Well, Jo has been faithful to her word, and tested out the 8 Hour Diet. Here she gives her final review and advice based on what she has experienced through the experiment.
Having spent two weeks fruitlessly feeding my face in the daytime, then drinking litres of water to get me through the night, I was annoyed but not surprised to see I hadn’t lost any weight by following The 8 Hour Diet according to Zinczenko’s contradictory instructions to eat all I want, but stick to superfoods. Taken day by day, the scales fluctuated up and down as much as a kilo. But for me, that happens all the time, even though I always weigh myself at the same time.
I thoroughly fell off the bandwagon on the long weekend at the end of my two week trial. Events conspired – a going away party, some night shifts – with a general lack of will-power. Any weight-loss I’d managed was fast undone.
So, I’ve now ditched the book, and turned me attention to intermittent fasting, without the hype. In my initial research, some of the reviews of The 8 Hour Diet have been more useful than the book itself.
This three star review highlights the research that preceded The 8 Hour Diet (though these authors are ignored in the book). This reviewer recommends Brad Pilon’s “Eat, Stop, Eat” program, as well as Martin Berkhan’s leangains.com. The reviewer implies that you can get all the info you need online, without putting yourself through Zinczenko’s writing.
While I agree with the above, I also found an easy way to read the book – via this summary article, “8-hour diet lets you cheat and still lose up to 10lb in a week”, written by the man himself. Even though it’s written to spark people’s interest in his product, it gives the book’s core content.
Back to the reviewers on Amazon.com, another reviewer discusses her previous experience with a type of intermittent fasting. Even though her 5 star rating for the book makes me instantly suspicious, her experience is useful to hear. After many years doing a kind of intermittent fasting, she stopped when doctors and friends argued that she didn’t eat enough. This saw her stack on weight, so she went back to IF, and quickly saw improvement in her health and weight. She says the book helped her lose the last few kilos she wanted. “This book reminded me of everything I believe in about the body's need to rest and not constantly be working day and night to process food. It does not makes sense to eat around the clock, we have only had access to excess food a hundred years or so.”
More importantly for me, she highlighted reasons for why the diet fails for some people: “Many people here say the diet did not work for them so it may not work for everyone. Every body is different. I lost 10 lbs in one month and that's all I needed to lose. But I ate the 8 super-foods everyday and after filling up on them I didn't eat any junk. I also workout daily. I think giving it a try is worth it but you really do need to exercise and eat the 8 everyday in order to test it properly.” And there’s the crux. You do actually have to be sensible and ignore all the author’s hype.
This is also what makes me the most cranky about the diet. I followed it properly and I ate the 8 superfoods each day. Okay, I might have also added a block of chocolate – BUT that’s supposedly allowed. As is occasionally falling off the bandwagon…. The book emphasises how it’s a diet that you can adapt to fit your life, and even if you only follow it strictly for 3 days a week, you’ll still see results. I don’t think this is true – not for me, at least.
So, where do I go from here?
Research time. I found this article on IF by Joseph Mercola, helpful. This tip jumped out at me: “Remember it takes a few weeks, and you have to do it gradually, but once you succeed to switch to fat burning mode you be easily able to fast for 18 hours and not feel hungry. The “hunger” most people feel are actually cravings for sugar, and these will disappear, as if by magic, once you successfully shift over to burning fat instead.” (A word of advice: ignore the rest of the website this is posted on!)
The disappearance of cravings really surprised me, but this goes towards explaining it. I’ve always craved sugar, and have been worried even by the idea of giving it up, in the belief that the cravings will have me whimpering in the sweets aisle within hours of quitting them. It was quite exciting to be free of them so easily! And it gives me hope that if I feed myself properly, I can escape the Sugar Demon.
This is another thing that Dr Mercola highlights – nutrition. “I have been experimenting with different types of scheduled eating for the past two years and currently restrict my eating to a 6-7 hour window each day. While you’re not required to restrict the amount of food you eat when on this type of daily scheduled eating plan, I would caution against versions of intermittent fasting that gives you free reign to eat all the junk food you want when not fasting, as this seems awfully counterproductive [my emphasis].”
Yet how does Zinczenko sell his diet? “Watch the pounds disappear without watching what you eat!” It’s seriously worrying that such misinformation – nay, a downright lie – prefaces the whole book.
Take away message?
As Mercola points out, “It typically takes several weeks to shift to fat burning mode, but once you do, your cravings for unhealthy foods and carbs will automatically disappear. This is because you’re now actually able to burn your stored fat and don’t have to rely on new fast-burning carbs for fuel.”
While I take anything I read online with a grain of salt, I am finding truth in what Mercola writes. I’m now almost four weeks in, and I’m starting to get better at ignoring my brain’s habit of thinking I can’t sleep without a recent feeding. I’m also learning the right amounts to feed myself to get me through the fasting period. I’ve ditched The 8 Hour Diet, but I am thankful for the useful information I’ve found in the process. It looks like there’s an increasing amount of research being done on this kind of dieting (Google it, you’ll see!), so it’s something I plan to watch, at the same time I watch the clock and improve the nutrition value of my meals.
Thanks Jo! It has been quite a journey, and I'm glad it was you doing it!
My next installment on the 5:2 Diet will be coming soon.