Is the ‘8-Hour Diet’ the key to weight loss?

What time did you eat your dinner last night? Chances are it was at 7 or even 8 p.m. And what about your breakfast? If your days are long, it is likely you grabbed a coffee or a piece of toast pretty early in the day. As the scientific evidence linking intermittent fasting to hormonal control and weight loss has grown so, too, has interest in prolonged periods of time within each day that we actually do not eat. Forget calorie counting or limiting your carbs — weight control may be as simple as eating across fewer hours each day.

The 8-Hour Diet proposes that limiting your food intake to just eight hours of the day is an easy diet technique that supports weight control. This way, all calories and meals need to be consumed within just eight hours of the day — for example, brunch at 10 a..m, lunch at 1 or 2 p.m. and your final meal of the day by 6 p.m. The amount of calories or even fat consumed is not important — rather, it is argued that our long days, in which food may be consumed across as many as 16 hours each day, is one of the key reasons so many of us are struggling with our weight.


Indeed, there are some physiological aspects of this argument that make sense. Prolonged periods of feeding, in which food is not only consumed relatively frequently, every few hours and across many hours of the day means that more insulin (the hormone that controls blood glucose levels) is released in an attempt to keep blood glucose levels stable. High levels of insulin over time promote inflammation and fat storage in the body. In addition, hunger is less likely to be experienced, as we never really let ourselves get really hungry and fat is more likely to be stored in the liver.

Studies on animals support this approach when it comes to weight loss and hormonal control. In some preliminary studies, rats given free access to high-fat foods but only for relatively short periods of time weighed less, and had no issues with their cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels or inflammation in the liver. On the other hand, rats given free access to food across 24-hour periods gained weight, developed high cholesterol and high blood glucose as well as impaired motor control. Researchers concluded that constant feeding results in the body going into storage mode — gaining weight and placing stress on the liver, which in turn results in increased blood glucose levels. On the other hand, when we stop eating for a number of hours, the liver stops releasing glucose into the bloodstream and instead uses it to repair the body’s cells, which in turn reduced inflammation. In addition, cholesterol is more likely to be broken down rather than stored.


So what does this mean for us? There is more evidence building to show there is a number of health benefits associated with not eating for a number of hours, from both a hormonal and weight perspective. In real life, though, this is easier said than done with long hours and shift work resulting in meals and snacks being consumed at all times of the day and night. The environment in which we live also encourages food consumption constantly, regardless of hunger or meal time.

While the exact period of time in which metabolic benefits are experienced from not eating is unknown, it appears that leaving at least 12 hours per day without food is beneficial, and at an extreme 16 hours each day. In real life terms, this means a later start to the day food-wise, and consuming your final meal by 8 p.m. at the latest. Another option if your day starts early is to eat breakfast as normal, eat your main meal at lunchtime and then have a light snack by 6pm. This way you still have 12-14 hours without food each day but are still eating enough calories so you do not experience extreme hunger throughout the evening.

The biggest issue with diets that limit calories in some way is that extreme hunger is then experienced which makes compliance challenging. The key thing with fasting is that for it to work you need to not eat anything, whereas in real life little extras slip in which negate the benefits. As such, for the 8 Hour Diet to be effective, you will need to consume a substantial meal at some point during the day so that your hunger does not get the better of you.

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Can Intermittent Fasting Take Your Weight Loss To The Next Level?


What is intermittent fasting?

We’ve all heard that skipping meals is the fastest way to slow your weight loss progress. But, what if I told you it could actually speed up your metabolism and burn stubborn body fat? Intermittent fasting (also referred to as “IF”) is the practice of only eating your caloric requirements during certain times of the day or week. The rest of the time, you fast.


Intermittent fasting enthusiasts are reluctant to call it a diet — it’s more like a lifestyle. Here are a few examples of how people put it into practice:

    • Eat Stop Eat: Fast for 24-hours one day a week.
    • LeanGains: Eat all meals during a specific window of time, like noon to 8 p.m.
    • Warrior Diet: Eat just one meal a day, typically dinner, with total needed calories.
    • Alternate Day Fasting: Alternate between fasting every other day.
    • Limiting Calories: Limit calorie intake, like down to 500, for one or two days a week.

These are all variations on the same idea, and they are not to be used at the same time. Since some plans are more extreme than others, make sure to find one that works for you and your schedule. If you need some motivation to give intermittent fasting a try, here are some of the scientifically-backed benefits to know about:

1. Intermittent fasting can promote weight loss

Research has shown that intermittent fasting can promote weight loss.

In one study, researchers found that intermittent fasting was an effective tool for weight loss in obese individuals. They had participants alternate between eating normally for 24 hours and fasting (or partially fasting) for 24 hours. After three weeks, participants lost four to eight percent of their body fat. After 12 weeks, participants lost 11 to 16 percent body fat. Researchers also noted that intermittent fasting may be more effective at retaining lean mass during weight loss than traditional calorie restriction. Another study recorded similar findings for obese individuals.

There’s quite a bit of anecdotal evidence on intermittent fasting and weight loss as well. From fitness forums to YouTube videos, you’ll find plenty of success stories to inspire you.

2. It can reduce your risk of diabetes

One study found that alternate-day fasting in nonobese individuals led to lowered insulin production. In addition to burning fat, a lower level of insulin means that there is less risk for insulin resistance. And we all know what that means: less risk for diabetes! Interestingly, researchers noted that hunger levels on fasting days did not subside during the study, meaning that it may be difficult for some individuals to keep up the schedule up for the long haul.

3. It can reduce oxidative stress

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals interact with our body’s all-important molecules, like protein or DNA. When free radicals damage them, it can pave the way for numerous dangerous diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The good news is, one study found that alternate day fasting increased markers of good health, lowered inflammation and reduced oxidative stress in a group of adults over the course of eight weeks. The practice of intermittent fasting also increased antioxidants in the body. Now there’s something we all need more of!

Other health benefits shown in rats

While the studies on humans are the most promising, researchers have also learned loads from studies on rats. Some of the most promising results of intermittent fasting include:

  • Increased lifespan
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Protection against diabetic kidney damage

What to eat in-between intermittent fasting

Eating whole foods can help you lose weight while practicing intermittent fasting.

Here’s an important point to drive home: Just because you’re fasting, it doesn’t mean you should indulge in junk food on your non-fasting days or hours. In fact, eating processed foods can hamper your weight loss! Fake sugars, preservatives and chemicals will interrupt your body’s natural digestion process, which is all the more reason to eat “clean.” For example, when you cut out processed sugar, your body will learn how to rely on another source of fuel — fat!

Whole, fresh foods with a variety of nutrients will set you up for success. In-between meals, make sure to drink plenty of lemon water, along with coffee or tea as needed. Try to eat as many of these foods as possible to get your body on the right track:

  • Nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios
  • Eggs: always source an organic, antibiotic-free varieties
  • Fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, pineapple, avocados, lemons, berries
  • Tubers: sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots
  • Seeds: chia, pumpkin, flax, hemp, sunflower, sesame
  • Spices: garlic, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, pink Himalayan salt
  • Legumes: chickpeas, black beans, lentils, green beans, peas
  • Probiotics: sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso
  • Vegetables: broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, peppers
  • Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Gluten-free grains: quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth
  • Organic, free range meats (in moderation): chicken, turkey, wild-caught salmon

Before you embark on any lifestyle change, it’s important to check in with your primary care physician. Fasting should be undertaken with supervision, especially if you are on medication for a chronic condition. If you have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, intermittent fasting is not a good idea.

How to safely try intermittent fasting

Make sure to stay hydrated while doing intermittent fasting.

If you’re working on the LeanGains method, for example, start with a broad window of time during the first week. The idea here is to start slow so that your body can make the adjustment. At first, make a commitment to only eat between a 10-hour window, say 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then, the following week, try to move down to an 8-hour window, like 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will quickly eliminate mindless grazing outside of a set time frame. Plus, you’ll be getting creative in the kitchen to squeeze in all of your nutrients.

While your body is getting used to the change, you may feel a bit more hungry or irritable than usual. Don’t worry, that’s normal — and it’s temporary! Here are a few ways to make the process easier so you can get the most out of intermittent fasting:

  • Determine your ideal caloric intake. Before you get started, crunch some numbers to find out how much you should be eating every day. Please don’t starve yourself! Instead, find a goal that’s reasonable for weight loss to prevent you from binging after a fast.
  • Break your fast with normal meals. Proponents say it’s better to eat multiple small meals than a huge meal all at once. Be careful not to overload your system.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water is a great way to help your body detox. It can also help get rid of some of those hunger pangs, especially at first.
  • Know your limits. It’s not recommended to undergo rigorous physical activity while fasting until your body is used to it. Pay attention to how you feel at all times.

And there you have it! Have you tried intermittent fasting? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments below.

— Hilary Lebow

Eat, Fast and Live Longer. A 5-2 Fast Idea Under 200 Calories. Creamy Dairy Free Cauliflower and Leek Mash.

Sometimes a successful fast day is all about an interesting side to accompany a little lean grilled chicken, red meat or fish. In summer the challenge is most definitely easier, with a wide array of interesting salads able to be thrown together at a moment’s notice as you fire up the grill. In winter, it’s […]

Fastetics Dice Fasting

This post will hopefully introduce a fun fasting protocol that I find breaks some of the monotony of fasting and keeps things fresh. One of the conversations I have a lot is about choosing a fasting protocol and how to pick a fasting window and feeding window when intermittent fasting. As a general rule, the […]

This is really interesting. I may give it a go – Ike Onwubuya

The 24 Hour fast – Day 1 

As I shared earlier, I am modifying my 5-2 diet to kickstart my weight loss after being on an elongated plateau. I am now doing the 24 hour fast 2 days a week. This week I am choosing Tuesday and Thursday as my fast days. As an aside, The 5-2 diet really works and I always recommend it to Black and African people hoping to shed some excess pounds.

My last meal before the fast was at about 6.30pm on Monday. I had Moi-Moi (I will talk about this super food later) and grilled Catfish. As a snack, I had a banana and a handful of peanuts (groundnuts). I did not weigh the meal but using my experience of logging from Myfitnesspal, I reckon the meal was in the 800 calorie mark. After the meal had fully digested, I went to the gym and did some cardio workout. I took it relatively easy by doing hill walking at high gradient for 30 mins and cycling for another 20 mins. I always like to end up with a little weight lifting just to get toned. I bench pressed 40 kegs 5 sets 10 reps. This is done rapidly for maximum impact.

The next morning started as usual. On days when I do the 5-2 diet, I skip breakfast so I was already of the mindset of no breakfast. On fasting mornings, I just have a glass of water with my vitamins. Lunch time was trickier as on a 5-2 diet, I would normally have a carrot or grapes or any fruit I can get under 200 calories. To counter this, I settled for a 500 ml bottle of Pepsi Max. It’s supposed to have no calories and it gives you that sweet taste to the mouth that kind of tricks your body that it is eating. Through the course of the day I drank caffeine free coffee and always had sugar free mints every other hour. To get through the day, you have to drink loads of water to stop yourself from dehydrating. 


Ike Onwubuya fast dasy essentials
Pepsi Max and Mints
 I broke my fast at about 7pm on Tuesday (24.5 hours later). I had unripe plantain pottage cooked with Spinach and some grilled fish. This is a very Nigerian meal popular among the Igbo and Delta peoples of Nigeria. It’s locally called Ukodo in Urhobo and Ogede Awai, or Awai Ji Oko in Igbo dialects. This is a very filling meal that keeps you going for longer. Although it is starchy carbohydrate, it is balanced with proteins in the fish and spinach vegetables which is rich in vitamins and irons. I also had a pear and a handful of peanuts to go with it. I will say the meal was about 900 calories. Not bad going for 24 hours. I went to gym later in the evening to do a mix of Jogging and hill walking for 40 mins

All in all it was not a bad experience. It was actually easier than I thought. You have periods when you get hungry but I always counter that with a mint. The trick with any kind of weight loss fast is to keep your self liquid, take in loads of fluids.

Hunger is really a thing of the mind in the short run

Ike Onwubuya – No pain, No loss

Tweaking the 5-2 fast diet – The 24 hour fast

I have been doing the 5-2 diet got about 14 months with very positive results. I lost a lot of weight very quickly but have hit a plateau for a long time now. When you hit a plateau you tend to relax a bit on the strict diet regime. 

On a strict 5-2 diet, I was usually in and around my 600 calorie a day limit. Sometimes I go above this but never really above the 900 calorie mark. This I did religiously 2 days a week and I backed it up with burning almost an equal amount of calories exercising on the day of the fast. On reaching a plateau I tended to average 900-1200 calories of food on fast days. Exercises were also less diligent. Needless to say I wasn’t losing any weight but thankfully not gaining much.

This brings me to the 24 hour fast. I discovered this through a gym buddy. The basic idea is to go 24 hours without any calories. It’s not a dry fast as you can and encouraged to drink loads of water and no/low calorie drinks. 

It’s really up to you how you want to time your 24 hours. I have chosen to do a 7 to 7 fast. Actually it’s a 1900hrs to 1900hrs fast. My last meal was 1900 hours yesterday and my next meal will be 1900 hours today.  I see loads of water and sugar free mints in the horizon.

Ike Onwubuya