The warrior diet: Pros, cons, how to follow it, and example meal plan
- April 20, 2021
The Warrior Diet restricts eating some foods for 20 hours a day and lets people overeat from dinnertime.
The Warrior Diet is based on intermittent fasting principles and could offer health benefits and weight loss for some people.
However, this diet may not be suitable, safe, or even necessary for many.
This article explores what the Warrior Diet is and how it works. It also discusses potential benefits and downsides, how to follow the diet, and what to eat.
The Warrior Diet is a diet based on intermittent fasting.
Fitness specialist Ori Hofmekler has written several books about dieting. He created The Warrior Diet, which he published in 2002.
The regimen aims to help people lose weight and fat by eating most of their calories within a 4-hour window.
The Warrior Diet philosophy is that the body is pre-programmed to follow life cycles that evolved to improve our survival.
These cycles include periods of undereating and overeating, exercise and rest, and wake and sleep.
Hofmekler believes that interrupting these cycles due to chronic stress or too many meals in the day affects the body’s ability to adapt and perform. The result of interrupting cycles could be weight gain and obesity.
However, scientific studies do not necessarily support these claims.
The Warrior Diet has three initial phases that people perform over 3 weeks:
Phase one (week 1), detox: Aims to improve the body’s capacity to remove toxins and helps the liver neutralize substances that trigger fat gain.
Phase two (week 2), adaptation to fat fuel: Aims to improve the body’s ability to utilize fat for energy.
Phase three (week 3), adaptation to carbohydrate fuel: Aims to improve the body’s ability to utilize carbs for energy.
Each phase involves periods of undereating during the day and overeating from dinner onward.
No research specifically supports the Warrior Diet.
However, there are studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting.
For instance, one small study looked at the effect of fasting from dawn to sunset on participants with metabolic syndrome.
After 4 weeks, the researchers found that the participants had a reduction in body mass index and waist circumference and improvements in blood pressure.
However, the design of this study differs from the Warrior Diet. For example, the participants fasted completely, with no food or drink. The fasting window of 14 hours was also shorter than the diet’s 20-hour period.
However, the period of fasting and eating varies in studies, as does the amount of calories participants eat.
These variations mean it is difficult to apply the specific benefits to the Warrior Diet.
Fasting may alter the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, according to some research. However, it is not conclusive how macronutrients and the timing of meals affect these hormones.
The Warrior Diet is highly restrictive and unnecessary for most people. It may also lead to potentially dangerous side effects, such as fatigue, irritability, and fainting.
It is important to find a healthful diet that nourishes a person’s body and suits their lifestyle.
Most of the research on intermittent fasting is on middle-aged adults with overweight.
The National Institute on Aging state we need more studies to determine if this type of eating pattern is safe for people with moderate weight, as well as younger people and older adults.
The Warrior Diet may not be suitable for people with health conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding people, people with underweight, and those with a current or previous eating disorder.
Athletes and those who regularly participate in sport may need more food to sustain their training regimes.
The Warrior Diet may be challenging in social eating situations and could produce side effects in some people. It could also lead to eating disorders.
Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new diet program.
The following is an example of how to follow the Warrior Diet. Remember to speak with a doctor before trying this program.
People need to undereat after waking until the evening meal.
Do not consume animal flesh protein such as meat, poultry, or fish. Instead, eat:
- small portions of raw fruits and vegetables and salads
- small servings of dairy products such as plain yogurt or the brand’s own Warrior Milk
- hard-boiled or poached eggs
During this phase, people can drink tea and coffee with regular milk and no sugar. They can also drink fresh juices.
- Example daytime lunch: Clear broth soup, mixed salad with minimal olive oil and vinegar dressing, and a hard-boiled egg.
- Example daytime snacks: Carrot, beet, parsley, and celery juice or cottage cheese with fruit.
From dinner onwards, people can overeat. They should eat the first serving of food and then take a 20-minute break. If they are still hungry, they then eat more of the same food. The break allows a person to respond to their body’s satiety signals indicating they are full.
Example of evening meal foods:
- salad with minimal amounts of olive oil and vinegar dressing, which people should eat first
- steamed vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and spinach
- beans and legumes such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and edamame beans
- grains such as brown rice, barley, and quinoa, while avoiding wheat
- one ounce of goat cheese, yogurt, feta cheese, ricotta, poached eggs, or kefir
Additionally, people must eliminate all sugars, candies, and sweeteners during phase one.
During this phase, people should eat a handful of nuts with meals at night. High-fat foods, such as nuts and seeds, help regulate the satiety hormone leptin.
Daytime undereating foods and instructions are the same as week 1.
People can eat the same foods as week 1 for night-time overeating, but replace the beans with animal protein such as meat, fish, or eggs.
If someone is too full to eat the protein after the handful of nuts, they can leave out the protein — the emphasis is on eating the nuts.
People can eat raw nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
Avoid eating starchy or sweet foods during this phase.
The third phase involves alternating between high-carb and high-protein meals. People should eat according to the following cycles:
- 1–2 days of high carbs
- 1–2 days of low carbs and high protein
- 1–2 days of high carbs
- 1–2 days of low carbs and high protein
The undereating foods are the same as weeks 1 and 2.
People can add high carb foods during the overeating period according to which cycle they are on. They should choose one main carb per meal from the following:
- sweet potatoes
- butternut squash
Someone can include carbs with their main choice but in small quantities. They must still take a 20-minute break between meals.
After week 3
Following the initial 3 weeks, people can rotate between the phases according to their individual needs.
Once someone completes the initial phases, they can enjoy a glass of wine with a high protein meal.
However, they should not drink beer or other alcoholic beverages.
The Warrior Diet also advises people to take various nutritional supplements such as multivitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Although there is no research to support the Warrior Diet, the benefits to health and weight loss from intermittent fasting may be relevant.
The diet may not be suitable or safe for certain groups of people. It could also lead to eating disorders in some.
The diet’s complexity and restrictions mean that a person will have difficulties with eating out socially. They may also find the program difficult to follow.
It is unnecessary to follow restrictive programs, such as the Warrior Diet, to maintain a moderate weight or healthful lifestyle. Consult with a doctor or dietitian to find an eating plan suitable for a person’s lifestyle and health goals.