How to get started

Set your hours

It’s no good deciding that you’re going to go for 23 hours in between each feed if you’ve never done it before. Start small and see how you get on.

A good place to start would be to stop eating at 8pm and resume eating at 10am (giving you a 10 hour eating period) and then scale that back to 7pm and 11am (that golden eight-hour window). And if you want to eat a little more during the window, then go back even further and miss morning munch altogether and eat between noon and 7pm.

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Decide on your calorie intake and your cheat days

So unlike the dreaded 5:2, this kind of fasting works on the principal that you keep your calories basically the same. For most of us, we’d probably be looking to stick with our maintenance calories – but if calorie counting isn’t for you, just eat as you normally would.

To ensure that you actually stick with it, plan a day when you’re going to eat what and when you want to. It might be every Saturday (who’d want to miss out on brunch?), or it could be all weekend. Whenever it is, use that as your time for having late dinners and early breakfasts.

Work out what you want to get out of it

Is it just that you want to streamline your life, or do you want to lose body fat without obsessing over calories and scales? Whatever it is, concentrate on that and you should be able to make it through those sneaky 9pm munchies.

Meal prep

If you tend to get home from work late, think about meal prepping. Rather than taking your breakfast into work, how about taking in your dinner instead? That way you’re not rushing home to cook and eat in your assigned window.

Where does your exercise fit in?

Since fasting, Liam tells us that he’s has reduced the number of days he spends in the gym and that’s not uncommon. People often report that they find themselves needing to work out for less time to see the same results. Fasted cardio is supposed to be the thing for fat loss so if that’s your goal, see if you can run/cycle to work or gym before your fast ends. If you find that you’re struggling due to low blood sugar, then workout after you’ve eaten your first meal and see if over time that changes.

The safety aspect

As we’ve said, people have intermittently fasted for donkey’s years. Ramadan is essentially an inverted intermittent fast (with believers fasting during the day rather than overnight). It’s not dangerous when you’re doing it sensibly.

Just make sure that you already have a healthy relationship with food before you start messing around with it; if you have a tendency to worry about dieting or calories, do not attempt to fast.

Fasting could become a problem if you start to obsess over what you’re going to eat and keep increasing the fasting window. Sure, some yogis can go for three days without eating but if you’re pushing the physical boundaries in a bid to lose weight, then you may need to seek advice or help.

Make sure that you really do get your full fill of food during your eating window – and if you’re struggling to eat when you do have the opportunity or you find yourself making that window increasingly smaller, contact somewhere like Beat, who can help.

Beat’s helpline: 0808 801 0677 (open 3pm-10pm).

Over the next month, I’m going to be giving intermittent fasting a go to see just how easy and effective it really is. If you’re an intermittent faster or you’re thinking about giving it a go, get in touch!

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The Fix

The daily lifestyle email from Metro.co.uk.

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From fasting for 18 hours to skipping breakfast, this eating plan allows you to eat almost everything and still lose weight

The program, called Nysteia, advocates a dieter stick to a six-hour ‘eating window’ regimen, and spend the remaining 18 hours without consuming food.

“We have a serious problem where we are slipping in to the worst health disaster of mankind,” Dr Renaut told news.com.au.

“The thing with obesity is that you need to know what causes it, and most people don’t understand how the human body works.

“What we have been doing isn’t working, calorie restriction isn’t working, and we are only getting fatter.”

Forget counting calories; according to Dr Andrew Renaut it’s a waste of time.Source:istock

The premise around Dr Renaut’s eating plan is incorporating fasting in to your everyday lifestyle. For the 61-year-old, his day revolves around a single six hour “eating window” between 1pm and 7pm, where he will consume around 2500 calories.

The remaining 18 hours of the day is for fasting — where only water, black coffee and green tea is allowed.

“The underlying problem with obesity is insulin,” he said.

“By eating regularly throughout the day, the body isn’t given an opportunity to bring insulin levels back down to zero. Instead, the levels are always elated. Carbohydrates, which turn in to sugar, keep that level up.

“This leads to insulin intolerance which means to receive that spike in energy levels, the body needs to have more glucose.”

Dr Renaut says forget breakfast, and use the time in the morning to work out.Source:istock

Insulin is produced by the pancreas, and is a main regulator for sugar levels in the blood. When we eat, glucose levels rise, and insulin is released into the bloodstream. Often, insulin is dubbed as the ‘key’ to energy levels, because it opens up cells so they can take in the sugar and use it as an energy source.

Dr Renaut said we need to allow our body to stop insulin production for a large potion of the day to allow our cells to use up the fatty acids instead.

“All the diets concentrate on the amount of food we eat, and that is the least important because that’s not what’s increasing insulin,” he said.

“Once upon a time, man would go days without food. They wouldn’t wake up and say ‘what’s for breakfast’.

“Now, some people have around six meals a day which means the insulin levels never drop to zero.

“When it comes to food, there are three main factors: How much do we eat, what type of food we eat, and the amount that we eat. Of those three, the most important is when we eat it.”

Dr Renaut said to restrict eating to a six hour window.Source:istock

A recent study by the University of Surrey, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition this month, showed that not only can intermittent energy restriction assist with weight loss, it will also clear fat from the blood quicker after eating meals than daily calorie restriction diets.

The study, which only used a very small sample size of participants, the group were assigned to either the 5:2 diet or a daily calorie restriction diet and were required to lose five per cent of their weight.

Those on the 5:2 diet ate normally for five days and for their two fasting days consumed just 600 calories. Those on the daily diet were advised to eat 600 calories less per day than their estimated requirements for weight maintenance (in the study women ate approx. 1400 calories and men ate approx. 1900 calories each day).

The research showed that those on the 5:2 diet achieved 5 per cent weight-loss in 59 days compared to those on the daily calorie restriction diet who achieved their goal in 73 days.

According to the Australian Food Standards Code, a balanced diet for an average adult is made up of 8,700 kilojoules of energy, 50 grams of protein, 70g of fat, 24g of saturated fatty acids, 310g of carbohydrates, 90g of sugars, 2.3g of sodium (salt) and 30g of fibre.

Dr Andrew Renaut says the key to losing weight is by only eating six hours daily.Source:istock

But as part of the plan, which Dr Renaut said is not a ‘diet’ but rather a ‘method of eating’, means breakfast is off the menu.

“People need to stop eating for a significant amount of the day and stop eating refined carbs,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter when you do the feeding window, but later in the day tends to be easier for people. You still need to consume the same amount of calories you normally would — so 2000 for women and 2500 for men — and you’re not restricting anything except for carbohydrates.”

For Dr Renaut, a day on a plate usually consists of fresh fish, meat and poultry, cheese, vegetables and dairy. He doesn’t include any for of carbohydrate, including bread and pasta.

“I think this eating plan is something everyone could do,” he said.

“By not restricting, you’re not running the risk of running in to deficiency because there’s nothing out of the diet except for carbohydrates.”

8-Hour Diet: Fast 16 Hours to Lose

The 8 Hour Diet is a popular weight loss plan from David Zinczenko the author of the best-selling book Eat This Not That.

With this diet, David promises readers that they can lose 20-60 pounds or more and still eat whatever they want.

The key to the 8 Hour Diet is only consuming calories within an eight-hour window each day.

Zinczenko himself lost 7 pounds by eating according to this method.

His concept isn’t entirely new as there have been several diets over the years that promote intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Here’s how his version works.

8 Hour Diet Basics

This diet works on the theory that the human body is designed for periods of eating and then periods of fasting.

This involves consuming calories over an 8-hour period and then fasting for a 16-hour period each day. During the 16-hour period, the human body should be focused on repair and rest, rather than continually digesting food.

8 Hour Food Window

All of a dieter’s daily calories must be consumed only during his/her predetermined 8-hour eating window.

For example, if your calorie window is from 9 am to 5 pm, you must eat during that time period only.

The window can be adjusted depending on a person’s schedule and can be different during different days of the week. Dieters should eat this way at least 3 days a week at the beginning of the diet and gradually increase towards the ultimate goal of 7 days a week.

Eat Whatever You Want

There are no forbidden foods on The Eight Hour Diet, but Zinczenko does advise that this diet is not an excuse to overeat. Portion size must still be considered.

The only exception to this rule is sugary beverages since the 8 Hour Diet discourages drinking calories.

Delay Breakfast

Dieters should delay eating breakfast until the beginning of their food window. For example, If you can’t start eating until 10 am, Zinczenko recommends starting the day with a cup of tea, water, or coffee and doing some light exercise before any calories are consumed. (similar to 6 Weeks to OMG Diet)

Eat as Often as You Want

Snacks can be eaten as often as a dieter wants as long as all eating is within the 8 Hour Diet window.

Portion size should be considered when choosing snacks.

Supercharge the Diet

The 8 Hour Diet shows dieters how choosing 8 healthier power foods instead of processed and refined foods can dramatically increase the effectiveness of the diet and the dieter’s overall good health. The book gives suggestions on how to easily incorporate these foods into the diet.

Sample Meal Plan

Upon Rising

Water, coffee, or tea

Breakfast (10 am)

Oatmeal with blueberries and maple syrup
Coffee, tea, or water

Snack

1 granola bar

Lunch

2 slices of pizza
1 8oz bag of potato chips
1 apple

Snack

1 fudge brownie

Dinner (5:30 pm)

Grilled Salmon Steak
Baked sweet potato w/butter
1 cup of broccoli
½ cup ice cream

Only 8 Minutes of Exercise

To be successful on the 8 Hour Diet just eight minutes of exercise is required to turbocharge the fat burning process.

Exercise suggestions for the most effective calorie burn are included in the book.

The Cost of the Diet

The 8 Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat retails for $26.

Buy this book from Amazon.

Zinczenko Talks About His Diet

Why The 8 Hour Diet Works

  • It all comes down to calorie restriction. If you can find a way to keep the calories low enough to result in weight loss, you will be successful. By only having 8-hours to consume your food, you might be able to trick the body into taking in fewer calories.
  • This diet reminds me of a couple of years ago when Oprah talked about cutting off your eating at 6 pm as a way to lose weight. This became a popular diet trend for a while because it helped to prevent late night overeating and excess calorie consumption.
  • Intermittent fasting has shown health benefits.
  • Another benefit is that you don’t have to deprive yourself. Many of us have been through so many diets that we feel overwhelmingly deprived. This is bad for our long term success. We need to learn how to feel comfortable making choices that aren’t so healthy, but in exercising excellent moderation and portion control.

The bottom line is: The body knows calories in and calories out for the entire day. So, if you can eat balanced, keep the metabolism going strong, feel healthy, then it doesn’t matter too much when you eat. It matters how much you eat.

Where This Diet Could Fail

  • The authors claim that the types of food don’t matter too much. However, you can’t expect to eat 1200 calories of chocolate for your diet and feel amazing. We must continue to eat a balanced portion of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and a few healthy carbohydrates. The authors do support healthy eating with the 8 Hour Diet Power Foods, but they don’t want to restrict you.

    Eight Hour Diet Power Foods

  • It can be tough to stave off hunger in the evenings. For example, if you start eating at 8 am, then you can’t eat anything past 4 pm. What are you supposed to do if you feel hungry again at 8 pm, and don’t go to sleep until midnight?
  • Many suggest waiting to have breakfast to help with this. But, research proves that breakfast is best for the metabolism if eaten within the first hour of waking.
  • Not suitable for those with unstable blood sugar.
  • The authors say that you only have to follow the diet 3 days per week. This seems odd to me. Why not follow it 6 days per week? 3 days is only about 43% of the time. This doesn’t seem too effective.
  • This is not a new diet idea. Intermittent fasting has been around for quite a few years now but has yet to gain popularity until now.

In the end, the positives and negatives seem to balance out. I have a feeling it will work for about half of the people who try it.

So, try the diet if you like, and let us know how it goes for you!

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

263 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed

  1. Rick May

    I have been doing this diet for a month now…I am diabetic and WOW how this has helped to lower my blood sugar. I am cutting back diabetic meds as my sugar levels drop so I dont bottomed out aas they say…I keep a list everyday of the calories, carbs and proteins I eat. I am a body builder and in the gym most days for 2 to 2.5 hours…I am amazed how stable my blood sugars are…and it is because of this diet…Thank you

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  2. Jimmy

    So I do 8/16 (I guess). I eat breakfast and lunch and skip dinner (6am-2pm). I don’t see a problem with this but everywhere I see it suggests to skip breakfast… any thoughts?

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    • Helen H

      I agree love my breakfast, can’t miss it so I’m with you in last meal @ 2pm, Helen.

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  3. Phil T

    Ive been doing this for 20 years since i like to work out in the mornings. Wake up and have only coffee. By 9am im in the gym for an hour or more. First meal of the day is at 11am. A snack in the afternoon. Then eat dinner by 7pm. Go to sleep and do it the next day. I started this when i got about 25 lbs overweight when i was 30. I dropped thise 25 lbs and have been able to maintain with this regiment

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  4. Kellie

    Hi there … just want to understand exactly how this works … so for example if I eat from 10am til 6pm (which is the 8hrs) do i then need to fast from the 10pm until 2pm and then I can eat again until say 10pm

    I’m confused when the 8hrs finishes wtc

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    • Randy

      MY name is Randy. I started this diet @ 2 months ago. eat within a 9 hr window..usually between 12 – 9pm . I only allow myself 2000 calories Monday through Friday and on weekends i allow myself to eat whatever but still keep it within the same time period. I drink coffee with stevia sweetener (no calories) in the morning until my “eating time” is allowed. I started at 245 and am now at 212 lbs..a total loss of 33 lbs as of 8/5/18. I have not really done any major exercise but my job entails quite a bit of walking ( I do now own a treadmill and get on it maybe 2 times or more a week(depending on how tired I am hehe) THIS DIET WORKS! I was amazed at how fast I lost weight at the beginning. Now the pounds are a bit harder but still falling off slowly. I hope this helps anyone thinking of trying it. I had my doubts but now I BELIEVE….GOOD LUCK!

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    • Rhonda

      you eat from 10 am -6 pm fast 6 pm -10 am

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    • trish

      you would then fast from 6:01pm to 9:59 am

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  5. teresa

    I’ve just started the 16.8 diet my window is from 2pm to 10 pm (due to work ) I’ve done this for a week and I’ve put on 2lbs !!! *I’ve been excersising every day as well so why haven’t I lost !!!!

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  6. Auntie A

    I started this fast 3 weeks ago…So far I’ve lost 2 lbs a week…Not to mention the inches…60yrs young. . Getting lil exercise and feeling much much better!…Eat what ever I like…Just don’t pig out!…Use any time frame you like…Time wise…My window is 6pm to 10am..Like medication…For best results doing it the same time every day helps…Oh forgot to mention…I fast every day!…Set the alarm on my phone and just stick to it…Also, Just drink water if you are feeling hungry…I love water so this is easy…Try it!. ..I’ve tried It all..Couldn’t stick to anything…This is going to work for me!!!!

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  7. Elo

    If i work a shift from 2 PM to 11 PM, should I stick to breakfast and then an early dinner, or what would be the best recommended strategy where compromise is minimum?

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  8. Fay

    I have been doing this for about three weeks and have lost eight pounds. I find i sleep better than ever and food cravings have gone. It’s easy and i plan to eat this way for ever. Why not it works and i feel so well. Oh and i don’t do the exercise first thing but must aim to do this.

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  9. Bill

    Is it better to exercise before your eight hour window opens or during?

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  10. Lèon El patron Dos Santos

    Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper.

    Get your bigger meals out of the way first. It’ll help with bloating and keep you fuller for longer.

    Alternatively, drink a pint of water before all meals.

    “never confuse thirst with hunger”.

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  11. Pam

    After getting some negative results on my blood work, I started dieting on June 21. I am eating low-carb and counting calories (1200- 1400), but I am also eating in an 8-hour window. Based on calories intake alone, I should be losing about two pounds per week; however, I’ve already lost 14.5 pounds in 19 days. I haven’t lost weight at that rate since I was in my 20s (I’m in my 60s). I have to think the intermittent fasting is the difference. I also walk at least 30 minutes each day and drink about 80 ounces of water, but I’ve done that before and haven’t had the amazing results I’ve had since eating in an 8- hour window.

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    • Paula

      Oh Pam you give me hope. I am 65 and put on 85 lbs in 5 years from medication. Tried everything. Nothing has worked. Been on 16:8 for one week and going to weigh in another week. So far, I don’t feel smaller but it’s an easy diet to follow. I’ll keep everyone posted

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  12. Jules

    Will fast work 7 am to 3pm? Everyone seems to be starting much later. Would it help to swap starting hours occasionally?

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    • susan

      I would say yes, it’s the fact that you’re not making your body work at digesting food for 16 hours, so the actual time you eat is entirely your choice. I am doing 10 to 6, but if I needed to would move the time frame. It’s the 16 hours that are important, so start at 7 am if you need to.

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  13. Cris

    Here’s what I did,I start eating at 10 am,and I really get full (rice,viand,coffee and dessert) after that,I stop then eat again after 8 hours (6pm) In between I just drink water.I never crave or get hungry until 6pm.My question is,can I have a light snack during 8 hour window? Or can i still take lunch? This is my 8 day of IF but I noticed that I already lost weight.

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    • Margaret

      These are the times, Im choosing, Yes, It does work!!!

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      • Margaret

        Whoops, sorry, This was meant for the comment above yours mar

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    • Kris

      I think you have this backwards. You are supposed to eat WITHIN the 8 hours. Not outside of it. It is 16 hours of fasting then 8 hours of eating. So you should eat a good amount of food within the 8 hours so you arnt hungry after!

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  14. HollyH

    I’m trying this iv just started I do it everyday except Sundays and I’m excluding night I go to parties! Iv been on it a week it’s not too bad I drink juice when I feel hungry the taste makes me feel as if imy eating

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  15. Chelsea

    Should the 3 days be right in a row or alternate days in between? And is there a benefit or lack thereof, just starting at 7 days right away?

    Log in to Reply

Last Reviewed: January 25, 2018

The idea that eating a morsel of food after a given time means bad news for your waistline is nothing new. Dieters add this “don’t” to their list of rules when trying to keep an eye on their weight. But before you consider closing up the kitchen when the clock strikes 7 p.m., let’s take a look at the facts.

The Claim:

If you want to maintain or lose weight, then you shouldn’t eat after 7 p.m.

There are myriad reasons why people might not want to eat after a certain time in the evening, especially if it’s close to when they go to sleep, says Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D., owner of Smart Street Nutrition.. There’s an idea that people might have a harder time falling or staying asleep if they’re too full, or that their metabolism will ramp up and burn more fat overnight, for example.

The Evidence:

When it comes to fueling your body for performance and recovery, it’s more about consuming enough calories in the form of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, Harbstreet says, than about the exact timing. And, she says, there is no blanket recommendation for people’s individual nutritional needs, especially for athletes.

“For us to say with any broad sweeping generalization that no one should be eating after a certain time, that’s where we go wrong with nutrition,” she says.

And when it comes to the research, there isn’t much to convince us that when you consume your calories matters too much.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition did not find a relationship between eating after 5 p.m.—which, we know, is the early bird special—and weight gain. An older study published in the International Journal of Obesity came to the same conclusion.

But for those people who eat dinner after 5 p.m.—most of us!—the results were similar: A study of children and teens published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating after 8 p.m. also did not lead to weight gain.

For athletes, Harbstreet says, it might even be advantageous to have a small snack or meal before bed, especially during periods of intense training.

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When it comes to protein, for example, it’s beneficial to meet your needs throughout the day, but, Harbstreet says, there is some evidence that shows consuming a little bit of casein protein—the kind found in dairy—can support optimal muscle recovery overnight. Harbstreet recommends a piece of string cheese or a small glass of chocolate milk.

The Verdict:

It’s by far more important to consider what you eat and how much of it than when you eat it. “Our bodies are efficient and intelligent, but they don’t run on a 24-hour clock,” Harbstreet says. “There’s no reset button at midnight. Your body doesn’t care or know.”

That said, yes, there is some research that suggests circadian rhythm might play a role in how individuals respond to hunger cues, but if you’re disrupting your sleep cycle and eating at all hours of the night, that’s not the same thing as having a small dessert at 7:05 p.m.

If you’re hungry before bed, it could mean you’re not fueling your body enough during the day, for example. “If we stick to the ‘rules,’ it pulls us away from the intuitive mindset, which is listening to our bodies and learning what those signals and cues really mean,” Harbstreet says.

Related Story

Athletes need a well-balanced diet for optimal performance and recovery, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo family s’mores night leading up to a race or tough workout. “Even with intense endurance athletes, it’s okay to not be so tied to a training plan if it takes away the ability to enjoy others things in life,” Harbstreet adds.

At the end of the day—no pun intended—overeating consistently will lead to weight gain, Harbstreet says. It won’t matter when you consumed those excess calories. Sure, the evening tends to be the time when people kick back with a bowl of chips and eat mindlessly while watching television, but correlation does not imply causation.

On the flip side, for those who maintain a healthy diet, eating dinner after 7 p.m. or having a small snack before bed because you’re hungry won’t tip the scale—it may even help you recover better.

“We have to be mindful of our energy intake and how it relates to training and recovery,” she says.

Heather Mayer Irvine Freelance Writer Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook.

I received a call from a very frustrated client recently. She had heard an expert on a radio show talking about weight loss. This expert was telling the listeners they shouldn’t let a morsel of food pass their lips after 6 p.m.

My client had been trying to stick to the advice, but by the time late evening rolled around she was starving.

Here’s the deal: If you’re an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of person, cutting off your food intake by 6 p.m. may work for you. However, if you’re a night owl who regularly stays up until 11 or later, then not eating after 6 will be very challenging.

It takes about three hours to digest a typical dinner of about 600 calories that includes some protein, carbohydrates and veggies. If you finish eating around 6p.m. and then stay up to watch the news, by the time 9:30 hits you’ll be feeling hunger pangs.

Most people try to fight it and end up losing the battle, succumbing to the bowl of ice cream or box of crackers. But the worst time to splurge on calories is when you’re about to go to bed, because you’re not giving your body an opportunity to burn those extra calories.

Here are my top three tips to help you manage your nighttime eating:

  • Brush your teeth! As soon as you finish dinner, go and brush your pearly whites. The taste of peppermint doesn’t go well with leftover mac ‘n’ cheese.
  • Take a break before you start kitchen cleanup. Go outside, water a plant or walk your dog. Studies show that it takes about 20 minutes for your body?and, more important, your brain?to feel full. When you take a short break, it gives your body a chance to feel satisfied, so you’ll eat fewer leftovers during kitchen cleanup.
  • Have a substantial afternoon snack. If you know that a late dinner is in the cards, have a snack in the late afternoon that includes some protein, carbs and veggies. It will help take the edge off your appetite. You’ll eat less at dinner, which will greatly help your weight-loss efforts.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist, and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

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You’ve definitely heard the “don’t eat after 6 p.m. rule.” But despite all of the times that we’ve heard this piece of advice, no one seems to know where the hell it came from.

“I don’t truly know where this rule came from,” says Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, noting that there’s nothing magical about 6 p.m. And honestly, who is even home from work—let alone sitting at the kitchen table—by 6 p.m.?

The Clock-Weight Connection

That being said, while the body doesn’t fiendishly stockpile food as fat when the clock strikes 6 p.m., eating at night is linked to weight gain. And limiting late-night eating has been shown to result in weight loss, too. This is likely because no one gets out of bed in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator for kale.

RELATED: 5 Bedtime Beverages That Can Help You Lose Weight

“People are eating a bag of chips, sweets, or other potentially high-calorie foods,” says Hunnes. So eliminating late-night eatingoften results in eating healthier.

Case in point: When Brigham Young University researchers had 29 young men stop eating between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. for two weeks, they lost an average of about one pound. When they were allowed to eat at night for the following two weeks, they gained 1.3 pounds back. This all came down to calories: When the guys cut out nighttime noshing, they reduced their daily intake by an average of 238 calories.

While the study was performed on dudes, another study found that many women take in nearly half of their daily calories at or after dinner. And one out of three people put away 15 percent of their calories after 11 p.m.

Hungry at Night? Do This

A lot of late-night munching is mindless, which isn’t helping either. Mindless eating is consistently linked to overeating and weight gain. (Check out these 100 things you can do instead of eating mindlessly!)

But if you’re legitimately hungry in the evening or even late at night, don’t be afraid to eat. You should never push through hunger pangsbecause of what the clock says. FYI, that doesn’t really work for weight-loss and it fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

RELATED: 6 Bedtime Habits That Will Help You Lose Weight

Instead, reach for foods like produce, whole grains, or lean proteins, says Hunnes. And keep portions on the small side—you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.

If late-night hunger is a pretty typical occurrence for you, you’re probably not eating enough during the first half of the day.

“Instead of thinking about not eating in the evening, focus on fueling well all day long,” says dietitian Anna Rossinoff, R.D., co-founder of Eat with Zest. “Clients tell me that they try to cut back on calories throughout the day, but they get home from work and find themselves eating out of control,” says Rossinoff.

RELATED: 10 Power Foods That’ll Hulk-Smash Your Hunger Pangs

Your body doesn’t really know what time it is, but it does know when it’s deprived of fuel, she says.

Your move: Start your day off with a hearty breakfast containing about 20 grams of protein. Follow that with another protein-rich balanced meal every three to four hours, says Rossinoff.

How Many Times Should You Eat Everyday To Lose Weight?

Weight loss isn’t a cake walk and almost all of us, who have wanted to shed those extra kilos for a while, are painfully aware of this fact. While there seems to be a consensus about the fact that diet is of utmost importance when it comes to weight loss, there are still conflicting opinions about which diet or diet plan works the best. One of the most common confusions about a weight loss diet is the number of meals that one should eat per day. While some studies say that eating three meals every day, with no snacks in between works better, some others believe in eating six smaller meals for better weight management.

But which one of these is true? Many studies and quite a lot of research has been conducted on which meal pattern works better for weight loss as well as overall improvement of health. Some results showed that splitting down meals into smaller ones can lead to better blood sugar control and also reduce cholesterol levels. This is in addition to the boost in metabolism that eating frequent meals gives you. However, logically eating more meals also means more calories to burn off, increasing the need for the body to get more workout.
Also Read: 5 Morning Rituals for Weight Loss

On the other hand, eating three meals per day (with no snacking in between) means consuming lesser amount of calories. However, it also leaves your body with lower level of energy and makes it susceptible to sudden spike or fall in blood sugar levels. Moreover, eliminating snacks from your diet leaves you with pesky hunger pangs, which might make you crave unhealthy junk foods. So although, skipping that breakfast or that lunch may look like the obvious way of consuming less calories, it might prove to be harmful for your body in the long run.

Eating six times has been found irrelevant when it comes to weight loss.

So which meal pattern should you follow? Science has been inconclusive to put it mildly, in deciding whether you should eat three big meals o six small meals to lose weight. Although some studies swear that eating more will actually help you lose weight, some others have found that breaking meals down has no weight loss advantage. To figure out which meal pattern is best suited for you, you must first find out more about your body.

Also Read: How to Lose Weight: 8 Metabolism-Boosting Foods

If you are someone who has a large appetite and have a problem with portion control, you are better off sticking to just three meals per day. In this case, eating more frequently may be counter-productive. However, if you are someone who gets full faster, you may want to break your meals down and eat more often. The most important thing to keep in mind here is calorie count. Make sure you consume only healthy calories and keep a count of them, so that you know how much you need to burn off in the gym.

In conclusion- there’s no hard and fast rule about which meal pattern is better suited for weight loss. It’s all relative and depends on your body needs, type, your lifestyle and eating habits.

How Often Should You Eat a Day? Myths & Facts About Meal Frequency

Can you trust your hunger or should you schedule your meals?

You may have heard that eating 6 small meals per day will boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. Or maybe the exact opposite – that fasting is great for weight loss.

There is a lot of confusion about meal frequency in the health and fitness industry.

But don’t worry – there’s one rule to rule them all.

The number one rule of meal frequency

The best number of meals a day for you is whatever it takes to meet your nutritional needs.

Here’s what that means…

What you eat – which macronutrients – and how much you eat matters more than how often you eat.

The fact is:

If you want to lose fat or gain weight the most important thing is to adjust your calorie intake accordingly.

Remember, eating smaller meals won’t speed up your weight loss if the calories stay the same.

And here’s why…

Meals & metabolism myths

Eating more smaller meals = faster metabolism = more fat loss

Yes, it is a fact that meal digestion increases your metabolic rate. But – it depends on the amount of calories and not how often you eat. Eating 900 calories in 3 small meals or just one big meal doesn’t make a difference.(1) Also, research review suggests that, when total daily calorie intake is controlled, eating more often won’t make a significant difference for weight loss.

Skipping breakfast is really bad for you

There are a lot of breakfast myths, but no scientific consensus on the importance of eating when you wake up.(2) Therefore, stick to your personal preference and don’t force yourself to eat. Exercising or running on an empty stomach is fine, but it’s advised to keep the intensity low.

If you skip meals you will enter “starvation mode” and stop losing weight

When you eat less, your metabolism has less to digest. So, restricting your calories will slow down your metabolic rate, whether you skip meals or not. But – that won’t stop you from losing weight. Your weight loss will naturally slow down once you have less to lose. It doesn’t mean you are in “starvation mode” and have to eat more often.

This common myth causes people to eat more and sabotage their diets. (Exceptions include conditions like anorexia and rare diseases such as marasmus.)

That being said, “starving yourself” with a severe caloric restriction over a long period of time is not advised for reasons beyond weight management, such as malnutrition.

Still you might be left wondering – what are the real reasons why you should eat more or less often?

Good reasons to eat more or less often

Consider eating less often if…

  • The “smaller meals approach” is complicated for you
  • You want to think less about food but still stick to your planned calories
  • You can’t lose weight even by restricting calories
  • You have digestive problems – a longer break between meals gives your body a chance to digest food completely

Looking for a change? Intermittent fasting can be a great way to lose weight and/or spend less time on food planning.

Is it safe to experiment with intermittent fasting?

In general, yes. But it’s not advised if you are younger than 18, pregnant, diabetic, underweight, or have had an eating disorder.

Consider eating more often (4 or more meals a day) if…

  • You want to gain weight but can’t eat so many calories in one meal
  • You have a very active job and high calorie demands
  • You are an athlete and need specific nutrient timing around your workouts
  • You feel “hangry” (hungry + angry) all the time (maybe you should try foods that keep you full longer?)

Key takeaways

  • There is no magical number of meals a day that will work for everyone. Trust your hunger – if you like to eat smaller meals more frequently, then go for it. If not, feel free to eat less often.
  • You don’t have to force yourself to eat on a schedule, but it would be good to create a habit of eating the same number of meals each day. Why? According to research, meal irregularity can have negative effects on your health. 2 meals, 3 meals, 6 meals a day or something else – try to choose a number of meals that you can stick to most days of the week.
  • Don’t forget the rule number one: the best number of meals for you depends on what your body needs to meet your goals.

Want to see results as soon as possible? The fastest way to lose weight or gain muscle is to use a food diary that keeps you on track!

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What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:

Does It Work?

Because the 3-Hour Diet restricts calories, you will likely lose weight if you follow it closely. Losing 10 pounds in the first 2 weeks may not be realistic or even healthy. But losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is a real possibility.

The key to this diet’s success lies in portion control. Research has not shown that eating frequent small meals increases weight loss success, though it may have other health advantages. Eating more often may decrease the feelings of hunger that can sabotage anyone’s good intentions.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Losing extra weight can reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes. It can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But some research has shown that eating smaller, more frequent meals may have added health benefits, as well.

Smaller meals are less likely to cause a big bump in the blood sugar levels that follow a big meal. Cholesterol levels also tend to be lower. If you have diabetes, check with your doctor or dietitian before changing your eating schedule. You may run the risk of hypoglycemia if you don’t make some adjustments in your diabetes treatment plan.

The Final Word

The 3-Hour Diet promotes weight loss by sensible portion control within a timed meal structure. It does not require special food purchases or supplements. It would work for those who prefer not to attend meetings or appointments as part of a diet plan. It also allows enough calories to make meals healthy and balanced.

No foods are restricted, so it is up to you to choose wisely in order to get the most out of this diet plan. It will take planning and effort on your part to have your healthy meal and snack choices on hand. This meal timing may be a challenge if you do not have a flexible working schedule or if you eat out a lot.

This plan does not require exercise, but increasing your physical activity will help you get to your healthy weight faster and keep you there. Check with your doctor first if you are really out of shape or have any health problems.

The best advice for planning a daily meal pattern for successful weight loss is

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