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updated: 6/18/2013 9:21 AM

Lean and Lovin' it: Intermittent fasting a key to quick weight loss?

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The first time I saw David Zinczenko's new book, "The 8-Hour Diet," I thought "An 8-hour diet? R-e-a-l-l-y?"

Zinczenko, editor-in-chief at Men's Health, claims that readers can eat whatever they want and in just six weeks drop 5-10 pounds -- or even more; shift the aging process into reverse and dramatically decrease diabetes risk as well as cut the risk of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

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Zinczenko claim that it matters more when you eat -- not what you eat -- and that you only have to diet for eight hours a day seemed like a bunch of hooey, until I read his book. Turns out this oddly-configured, on-again/off-again food plan (called intermittent fasting) based on Salk Institute research, actually seems to work and work so well for those who followed it that I tried it. (More about that in a bit.)

The "8-Hour Diet" sees magic in eights: eight hours, eight minutes and eight foods.

Eight hours: You eat for eight hours a day, after fasting for 16 hours. You can do this for as few as three days a week (slower weight loss), or seven days a week (greater weight loss). During those 16 hours you can consume zero-calorie fluids such as water, coffee or tea (decaf after 4 p.m.) or fat-free broths (like chicken or beef). Those 16 calorie-free hours make your body burn-off all the glycogen calories stored in your liver.

Eight minutes: Before breaking the 16-hour fast, Zinczenko recommends exercising, following his 8-minute workout program. In his book's last section, Zinczenko showcases, with pictures, 65 pages of exercises that can be incorporated into a personalized workout. This short workout starts burning calories from stored fat in your body, since your body no longer has stored glycogen calories to burn.

Eight foods: Finally, you can eat anything for the remaining eight hours, but Zinczenko advises that you include foods from these eight groups: eggs and lean meats, yogurt and dairy, nuts, beans and legumes, raspberries and other berries, tree fruits, whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal), spinach and green vegetables. Zinczenko suggests combining a fat buster (the first four) with a health booster (the later four). Examples include raspberries with low-fat plain yogurt or celery sticks and homemade hummus.

Finding Zinczenko's intermittent fasting arguments compelling, I decided to give his plan a two-week try.

Pros: I lost about a pound a week, following the diet for only three consecutive days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I rarely felt hungry during my 16-hour fasts. And I did eat some calorie-dense personal favorite foods on those days, like chocolate, raisins and almonds.

Cons: It was harder than I thought making the plan fit into my schedule, since I get home on fasting days between 6 and 8 p.m. That meant starting my fast late in the evening and ending it near midafternoon the following day.

Finally, you'll also find 50 recipes (complete with nutrition info) created by best-selling author Matt Goulding that will make for healthy after-fast dining.

A link to one of Goulding's recipes to enjoy whether you decide to follow Zinczenko's plan or not is attached above.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write him at don@theleanwizard.com.

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