2 Weeks on the 8-Hour Diet
I was at the library with my family, picking out healthy recipe books, when I stumbled upon a book called The 8-Hour Diet. I skimmed it, looking for the gimmick, but didn’t immediately see it. I showed the cover to my husband, who said, “That’s where you eat for 8 hours.” I kind of rolled my eyes and said, “Noooo.” But it turns out, he was exactly right.
In the 8-Hour Diet, you eat for 8 hours of the day and you fast for 16. The 8 hours that you eat can be any 8 hours of the day, and the books says you can pretty much eat whatever you want during that time. There are 8 types of food that the author, Zinczenko, suggests eating with every snack or meal, which are broken into two groups: the health boosters (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.) and the fat busters (lean protein, low-fat dairy, beans, etc.). However, multiple times throughout the book, he says that you don’t have to worry about “cheating.” You don’t even have to do it every day; just 3 days a week is enough. In general, the idea is if you don’t deprive yourself of any certain type of food, i.e. if nothing is off limits, then you’re more likely to be able to stick with it in the long run.
How I Followed the Diet
For the first week, my 8-hour eating period went from about 11:30-7:30. Since I already try to incorporate the “health boosters” and “fat busters” into my daily diet anyway, I really didn’t have to alter my eating habits.
During the second week, I extended the eating from 8 hours to 9 or 9 1/2 hours. I’ll explain why below.
What I Learned from Doing It
- It’s easy to jump right in to. I didn’t have to go buy special foods or rid my house of the foods that weren’t part of the diet. As a result, I could start immediately and was able to say, “I’ll just try it tomorrow and see if I can actually go 16 hours without eating.” There was no initial financial investment and, therefore, there was no feeling that I had to commit to it for any certain amount of time. Really, there was no pressure with it all. Just, I’ll give it a try. If I can do it, great. If I can’t, oh well; it’s not the one for me.
- The best thing, though, about doing this diet for a couple weeks is that I learned I can actually go long periods of time without eating. I was really afraid of feeling horrible–growling stomach, headache, etc.–like I usually do when I don’t eat often enough. However, I just did what the book recommended and drank lots of water and caffeinated tea. That kept the growling under control, and I never got a headache.
- Water. I drank so much water. I started each morning with nearly 20 oz instead of having breakfast. Then, I would have my normal during the day, plus some, so that most days I was getting 40+ oz of water, which was much more than I was having before–actually over twice as much!
- I went to bed earlier. If I waited too late to go to bed, then I knew I’d be hungry and want to eat, so I tried to get to bed earlier to avoid that, which, of course, resulted in more sleep.
- This diet could easily be done with any other diet to see better results. (This is mentioned in the book, too.) Just follow the other diet’s rules for the 8 hours that you’re eating.
- Fasting at least 12 hours at night is supposed to be really good for you. (Just Google “12 hours fasts” and start reading.) It’s not the first time I’ve heard this concept, so I feel like it’s something I would like to continue doing when possible.
- For the first week, I had a difficult time adjusting.
- It was hard not to overeat, especially as I got close to the end of my 8-hour window. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to eat again for 16 hours, so I wanted to stock up while I could. I will say that the book mentions that you can’t stuff yourself and expect to see results. You have to eat until satisfied, not full. This is something I struggle with anyway, but this diet made me really more aware of this problem. I felt fuller quicker and longer but often ignored these signals.
- We would eat dinner around 5 or so and be finished by 6. I knew I would need a snack before bed, but I wasn’t actually hungry before 7:30, which made me either force a snack, making me overly stuffed, or skip a snack, meaning I was hungry right at bedtime, and had to cheat with a glass of milk so that I could fall asleep. (Drinking a bunch of water at bedtime to stave off hunger pains was obviously not an option since I didn’t want to be up a million times during the night to pee.)
- I take iron at night to help with restless legs, and I have to take it with food; otherwise, I get massive stomach pain. If I take it too early, I often still end up with restless legs, so if I took the pill at 7:30, the end of my window, and didn’t go to bed until 10, then it didn’t work like it should. This, in the end, is why I extended my window an extra hour or so. That way, I could take my nighttime pills closer to bedtime. I also felt less pressured to eat when I wasn’t hungry or to overeat at dinner, so I was definitely doing better with this during the end of the two weeks, which is why I think, in the end, I didn’t gain weight.
- However, I didn’t actually lose much at all (like less than 1/2 pound in two weeks). I was hoping it would be a miracle, but for me, it just didn’t work out that way. After 10 days, I was back down to my starting weight. That’s right. I gained while I was on it at first. But in the end, making it through all the Easter candy and treats and my husband’s birthday during the first week and still netting a small loss? I suppose that is a miracle after all.
Although it’s not a diet I will probably stick with as written, I do want to continue the 12- to 16-hour fast, and now, I know that even if I stop eating at 9 and, therefore, can’t eat until 9 or later in the morning, as long as plenty of water is available, I can skip breakfast and just wait for lunch. I’ve made it 16 hours for goodness sake!
I would love to hear if you’ve tried the 8-Hour Diet and how it went for you!