Most accepted statistics show that approximately 50 million people each year go on a diet. While that number at first blush seems astounding, most “experts” agree that this is just a fraction of the actual number of people who are trying to implement some type of method for controlling their weight through their eating plan. The 50 million may just be indicative of those who will freely admit it. The diet, health and wellness industry isn’t a multi-billion dollar cash cow on accident.
As someone who spent over 20 years in the uncomfortable zone between baby fat and “Good Lord we’re going to have to bury him in a piano crate” before finally getting serious about saving my own life, it’s safe to say I tried nearly every “diet plan” that hit the market. And, if I didn’t try it myself, I certainly got a front row seat to watch my Mom give it a whirl. Atkins, South Beach, Grapefruit, Deal-A-Meal… you name it…. it probably was at some point near religion at our place.
While I’ve seemingly escaped the cycle of fad dieting, even after losing 200 plus pounds, I have to be very conscious about my lifestyle choices or I can take a 20 pound back-slide faster than you can say “super size it.” Staying on top of my portions and getting my exercise in are key, but, like anyone, I get lazy from time to time and a “cheat day” becomes a “cheat weekend” or I find myself quick to play the “well it is summer vacation” card when the Ice Cream Man pulls up the block (FUN FACT: Our Ice Cream Man looks exactly like Joe Walsh. I don’t know if “Life’s Been Good” for our guy… but his ice cream is darn tasty.). Add in the fact that I’m now on the north side of 40 and, from time to time, I have to shake things up a bit to get my bikini body back (sorry for the visual).
Because I like to experiment and because I love to have new things to share with you all, I felt compelled to take this opportunity to test drive the newest thing that’s catching buzz in the diet world. While the concepts of Intermittent Fasting aren’t new, David Zinczenko, the Editor in Chief of Men’s Health Magazine, has broken it down to the most basic level in his new book and movement The 8 Hour Diet.
The concepts behind The 8 Hour Diet are among the simplest you’ll read, however, what you’ll learn quickly is that it really flies in the face of most of the conventional wisdom of today’s fitness culture. In a day and age where the concepts of eating many small meals all day long or, the infamous, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” battle cry ring as the cornerstones of most healthy eating lifestyles, Zinczenko’s book shows new research that quickly blows up both concepts through clinical study and real world success.
(Editor’s Note: Clay spoke about his experience with The 8-Hour Diet recently on his podcast. Check it out HERE!)
On the highest level, The 8 Hour Diet is a two-step plan:
- Choose an 8 hour period during the day that suits your schedule and lifestyle.
- Eat only during that 8 hour period
That’s the core of it. By forcing your body to fast 16 hours per day, every day instead of filling it with calories all day long, you become the most efficient fat burning machine possible.
Since that only takes about a paragraph to explain, The 8 Hour Diet does have a little more depth to it.
Zinczenko calls out 8 power foods that you should attempt to eat at least two of in every meal or snack during the 8 hours. And before you start thinking “oh… there’s the catch… we have to eat gross stuff…” The power foods are probably what you’d be eating anyway. They break down into two groups of four.
The Fat Busters
- Turkey, eggs and lean meats — This covers a lot of ground. Basically stay away from cured or real salty meats, otherwise, you’re pretty free to go
- Walnuts and other nuts — Just go unsalted. Though even a pinch of salt is OK.
- Yogurt or other dairy — Dairy has become the enemy of many diets, not here. Dairy is fine, just make good choices.
- Beans, peanuts and other legumes — Fill you up… and fill you with protein.
The Health Boosters
- Raspberries and other berries — Delicious
- Oranges, apples and other fruits — Wait, what? Fruit has become an enemy on many diets because of the natural sugar.
- Spinach and other green veggies — No brainer
- Whole grain breads, cereals, and oatmeals — Carbs!!! Nothing wrong with good carbs people. Shake the white bread for real whole grain bread.
Humus and carrots. Yogurt and berries. A lean roast beef sandwich with veggies on good bread. Just try to get at least two in everything you eat. Simple.
The only other real food related tidbit is more common sense. Don’t drink your calories. Load up on water. Limit sugary drinks. And try to keep alcohol consumption to two or three drinks per week.
Did I mention you don’t have to do this every day?
The 8 Hour Diet has shown results for people doing it just three days a week with business as usual on the other four days.
If you’re a little more gung-ho, go for five. If you’ve really got it in you, try for all seven. The point is, this program can be adapted to fit your life, as long as you’re truly committed on the days.
Do it for six-weeks, and evidence shows that you should lose 12-20 pounds.
Yeah, I said it…. optional.
According to The 8 Hour Diet, you can find success without any exercise. However, if you’d like to “turbocharge” your weight loss, they suggest 8 minutes (seeing the theme) of exercise per day with the only rule being that you should complete those 8 minutes prior to eating for the first time.
The book is full of great exercises and routines that you can use (the Men’s Health connection shines there), but you really can customize it to what works for you.
As the volunteer Guinea Pig, I decided to jump in with both feet to test The 8 Hour Diet for all of you. I started last Monday and will continue on the program for six weeks barring any unexpected issues. As you may recall earlier in the year, I tried the juice fast thing and had to drop out after about a week when I felt like I was going to die (a little dramatic… I know).
My game plan:
- 11a – 7p will be my 8 Hour window
- I will attempt to do it seven days a week, but may adjust if needed
- I will continue with my marathon training as my exercise component
- I will allow myself calorie-free diet soda during the daily 8 hour window, but the 16 hours of fasting will be water only (program does allow for coffee, tea, etc. during fast)
The 8 Hour Diet Progress
After a week on The 8 Hour Diet, I have to say, I feel great! There are days where I’m pretty hungry by 11a (especially on days I have a long run), but, for the most part, I’ve not been tempted to eat outside of my window. I feel strong. I feel sharp. I feel like I’m sleeping a little bit better and definitely more. In the past, even a healthy snack too close to bedtime could cause a little restlessness. With my eating done before 7p, by the time I’m feeling tired, I’m ready to crash out.
As of this morning, I’d lost 4.6 pound after a week. That first week is always a bit of an inflated number because you drop a lot of water, but losing any weight while never being hungry during the week is a major plus to me. Yes, I’m running over 20 miles and cross-training during the week, so your mileage certainly may vary, but I will say, without exposing her details, The Wife is doing this test with me and she’s doing it with just the 8-10 minutes of exercise per day and she is seeing results as well. (Maybe I’ll update you on her story too if she signs the release).
Don’t take this as a review, a recommendation or some type of promotion for The 8 Hour Diet. So far, it’s a science project. For the next five Mondays, I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing. If you have questions, feel free to hit me with them. If you think it’s garbage, let’s talk about it. I’m going to invest these six weeks in order to share it with you. Come back next Monday.
Want to read about the rest of this experiment? Check out the rest of Clay’s Update!