The 3-hour Diet promises you will “lose up to 10 pounds in just 2 weeks by eating every 3 hours.” Does it work?
I was very intrigued by the title of a book by Jorge Cruise – who just like many Americans who wrote such fitness and weight-loss manuals – used to be over-weight but has now come to possess a much-envied well-sculpted body after discovering this secret method of weight-loss.
So what’s the intriguing title you ask?
Well, it’s called The 3-hour Diet with the tempting sub-headline promising that you can “Lose up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks by Eating Every 3 Hours!”. Eat to Lose Weight by following some simple rules. But before we delve into the diet, let me explain a little bit more…
Why was it intriguing?
Because I am the sort of person who is always eating! I eat almost every two to three hours. Honest, I have five to six meals every day since I was a child.
My family grew up eating all the time, there is always food in the house. My grandmother, who by the way, is a nonya and a fantastic cook, has a well-stocked kitchen and never failed to make mouth-watering dishes, snacks, kuehs, day in and day out. She is the sort of the matriarch of the kitchen, and her joy is delighting us especially the grandchildren with her culinary creations. You can imagine how well and how much I ate as a child.
So my routine as a child was to have a huge breakfast consisting of bread and 2 half boiled eggs before going to school; then there is break time where I would usually snack on a curry puff or bun or noodle. Lunch is usually taken at home unless I have extra-curriculum activities and needed to stay in school till late afternoon. Then my mother would pack me noodles or rice for lunch.
When I reach home, I would have lunch and do my homework. And tea time is a must. My grandmother would make me a hot drink and we would have some biscuits or tasty snacks together. I do remember taking after afternoon naps with her when I was in kindergarten. Sweet memories, I had a really wonderful childhood.
But I think I was too busy with homework in primary school to take a siesta with granny. Too bad.
Then it’s dinner. And if my dad comes home late, he would pack supper. Naturally, I would also join in. I love those late nights’ goodies!
I am, surprisingly not fat – nor overweight. But I am not at my ideal weight yet (note ideal weight is subjective as I am definitely at a healthy weight now).
But as I move into adulthood and starting working, I realized that most people only have 3 meals a day, and these meals are sometimes 4-5 hours apart! I couldn’t get used to it as I would be craving for something after 2 or 3 hours. My friends used to say I have a high metabolic rate, and I do not deny that. It could very well be so, but my body tells me I am hungry after a couple of hours.
I am quite embarrassed by my dietary habits actually as I am always on the lookout for food. It makes me feel like a glutton, although I am not fat, but you know… it can get a bit annoying especially during a busy day and you simply can’t find the time to grab a bite.
I usually try to buy a bun (chicken pau or something meaty) to satisfy my hunger pangs. And of course , you cannot do without a good cuppa!
So since I am already sold on this 5-6 meals a day routine anyway, I thought I should give this method a try … and see how it goes. And this is non restrictive, especially if I do not have to cut out caffeine which is my only vice (besides a penchant for anything made of dark chocolate…). You are even encouraged to have treats and snacks! This plan is right up my alley.
So why wait? I will summarise the 3-Hour Diet in the next post and update on the status of my experiment – so you don’t have to 🙂
So is This Another Fad Diet?
It may very well be, but this book seemed to COLLABORATE what my body has been telling me all along!
It actually says that you should be eating every 3 hours, and this will Boost your metabolic rate, Stop hunger, and start Losing Weight just by eating every 3 hours. But best of all, at least for me, it will start with losing your BELLY FAT first!
Now that is something most women can only dream of, where the lower body (waist, hips, tummy) tend to be the problem areas for us girls. You know… those annoying love handles…
Well, that’s what the author promise.
What I also like about the book is that Jorge Cruise set up a comparison table against most of the other Fad diets such as South Beach, Cabbage Soup (now, haven’t we all heard of this….) Hollywood 48-hour Miracle, Blood Type Diet (that is something my sister has been keen on so maybe she can tell me more about it), Grapefruit , Raw Food and even a Peanut Butter/Ice Cream diet! Wow, I have not heard of that…
He gives a breakdown of what’s banned, and why the diet is dangerous. Oh by the way, he is an opponent of the now familiar low-carbohydrate diet that was also once a huge craze. He listed many reasons why low-carb diets actually make one FAT. You can read more about this in his book “The 3-Hour Diet”.
SO, the conclusion is that his 3-hour diet is the best alternative as you can have almost every food you desire and is easy to sustain. It does not deprive your body of the foods you like.
But if you boil it down, it’s simply having a BALANCED meal (hello, that is taught in school, remember the food pyramid?) So you are supposed to have carbohydrates, proteins and lots and lots of vegetables, and a little bit of fat.
The author uses an interesting visualization method to help us remember the different food groups and how much one is supposed to have at one sitting.
I have to say, it is quite useful visualization technique and I even found myself looking at the rice (ie carbohydrate) on my plate and wondering if its the size of a rubic cube!
More on the visualization later…
First, the Benefits of the 3-Hour Diet
Among the benefits, it is supposed to up your basal metabolic rate, and increase your energy levels as blood sugar in your body is kept stable, which incidentally translates to fewer cravings and hence a natural way to suppress appetite. Got it?
But what really got me excited was the final benefit … Reducing the belly-bulging hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is closely related to abdominal fat. Jorge cited a study in The New England Journal of Medicine that showed how eating every 3 hours in fact helped to reduce the levels of cortisol in humans.
The study found that individuals who ate frequent, small meals actually reduced their cortisol levels by 17 % compared to those who took 3 large meals (even though both groups consumed the same amount of food).
Now isn’t that something to feed on? More in later posts…
What is new about Jorge Cruise’s 3-Hour Diet program is that it’s focused on the WHEN of eating.
Why 3 Hours?
Jorge Cruise explains that 3 is the magic hour. I have to struggle with that a little as I am usually feeling the hunger pangs after 2 hours.
I am feeling hungry now as I am writing this; and it’s only 2 hours after my lunch at 12.30pm. I am only supposed to be having a snack at 3.30pm, according to Jorge’s plan. Maybe I should up my intake for lunch.
Why Does It Work?
By eating every 3 hours, you force your body to turn off the starvation protection mechanism (SPM). Apparently, SPM gets turned on anytime you let more than 3 hours pass between eating episodes.
When this happens, your body conserves fat and burns muscles! Why is this bad?
Because muscles are the very tissues that help you burn calories even during rest time (called the resting metabolism). And trust me, your body looks more sculpted and better/leaner when you have more muscle mass.
I am not talking about bulky muscles like the body builders you see on TV, I am talking about being toned and having a great body outline and form. I do resistance training to tone and build muscles, more on that in another post.
This is especially beneficial for women as it not only helps to build muscles, but also increase bone density.
For women, this will reduce the risks of osteoporosis or delay it’s onset. And for the generally small-framed Asian women, this is particularly critical for upkeep of our body posture and overall health.
So if you keep losing your muscle mass due to SPM, then your metabolic rate goes downhill, and more fat tissues get stored up … a Vicious cycle develops! Double Whammy!
A Quick Summary of the 3-Hour Diet by Jorge Cruise
The key to Jorge’s plan is TIMING.
He found that the times that people ate their meals were crucial as it impacted what called the “starvation protection mechanism” – this mechanism determines if people maintain their lean muscle mass and their metabolism rate.
The theory is: by eating frequent and controlled amount of food, Jorge promised that one can lose fat and gain muscles that will boost metabolism rates and a host of other benefits, including losing tummy fat!
Next, the 3 simple rules that Jorge promised would change your life 🙂
The rules are actually quite simple … It’s simple but I already stumbled at the first one:)
1. Eat Breakfast within 1 hour of rising – Never skip breakfast!
See, whatever you have heard about breakfast being the most important meal of the day is TRUE! Never skip breakfast … Now, how many of us have broken this cardinal rule before?
According to his book , the reason for this is breakfast helps kickstart your metabolism into high gear after sleeping for 6 to 8 hours. Your body needs to be woken up. If you don’t have a proper breakfast within the time limit, your body will end up protecting body fat and cannibalizing muscles.
Now, let me see… breakfast is something I usually skip, BRUNCH is the preferred meal…
I would have a cup of coffee if I am in a hurry… but I guess that’s not counted. I hate cold cereals with milk in the morning. I want something nice and toasty; so it’s the kopitiam breakfast set (2 slices of toast, 2 soft boiled eggs – yummy) but that would already bust the 1-hour time line. I mean by the time I get ready and arrive at the office. Yes, my body is starving by then, I can really feel it.
But no fear, Jorge actually endorsed McDonald’s egg muffin set and Jack in the Box breakfast Jack (which I do not have here, so MacDonald it is then). But he modified by adding 1 glass of milk and medium piece of fruit or berries.
So what can I do about this? This is my first hurdle … I am still working on it. Some ideas I have include stocking up on wholemeal breads, quick snacks, fruits that are easy to eat like apples and bananas. Plus, I think soya bean milk is a great option as it’s cheap and easy on the throat in the morning.
2. Eat every 3 hours
I think this part is relatively easy, unless of course you are stuck in meetings all day long, or presentation and so on. So how do you work around it? Well, some planning goes a long way. Some people actually pack yogurt, nuts if they know they will be stuck somewhere when the 3 hour comes around. So, they just excused themselves (toilet or something) and have a quick snack.
Jorge explained that it can be flexible but not more than 30 minutes should pass before the next meal. And even if you do fail on a few occasions, the important thing is to pick yourself up and continue with the program. Don’t just give up.
Like this morning, I didn’t manage to have my breakfast within 1 hour of waking up, actually it was about 2-3 hours after, which is the common case for me. But I managed to keep to lunch and snack and the rest of the 3-Hour schedule for the day.
3. Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime
On the 3-Hour Diet plan, you are supposed to stop eating 3 hours before bedtime, so let’s say if your bedtime is 12 midnight, then your last bite should be by 9PM.
Oprah Winfrey once shared in her program that she adheres strictly to one rule of dieting: She stops eating once it’s 7.30PM. She advocates not eating after that as she believes that the body can’t use up all those extra calories from late night snackings.
Now, how many of us can even reach home by 7.30PM, or have dinner by then? So it’s a tall order on many counts. But I think it was Bob Greene, her fitness guru friend, added that it’s okay as long as you stop eating 3 hours before bedtime
But Oprah was not convinced. She feels that what most people would do is eat late and make themselves feel better later by promising to sleep LATER to meet the 3 hour criteria!
Hahaa.. I must say I agree with her. She is a wise woman who understands human nature very well indeed 🙂 If you were craving for a late night snack, how would you rationalize it? I would probably say, hey I can sleep later tonight… and that means I can still snack. So she is a strong advocate of a strict CUT-OFF time, so NO cheating!
Next up, WHAT TO EAT?
How Much Should I Eat?
Well, Jorge Cruise employs a 3-Day Diet Plate Visualization Technique in his book The 3-Hour Diet.
He suggests starting with a 9-inch dinner plate. Then visualize having half potion of vegetables, the other half about equally divided into carbohydrate (another visualization trick is to think of it as a rubric cube) and protein (a deck of cards) and one cap of fat.
A simple breakdown of the meals:
The main meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner = 400 calories (sub total of 1200 calories)
Snack = 100 calories (morning/afternoon snack with a subtotal of 200 calories)
Treat = 50 calories (3 hours after dinner or together with dinner)
Total calories intake is 1450
Customise for Asians and Our Palate
Jorge suggests that for those who are shorter in statue (ie 5’3) and weigh less than 150 pounds, (which I think generally refers to most Asian girls like me right?), calorie intake should be lower. The total caloric intake should be 1,250 instead of 1,450.
This can be done by cutting the calories of breakfast into half – ie 200 calories instead of 400 (I think that is manageable for me as my breakfast is usually lighter than my lunch and dinner due to lack of time!)
But watch out, over the weekend, I usually overload on those deep fried and greasy stuff like dough-sticks, fried carrot cake and char kway teow … I just tend to over-indulge!
And as usual, the book only covers mainly Western fare. I have noticed that there are very few books out there that give a guideline for the Asian palate. So how much calories does a Kopitiam breakfast set carry? Or chicken rice and char kway teow? As we are aware, much of our favourite dishes are exactly loaded with vegetables and fibres either.
For me, it’s really a guesstimate which has worked for me so far. I love the economic rice stall as that means I order 2 portions of any vegetables that I fancy, and one portion of meat! So it fits nicely with the dinner plate visualization that Jorge talks about.
If I feel like having a bowl of laksa or prawn noodles, then I miss out on the vegetables portion right? I would add 1 portion of fruits or down a cup of vegetable juice like celery with green apples.
Or if I have time, I would buy the pre-washed salads from the supermarket and make my own salad dressing. That includes olive oil, balsamic vinegar, with a little bit of wasabi paste. Mix everything up and drizzle over the greens. It’s actually not too bad hahahaa. I would also add some almond nuts and dried apricots. These dried foods can be bought at Fairprice Supermarket under the Origins brand. These are from organic sources. And they taste yummy!