Walk into my office at Men's Health on any given workday and you won't see an inch of open space on my desk. What you'll see instead are stacks of research papers, charts, and graphs, all reporting the latest findings on fitness and weight loss. The chairs will be piled high with books and DVDs sent to me by this doctor and that exercise guru, each with a new plan to strip off pounds, fight disease, and improve readers' lives. Most of the facts, figures, and findings that come my way have been variations on the same thing, year after year after year. Until I discovered the 8-Hour Diet.
It's hard to overstate how important, how revolutionary, and how life-altering this research is, and how quickly and easily you'll begin to see results.
The Science That's Changing the World—and Your Waistline
By carving out an eight-hour window in which to eat to your heart's content, you'll burn your body's fat stores effortlessly. The science is actually simple: For the past several years, researchers have been producing remarkable weight-loss results in people using a technique they call "intermittent fasting." Don't let the F-word scare you. In this case, fasting is about eating whatever you want, but staying within a sensible eight-hour window. This gives your body the chance to burn away your fat stores for the energy it needs.
And burn it does. In a study cited in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, researchers broke their subjects into two groups and fed each the same number of calories—enough for them to maintain their weight. The only difference? One group ate all of their calories in three meals spread throughout the day. The other practiced intermittent fasting by eating in a restricted time frame. The results showed the latter group had "a significant modification of body composition, including reductions in fat mass." (Do you want to reshape your body? Sculpt muscle and torch calories with The Lose 10 Pounds Workout.)
Part of that fat burn comes from a surprising source. According to research, restricting the time period during which you eat causes your body to burn more calories throughout the day. So, fit your food intake into an eight-hour window, and your body steps up to the plate!
You see, your body stockpiles calories in two ways: as quick-burning glycogen, which is contained in the liver and muscles, and as slow-burning fat, which is stored, well, pretty much everywhere else. The first thing your body does when you wake up each morning is start looking for energy to burn, and it goes right for that fast-and-easy glycogen in the liver. "There are about 1,500 to 2,000 calories in there," says Mark Mattson, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.
But once you eat something, your body has a new source of glycogen to burn: food! And if more food comes in than your body can burn, it starts to break it down and store it, putting some of it back in your liver as glycogen and some of it you-know-where as fat. This goes on every day, until you wake up 10 years later and look nothing like your high school yearbook photo.
Now, what if you could torch all that glycogen early in the day and program your body to start burning fat instead? That's what the 8-Hour Diet does. With the most moderate bit of exercise before your first meal—a mere eight minutes!—you'll begin to burn through those glycogen stores and spend more of your day in fat-burning mode. (Try our 8-Minute Workout Plans, here.) And by not snacking late at night, you'll further deplete those glycogen stores, so the next morning, fat burning will start even sooner.
Eight Hours, Eight Foods
The 8-Hour Diet is designed to give you a lean, fit, and healthy body—without spending hours in the gym and no matter what you eat. And your favourite foods are allowed, from mashed potatoes to Mississippi mud pie.
OK, a quick reality check: Your body needs enough nutrition to go about its daily business, like breathing and digesting. To get all the essential nutrients, you need the 8-Hour Powerfoods. Foods high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats ("Fat Busters") will help your body build lean muscle, burn off flab, and fend off hunger. And foods high in vitamins and minerals ("Health Boosters") will improve your mood, help ward off disease, and help you think faster and more clearly. Eating one serving of each 8-Hour Powerfood every day is easy: Heck, have a bowl of yogurt with some berries and cup of chili with a side salad and you're done! (Does your grocery list need a makeover? Here, 15 Superfoods to Add to Your Cart.)
The Fat Busters
- Turkey, eggs, and lean meats
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Yogurt and other dairy
- Beans, peanuts, and other legumes
The Health Boosters