Walk into my office at Men's Health on any given workday and you won't see an inch of open space on my desk. What you'll see instead are stacks of research papers, charts, and graphs, all reporting the latest findings on fitness and weight loss. The chairs will be piled high with books and DVDs sent to me by this doctor and that exercise guru, each with a new plan to strip off pounds, fight disease, and improve readers' lives. Most of the facts, figures, and findings that come my way have been variations on the same thing, year after year after year. Until I discovered the 8-Hour Diet.
It's hard to overstate how important, how revolutionary, and how life-altering this research is, and how quickly and easily you'll begin to see results.
Transform your entire body with the 8-Hour Diet!
The Science That's Changing the World—and Your Waistline
By carving out an eight-hour window in which to eat to your heart's content, you'll burn your body's fat stores effortlessly. The science is actually simple: For the past several years, researchers have been producing remarkable weight-loss results in people using a technique they call "intermittent fasting." Don't let the F-word scare you. In this case, fasting is about eating whatever you want, but staying within a sensible eight-hour window. This gives your body the chance to burn away your fat stores for the energy it needs.
And burn it does. In a study cited in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, researchers broke their subjects into two groups and fed each the same number of calories—enough for them to maintain their weight. The only difference? One group ate all of their calories in three meals spread throughout the day. The other practiced intermittent fasting by eating in a restricted time frame. The results showed the latter group had "a significant modification of body composition, including reductions in fat mass." (Do you want to reshape your body? Sculpt muscle and torch calories with The Lose 10 Pounds Workout.)
Part of that fat burn comes from a surprising source. According to research, restricting the time period during which you eat causes your body to burn more calories throughout the day. So, fit your food intake into an eight-hour window, and your body steps up to the plate!
You see, your body stockpiles calories in two ways: as quick-burning glycogen, which is contained in the liver and muscles, and as slow-burning fat, which is stored, well, pretty much everywhere else. The first thing your body does when you wake up each morning is start looking for energy to burn, and it goes right for that fast-and-easy glycogen in the liver. "There are about 1,500 to 2,000 calories in there," says Mark Mattson, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.
But once you eat something, your body has a new source of glycogen to burn: food! And if more food comes in than your body can burn, it starts to break it down and store it, putting some of it back in your liver as glycogen and some of it you-know-where as fat. This goes on every day, until you wake up 10 years later and look nothing like your high school yearbook photo.
Now, what if you could torch all that glycogen early in the day and program your body to start burning fat instead? That's what the 8-Hour Diet does. With the most moderate bit of exercise before your first meal—a mere eight minutes!—you'll begin to burn through those glycogen stores and spend more of your day in fat-burning mode. (Try our 8-Minute Workout Plans, here.) And by not snacking late at night, you'll further deplete those glycogen stores, so the next morning, fat burning will start even sooner.
Eight Hours, Eight Foods
The 8-Hour Diet is designed to give you a lean, fit, and healthy body—without spending hours in the gym and no matter what you eat. And your favorite foods are allowed, from mashed potatoes to Mississippi mud pie.
OK, a quick reality check: Your body needs enough nutrition to go about its daily business, like breathing and digesting. To get all the essential nutrients, you need the 8-Hour Powerfoods. Foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats ("Fat Busters") will help your body build lean muscle, burn off flab, and fend off hunger. And foods high in vitamins and minerals ("Health Boosters") will improve your mood, help ward off disease, and help you think faster and more clearly. Eating one serving of each 8-Hour Powerfood every day is easy: Heck, have a bowl of yogurt with some berries and cup of chili with a side salad and you're done! (Does your grocery list need a makeover? Here, 15 Superfoods to Add to Your Cart.)
The Fat Busters
- Turkey, eggs, and lean meats
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Yogurt and other dairy
- Beans, peanuts, and other legumes
The Health Boosters
- Raspberries and other berries
- Oranges, apples, and other fruits
- Spinach and other green vegetables
- Whole-grain breads, cereals, and oatmeal
Video: Lose Weight without Dieting!
This diet plan shows how easy it will be to change your body—and your life!
Duration: Eight hours a day, during which you can—and should—eat whenever you want
Days/week: The magic is that you don't have to follow it every day. Seven days a week? Terrific! Just three? You'll still see benefits!
Meals: As many as you want, whenever you want—as long as they fall within your eight-hour eating plan
Foods: At each meal or snack, try to get two of the eight Powerfoods: one Fat Buster and one Health Booster. Every day you want to be able to say "I ate my eight!"
Perfect snack examples: Hummus with carrots; yogurt with blueberries; green salad with walnuts
Foods to emphasize: Lean protein, fiber, healthy (mono-and polyunsaturated) fats, brightly colored fruits and vegetables
Foods to limit: Refined carbs such as baked goods; sugar; white bread, rice, and pasta; saturated and trans fats; high-fructose corn syrup. (Feel like you’re cheating by eating these 5 Healthy Snacks That Satisfy Cravings.)
The carb rule: Always include two Powerfoods in any carb-heavy snack or meal (e.g., pasta with cheese and tomato sauce; sandwich with turkey and lettuce; cereal with milk and berries).
Beverages: Dramatically reduce your calorie intake by drinking more water. Limit alcohol to two or three drinks per week to maximize your results.
Exercise: Eight minutes each morning is enough to start turbo-charging your weight loss.
Messing up: Totally allowed.
Track your weight loss progress with Fibie's free Fit Tracker tool!
Mind Over Munchies
On days when you're trying to stick to the principles of the 8-Hour Diet, it helps to have some stamina-strengthening strategies, especially when the sweet scent of Cinnabon finds its way up your nose. Use these scientifically proven techniques to help repel the need to nosh.
1. Throw away your desktop snacks and avoid the cafeteria.
The sight and smell of food can cause the body to experience hunger, whether or not you actually have an appetite. Out of sight (and smell), out of mind.
2. When you start to feel a food craving, hit the stopwatch on your cell phone.
Record the time it takes for the feeling to wane and use it as the light at the end of the next hunger-pang tunnel.
3. Hit the road.
Just half an hour of hard running can reduce appetite by 50 percent for up to two hours, according to scientists at Loughborough University in the U.K. (Are you ready to start running? Try our Beginners Running Plan.)
4. Cover your desk with a black tablecloth during the day or change your computer background to black.
According to the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, the color black may naturally suppress your appetite.
5. Do 15 minutes of chair-based yoga.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that people who practiced yoga had smaller appetites and more controlled eating habits. (Search: chair-based yoga to try now!)
6. Chew a piece of sugar-free gum.
A University of Rhode Island study found that chewing stimulates nerves that are connected to the area of the brain responsible for satiety.
7. Brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash.
Food tastes bad after brushing, so the fresh, minty taste will get your mind off eating.
8. Try forehead tracking.
Tap an imaginary line with your finger from temple to temple, one tap per second, one centimeter at a time. Follow your finger with your eyes, focusing on the first joint of your pointer. This occupies the visual region of your brain and crowds out yearnings for Yoo-hoo.
Excerpted from The 8-Hour Diet by David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men's Health, with Peter Moore (Rodale, December 2012). Available wherever books and e-books are sold.