I generally avoid anything that involves the word “diet.” I associate it with negative pairings: diet soda, crash diet, extreme diet… see where I'm going with this? For me, the idea of eating cabbage soup for a week to drop some L-Bs is neither appealing nor effective. So I was hesitant when I was asked to try David Zinczenko'sThe 8-Hour Diet.My initial thought was, What crazy torture is going to be afflicted on weight loss hopefuls now? But after learning more about the plan, I agreed for a few reasons.
Minus the few extra winter pounds I wanted to lose, my goal and the lure of the 8-Hour Diet was to establish more regular eating habits. I'll identify myself now as a full-blown snackaholic. When I was little, snacktime was the earliest social gathering I can remember. In my adult life, a full day of snacking at my desk has replaced a solid meal at lunch. That’s probably why I've began holding some extra weight in my midsection and feeling sluggish throughout the day.
The core of the diet is exactly what you’re thinking—restricting your eating to an eight-hour window. The science of the diet involves cellular metabolism. Basically, you give your body more time to burn the calories you take in. Zinczenko—who, for full disclosure, is the editor of Men’s Health and is a very lean man himself—claims that even observing the eight-hour rule three days a week will reap results. You can essentially eat (almost) anything you want in those eight hours and cheating is allowed—there's even an entire chapter about how to do so properly. Granted, a steady intake of Cheetos and cola for eight hours will probably get you nowhere. The diet emphasizes lean protein, fiber, healthy fats, and bright fruits and veggies and promotes the combination of eight power foods (two in each meal, one "fat buster" and one "health booster") which are broken down into the below list.
The Fat Busters Turkey, eggs, and lean meats Walnuts and other nuts Yogurt and other dairy Beans, peanuts, and other legumes
The Health Boosters Blueberries and other berries Oranges, apples, and other fruits Spinach and other green vegetables Whole grain breads, cereals, and oatmeal
I decided I would start eating sometime between noon and 1 p.m. so that I would be able to fit dinner in sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. every night. I committed to following the program for all seven days of the week, but gave myself full permission to cheat should an unplanned situation arise, declaring that my social life would not suffer. For weekends, instead of waking up and making breakfast, I would use the time to call family and friends.
On weekdays, the time I would have normally spent eating breakfast was used to pack a lunch, yet another new plan that I committed to under the condition I would leave it in the office refrigerator, instead of tempting myself by plopping it on my desk. Above, scroll through to see my typical weekend eating plan, which involved larger meals (and super yummy desserts) with less snacks in between as well as a day-by-day diary of how it all went down. —Alex Sweterlitsch (@sweterlitsch)
Saturday, Day One: This might be the easiest day to begin. My weekly ritual of a morning haircut, groceries, and dropping off laundry keeps me out of the apartment until noon. I'm going out tonight because (duh) it's Saturday, so I wait out as long as I can to start eating (1 p.m.) so I can have a late dinner. After dinner, I head out to my coworker Sasha’s birthday party knowing that a 4 a.m. slice of pizza will not be allowed.
Sunday, Day Two: Wake up reaching for a facemask and glass of water, but instead of my standard hangover delivery order, I organize my bookshelf by color. My favorite part of this schedule is that my first meal is technically at lunchtime so non-breakfast foods (like salsa and tortilla chips) get the chance to mingle with my morning egg scramble. I relax and watch movies all day but skip my usual snacks (with a bad hangover, this usually involves kettle chips and Ben & Jerry's).
Monday, Day Three: The most intimidating of days because I wake up at 6 a.m. most mornings, so the length of time before noon—and my first meal of the day—is now much longer. But it’s also a Monday, which means super busy. I make it to noon with the help of a large green tea and lots of morning meetings. My workday meals are much smaller and easier to pack, so I eat things like Greek yogurt and carrots with hummus throughout the day.
Tuesday, Day Four: I have a dinner party at a friend’s apartment after work, so I hold out until 1 p.m. Dinner runs past my cutoff time, but my friend cooks steamed lemon chicken, sautéed haricot vert, and a kale and tomato salad so I give myself the green light. And, I made zero rules about limiting alcohol so I have two glasses of rosé with the meal.
Wednesday, Day Five: Feeling tired midweek, so it's an iced coffee morning. I'm starting to get bored with the routine so I cook a really amazing dinner that includes a turkey burger on whole-wheat pita. Did you know you can cut those in half to make a super crunchy, lower calorie alternative to a regular bun?
Thursday, Day Six: I try my best to convince myself that I'll be able to stick to it, but I have a packed schedule that conflicts with my normal routine. I eat toast at 10 a.m. and am away from my desk until 2 p.m. with barely enough time to chow down a granola bar before running to a SoulCycle class. I allow myself a later dinner so I can finish the week strong.
Friday, Day Seven: Business as usual and I’m feeling better than ever. I never weigh myself on a scale, but I can tell that my body has given those extra winter pounds the boot just by the way that my jeans are fitting. Another dinner party, this time hosted by a friend who makes only raw food, ends the week on a satisfied and enlightened note.
I decided to continue with the program’s principles with no hardline commitments (maybe three days one week, five another) as well as to start incorporating a 50 percent portion of raw food into each meal. Half a month into the new year and I’m crusading a vigilant path towards my own personal health and fitness goals. I used to think it was chic to eat salads and diet coke and be Mary Kate skinny, but am realizing that eating right is so much more than that. I want to get to a place that makes you not only look great but feel it too. Does this sound too cheesy? Fine, let’s talk about fashion again HERE.