When retiree Beverly Simon, 60, told weight-loss guru Ian K. Smith, MD, that she’d put a twist on his bestselling Clean 20 ($11.20, Amazon) and was shrinking faster than ever, she inspired him to take a closer look at research on “time-restricted eating.” Dr. Smith learned that when we limit daily food consumption to a fairly small window — say, 10 am to 6 pm each day — it triggers biochemical changes in our bodies that enhance fat loss and improve key health markers. “I said, ‘Why not combine it with my clean-eating program and see what happens?’” shares the Harvard-educated doctor, whose advice has helped millions get slim. Just like that, the principles in his new book, Clean & Lean ($11.84, Amazon), were born. And they’re already helping folks power off up to 13 pounds every five days!
The Clean & Lean approach is simple: For fastest results, pick a daily eight-hour eating window that’s convenient for you. During that time frame, you’ll enjoy meals and snacks made with moderate portions of “clean” ingredients. “Any food very close to its natural form is considered clean,” says Dr. Smith. High-quality protein, healthy fat, whole grains, and produce are all on the menu. “You can have a lot of good food! Just eat it all inside your window.” The rest of the time, have nothing except water. That’s all it takes to trigger waist-shrinking magic.
Burn on All Cylinders
There are a number of reasons Dr. Smith’s approach works. For starters, studies show that clean foods are hard to break down, forcing our bodies to incinerate hundreds of extra calories during digestion. Clean foods also offer a bonanza of antioxidants, fatty acids, and other nutrients linked to a smaller appetite and faster metabolism. And when you add time-restricted eating — also known as “intermittent fasting” — things heat up even more. “Our bodies burn sugar as their main fuel for several hours after a typical meal,” explains Dr. Smith. “Once the sugar is depleted, we shift to burning stored fat for fuel.” If you eat during an eight hour window and fast for 16 hours, he notes, “You can burn stored fat as your main fuel for up to 10 hours a day!”
Lose for Good
Your pancreas plays a surprise role too. The gland is responsible for churning out all the insulin your body needs to get blood sugar into cells, where it can either be burned for energy or stored as fat. In today’s world of blood sugar–spiking processed foods, the pancreas can burn out, says Dr. Smith. The gland stops making enough insulin to get sugar out of your blood, which causes irritation and damage, sending your body into crisis mode. Your system tries to clear away sugar as quickly as possible. “It’s easier for sugar to be stored as fat than to be burned for fuel, so that’s what happens,” explains Thinsulin Program ($16.99, Amazon) coauthor Tu Nguyen, MD. Virtually everything you eat turns to flab.
The good news? Fasting for 16 hours a day gives the pancreas a daily rest with no blood sugar to manage at all — and preliminary USC research shows it allows the gland to heal and restore insulin function. A healthy pancreas reduces the risk of diabetes and countless other diseases, plus, more of what you eat turns to energy.
One study even found a healthy pancreas helps us lose weight four times faster! It also becomes far easier to keep weight down. As Dr. Smith puts it, “You regain control of your health and weight destiny.”
After a long struggle with overeating and obsessive calorie counting, Virginia reader Jessyca Reynolds, 44, discovered, “Real food makes me feel too good to choose junk.” Then she heard about time-restricted eating. The pounds poured off, her dangerously high blood pressure dropped, even her anxiety eased. “I eat awesome food like burgers and fajitas without ever restricting my calories. I’m full, happy and have high energy.” All told, she’s shed 135 pounds. (Check out @CoachJessyca on Instagram for more of her story.)
And let’s not forget Beverly Simon. Despite a sluggish thyroid, she shed 15 pounds in a few weeks. “My doctor was amazed since so many other things had failed for me,” says the Washington, DC-based Dr. Smith fan. “My daughter Nicole tried it and lost nearly 50 pounds in 12 weeks before her wedding. It really works. And, oh my goodness, it’s so easy. Anyone can do this!”
The Clean & Lean Diet Plan
For best results, choose the same eight-hour window during which you’ll eat all your food each day. (If that feels too hard, experiment with a 10- or 12-hour window.) At main sittings, enjoy unlimited non-starchy veggies plus two to three additional servings of clean ingredients (mix-and-match between protein, carbs, and fat). Snack three times daily on a little clean protein or carbs with some healthy fat. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Clean & Lean Sample Menu
Breakfast: Mash half an avocado with a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper; spread on 100 percent whole-wheat toast and serve with an egg, prepared any style.
Lunch: Top a mixed salad with 4 oz. seasoned chicken, 1⁄2 cup chickpeas, and a spritz of lemon; use 2 Tbsp. hummus or guacamole as salad dressing.
Snack: Enjoy any 3 daily: 1 serving of fruit with nut butter; 1⁄2 cup yogurt with berries; 1⁄2 cup roasted chickpeas; 7 olives with 1 oz. cheese; 20 nuts.
Dinner: 6 oz. roasted fish prepared with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning. Enjoy unlimited steamed veggies spritzed with lemon.
Clean & Lean Recipe: Healthy Meatloaf
Paired with steamed veggies, these fun treats are a perfect clean meal.
- 2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 eggs
- 1⁄4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 6 potatoes, peeled and boiled
- 1⁄4 cup coconut oil
- Mix ground beef, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, seasonings and sauce, plus salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake in a greased muffin tin at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 min., until cooked through. Cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, whip potatoes with oil and seasoning to taste. Pipe or spoon over meat.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.