How The 3-Hour Diet Works
As the name of the diet implies, timing is everything.
The 3 Hour diet is all about meal frequency. According to the author, by eating every 3 hours, blood sugar levels will be more consistent and the bodies BMR (basal metabolic rate -- how fast your body burns calories) will remain in a elevated state. This state increases energy, and decreases appetite.
For most people eating every three hours will equate to about 5 to 6 meals per day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - with two to three snacks in between.
Other Components Suggestions of the 3-Hour Diet
- Food groups should always be combined - i.e. protein should be eaten with carbohydrates and fat (and fruit and vegetables where possible).
- Cruise recommends drinking 8 glasses of water per day. Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day is essential for optimal health.
- Cruise's plan encourages small meals followed by small snacks 3 hours later. Cruise favors Nabisco Snack Packs as his snack of choice. They are prepackaged in 100-calorie portions. He favors them because of the portion control. Because Cruise does not favor late night eating he suggests only a small 50-calorie treat after dinner and as the last "meal" of the day. This is where Cruise is partial to recommending Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis.
How to Benefit from The 3-Hour Diet
The true keys to Cruise's diet involve a trinity of food timing:
- Eat breakfast within one hour of rising
- Eat every three hours thereafter
- Stop eating three hours before bedtime
What the Author Says
"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."
Portions are very important, as well as timing," according to Cruise. Cruise doesn't really advise dieters what to eat, instead he instructs people to visualize what they are eating.
He recommends to start with the image of a 9 inch plate and divide the plate into four items. He instructs the readers to "see":
- Three DVD cases to represent how much fruit or vegetables to eat at each meal.
- A deck of playing cards, symbolizing the protein serving at each meal. According to Cruise this is approximately 3 ounces, and the serving can be any protein, -- from chicken to cheese, eggs, and fish.
- A water bottle cap represents the amount of fat on your plate -- a little more than one teaspoon. This can be salad dressing, butter, olive oil -- any fat you favor.
- A Rubik's cube, representing your carbohydrate portion at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What Food is Allowed in The 3-Hour Diet
The 3-Hour Diet gives you the freedom to eat a wide variety of foods, as long as you eat often, and control your portions. If you want a diet that includes candy bars, cookies and cakes has no "bad" foods, the three-hour diet is the plan for you.
Jorge Cruise, believes so strongly in his plan that he actually encourages people to enjoy candy.
The 3-Hour diet also addresses processed and fast foods - and much of the sales pitch of the diet is about being able to lose weight and still eat some "junk" foods.
The Sample Meal Plan for The 3-Hour Diet
McDonalds Egg McMuffin, 1% milk & medium apple
Lean Cuisine Cheese cannelloni, side salad with nonfat dressing
3oz grilled chicken,1 small baked potato, 1tsp butter, 1 cup green beans
Sample Snacks - Nabisco 100 calorie Oreo cookie snack, Pria Double Choc bar
Freebies - 1 coffee, 1 non dairy creamer, 1 diet coke,water
For breakfast, a ham and cheese omelet, bread and lots of fruit.
Three hours later, a Pria bar. Three hours later, a lunch of beef enchilada, rice and a salad with regular or non fat dressing. Three hours later, a snack like piece of fruit or a few cookies. Three hours later, dinner; salmon, veggies, rice and three hours later, dessert, like chocolate mousse.
What Foods are Not Allowed in The 3-Hour Diet
The 3-hour diet does not restrict many foods. Cruise believes there are no bad foods, just bad portions. Using this "visual timing" method, he says you'll find that all meals are balanced at about 400 calories each. Learn to eat the right portion, at the right time, he maintains, and you will lose weight.
Pros of the 3-Hour Diet
The 3-Hour Diet is a popular diet because it is easy to follow, does not require calorie counter, allows some "bad food" but in the end offers very little in new science or nutrition.
The diet does encourage appropriate exercise, portion control and frequent eating. This approach is an effective strategy for losing weight.
Eating frequently with small meals can help control blood sugar spikes and keep the BMR elevated, both good practices when trying to keep energy levels steady and lose weight.
Cons of the 3-Hour Diet
The principles of correct nutrition, appropriate exercise, and frequent eating are an effective strategy for losing weight. However the 3-Hour diet tries to be too popular at times. It also encourages (or at least doesn't discourage) eating processed foods. The inclusion of so many processed foods is a sell-out - as healthy nutrition often includes only the most un-processed foods.
The diet emphasizes food timing, and just touches upon exercise. The diet would be better if it made physical activity, and carbohydrate choices an equally important component for long-term weight loss.
The author makes some outrageous claims - such as "burn 2 pounds of fat per week, with belly fat first". Such a comment is completely false, as it is not possible to spot reduce body fat - it will burn off from all over the body, and is different for each person. Also, as is most weight loss diets, the body will eventually plateau - and many diets such as the 3-Hour diet seem to conveniently ignore this pattern.
The author also criticizes low-carb diets claiming that they do not work. In principle the author is correct, as the body does need a certain amount of carbohydrates, and most people on low carbohydrate diets eventually plateau and then put back on the weight. However, the author should concede that there are a small segment of the population that are sensitive to carbohydrates and for these people low-carb diets may be an effective strategy for losing weight.
Potential Risks of The 3-Hour Diet
If you are someone who has a difficult time eating a small amount at a meal or snack (you have a hard time stopping once you get started), then it's quite possible that, for you, eating five or six times a day isn't the best way to go.
What the Experts Say about The 3-Hour Diet
Eating frequently with small meals can help control blood sugar spikes, and help minimize fat storage both good practices when trying to keep energy levels steady and lose weight.
Cruise's plan doesn't restrict high fat protein. The 3-Hour Diet allows any protein -- from chicken to cheese, eggs, and fish. For long term weight loss, high quality low fat protein would be a better alternative according to Los Angeles based nutrition expert, Jeff Behar.
The author states that eating frequently raises basal metabolic rate (BMR), however this is not entirely true. However, whether you're eating three meals or six a day, the only thing that has been consistently shown to increase BMR is exercise. Therefore the 3-Hour diet would be far more effective if it stressed the importance of daily exercise combined with portion control and eating 5 to 6 small low fat high protein meals, according to Behar.
The 3-Hour Diet is a popular diet because it is easy to follow, does not require calorie counter, allows some "bad food" but in the end offers very little in new science or nutrition. For many people, such an easy approach without a dramatic diet change can be an effective start to losing weight and getting on a more sensible nutritional plan for losing weight and keeping the weight off.
Bottom line: The 3-Hour Diet will be useful to many who are just beginning the journey of understanding nutrition and weight management - but it is only a beginning.
SOURCES: Zied, E. www.eatright.org: "Popular Diets Reviewed, Part 2." WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Feature: "3-Hour Diet or 3 Meals a Day." Jeff Behar, MS, MBA, MyBestHealthPortal.com Nutrition consultant.