What Is A Warrior Diet?
A Warrior Diet is a type of intermittent fasting that is believed to help in weight loss, offer strength and energy, and improve health. It is based on the diet of the ancient warriors. Earlier, warriors used to consume little during the day and at night feasted well. This diet was developed by Ori Hofmekler in 2001, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces, who came into the fitness and nutrition field.
The Warrior Diet involves eating patterns that comprise certain periods of reduced calorie intake for a defined period. The founder of this diet designed this diet for improving the way we eat, perform, feel, and look.
Individuals following Warrior Diet undereat for 20 hours daily and then eat much food at night. During the fasting of 20 hours, they consume small amounts of dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and also plenty of non-calorie fluids. After fasting for 20 hours, they can binge on any food for the next four-hour of the overeating window. However, mostly unprocessed, healthy, and organic foods are encouraged to eat.
Generally, people who want to start Warrior Diets follow an initial three-week plan that is divided into phases. We will look after these phases in the later part of this article.
NOTE: Ori Hofmekler or the creator of Warrior Diet acknowledges that this diet is based on his observations and beliefs and is not strictly based on science.
The Science Behind The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet claims that fat-burning hormones are produced during fasting, which allows our body to more efficiently use the proteins, stabilizes the levels of blood sugar, increases growth hormone levels, increases testosterone, and also allows amino acids to act effectively on the brain. Thus, at the end of the fasting/undereating phase, our body is positioned to eat an excess of food without gaining fat in the body.
According to research published in “Ageing Research Reviews” in October 2017, it has been mentioned that Warrior Diet and other diets that primarily involve intermittent fasting might also put your body into Ketosis. The basis of the keto diet, or Ketosis, is a metabolic state in which our body receives its fuel from fat and not from sugar.
NOTE: However, experts are still skeptical about the benefits of a Warrior Diet.
Pros Of The Warrior Diet
It Might Help In Weight Loss
Though no research support that Warrior Diet can specifically help in weight loss, however, studies show that intermittent fasting has benefits.
For example, a small study looked at the benefits of fasting from dawn to sunset on participants who had metabolic syndrome.(1) It was found after four weeks that participants involved in the research had a reduced body mass index and circumference of their waist, and also had an improvement in their blood pressure.
Separate studies have suggested the benefits of intermittent fasting, which might be weight loss, reduced cholesterol levels, and improved heart health.(2)
Different ways of intermittent fasting, including twenty-hour fasting cycles, are known to be associated with weight loss.
A study that involved participants following a diet that closely mimicked the Warrior Diet or fasting for 20 hours, found that those who ate their meals over four hours in the evening had more weight loss when compared to those who ate the same amount of calories throughout the day. It also showed that individuals who consumed one meal a day experienced a significant reduction of fat mass and greater muscle mass.(3)
However, a review has shown that there were no significant differences in weight loss between dieters who used intermittent fasting or continuous calorie restriction. This means that calorie restriction without fasting was found to be equally effective in weight loss.(4)
Inflammation Can Be Reduced Through Warrior Diet
Oxidative stress can cause inflammation and this can cause various diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers.(5) Studies have shown that intermittent fasting might be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body.
A study involving 50 individuals fasting for the Ramadam (Holy month for Muslims) experienced significantly lower levels of the inflammatory markers IL-6, C-reactive protein or CRP, and homocysteine when compared with those non-fasting individuals.(6)
Another study conducted in 34 healthy men has shown that the 16:8 intermittent fasting method reduced the levels of an inflammatory cytokine( TNF- α) and a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1 beta( IL-1 β).(7)
Warrior Diet Can Promote Brain Health
The Warrior Diet is believed to promote or improve our brain health. Based on scientific studies on intermittent fasting, there might be some truth involved with the warrior diet and improved brain health.
Intermittent fasting is beneficial for the regulation of inflammatory pathways that affect the functioning of our brain. This has been shown in various animal studies.
For instance, animal studies have shown that inflammatory markers, such as IL-6 and TNF- α, which might impact memory and learning negatively, were reduced with intermittent fasting.(8)
Many other animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting has a significant effect on Alzheimer’s disease.(9, 10)
However, more research, especially more human studies are required to confirm this benefit.
Warrior Diet Detoxifies The Body
One more benefit of a Warrior Diet is that it detoxifies the body. A study explains that the production of detoxification enzymes is triggered when we fast longer.(11) This might be a positive factor that might show that a Warrior Diet might help in the detoxification of the body.
Blood Sugar Level Can Be Controlled With A Warrior Diet
A Warrior Diet might be beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels. Certain studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
A study that included 10 individuals with type 2 diabetes has found that a fasting goal of around 18 to 20 hours daily has led to a significant decrease in body weight and also improved fasting and post-meal levels of blood sugar.(12)
However, a recent study has shown that intermittent fasting can increase your chance of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.(13)
Thus people who are diabetic and want to try out intermittent fasting or a Warrior Diet should first consult with their healthcare professional.
You Have Improved Energy Levels With A Warrior Diet
Warrior Diet can also enhance your energy levels. Some individuals following the Warrior Diet find it beneficial in increasing productivity. This increased productivity probably occurs due to blood sugar stabilization that happens when you go longer without food. Ultimately, this results in more stable levels of energy.
Studies have shown the ability of intermittent fasting to stabilize blood sugar results in reduced body weight and also higher levels of energy.(14, 15)
During the fasting period, the adrenal glands release hormones, such as epinephrine and nonepinephrine, thus allowing your body to reach an enhanced state of energy.
Cons Of The Warrior Diet
It Is Not Suitable For Many Group Of People
The Warrior Diet is not suitable for all groups of people. It is inappropriate for many people, like children, pregnant or lactating women, patients with diseases (like heart failure, cancer, or type 1 diabetes), individuals with eating disorders or having a history of eating disorders, extreme athletes, and underweight people.
However, certain research suggests that IF or intermittent fasting can impact women’s hormones more than that of men’s hormones.(16, 17)
Warrior Diet Can Cause Disordered Eating
Warrior Diet emphasizes overeating, which could be harmful to many individuals. It could cause binging and purging behaviors, particularly those people who are at risk of developing disordered eating.
Binging on excess food might also develop a feeling of regret and shame, and it can impact negatively impact your body image and mental health.
There Might Be Some Side Effects Associated With A Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet might cause many side effects, and some of those might even be severe. Potential side effects could be low energy, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, lightheadedness, insomnia, extreme hunger, constipation, hypoglycemia, fainting, hormonal imbalance, irritability and weight gain.(18)
It Might Lead To A Deficiency Of Some Nutrients In Your Body
Warrior Diets might lead to a deficiency of specific nutrients. As you would be eating only four hours daily, sometimes it might be difficult to include all the required nutrients in a short span. This might lead to a deficiency of some nutrients in the body.
Warrior Diets Can Increase Your Blood Pressure
Some studies have mentioned that fasting protocols, such as the Warrior Diet results in a strong acute increase in blood cholesterol levels and also blood pressure.(19)
Foods To Eat And Avoid In A Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet does any food or food group in general. However, it emphasizes unprocessed and whole foods. During the 20- hour of undereating phase, if you feel like eating, you can eat any of the following foods.
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juices
- Up to six ounces of protein, or foods like chicken, eggs, fish, plain low-fat yogurt, whey protein, cottage cheese, protein powder, or nuts.
- Tea and coffee without sugar
During the four-hour of Warrior Diet’s eating window, you must begin your meal with raw vegetables and then add cooked vegetables and protein, and finally add whole-grain carbohydrates to your diet. During this time you can eat the following foods.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Milk, and other dairy products, with low-fat content
- Eggs, lean meat, fish, chicken
- Nuts and seeds
- Grains like oats, rice, barley, quinoa, and millet
- Whole-food carbohydrates like beets, carrots, squash, and pumpkin
- Fermented foods
- One glass of wine.
Foods that are restricted in a Warrior Diet are refined sugar and refined or processed pastries.
How To Follow A Warrior Diet?
If you are starting the Warrior Diet, you should strictly follow the rule for the first three weeks. There are three phases in this diet and each phase lasts for one week. Following this rule will make your body used to the diet type and help you maintain the diet without causing any side effects.
PHASE 1: The Detox Phase
During the twenty-hour of fasting window, you can intake up to 500 to 600 calories, which include raw fruits and vegetables, vegetable and fruit juices, milk, tea, and coffee without sugar, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.
During the four-hour eating window, you can eat foods like beans, salad, legumes, and whole grains.
PHASE 2: High Fat Phase
During the twenty-hour fasting window, you can eat fresh fruits and vegetable juices, raw fruits, and vegetables, beans, legumes, yogurt, tea, or coffee without sugar, dairy products, and eggs.
During the four-hour eating window, you can consume 6 ounces of proteins (like chicken, lean meat, fish, shrimp, turkey), steamed vegetables, a handful of dried fruits or nuts (like almonds, walnuts, dry fig, or pecans).
PHASE 3: Carbohydrate Cycling Phase
- During the twenty-hour fasting window, the foods that must be consumed remain the same as mentioned in the first and second phases.
- During the four-hour eating window, the foods that can be consumed will be divided into high-protein and high-carbohydrate diets.
- For day 1 and day 2: Consume foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. You can eat foods like rice, oats, pasta, and potato, along with other foods.
- For day 3 and day 4: Consume foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You can eat at least one animal protein along with other foods during these days.
Repeat this process alternatively for a week.
NOTE: After completion of three weeks of this Warrior Diet, repeat phase one and keep the process in continuation.
Eat Like A Warrior But Be In The Safe Side!
If you are healthy and not in the groups that should avoid a Warrior Diet, then you are free to try this amazing diet for yourself. This might help you gain good health and provide you with the necessary energy too. Follow the Warrior Diet to attain the best of its benefits. However, it is always safe to consult with a professional dietician or health expert before starting the Warrior Diet.