The 3-Hour Diet
How the 3-Hour Diet Works
As the name of the diet implies, timing is everything with The 3-Hour Diet.
Breakfast is at 7 a.m. Three hours later, at 10 a.m., there's a 100-calorie snack; Cruise favors Nabisco Snack Packs, which are prepackaged in 100-calorie portions. Three hours after your snack comes lunch. Then three hours later another 100-calorie snack, followed in three hours by dinner.
During or soon after dinner you enjoy a small 50-calorie treat. Here's where Cruise is partial to recommending Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis. Your timing here should have you nibbling this last item three hours before bed. No eating after that.
"When you eat every three hours," Cruise says, "it teaches your body to constantly reset its metabolism. It is almost like a workout for the body every time you eat these meals."
By eating every three hours you lower belly fat, says Cruise, burning 2 pounds a week, without muscle loss. Then, because you always eat every three hours, you repeatedly reset your metabolism so you're constantly burning fat.
This gives your body an eating workout, Cruise says, so that it consumes fat and juices up your baseline metabolic rate. "And that's a great thing."
What the Experts Say About The 3-Hour Diet
Whether you're eating three meals or six a day, "the only thing that has been consistently shown to increase BMR is exercise," says Vicki Sullivan, PhD, RD, LD, national lecturer and president of Balance, LLC.
While Sullivan agrees that some people may feel energized and less hungry eating every three hours, not everyone will.
"I have clients who find that they gain weight when they eat more frequently, or some simply cannot eat every three hours due to job constraints," Sullivan says.
And in one recent study, baseline metabolic rate was unaffected by meal timing. "Other studies also show that eating frequency has no effect on a person's overall metabolic rate," says Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN, with the American Institute for Cancer Research.
However, Sullivan believes that "getting people to eat breakfast at all would be a great improvement and is a long-standing, well-documented way to help with weight loss and weight management."
Food for Thought
Overall, with its insistence on portion control, the three-hour diet boils down to a sensible "calories in-calories out" approach -- reduce how many calories you consume compared to how many you burn and you will lose weight.
So is this The 3-Hour Diet for you?
The plan's reliance on five to six meals a day gives some experts pause, like Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, nutritionist and "Recipe Doctor" with the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. "The truth is, the more times a day you sit down to eat a meal or snack, the more opportunities you have to overeat," she writes in her article 3-Hour Diet or 3 Meals a Day?