The 3-Hour Diet has been featured on blogs and written up in plenty of magazines (Good Housekeeping, Fitness, etc.) Does it deserve the buzz? Here’s our take on this diet and whether or not we’d recommend it.
The claims: The author, Jorge Cruise, touts eating every three hours as a way to boost your body’s metabolism at rest (also known in the science world as RMR — resting metabolic rate). He also says that there is a reduced susceptibility to overindulge when you’re eating every three hours, as this is a natural way to suppress the appetite.
The details: The 3-hour diet is based on timing and controlled calories. You eat three 400 calorie meals, two 100 calorie snacks, and a 50 calorie treat every day. Breakfast is eaten within one hour of waking, a snack comes three hours later, lunch after another three hours, a second snack three hours later, and then dinner three hours after that second snack. After dinner, you can eat a 50 calorie treat, but there’s no eating within three hours of bedtime. The actual foods on the plan can vary, as long as you stick to the calorie guidelines. In general, Cruise recommends the plate method to balance lunch and dinner (fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, a quarter with carbs, and a quarter with protein).
Our take: As with many other diet plans (except maybe the Master Cleanse, which has no aspects we’d recommend), there are things we really like about the 3-hour Diet and things we think you should skip. Below is our take on the pros and cons of the plan.
1. Eating breakfast daily: This is a winning habit that alone can have a positive impact on your relationship with food, your food choices the rest of the day, along with your mood and concentration in the morning.
2. Having snacks: Snacks can work really well for certain people. If you tend to let yourself get really hungry between meals and then grab the first thing you see (and a lot of it), snacks can help blunt your hunger and give you more time to make a wise decision at meal time.
3. Eating 400 calorie meals: Moderately sized meals give your body more of a chance to tap into natural hunger/fullness cues. As we mentioned above, snacks are the perfect accessory to smaller meals because if you start to feel hungry before your next meal, your snack will be the perfect answer to tide you over without going overboard on calories.
4. Having a small treat each day: We never create meal plans that don’t include treats and are happy to see them on these plans. Treats — and the enjoyment of eating in general, are a very important part of a balanced, healthy diet.
1. Small treat = 50 calories: This might be a perfect amount to take the edge off a sweet tooth after dinner (it’s about the calories in two Hershey’s kisses).However, this isn’t a practical amount if you want to have a small slice of cake at a friend’s wedding, or share a cupcake with a pal for a treat. Larger treats are a reality of life and a long-term plan needs to include slightly larger treats. We typically recommend sticking to 150-calorie treats when you’re trying to lose weight.
2. Encourages 100 calories packs as snacks: Quantity – meaning calories — is only part of the equation in healthy eating. Quality is also important. This plan uses artificially sweetened foods and other “diet” foods to cut calories, but it’s often at the expense of nutrition.
3. Waiting 6 hours between meals: If you find that you are struggling with eating out of boredom, anger, sadness, etc. or that overeating gives you a sense of soothing, this may not be the best diet to try right off the bat. Going three hours without eating might merit a larger snack for some people (say, 150 to 200 calories), and being offered a 100-calorie pack of cookies could trigger overeating. Plus, there are six hours between meals on this plan, and that 100-calorie snack might not be sufficient to tide you over.
4. Focuses on calories: Similar to the notes we made above, we also don’t think making calories the main focus of a plan is a great idea for everyone. Some people do just fine with this method of keeping tabs on their eating, but not everyone does…and not every food has calorie labels.
5. Inflexible schedule: You’re going to have a rough time following this plan if you can’t eat every three hours, every day. Sometimes our schedules just don’t allow for this — that’s reality — and a long-term plan should acknowledge this and allow flexibility.
6. No research to support anything but exercise for raising RMR: While eating every three hours might prevent overwhelming hunger that could lead some people to binge, it could actually be a binge trigger for others…and since there’s no evidence that this type of eating raises RMR, don’t use that as a reason to follow this plan.
Have you tried this plan? Are there any other diet plans you’ve heard about lately that you’d like us to review?