An Ancient Greek warrior race, the Spartans are one of history’s most fearsome fighting forces. Their legend was secured through the tale of the 300 Spartans who took on the Persian Empire, killing millions and almost winning. When a film was made to chronicle these exploits, the actors had to look lean but muscular, like they were wild and living off the land, so they were given barely enough calories to recover from excessive training.
When the tale took place, around 480 BC, Ancient Greece was divided into states and races, like Spartans, Athenians and Thespians. The Spartans were revered for their fighting prowess. The Persian King Xerxes was determined to conquer Greece and he decided to invade Sparta. Because the Spartan leader, King Leonidas, could not get backing from the race’s Elders to wage full-scale war on the Persians, he took 300 of his finest soldiers to a mountain pass at Thermopylae. The narrow pass acted like a bottleneck, so although 3 million Persians came to fight, only a few hundred could fight at a time. The 300 Spartans fought for days, killing millions, and only lost when a local peasant betrayed them by showing the Persians a shortcut.
The legend was made into a graphic novel by Frank Miller, and this in turn was adapted into a film by Warner Brothers and directed by Zack Snyder. The producers faced a formidable task in getting their actors to look the part, so they sent them to Gym Jones, a Salt Lake City gym owned by mountain climber Mark Twight. He led them through fight choreography, extreme training sessions and a harsh and thin diet. According to MuscleFitnessBlog.com, Twight said: “We took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived off the land, in the wild, all sinewy and ripped. The diet was adequate to fuel effort and recovery, barely.”
The Spartan diet focuses on whole, organic foods. The diet includes mainly Greek and Mediterranean food like olives, olive oil, figs, grapes, apples, avocado, green vegetables, eggs, turkey, chicken fish, whole grain bread and wild rice. On this diet, you should never eat until you are full, and you should be hungry between every meal. The diet should, however, be high in protein, so eat 1.2 g protein for every pound of your body weight, and eat protein every three hours. Eat carbohydrates in the morning to give you the energy to train hard. There is no specific caloric intake recommended; you should simply eat the minimum to give you the energy to exercise, and make sure your calories come from nutritious foods.
The diet will not work if you do not combine it with a strict exercise program. According to GymJones.com, the daily workout should entail 25 pull ups, 50 push ups, 50 dead lifts with a 135-lbs. barbell, 50 repetitions of 24-inch box jumps, 50 single-arm clean-and-press repetitions with a 36 lbs Kettleball, and 50 floor wiper abs exercises. If you cannot manage this, do fewer repetitions and build it up.
Benefits and Considerations
If you follow a strict diet in which you are never full and exercise regularly, you can lose weight and become more toned. This diet encourages food that is high in protein and low in saturated fat, along with complex carbohydrates instead of refined carbohydrates, and foods high in unsaturated fat. If you follow it you may receive numerous health benefits. Red meat and processed meat high in saturated fat can cause cancer, and too much saturated fat can lead to heart disease. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse also links excess saturated fat to diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Refined carbohydrates can be linked to heart disease, while the American Heart Association explains unsaturated fat may lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The Spartan 300 diet is healthy, nutritious and balanced. However, you may experience dizziness, nausea and fainting. Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.