Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Hunger Games: 8 Hour Diet - 8th Day Wrap

The Hunger Games have begun! First in with the results, Jo tells us about her first 8 days on the 8 Hour Diet.

Hello Basecampers – Guineapig Jo here, trying out the latest fad diet for you.

A Quick Recap of the 8 Hour Diet Structure:

You’re only allowed to eat during an 8 hour period, followed by 16 hours of fasting (water and black teas only), and your goal is to include a serving of each of the 8 superfoods per day – lean meat, veggies, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, berries, fruit, dairy/yogurt and wholegrains. The more often you manage to stick to this diet, the greater the health gains are, including weightloss and general health.

I decided to read the book while doing the diet, curious to see whether the many promised results were at all realistic. My view after the first week? Well, there’s a big gap between the ideas and how they’re presented in the book.

Let’s break it up this way:


….is ridiculous, and should be taken with kilos of added salt. Its over-the-top (and counter-intuitive) claims begin with the tagline: “Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat!”

We’ll return to the truth of that, when I’ve finished complaining about the book.

Author David Zinczenko never properly references his explanations. He sometimes refers to a specific study, but without any formal referencing, his words must be taken on faith. I find that a difficult way to read a book that’s meant to be ‘changing my life’. But then, that’s just symptomatic of an author who has no respect for his audience’s intelligence.

You also have to ignore the constant contradiction of his basic premise that you can eat anything you want… alongside the fine print, that you must make sure you eat the 8 superfoods every day and be moderate about junk food and don’t drink alcohol and and and…

The interesting information lurking behind all this centres on the large body of research into intermittent fasting. The book barely discusses the tip of the iceberg of this research, though it does briefly discuss how fasting enables our bodies to focus on daily regeneration, thus preserving youthfulness and health.

The other informative aspect is the explanation of why his 8 superfoods are, well, super. What he doesn’t make obvious, yet likes clearly between the lines, is that to eat all these superfoods you either need to be seriously committed to spending 8 hours of your day eating, or you have to cut the lousy foods to fit in all the superfoods. (Back to my point about respecting his audience…)

So, what about the actual diet and results?

After promising Buffy I’d give this a good for two weeks, I’m finding myself quite intrigued by its effects.

At first I was worried at the limited time to eat and how I’d fit that all in. Then I realised I’m normally only awake for, like, 14 hours in a 24 hour period (don’t judge me, I’m a bear hiding in a woman’s body, I need my sleep!)

The first day saw me feasting until the final minute. For that matter, every day has had the same mad rush at the end – quick, eeeeeeat! I was later surprised to find that I wasn’t hungry during the fast, as long as I slept in until 9ish (yes, a freelancer’s luxury) so I could eat within a few hours of getting up.

Also, the focus on my daily superfood requirement has improved my diet, though it’s not hugely different from usual. I’m reasonably healthy, focusing on meats, veggies and rice, mostly because my gluten intolerance forces me to avoid breads, baked goods and other wheaty nasties. I typically already ate 5-6 of his superfoods per day, so bumping that up to 8 wasn’t too hard. (Then there are the other days with the hot chips, icecream and chocolate binges, but that’s irrelevant – those are allowed on the diet too! … Sort of.)

And, since I can only manage to prepare and eat two meals in the 8 hour period, my caloric intake has decreased by about a third.

And so, the weightloss?

I weigh myself every morning, around the same time, after my early morning bladder emptying (too much info yet?). Over the first two days I lost 600grams, which isn’t uncommon for me when I’m exercising, but I wasn’t on these days! On the third day I had my weekly bout of heavy exercise. The next morning I’d dropped exactly a kilo.

I followed the diet strictly for the 4th day, and lost another 300grams over that 16 hour fast.
Then I pushed it a little on day 5. The book says repeatedly that as long as you fit in the 8 superfoods, you can eat whatever else you want…. For me, this included half a 200gram block of Whittakers Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate…. Then a cheeky glass of red later that night.

Next morning, day 7, I weighed in 800grams heavier.

I wrote that day off, since a friend’s going away party promised too many drinks and a lot of party nibbles.

Day 8 began healthily at 600 grams lighter than Day 1. Over the day I “ate my 8”, until I cracked and ate two bags of Maccas fries, a short-cut way of carb-loading for a tournament the next day...
And that, my friends, is 8 days of the 8 hour diet. Overall, 600grams lighter – more results to come! 


The book is crap, but I’d be interested to do some more research about intermittent dieting and caloric control.

…. I’m also working on getting better at sticking to the diet…..

Thanks Jo! Stay tuned for the next post where I tell you about my first 2 weeks on the 5:2 Diet.

Any questions for the brave girl? Anything you would like to know about the diet as she tests it out?

Update: See Jo's Final Review of the Diet. 

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