The Warrior Diet: Review and Beginner’s Guide

Fasting, the reduction of or refrainment from taking food, is a practice that has been used since ancient times for various religious,ethical and health purposes.

Though fasting has a large and old history, it has now become popular as a weight loss tool.

The Warrior Diet ,which is a advanced or strict form of intermittent fasting, is a way of eating that cycles extended periods of little food consumption with short period of overeating. It has been promoted as an effective way to lose weight and improve energy levels and mental health.

Yet, some health experts argue that this fasting method is beyond the reason and not essential.

This article explains everything you want to know about the Warrior Diet to help you find out if it’s a safe and effective way to improve your health or to lose weight.

What is the Warrior Diet?

The Warrior Diet was designed in 2001 by Ori Hofmekler, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces, who transformed into the field of fitness and nutrition.

This diet is considered a type of intermittent fasting, an umbrella term for eating patterns that include periods of little calorie consumption over a specific period.

The Warrior Diet is based on the ways eating of ancient warriors, who ate very little in the day time and then feasted at night.

According to its founder, it’s created to “improve the way we eat, feel, perform and look” by stressing the body through reduced calorie consumption, thus activating “survival tendency.”

It should be noted that Ori Hofmekler himself accepts that the Warrior Diet is based on his own thoughts and observations ,not totally on science.

People following this diet eat in very small quantity for 20 hours in a day, then take as much food as desired at night.

During the 20-hour fasting period, it is recommended to take small amounts of dairy products, hard-boiled eggs,fresh fruits and vegetables and enough non-calorie drinks.

After 20 hours, people can necessarily binge on any type of food they want within a four-hour of overeating phase.

However, unprocessed, healthy nutritious,and organic food choices should be preferred.

To begin, you are needed to follow an initial three-week plan divided into phases that will be described in detail later in this article.

Followers of the Warrior Diet claim that this way of eating burns fat, improves concentration, enhanced energy levels and triggers cellular repair.

Does it have benefits?

The Warrior Diet does not have any research to back up its accurate methods, but intermittent fasting does.

Though the Warrior Diet is a little bit more extreme than other, more common forms of intermittent fasting like the 16:8 method (fasting for 16 hours and then consuming food for other 8 hours), it is normally a stricter form of this method.

For this reason, one could proclaim that the benefits linked to intermittent fasting also apply to the Warrior Diet.

It may aid weight loss

Various ways of intermittent fasting, including 20-hour fasting cycles, have been associated with weight loss.

One study, which closely resembled the Warrior Diet (fasting for 20 hours), found that people who ate meals over four hours in the evening lost more weight than those who consumed the same amount of calories in meals throughout the day.

What’s more, those who ate one time in a day showed remarkably decreased their fat mass and greater muscle mass (1).

A current review of six studies concluded that various ways of intermittent fasting, ranging from 3 to 12 months, were more effective at promoting weight loss than no dietary obstruction.

However, the review found that there were no remarkable difference in weight loss between individuals using intermittent fasting or continuous calorie restriction (normal dieting), meaning that calorie restriction without fasting was similarly effective (2).

Additionally, although reducing calorie consumption is the most common result of the Warrior Diet, some people practicing this eating pattern could technically consume too much calories during the four-hour of overeating period and experience weight gain.

Fasting may improve brain health

The Warrior Diet is supported as a method to improve brain health.

Intermittent fasting has been found to be helpful in the regulation of inflammatory pathways that affect your brain function.

For example, animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting lowered inflammatory markers like interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which may negatively affect memory and learning (3).

Other animal studies found that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease.It prevents this disease (45).

However, research in this field is incomplete and more human studies are required to find out the benefits of intermittent fasting on brain health.

It may decrease inflammation

Inflammation caused by oxidative injury is thought to be the reason of many diseases, such as cardiac disease, diabetes and certain cancers (6).

Studies have revealed that intermittent fasting may be an effective method to reduce inflammation in your body.

One study in 34 healthy men found that the 16:8 intermittent fasting method reduce levels of TNF-α and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), substances that support inflammation.

Another study in 50 people found that those fasting for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan had significantly reduce levels of the inflammatory markers like IL-6, C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine, compared to non-fasting individuals (8).

Fasting may improve blood sugar control

Some studies have found that intermittent fasting can improve blood sugar regulation in those with type 2 diabetes.

A study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes found that a fasting goal of 18–20 hours a day result in significant reduction in body weight and considerably improved fasting and after-meal blood sugar control (9).

However, another current study showed that intermittent fasting raised the chances of hypoglycemia (reduced blood sugar), even when taking lower doses of blood-sugar lowering medications (10).

Though lowering blood sugar levels in a safe way is beneficial, hypoglycemia can be dangerous and can cause serious issues (11).

For this reason, people with diabetes who want to practice intermittent fasting should take appointment with their doctor first.

Potential downfalls of the Warrior Diet

In spite of possible health benefits of the Warrior Diet, there are some disadvantages of this way of eating.

It may be difficult for some people to stick to

One of the most clear restrictions of the Warrior Diet is that it limits the time during which you may eat sufficient meals to a four-hour period.

This can be difficult to follow, particularly when taking part in normal social activities like going out to breakfast or lunch.

While some people may feel good when consuming very small amounts of calories over a 20-hour period, others may find that this way of eating is not suitable for their lifestyle.

It’s inappropriate for many people

The Warrior Diet is not a method of eating that everyone should practice.

This form of intermittent fasting is unsuitable for many people, including:

  • Children
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • People with certain diseases like type 1 diabetes, heart failure or certain cancers
  • Extreme athletes
  • People having eating disorders or a history of disordered eating
  • People who are underweight

Additionally, some research tells that woman’s harmone are more affected by intermittent fasting than men’s harmone.(1213).

Some women may be able to practice intermitten fasting without any harmful effects. However, some may experience irritating side effects like insomnia, anxiety, irregular periods and reproductive health complications.

It could lead to disordered eating

The Warrior Diet places a prominence on overeating, which could be problematic for many people.

Though Ori Hofmekler argues that one should know to stop eating “when you feel happily satisfied,” this may not be a healthy way of eating for everyone.

The Warrior Diet could cause binging and purging behaviors, particularly in those at risk of developing disordered eating.

Binging on large amounts of food may also cause feelings of regret and shame, which can negatively effect mental health and body image.

It could lead to negative side effects

The Warrior Diet may cause side effects, some of which could be severe and dangerous.

Possible side effects are (14):

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Reduced energy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Extreme appetite
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Constipation
  • Fainting
  • Irritability
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Weight gain

Moreover, many health professionals argue that people will not get sufficient nutrients when practicing an intermittent fasting plan like the Warrior Diet.

However, as long as healthy, nutrient-rich foods are preferred and calorie requirements are fulfilled, nutrient requirements can be covered by carefully choosing your food choices when following the Warrior Diet.

How to follow the Warrior Diet

Hofmekler suggests that anyone starting the Warrior Diet should follow an early three-week, three-phase plan to “improve the body’s capability to use fat for energy.”

Phase I (week one): “Detox”

  • Eat in small quantity for 20 hours during the day on vegetable juices, soups, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • During the four-hour of overeating period, eat a salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by one huge or multiple meals of plant proteins (beans), wheat-free whole grains, small amounts of cheese and cooked vegetables.
  • Coffee, tea, water and small amounts of milk can be taken throughout the day.

Phase II (week two): “High fat”

  • Eat a small meal for 20 hours during the day on vegetable juices, clear broth, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • During the four-hour overeating period in the evening, consume salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by lean animal protein, cooked vegetables and at least one handful of nuts.
  • No grains or starches are eaten during phase II.

Phase III (week three): “Concluding fat loss”

This phase cycles between periods of high carb and high protein consumption.

  • 1–2 days high in carbs
  • 1–2 days high in protein and low in carbs
  • 1–2 days high in carbs
  • 1–2 days high in protein and low in carbs

On high-carb days:

  • Eat a small meal for 20 hours during the day on vegetable juices, clear broth, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • During the four-hour overeating period, take salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by cooked vegetables, small amounts of animal protein and one main carbohydrate like corn, potatoes, pasta, barley or oats.

On high-protein, low-carb days:

  • Take a small meal for 20 hours during the day on vegetable juices, clear broth, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • During the four-hour overeating period in the evening, take salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by 8–16 ounces (227–454 grams) of animal protein with a side of cooked, non-starchy vegetables.
  • Though grains or starches are not to be eaten during the phase-III overeating slot, a small amount of fresh tropical fruit can be eaten as dessert.

Hofmekler suggests that once dieters have finished the three phases, they should initiate them over from the beginning.

However, instead of going through the whole cycle again, you may also forgo the initial phases and normally follow the guidelines of small eating for 20 hours on low-calorie foods, followed by eating healthy, protein-rich meals to satisfaction during the overeating phase.

Note that serving quantities on the Warrior Diet are indefinite and there is no set calorie restriction.

Hofmekler suggests taking a daily multivitamin along with other supplements such as probiotics and amino acids as part of this diet plan.

Dieters are also encouraged to combine with exercise, including strength and speed training, into their regular routines to support fat loss and to hydrate with sufficient water throughout the day.

What to eat and what to avoid

Although dieters are allowed to consume any food they like, whole, nutritious, organic foods are preferred, whereas processed foods, preservatives, added sugars and artificial sweeteners or other unhealthy and high calorie foods should be avoided.

Foods to eat in small amount during the undereating period.

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, kiwi,oranges mango, grapes, pineapple, etc.
  • Vegetable juices: Beet, carrot, cucumber celery, etc.
  • Broth: Chicken, beef, etc.
  • Raw vegetables: Greens, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.
  • Condiments: Small amounts of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, etc.
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.
  • Protein: Hard-boiled or poached eggs
  • Beverages: Water, seltzer, coffee, tea, coconut milk etc.

Foods to eat during the overeating phase:

  • Cooked vegetables: Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, broccoli greens, etc.
  • Proteins: Chicken, steak, fish, turkey, eggs, etc.
  • Starches: Beans, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Grains: Oats, quinoa, pasta, wheat barley, etc.
  • Dairy: Milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Fats: Nuts, olive oil, avocados etc.

Foods to avoid:

  • Candy
  • Cookies and cakes
  • Chips
  • Fast food
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meats (lunch meats, bacon)
  • Packaged foods
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sweetened drinks like fruit juice and soda

The Warrior Diet is a type of intermittent fasting program that cycles 20-hour periods of very few calorie consumption with four-hour periods of overeating.

Though there is a few research promoting the benefits of this particular type of fasting, intermittent fasting in general has been associated with number of health benefits from weight loss to improved brain health.

While some people may flourish on the Warrior Diet, others may find it’s rules too hard to follow.

Additionally, this way of eating isn’t suitable for many people, including pregnant and lactating women and children.

Although the Warrior Diet may benefit certain individuals, the tried and right method of eating healthy, increasing exercises and restricting overall calories is something everyone can follow.

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