Ok, that title may be a little misleading, but that was exactly the impression I got when I was first introduced to the eight-hour diet and the process of Intermittent Fasting.
My very first thought was “Yay, I can eat what I want, when I want and as much as I want and still lose these extra 30 pounds I was hanging onto after three babies?” My enthusiasm quickly faded when I studied the diet further and realized that there were certain guidelines, however, somewhere in my slightly protruding gut I knew that this diet, for me, was the key to finally shedding those unwanted pregnancy pounds.
The slightly exaggerated part of the equation is the WHAT you eat while practicing Intermittent Fasting. You can’t just go willy-nilly feasting for eight hours like every day is a holiday where your attitude is “I will start to eat healthier after the holiday grub is ‘off the table.’” That simply will not work.
The theory is you consume all your calories within an eight-hour period of time, and fast for the other 16 hours in the day. By following this schedule, your body has the downtime to metabolize the food you are taking in and begin to burn the fat instead of always just working to burn the food you consume on a more regular basis.
Intermittent Fasting has two basic structures:
The 8-Hour Diet
This book had me at the title, and it was the diet that was instrumental in allowing me to lose those extra 30 pounds. It’s easy to incorporate into a lifestyle, especially when you get to the maintenance part, because doing this only three days a week is just as effective as every day, so there’s wiggle room if you get off track now and then.
This version of Intermittent Fasting allows you to eat within an eight-hour period of your choosing and fast for 16 hours. My favorite resource for this diet is: The 8-Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear without Watching What You Eat by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore.
In their book, they outline why and how the diet works. Also, you can follow their simple eating guide which allows you to choose from 8 basic categories of food during the eight hours you are permitted to eat. There is a broad range of foods and for me there was never a feeling of restriction during the period of time that I wasn’t able to eat, especially since a big portion of that I was sleeping. Just as The First Mile Is the Hardest in anything we do in life, the beginning of this journey can also be a bit challenging. It takes time to get your body used to being deprived of food for 16 hours, but once the first week or so is over, you never feel hungry any more.
I followed this diet to the letter for three months and lost 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. One friend to whom I recommended the book actually gained weight, because the plan allows you to eat what you want in those eight hours, but I don’t think it means “all you can eat!” There is a basic healthy eating plan that goes along with it, and if you follow that plan, you lose your cravings magically.
The 5:2 Diet
Another slightly different version of this type of diet is the 5:2 Diet, the name of which refers to the fact you are permitted to eat normally for five days during the week and for just two days you restrict your caloric intake to 500-600 calories per day. There are really no restrictions of what to eat, except of course not to binge on junk food, during this diet just that two days a week you keep your caloric intake to below 600 calories.
The easiest way to implement this type of eating is to pick two days of the week, during which you will either eat three small meals or two slightly larger meals, not exceeding the calorie count of 600.
I found a great article explaining this diet and how to implement it into your arsenal of tools for Intermittent Fasting. You can find it here.
Bottom line, there is no catch-all rule for eating right.
The most important rule when it comes to eating right is don’t follow the rules. Never follow any one person’s diet or put yourself into a box of rules for eating and losing weight. We are all individuals. What works for me may not work for you.
It’s also really important to realize it all starts with your gut health, and that means something different to everyone. Some foods create an inflammatory response in certain individuals (that is real and physical) and others just drop the pounds off like butter melting! (For me, that means stop eating carbs and partake in Intermittent Fasting!)
There are specific ways to figure out what works for you. Diets are not a one-size-fits-all plan. It’s easy to lose weight when you learn what’s right for you, so take the time to learn how you should be eating. It’s well worth the effort.