My Experience With the 8-Hour Diet
How Does the 8-Hour Diet Work?
The 8-hour diet is also known as the 16:8-hour diet—16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. It is based on the idea that the body was designed to run best with periods of eating, followed by periods of fasting.
The science is there for this diet. There’s a lot of research that shows this is a more natural way for humans to eat. Think of the hunt and the daily kill. Early man probably didn’t eat until he made his kill for the day or collected the food to be eaten. There weren’t a lot of food storage opportunities, so everyone probably did some sort of exercise before eating and then ate a big meal later in the day and ate their fill.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
How to Lose Weight on the 8-Hour Diet
- Eat all of your daily calories during an 8-hour period. Choose a time-frame that works for you. For example, you can eat breakfast at 9 a.m. and then be finished eating for the day by 5 p.m. You could eat your first meal at noon and be finished eating by 8 p.m. Whatever hours you feel would work best with your schedule. Your 8-hour window does not need to be the same every day.
- You can eat whatever you want on this diet. No foods are forbidden. Just eat your normal meals and make sure you eat an appropriate portion. Don't overdo it and don't binge.
- Avoid sugary beverages. They're just empty calories.
- Try to get some exercise in before the eating window begins. Exercise will supercharge fat loss.
- Drink lots of water, whenever you like. You can (and should!) drink water during the 16 fasting hours, but you can't drink anything else during the fast period.
Don't Skip Lunch!
Is This Diet Healthy?
In early 2017 the University of Southern California released a study showing that intermittent fasting—or eating only during prescribed windows of time–can reduce the risk of getting some major diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting Is Controversial
There is debate, however, about whether this approach leads to sustainable weight loss. Also, nutritionists question whether diets like this one just teach people how to deal with fasts, and not how to develop healthy eating habits. Some nutritionists worry that intermittent fasting will encourage eating disorders and raises cortisol levels.
Where Did This Diet Come From?
Developed by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore, this diet was published as a book in 2013. The offers other tools, like 8 Hour Dieta list of "power foods" to eat that are supposed to boost your metabolism and other tips that are supposed to make the diet even more effective, but I just did the basic diet.
Exercise on This Diet? Yes!
If you exercise before you eat for the day, it makes sense that it would super-charge your fat loss. If you haven’t eaten for 16 hours, then you aren’t going to have any calories from food remaining in your system, so your body will have no choice but to burn its fat stores while you exercise.
Eight minutes is really the minimum amount of time you should exercise. I believe that if you can handle more than you should do more, but listen to your body. If you’re feeling dizzy or run down, keep the workout short and simple.
Eat a Full Dinner
Why I Chose to Do the 8-Hour Diet
At this point in my life, I’m eating when I wake up, right before I go to sleep, and way too much in between!
Back when I was skinny (about 75 lbs lighter than I am today!) I found that when I ate breakfast, I ate more all day long and gained weight, but when I skipped breakfast, I ate less and lost, or maintained, my weight. I did a diet similar to the 8-hour plan before by simply not eating until lunch every day. It’s been a long time since I’ve followed that pattern, or even paid that close attention to my weight, hunger, or eating habits. But I do believe that going back to that method will be beneficial for me. I’m excited to see the results at the end of the week.
My Results After One Week on the 8-Hour Diet
- Day 1: 200.5 (BMI 31.5) 5'7"
- Day 7: 193.6 (BMI 30.3)
I found this diet to be supremely easy to follow. There was really only one day where I even felt hungry during my 16 fasting hours. That being said, it's hard to expect much in results. I still ate pizza and had a cheeseburger, but I did almost no snacking because during my usual snacking hours my "window" was closed, and when my window was open, I didn't snack much either because I had either just had lunch or dinner.
During the diet I felt better, less bloated and heavy, and I had more energy. Because I didn't feel so full and sluggish all the time, I was in a better mood and did more things around the house. I also got more sleep. This was a strange side effect. You see, I used to wait for my kids and husband to go to bed and have a snack and a soda. But since I couldn't do that, I was sleeping before midnight most nights.
This is great diet. It offers many health benefits for someone like me who doesn't eat very well in general. For someone who is already healthy and not snacking very much, I imagine that the weight loss won't come off as fast as it has for me, but it still would have the other benefits. Not having that heavy morning meal is great. The body adjusts easily and quickly and the morning hunger can be quickly quenched with a glass of water and a task that takes your mind off of the hunger.
I think the nearly 7 pounds I lost speak for themselves! You certainly can lose weight effortlessly by simply adjusting your eating schedule.
Are you going to try the 8-hour diet?
January 2 - I've been on the diet for two days and I must say that it's about the easiest "diet" I've ever been on. I didn't break my fast until 2:00 p.m. Then I had some nachos at 2:00. For dinner I had two tacos at 6:00 p.m. and at 9:00 p.m. I had about half a bag of cheesy popcorn. I had no hunger or anything. On January 1 it was easy too. I had some frozen pizza for a late lunch and some turkey and stuffing for dinner. I had half a piece of pie in between.
Honestly, I don't feel like I'm eating any different than I usually do, but I am. I'm eating quite a bit less because I am only eating for eight hours a day. Even though I'm eating the same stuff in the same amount as I would for lunch and dinner, I'm still probably eating half as much as before! The best part is I don't feel hungry or deprived or even like I'm on a diet at all. You can't beat a diet that doesn't feel like I diet. Even though I don't feel like I'm dieting, I do believe I will lose a decent amount of weight this week. I'll let you know the results on the morning of the 8th!
January 4 - I'm enjoying all the comments on the bottom of the page. Like another reader I am finding that I feel less bloated and lighter in general. I wasn't going to weigh myself until the week was over, but I couldn't help but weigh myself this morning. I'm down 5 lbs! That was very easy!
I was very hungry this morning. That's the first time I've been hungry. I didn't eat very much yesterday. My 8-hour window closed and we had company, so I didn't really get to eat my evening meal. I had a little bit to eat before the company came. Now it's 3:30 in the afternoon and I still haven't eaten because my "window" didn't open up until 2 and I've been at work. At this point I'm no longer feeling hungry, so I must not have been as hungry as I felt this morning. I probably won't get a chance to eat now until around 7 p.m., so that will be over 24 hours fasting.
There was a lady who commented who seemed to think this diet is disgusting and asked, what good is it if you are still eating cheese-laden pizza?. Well, for one thing, I was eating cheese-laden pizza anyway. Now I'm eating less cheese-laden pizza. There has to be some health benefits to that, right?
I actually believe this diet has a lot more to offer than a gimmick; it "rests" your digestive system, you eat less, and you are more aware of the fact that you weren't actually eating from real "hunger" before you started this diet. That's been the revelation for me. I wasn't actually hungry when I was eating first thing in the morning every day. Why stuff calories in a body that isn't asking for them? It's nice to learn that you can go quite a long stretch "fasting" without feeling any serious hunger pangs. I really feel a bit more in control of my hunger now.
For all those trying this diet, good luck to us all! Hope you find weight loss painless and simple this time around!
Already tried it?
How much weight did you lose on the 8-hour diet?
For those of you on the 8-hour diet, I want to just comment on one thing. Having milk or creamer in your morning coffee will greatly inhibiting this diet's ability to do it's magic. The big thing is that after your body burns up all your calories it goes into ketosis and starts burning fat. As soon as you consume calories again it quits burning fat. That's why this diet works. Even the small amount of calories in your coffee can sabotage this diet. You will likely still lose weight, but not as quickly as if you hadn't had those calories. If you are okay with your weight loss, then I wouldn't worry about it, but if you want lose more or faster, cut out the morning creamer or milk, or cut the coffee all together. As a caffeine addict, I feel your pain though!
Update: Four Years Later
I have been intermittent fasting now for four years. I now have an eating window of about 4 hours a day except on the weekend when I often have an 8 hour window still. I have lost a significant amount of weight, and I have maintained the loss. I went from around 200 lbs to 155 lbs at 5'7" (from obese, to a healthy weight) and although I'd like to lose more, I'm at a comfortable place, physically. There are some things I just haven't been willing to give up. Like Friday night pizza!
I have still been susceptible to the passing fad diets, but when they inevitably fail, I always come back to Intermittent Fasting. Nothing else has worked as well, and as painlessly for weight loss. When I go off of IF to try some other diet, I often wind up binging and gaining weight. I always seem to come crawling back to IF.
I have found that a lifestyle of intermittent fasting is what my body likes best. My body likes the digestive rest because I'm way less bloated. I sleep better when I IF. I have more energy during my fasting time, and when I eat, I'm sluggish. Intermittent fasting has helped me go from 8 cans a day of Diet Pepsi, to a water only gal (and I used to HATE water!). I probably owe both my life and my health to my intermittent fasting and I don't think I will ever give it up again. When my weight does start to increase, I count calories for a week to see what's going on. Usually, I'm just eating too many calorie dense foods. I make sure I'm keeping my eating window and I add more veggies and the weight comes right back off.
This is not a diet for me, it's a lifestyle, and it's one I enjoy and plan to continue for the rest of my life. If I do decide to eat during a time when I should be fasting, I don't beat myself up. Sometimes life means eating that breakfast your kids made you for Mother's Day, or that donut your friend dropped off for you at work. One "bad" day, doesn't change a thing. Just start over again tomorrow. Slow and steady wins the race!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Can you chew sugarless gum while fasting?
Yes, sugarless gum won't pull you out of a fast. The artificial sweetener might make you feel hungry, though. It does for me, it makes my stomach growl, so it makes it harder. It could be different for you. You'll just have to see for yourself how your body reacts.Helpful 30
You mentioned that there is talk that the 8-hour diet can raise cortisol levels. I have a sight condition aggravated by cortisol. Do you have any further information on this topic?
The research on whether or not intermittent fasting (IF) can raise cortisol levels is torn. Personally, I feel there isn't any conclusive information at this time. It's probably best for you to experiment with it and see how you feel. If it aggravates your condition, then maybe it's not for you.Helpful 27
Can I use Equal in my coffee during the fasting period of the 8-Hour Diet?
Ideally, you shouldn't use artificial sweeteners. There are many studies that say they mess with your body. However, sometimes we have to take baby steps to get where we want to go.
You said that sugarless gum is ok. I read that anything that creates insulin while in the fasting period is going to keep you from losing weight on the 8-Hour Diet, including caffeine, coffee (even black), sugarless gum, etc. Have you found this to be true? It’s hard to argue with science!
I have done this diet now for quite awhile (this article was written a few years ago but gets a new date whenever edited). I will tell you that to start with, I drank the diet soda with the caffeine and chewed gum during my fasting period. I lost significant amounts of weight. Now, I'm very adjusted to this lifestyle and I drink only water and I fast closer to 20 hours a day. I think when people are beginning to fast, they should do what they need to do to make it work as long as it's not hindering their progress. As their bodies become more adept at going without food, most people will find their bodies feel best without these things during the fasting period and will naturally start to move away from them.Helpful 4
Can you drink black light coffee in the morning before your eating window opens while on the 8-hour diet?
Most sources on the 8-hour diet consider black coffee to be okay. You'll have to see how your body responds. If you aren't losing weight while drinking the coffee you might want to try going without. If you are losing weight at a decent clip while drinking coffee, then you are probably fine. Purists would say that it should be water only, but we all have to do what works best for our own body.Helpful 4
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