The Warrior Diet is a type of intermittent fasting that follows the eating patterns of ancient warriors. With this plan, you eat minimal calories for 20 hours, followed by a four-hour feeding period. The founder of this diet claims that it has many benefits, including easy weight loss.
The Warrior Diet starts with a detox phase that lasts one week. Your food choices will be limited, but you may eat much as you wish as night to meet your nutritional needs.
What Is the Warrior Diet?
This dietary plan was created in 2002 by Ori Hofmekler, who was a member of the Israeli Special Forces before getting into the nutrition field. He wrote the book "The Warrior Diet," which outlines the guidelines of his eating plan.
In the book, he describes this eating pattern as more of a lifestyle than a diet. Its goal is to improve the way people eat, feel, perform and look by triggering their survival instincts.
Hofmekler says that humans are not meant to eat three meals a day and that they function more efficiently when eating in the manner of ancient warriors. They consumed very few calories during the day, followed by a big feast each night. In this plan, there is a 20-hour "under-eating" period followed by a four-hour window of "overeating" during which you can eat one large meal.
In his book, Hofmekler states that obesity, diabetes and other common diseases in today's society stem from eating too many meals during the day. He also claims that the human body works better when people eat sparingly during the day.
Pros of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting restricts daily caloric intake to a specific time frame, as the Warrior Diet does in its daily framework. This eating pattern has gained more attention lately as the benefits of intermittent fasting have become more widely known.
There are different intermittent fasting diets, including alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 fasting plan. With the Warrior Diet, you eat very few calories during the day (for 20 hours), followed by a four-hour period of eating until you are full. As Hofmekler points out, this dietary pattern has several benefits — and there are some studies to back up his claims.
For example, an April 2015 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at different types of intermittent fasting and how they affect human health. Ramadan fasting is a type of religious fasting during which practitioners of Islam fast from dawn to sunset, in a manner that closely mimics the Warrior Diet.
In clinical trials, subjects who fasted in this way experienced marked reductions in body weight, cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. As the researchers note, almost every type of intermittent fasting plan tested resulted in some weight loss.
Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic reports that regular fasting may decrease cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. It may also lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Read more: How Intermittent Fasting Affects Weight Loss
Cons of Intermittent Fasting
There are some groups of people that should talk to their doctor before trying an intermittent fasting plan such as the Warrior Diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, those with a history of eating disorders may be more likely to binge eat after a period of fasting. Additionally, fasting and exercising may result in low blood sugar, dizziness or lightheadedness.
If you suffer from diabetes, check with your doctor before trying this diet. Fasting may affect the safety and efficacy of certain medications. A small study published in Diabetic Medicine in May 2018 states that people who have type 2 diabetes should avoid fasting due to the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
Pregnant or nursing women and individuals with existing conditions should avoid starting any diet plan without talking to a doctor to make sure the plan is right. Furthermore, it's important to make sure your main meal contains nutrient-dense foods so that your nutritional needs are being met.
Start the Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet has a simple premise: you under-eat during the day and then eat your main meal, with most of your calories, at night. Ori Hofmekler says you shouldn't feel "starved" while fasting as you are allowed to eat certain foods every couple of hours to satisfy your hunger. During the four-hour "overeating" phase, your main meal should consist of healthy, nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods.
To help get your body acclimated to this, there are three phases, each with their own intermittent fasting meal plan:
Phase #1: Detox Your Body
The first phase lasts one week. During your 20-hour fasting window, you can only eat and drink the following:
- Water, coffee and tea (no sugar, small amount of milk)
- Raw fruits (peeled apples, banana, kiwi, berries, grapefruit, orange papaya, mango, peach, pineapple, melon. Grapes and watermelon only after a high protein dinner)
- Vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumber, mushrooms, sprouts, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, okra, spaghetti squash)
- Vegetable juice (carrot, parsley, celery)
- Plain yogurt
- Clear soup broth
- Salad with mixed greens and vegetables from list above
- Salad dressing (olive oil and vinegar only, used sparingly — no white vinegar)
During the four-hour feeding window, you are allowed the following for your main meal:
- Salad (see above) with olive oil and vinegar
- Steamed vegetables from list above
- Beans/legumes (lentils, mung beans, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, edamame)
- Grains: wild rice brown rice, barley and quinoa. No wheat products.
Phase #2: High-Fat Foods
Like the first phase of this diet, the second phase lasts one week and allows the same foods.
During your four-hour overeating phase, your intermittent fasting meal plan may include the following:
- Salad as described in Phase One
- Steamed vegetables as in Phase One
- 4 to 6 ounces of protein from chicken, fish, turkey, lean beef, eggs, plain yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese or parmesan cheese
- One handful of nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts or pistachios
- Avoid any grains or starches in this phase
Phase #3: Vary Your Diet
This phase lasts one week and alternates between high-protein days and high-carbohydrate days so you don't feel deprived. Once it's over, you will repeat the process starting with Phase One.
Your intermittent fasting meal plan will consist of one to two days of eating low-carb, high-protein foods, followed by one to two high-carb days.
On high-carb days, your under-eating schedule will remain the same as above. For your main meal, you can eat the same foods as during Phase Two. The difference is that you are only allowed one main carbohydrate, such as:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
On high-protein days, your under-eating schedule remains the same. During the four-hour eating window, you can eat a salad with oil and vinegar, followed by 4 to 6 ounces of protein (see Phase Two) and vegetables. No carbohydrates are allowed on these days.
Guidelines for the Warrior Diet
There are no set calorie counts or serving sizes on the Warrior Diet. You start your under-eating phase when you wake up, eating every couple of hours from the approved list.
Make sure you don't binge eat during your four-hour feeding window as you could end up gaining weight. Ori Hofmekler recommends eating one serving of your main meal and then taking a 20-minute "miracle break" to give your body time to process "satiety-related signals" and to train your body to know whether you're still hungry or not. Stop eating "when you feel pleasantly satisfied."
Avoid highly-processed foods, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives and foods containing hormones. Steer clear of beer and other alcoholic beverages, except for one glass of wine at dinner. Hofmekler also suggests taking a daily multivitamin to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Some people find that intermittent fasting energizes them, while others say it makes them irritable or lightheaded throughout the day. Remember, the best diet plan is one that you can stick to over the long term.
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health"
- The Mayo Clinic: "Fasting Diet: Can It Improve My Heart Health?"
- Diabetic Medicine: "Intermittent Fasting in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and the Risk of Hypoglycaemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial"
- Ori Hofmekler