The Warrior Diet – The Pros, Cons and Science Behind It

warrior diet

The Warrior Diet is a type of intermittent fasting. But, just as the title sounds, not for the faint of heart.

Think clean eating but minimal clean eating. The Warrior Diet has you fasting for 20 hours followed by a 4-hour eating window.

There are guidelines for what you should eat during these four hours. Also, you have to follow a detox cycle when starting out. The Warrior Diet is nothing new, it has been out since 2001. Ori Hofmekler, an ex-Israeli Special Forces, made this diet after his transition into fitness.

Now, the Warrior Diet is stricter than most diets. But even with its strictness, does it work? This blog dissects the Warrior Diet into claims and reality with the help of science.

Related: A High Carb and Low Fat Diet Can Actually Help You Burn Fat

What is The Warrior Diet

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It’s a type of intermittent fasting. It is a 20-hour fast followed by a 4-hour eating period. Ori wanted to adapt the lifestyle of ancient warriors with this diet. Our ancestors used to hunt for a good portion of the day and feast at night. But that was 70,000 years ago and life has progressed light years forward since then.

Now, the claims are grand, just like in any diet. Yet, very little is backed by science. Just like Tom Brady’s Diet, a lot of claims but little science to back it up. However, Ori has already acknowledged that the Warrior Diet is based on his beliefs and observation.

During the 20-hour fast, you can drink non-calorie fluids, tiny portions of dairy products, hard boiled eggs, fruits and vegetables.  After that, you can eat or drink whatever you want. While there may not be strict rules, the guidelines are greatly stressed.

You should aim to eat clean. Go for unprocessed, healthy and organic food. You want to avoid pizzas and burgers during your binge eats.

How To Follow The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet has two sides to it: the initial three weeks and the foods you should eat.

Ori Hofmekler suggests that once you finish with these three weeks, you should repeat each phase again. So, these three phases could be a part of your Warrior Diet.

You should also take probiotics and amino acids. Ori also recommends incorporating strength training in your lifestyle for optimal results.

What Are The Three Phases Of The Warrior Diet?

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Phase 1 is detox. During your 20-hour fast, you can consume vegetable juices, broth, hard boiled eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables. You can also consume coffee, tea, water and milk throughout the day.

Now, when it comes to eating for four hours. You have to eat a salad with vinegar and oil. You should also eat plant-based proteins like beans, grains and vegetables. Each phase lasts for a week.

Phase 2 is healthy fats. You can consume the same liquids throughout the 20-hour period. During this week, you will be eating lean protein, vegetables, nuts but no grains.

Phase 3 has 2 cycles. One day you are consuming high carbs and the other day you are consuming proteins. You can either go with an alternating day schedule or two day in a row schedule.

The same liquids can be consumed for both cycles.

The days when you are eating a lot of carbs; eat a small protein with a major carbohydrate like potatoes, pasta, oats, barely, or corn.

When you are eating more protein; eat between 8 to 16 ounces of animal protein.

What Foods Can You Eat On The Warrior Diet?

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There are no food restrictions on the Warrior Diet. But, you are advised to follow healthy and clean eating. A general understanding of the Warrior Diet is that processed foods, added sugars, and preservatives are a no-no.

You can also do a 20:4 intermittent fast. It is the same as the Warrior Diet without the following food restrictions.

Hofmekler suggests that you go for calorie-dense food. Your primary source of food should be healthy fats and proteins.

Foods That You Can Eat On The Warrior Diet

Fruits and Vegetables: Any kinds of fruits or vegetables; there are no preferences.

Grains: Your aim is whole-grain. So go for, quinoa, rice, oatmeal or pasta.

Dairy: Dairy is preached throughout the Warrior Diet. You should consume raw and full-dairy products.

Protein: This is one of the cornerstones of the diet. You need to consume large amounts of protein to meet calorie counts and to regenerate muscles.

0 Calorie Drinks: Water, tea, coffee, and milk (in small amounts) are allowed. You can consume these throughout the fasting period.

Foods That You Can’t Eat On The Warrior Diet

There are no restrictions on which foods you can or cannot eat on the Warrior Diet.

However, you should steer clear of certain foods because they are not good for your health or fitness goals.

Sugary and Processed Foods: These foods can cause many chronic diseases, like diabetes, and should be avoided anyway. But, on the Warrior Diet, Hofmekler says these foods are a no-go.

  • Fast Food
  • Fried Food
  • Processed Meat (bacon)
  • Artificial Sweeteners

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The Science Behind The Claims

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Unlike a few diets whose mechanism is hard to prove with science because of the lack of evidence; the Warrior Diet is based of intermittent fasting and there are numerous studies on it.

The most common variation of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method. That method is relatively easier to follow and most Muslims also follow this intermittent fasting method during the month of Ramadan.

This 20:4 variation with the food restrictions is much more strict to follow.

Does The Warrior Diet Help Lose Weight?

The answer is, it may.

A study found that people who consume meals over four hours and fast for twenty hours experienced more weight loss than those who ate throughout the day.

There was another review of six studies that showed intermittent fasting was more effective in losing weight than no diet.

While we can use intermittent fasting to vouch for the effectiveness of the Warrior Diet, there is still a good chance of gaining weight.

If you return to a life of normal eating, then weight would gradually rise. Also, such restrictive diets can lead to binge eating which is counterproductive.

Does The Warrior Diet Improve Brain Health?

Another claim of the Warrior diet is its ability to increase brain health. Intermittent fasting has shown some connection with brain health.

Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduces inflammatory markers. These markers negatively affect memory and learning. Further animal studies have shown intermittent fasting as a shield against Alzheimer’s.

Does the Warrior Diet Decrease Inflammation?

Inflammation is thought to be an underlying cause of heart diseases, diabetes, and some cancers. Intermittent fasting is shown to decrease inflammation. A study of 34 healthy men found that those who were doing 16:8 intermittent fasting showed a decreased level of substances like interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) which are responsible for inflammation.

Another study found that 50 people who were observing Ramadan had lower levels of inflammatory markers as compared to non-fasting people.

Does the Warrior Diet Lower Blood Sugar?

Intermittent fasting has shown to improve blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. A study of 10 people concluded that fasting for 18 to 20 hours leads to a significant decrease in weight and improvement in blood sugar control.

The Downsides Of The Warrior Diet

The benefits of this diet may increase performance, weight control and clean eating; is following it sustainable?

The long period of fasting is one of the main concerns for sustainability. This would greatly impact your social life and would get in the way of an active career that requires a constant flow of energy.

Women who are pregnant need to avoid this diet for obvious reasons. Also, this diet is not suitable for professional athletes. They require a constant flow of energy and that is not possible when you are only drinking 0 calorie drinks for 20 hours.

There is also the problem of binge eating. Since you only have four hours to eat, you need to eat 90% of your calories in under four hours. To prevent binge eating, Ori Hofmekler says one should stop eating when they feel “pleasantly satisfied”.

Therefore, the Warrior Diet should be avoided for those who are at risk of developing eating disorders.

Apart from the above downsides, the Warrior Diet can also cause: fatigue, dizziness, low energy, anxiety, lightheadedness, low blood sugar, hormonal imbalance, or weight gain.

Key Takeaway 

This diet was made by Ori Hofmekler after a life-long career for Israeli Special Forces. He admits that this diet is based on his own beliefs and experiences when it comes to weight loss.

The Warrior Diet is a type of intermittent fasting that has strict rules. There is a three-week phase you have to start with and you have to avoid all kinds of processed and sugary foods. Intermittent fasting has evidence of working but it’s not an easy lifestyle to adopt. 

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