Aug 13

Eight Is Enough?: Field Testing The 8 Hour Diet — Week 6 + Wrap Up

8 hour dietAnyone who has been on a diet, writes about diets or, to be honest, even has a shred of common sense knows that the toughest part of any program is simply sticking to it.  As human beings, perhaps one of our most telling traits is that we’re simply creatures of habit.  Most of us who have found ourselves in poor physical health got there because we developed bad ones and continued to repeat them for years or even decades.  Not coincidently, getting into good physical shape (and I suppose it can work with mental health as well) has almost everything to do with finding good habits – eating, food choices, exercise – and continuing to repeat them indefinitely.  That’s the path that worked for me during my weight loss journey and it’s what I share with the masses… when the masses ask.  But, even when you’ve got a good thing going, it never hurts to rock the boat a little and switch things up just to keep it fresh.  That’s what this experiment with The 8 Hour Diet was for me.

When I committed to a six-week test run with The 8 Hour Diet book and program, I did it at a place I’ve never been before when starting a new routine.  When you’re 428 pounds you run through the list of diet fads faster than you run through a sleeve of Fig Newtons.  I’ve done “Day 1” on just about every diet fad ever invented except for the old “Pizza & Sex Diet”.  Skipped that one for two reasons:  #1 Couldn’t get The Wife to sign-off and #2 Totally made it up… which probably lead to #1.  This experiment was unique, however, because I’m at a pretty good place with my health.  I’m marathon training, so my cardio is probably the best it has ever been.  My strength training has been limited, but I don’t feel feeble by any stretch despite turning the 40 corner in March.  And my weight is… well… OK.  Sure, I was on the “give” side when you say I like to be at my goal weight, give or take 10 pounds, but I wasn’t digging through the back corner of the closet for the secret pair of jeans that you didn’t throw away 20 pounds ago.  I’d be kicking the tires on The 8 Hour Diet as a guy who, frankly, didn’t NEED to lose weight, but could certainly stand to lose a few pounds.

With that in mind, let’s review the basics for the final time, talk about Week 6 and I’ll give you my thoughts on this book, this program and this lifestyle.

(Editor’s Note: Clay spoke about his experience with The 8-Hour Diet recently on his podcast. Check it out HERE!)

The Basics

I’d like to assume you’ve all been maniacally clicking refresh on your browser waiting for the final chapter to drop similar to the anticipation surrounding the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad.  I know I’m a day late, but I was on vacation this weekend which I felt kind of puts this test on another level.  Hopefully you used that time to catch up on our journey so far (Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4 and Week 5).  The final week, I stuck to the basics, but had the added element of the change of scenery.

  • I followed the program for all seven days.  I was on vacation on Lake Michigan from Thursday night through Monday morning camping with the family.  While I took no days off and did not cheat, I can say that my eating wasn’t great.  I had far more meals out than I normally would at home, but I tried to make decent choices.
  • 11a – 7p is the eating window.  Easy at home, far tougher on the road.  I stuck to it, but when you’re making camp breakfast at 7a or the roaring campfire S’mores are beckoning, it’s a battle.
  • Marathon training still in full effect.  Logged 31 miles this week including a half-marathon (13.1) on Saturday.

Week 6 Highlights

Taking any program on the road is tough.  The 8 Hour Diet is no exception.  One of the fun parts about vacation for a lot of people is to do things that they don’t normally do in your everyday life.  Eat a little more.  Stay up a little later.  Just be the vacation version of you.  There was a kind of blessing and a curse element to being on this program this week.  I could really still be all of those things, I just had to take the food out during that 16 hour window.  It wasn’t always easy, but I got it done.

I talked last week about making a small adjustment to my running to accommodate the program.  Though running the 13.1 miles on an empty stomach (despite an intentional carb load the evening before) probably wasn’t the best choice, I did shift my run time a little later in the morning in order to be able to get some protein in me shortly after the run.  Normally my Saturday runs end at about 8:30 in the morning and those two hours can be rough.

Have to blow the horn one more time for just how good I’ve felt.  If I take nothing else away from this experience, I’ve learned so much about how when you eat impacts your energy and your mood.  I’ve had a pretty emotionally rough past six weeks with some other happenings in my life.  Not being bogged down with food throughout the day continues to have a significant impact on my energy, my attitude and my ability to deal with stress.

Final Numbers & Thoughts

With all of the tweaks and changes this week on vacation, I really expected to come out on the plus side of the scale.  I didn’t.  I actually lost about half a pound (-0.4).  As I told The Wife this morning, I figure the vacation equation on my weight went something like “17 miles run + vacation eating = Push”.  The running probably had a significant impact on the number, but, bottom-line, the running is part of my lifestyle and I’m not adjusting the program to account for it, so it is what it is.

So, after six weeks following (for the most part) all of the principles of The 8 Hour Diet, I came out down 5.5 pounds.  As someone who, when over four bills during his peak of dieting, could lose that kind of weight in a day or so, 5.5 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot of weight.  However, as I said before, I was looking to lose about ten to twelve pounds, so that 5.5 feels a little meatier when you view it through that prism.  If you need to lose 100 pounds, that 5.5 may seem like a complete waste of time.  But, even with that, I’m going disagree because of what this program does do.

I was going put my opinions down in a section and call it “Final Thoughts”, but that didn’t feel right because I don’t feel like I’m done with the program.  Not because I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, but because I feel like there’s some real staying power here.  The most important thing that happened to me during my six weeks with The 8 Hour Diet was the realization that I’m going to take some of these principles and put them in my lifestyle permanently.

I’ve enjoyed the energy and the overall good feelings too much to go back.  I feel like that has come largely from longer periods of intermittent fasting in my day.  I will keep that as part of my lifestyle.

I will keep the 7p closing window.  My sleep over the past six weeks (barring a few uncomfortable days camping) was the best it’s been in years.  I credit that to going to bed without a bunch of food in my stomach.  Sleep can make or break everything you’re trying to do in life, work, athletics, really every aspect of your existence can be greatly effected by whether or not you have enough quality sleep.  I’m not going back.

This book also broke my image of the breakfast concept.  Breakfast, to me, was what you ate in the morning and usually had eggs in it.  What I will keep is the knowledge that breakfast is literally when you “break your fast” from the previous day.  When you do it and how you do it is completely up to you.  One of the controversial parts of the The 8 Hour Diet book is that it kind of blows up the idea of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day”.  What I think they actually do is cement it.  It is important.  What they blow up is the idea that it has to be the first thing you do when you wake up.  That will stay with me.

Let me bottom-line it for you.  My recommendation is that you read The 8 Hour Diet.  That’s it.  What you personally choose to do with it will be up to you.  I think there is some great stuff in there that can by used whether you need to lose five pounds, 50 pounds or, like me back in the day, three and a half supermodels.

Knowledge is power.  When you’re attempting to change your habits, you’re best suited to do it with as much knowledge behind you as possible.  While some people can open a book and follow a plan to the letter and it fits them, most of us have to carve out the right lifestyle through trial and error and a more piecemeal approach.  The 8 Hour Diet may be perfect for you.  Or, like me and where I’m at today, there may be a lot of great information that you can draw from to continue to build your perfect plan.

Wherever you are on the journey, I wish you the best of luck.  Make good choice.  Make smart habits.  And NEVER stop learning.


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  1. Hello, Clay.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with the 8-hour diet.
    I have just started the diet as well (yes, I bought the book) and was looking for an independent reviewer about the method.
    Your report was really useful.

      • Clay on May 24, 2015 at 10:38 am
      • Reply

      Glad you found it.

      It really is a solid lifestyle change that I still use today.

    • Joe Gautieri on July 13, 2015 at 11:12 am
    • Reply

    I’ve been on the 8hrs on/16hrs off diet for 6 weeks now. I’ve lost 31 pounds, much of it belly fat. So far, I’ve gone from a 50″ waist to a 42″ waist. Like many people who do this, my food window is 11 to 7pm, however to accommodate certain social events, I’ve had to adjust the window an hour or so, here and there. It doesn’t seen to affect the effectiveness, as long as you keep your eating to 8 hrs. a day. Oh, and by the way, I do no exercise (yet). My wife hates me, she says the weight just melts off me. I can’t get her to let go of her unshakable belief in putting in hours of cardio a week, yet over the last 10 years she’s put on 30 pounds! Well, maybe some day she’ll break down and join me. I do IF 7 days a week, to me its just my way of life now.

      • Clay on July 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm
      • Reply

      That’s a great story, Joe!

      My wife tried IF with me… briefly… VERY briefly. She’s having a hard time shaking the idea that breaking fast has to happen at “Breakfast Time”.

      Congrats on your success!!!

    • elaine on February 24, 2016 at 1:29 pm
    • Reply

    just read your blog after reading the book…so will proceed with some realistic expectations.Just want you to know its still helping..thanks!

      • Clay on February 24, 2016 at 1:46 pm
      • Reply

      Good Luck, Elaine!

      I’m still using IF with my daily lifestyle of eating. Love it!

    • Melissa on March 18, 2016 at 8:31 am
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    Hi Clay,
    Your experience is very informative. I decided this week to try this. My hard part is not eating late at night and it’s going to be hard to hear everyone down not eating breakfast but honestly most of my life I felt sick if I eat before being up a few hours. I have always gotten comments from people that I shouldn’t wait even 2 hours after getting up to eat breakfast so I love how this eating plan doesn’t stress breakfast.

    • Caroline on March 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Clay,

    Thanks for your critical review.

    I was thinking maybe the weeks when you didn’t lose much weight was when you were maybe gaining lean muscle, considering the amount of exercise you were doing.


    • Maureen Stephens on April 4, 2016 at 11:01 am
    • Reply

    Clay, I really appreciated your commitment to this analysis and your hilarious comments throughout!! I’m a 44-year-old woman just getting off of generic synthroid and birth control pills. I had lost 52 pounds by working out 2 hours a day and keeping calories between 2700-2800 but once I skipped a day here and there my weight skyrocketed 79 pounds much to my horror. No amount of exercising and restrictions were helping and I concluded it was a hormonal issue, not calories in, calories out. I made the decision to stop synthroid and birth control pills and I’ve just started the 8 Hour diet. I’m interested in resetting my hormones to their optimum state and I’m confident this intermittent fasting is the way to go. Thank you for your review. I’m curious what your thoughts are now 2+ years later.

    • Louise Lanoy on December 12, 2016 at 1:34 am
    • Reply

    Hi Clay: I bought the book, read it then went looking for a support. This how I found your blog. It is excellent. Thank u. I see this as a lifestyle change for life. I am old enough to be your mother so running marathons are not going to happen. However, three weeks ago I started an exercise program and worked up from 4 reps to a full 28 for 14 exercises. I am really proud of this achievement. I am allergic to lactose and soy so milk and yoghurts gives me itchy feet and head and severe bloating. I substituted 100 ml of coconut milk and calcium tablets to prevent bone loss. Your blog convinced that this a workable health plan for the rest of my life. Again thank you.


    • ES on December 20, 2016 at 11:58 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Clay, Thanks for the detailed report of this 8-hr diet!! It is very informative and useful as a reference. I have gained like 40ish pounds during my pregnancy and still got 20 good old pounds to drop to reach my target. Will start this as my new year resolution! 😀

    • permina on January 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm
    • Reply

    thank you so much for your insight and experience of this diet . I’ve decided I’m going to attempt it as of Monday .I am hoping it will help me control my over eating habits .

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