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It may just be the very first fad diet of 2013. In their new book, The 8 Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat, the authors purport that you can eat anything you want and as much as you want during an 8 hour window each day and shed lots of excess pounds. Similar to last year’s Carb Lovers Diet, the 8 Hour Diet was written by editors of a popular magazine and is being heavily marketed by that same magazine, Men’s Health.
Anytime any diet tells you that you can eat ‘as much as you want of anything you want’ that seems like a big red flag in my mind. While the book does contain some interesting research, it also offers a weight loss ‘quick fix,’ which usually means that the diet is a high risk for the yo-yo dieting effect.
Let’s break down this diet and have a look at the concepts behind it to see how it’s supposed to work and whether we could really be successful with this plan.
THE INTERMITTENT FASTING CONCEPT
The book is based on one of the newest trends in dieting and fitness circles, intermittent fasting. The concept behind intermittent fasting is that you can lose weight by alternating periods of eating with periods of fasting (either eating nothing or eating very little). There are a variety of different ways that people practice fasting including very occasional extreme fasts of 24 to 36 hours, alternating days of eating normally with eating very little (around 500 calories) or 12 to 16 hour fasts a few times per week.
Most intermittent fasters fast periodically, or a few times per week maximum. The 8-Hour Diet has dieters fasting 16 hours per day at least 3 days per week. While there is some intermittent fasting research that supports that this practice can lead to weight loss, there are people who do not respond well to intermittent fasting, especially women. And who is most likely to try trendy new diets? Women.
DO YOU INTERMITTENT FAST WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT?
Think you’ve ever had a day where you didn’t eat breakfast until 10:00 and then grabbed a quick dinner at 5:30 or 6:00 as your last meal of the day? Most of us have. Technically, this is intermittent fasting. This is what dieting on the 8 Hour Diet might look like every day. Or, as most women would probably choose to, you could skip breakfast. But isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day? Doesn’t skipping breakfast cause you to be so starved you eat more later…during lunch and dinner?
THE 8-HOUR WINDOW AND YOUR METABOLISM
Fasting for 16 hours a day could actually have the effect of causing you to retain excess weight rather than lose it. When you don’t eat for extended periods of time, your metabolism goes into ‘survival mode’ and tends to save up body fat for later use. Fasting for 16 hours at a time especially for 3 or more days per week can actually cause a lot of stress to your body. When the body is stressed, it increases its production of the hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol will actually cause you to accumulate body fat! Add to that the fact that your fast could leave you feeling starved, causing you to overeat during your 8 hour window. While there may be an upfront loss of a few pounds of water weight, it’s possible that in the long term, the practice of intermittent fasting could cause your weight loss to stall.
WHAT YOU EAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHEN YOU EAT IT
We’ve heard it said, and it does seem to be true…weight loss is 80% diet. The tagline of the 8 Hour Diet is “Watch the pounds disappear without watching what you eat.” It is simply not true that you can ‘eat whatever you want’ and lose weight. If you eat too many calories, and especially if they’re from the wrong types of foods, you WILL GAIN WEIGHT regardless of when you eat that food. In order for the 8 Hour Diet or any diet to work, you have to make changes in both types of food eaten and portion of food.
The 8-Hour Diet isn’t really a lifelong nutrition plan because it’s highly impractical. This is where we get into the risk of yo-yo dieting. Even if you are able to lose some weight on the 8 Hour Diet, it’s not a convenient plan and most people would be unlikely to stick with it for life. For example, imagine having to schedule dinner out with your friends at 4:00 in order to have it be the last meal in your 8-hour window. Or if you’re a busy mom, you’d likely have to eat your meals separately from your family. Athlean-XX for Women creator Jeff Cavaliere gives his opinion on intermittent fasting and talks about the lack of sustainability in this video he created for the guys of Team Athlean.
Should you try the 8 Hour Diet? Probably best to skip it. Instead of worrying about eating windows, pay attention to WHAT you eat. Healthy nutrition will make all the difference in your weight loss, fitness and overall health.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we’re all about healthy nutrition because it helps us lose weight and have energy for our tough workouts! Our nutrition plan recommends combining proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates at every meal and snack to help keep you feeling full. In fact, the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan is anything but a diet – we actually recommend you eat more – 5 – 6 times per day! This type of diet will help turn your metabolism into a fat burning machine – when combined with our killer 30 minute workouts. Yes, with Athlean-XX for Women, eat more, exercise shorter but harder and weigh less! Join us on Team Athlean to start your lifestyle makeover now!
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