The opposite of those extreme plans that call for fasting, The 3-Hour Diet by fitness expert Jorge Cruise, requires you to eat five times a day, including a tiny dessert. All your favorite foods, including carbs and sweets, are allowed, as long as you eat them on a strict timetable.
Eating small, balanced meals every 3 hours boosts your body’s fat-burning potential, Cruise says.
If you don’t eat often enough, he explains, your body goes into “starvation protection” mode, conserving calories, storing fat, and burning muscle (not fat) for energy. Cruise says that if you eat every 3 hours, you repeatedly reset your metabolism so it stays in high gear, and you burn fat all day long.
His rules around meal timing are:
- Eat breakfast within 1 hour of rising.
- Eat every 3 hours after that.
- Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime.
The fourth rule: Stick to the recommended portion sizes. Meals should average 400 calories; snacks, 100 calories; and dessert, 50 calories (like a Reese’s Mini), for a total of about 1,450 calories a day.
The result: He says you’ll drop up to 10 pounds in the first 2 weeks, and 2 pounds a week after that, without losing any fat-burning muscle tissue.
You’ll also curb your levels of cortisol -- the “stress hormone” -- and flatten your belly in the process, Cruise says. And you’ll have more energy and less hunger, because eating every 3 hours keeps your blood sugar levels steady.
That's not proven, though some research suggests that eating smaller, more frequent meals can help manage hunger.
What You Can Eat and What You Can't
On this diet, there are no bad foods, only bad portion sizes. In other words, you can eat whatever you want -- carbs, meat, fast food, frozen foods, sweets -- as long as you stay within your calorie limits and eat at the right intervals.
Meal suggestions included in the book are designed to provide “balanced portions of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.”
Though you can choose your own foods, Cruise does favor lean proteins and flaxseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil.
To keep portion sizes in check, he encourages you to picture a Rubik’s cube for a serving of carbs, a deck of cards for meat and other proteins, and a water bottle cap for salad dressing and other fats.