop 20 pounds or more in just 6 weeks".




THE DETAILS


It's a pretty simple plan. You simply choose the eight hours in which you will be eating. For example, eat between 10 am and 6 pm. After 6 pm, you fast for the next 16 hours.


THE FOOD


There is no #calorie counting, weighing food, or specific foods you have to eat, which makes this diet even easier. You can eat anything you want in those eight hours. Of course, the authors suggest eating #leanproteins, quality #carbs, and healthy fats as these promote satiety. You can drink water, coffee, or tea during the fasting hours but not soda or other sugary drinks. If you must use a little sugar or half-n-half in your #coffee or tea, that's technically cheating, but it's probably not going to make a significant difference.


THE EXERCISE


The authors do recommend eight minutes (clever tie-in to the book title, right?) of exercise before your first meal. Physical activity automatically creates a need for energy and if you've fasted for 16 hours, your body will look for what it needs in your stored fat, which helps shed pounds.

HOW IT WORKS


This diet is ideal for people who have ditched previous diets because they were too rigid. Since there aren't any food restrictions or calorie counting, you're less likely to cheat or quit altogether. As far as what's going on inside, the authors say when you limit your eating to an 8 hours window, it forces your body to rely on stored fat, instead of muscle for energy, which promotes weight loss.


DOES SCIENCE BACK IT UP?


A few Google searches confirmed the claims that intermittent fasting works. For example, according to a 2014 review of scientific literature published in Translational Research, a three to eight percent weight loss is possible in two to four weeks, with a reduction in waist circumference of four to seven percent. However, all the science in the world doesn't necessarily trigger a commitment to a diet plan. We're accustomed to eating when the mood or hunger strikes so the only real pitfall of the plan is staying within the 8-hour window to eat.

DID IT WORK FOR ME?


I attempted this on a busy, high anxiety/high-stress week, which oddly enough, worked for me. I was too consumed with a work project that I wasn't even hungry until 2 pm on the first day, so I went with that as my starting time. I hopped on my elliptical or bike and did some floor exercises before I ate my first meal, as suggested. I ate fairly healthy - with the exception of the slice of leftover pecan pie at lunch and the cheeseburger and fries one night. I stopped eating by 10 pm. I weighed myself daily and after four days, I actually gained two pounds, but eventually lost three pounds by the end of seven days.


It's recommended to stay on the plan for at least three days at first, then work your way up to five days and hopefully, a full seven days. I stayed on the diet for four days during this week. I was definitely more aware of my true hunger signals and had plenty of energy to get through my day.


I never felt deprived because I could eat anything I wanted, but would definitely recommend eating lean protein and fiber-rich food to carry you through the fasting time. I'm starting my second week tomorrow but plan on changing my eight-hour eating to 11 am to 7 pm. Hopefully, I'll reach my goal of 12 pounds soon!

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