Introducing the three-hour diet

Changing when you eat - not just what you eat - could have an impact on weight loss according to the three-hour diet. Could it really work - and will it work for you? We take a look at the evidence...

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Who's idea was it?
The man behind the diet is Jorge Cruise, a fitness journalist and author of The Three-Hour Diet: How Low-Carb Diets Make You Fat and Timing Makes You Thin. He believes that the timings of when you eat, along with portion control, is the key to losing weight. There are three rules to follow: eat breakfast within one hour of waking, eat every three hours thereafter and stop eating three hours before bedtime.

What's the theory behind it?
Cruise believes that eating this way increases your baseline metabolic rate (BMR), so that the body burns up calories faster, as well as increasing energy levels and helping to control appetite. Although followers of his plan report losing weight, the expert community remains less convinced, with many pointing out that there's only thing that's been shown to increase metabolic rate, and that's exercise.

What are the timings?
Followers of the three-hour diet eat breakfast at 7am, a 100-calorie snack three hours later at 10am, followed by lunch three hours later at 1pm. After that, there is another 100-calorie snack at 3pm, followed by dinner three hours later. Soon after dinner you can enjoy a small 50-calorie treat – which should be the last thing you eat before bed. You must not, under any circumstances, eat anything during the three hours before bed time.

What foods are included?
No food is banned from the diet as such - but you must watch your portions. Cruise suggests picturing an average nine-inch dinner plate. On it are four items: carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fruit and vegetables. The carbohydrate portion should be no bigger than a Rubik's cube, the protein (chicken, cheese, eggs) no bigger than a deck of playing cards, the fat (salad dressing or olive oil) no bigger than the cap of a water bottle, and the fruit or vegetables about the same size as three DVD cases. Use this technique and each meal should contain around 400 calories according to Cruise.

Will the diet work for me?
If you find it hard to control your snacks, this diet will only increase your opportunities to overeat. However, if you have a big appetite, this could be an ideal plan, as it allows you to keep blood sugars steady and keep hunger at bay. As with any diet plan, it comes down to calories in versus calories out – if you exercise more frequently and control your calorie intake you should eventually lose weight.