What is the Warrior Diet (Warrior Diet Basics and Mistakes)
- February 11, 2021
If you’ve ever heard of intermittent fasting, then you might have also heard about The Warrior Diet. What is The Warrior Diet and how does it work? This article tells you exactly that.
The majority of human history has been predominantly a period of scarcity and shortage. Only the past few centuries has man managed to get access to consistent food and shelter.
The modern world is such an abundant place for calories, comfort and other pleasures of life. It’s incredibly fortunate for us to be having this conversation and I’m super grateful for everything that I have.
With that being said, our primal physiology is still adapted to living in an evolutionarily unforgiving landscape.
Our species have followed the pattern of feast and famine for thousands of years, which is the exact opposite of the situation we’re facing right now.
Instead of having to exert ourselves in hunting and gathering food, every one of us can simply buy and consume more calories than we need.
The obesity rates are rising and there are now more people who are overweight than those who are not. Disease is also prevalent and it’s safe to say that our affluent society is verging on the edge of its own hedonistic downfall.
Unless we start respecting the primal condition of our bodies and start implementing some ancestral practices of health and longevity into our modern lives.
In 2001, Ori Hofmekler came out with his book The Warrior Diet, which was one of the first eating protocols that promoted intermittent fasting as a sustainable lifestyle.
Over the last decade, it’s become incredibly popular because of its sheer effectiveness and ease.
In essence, the Warrior Diet is a way of intermittent fasting, which involves undereating during the day and consuming most of your calories at dinner.
The idea is to trigger some of the most powerful adaptive mechanisms of your body that promote fat burning, health, and longevity. They are:
- Ketosis – you begin to use more of your own body fat for fuel and reduce inflammation
- Autophagy – you cleanse your cells from waste material and toxins
- Hormesis – you make your body more resilient against future stressors and shocks
Ori Hofmekler based his book on the example of Ancient warrior nations, such as the Spartans and Romans, whose people would be physically active most of the day and then feast at night.
Intermittent fasting restricts your eating window within a certain time limit i.e. you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8.
The Warrior Diet is more flexible and not that focused on the timing aspect of IF. It’s more like based on the idea of staying in an underfed state during the day to induce glycogen depletion and then compensate for it by eating at night.
Yes, it’s quite counterproductive to have large dinners IF you’ve already spent the majority of the day eating. Of course, you’re going to gain weight and develop other health problems because your body is in a completely under-adapted state.
However, if you’re fasting at daytime, then your hormonal profile and metabolism are in deep ketosis, you’re more insulin sensitive and the food you eat will be more efficiently used.
I recently had Ori on my podcast as well, which is why I’m writing this article in the first place. He says that nutritional stress is one of the most powerful triggers for longevity and sexual vitality. Ketosis is one of the cornerstones for this.
Here’s what your full day of eating looks like on the Warrior Diet:
- You skip breakfast and fast for several hours after waking up
- While fasting you can drink some non-caloric beverages like tea or coffee
- The Warrior Diet follows the 20/4 hour fasting window, which means you fast for 20 hours and eat within 4
- Ori approves the consumption of low glycemic and calorie snacks if you get very hungry, such as blueberries, nuts, vegetables or seeds
- If you’re working out a lot and are very active during the day, then Ori recommends the consumption of a little bit of easily digestible protein to prevent muscle loss
- Before you break your fast, you have a short but intense workout to cause a much greater hormonal response
- Your dinner should consist of a lot of fresh vegetables, whole foods, some beans, eggs, fish, and meat (basically the Paleo template). Check out Ori’s Warrior Bars
- Eat until satiated but never stuffed. The Warrior Diet mentality should keep you from binging or gorging yourself like a scavenger. In the book, one of the main philosophies is being a predator and in control of your instincts
- If you’re starting to feel thirsty or too full, then stop eating for the night
This is the core blueprint of the diet. You can follow this cycle indefinitely and adjust it according to your situation.
The main biological mechanisms of intermittent fasting is hormesis – the body’s ability to adapt to a small dose of a harmful stimulus.
Things like exercise, cold exposure, heat shock proteins, high-intensity interval training, hypoxia, and radiation are all examples of hormesis.
However, some nutrients also have hormetic properties. Ori calls them stress activated foods that have a similar hormetic effect on your physiology as does exercise or training. In fact, they can actually boost the life extension benefits of intermittent fasting.
These stress activated foods trigger AMPK, the fuel sensor responsible for energy production under stressful conditions.
Examples of Stress Activated Foods
- Ginger, Turmeric, and Cinnamon – one of the world’s top anti-inflammatory compounds
- Green Tea and Coffee – they promote ketosis, fat burning, and autophagy
- Blueberries and Other Low Carb Berries – a ton of antioxidants and vitamin C
- Berberine – it’s a compound found in many plants that have anti-aging benefits. The blood sugar regulating benefits have been shown to be more effective than metformin’s.
- Cruciferous Vegetables and Fermented Foods – great for the microbiome because of their fiber content
Glycogen depletion puts your body into an amazing metabolic advantage because you become more sensitive to insulin and carbohydrates. Ori says that it even makes you resilient against sugar, which is detrimental to your health in excess.
Therefore, no matter what diet you choose to follow, you want to restrict your carbohydrate intake to some extent, as to reduce inflammation, be in ketosis at least sometimes, and maintain stable blood sugar levels. Some fasting hacks there.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for over 6 years every day and I must say it’s very enjoyable. However, there are still some mistakes people tend to make.
Here’s what not to do when doing The Warrior Diet or any other type of intermittent fasting.
- Get Used to It – I want to give you the advice of just start doing intermittent fasting, but it might be counter-effective if you’re coming off from a high carb diet. At first, to not fall into the dark side of fasting, you have to gradually expose yourself to this type of stress and then move on from there.
- Dehydration – drink adequate amounts of water you need to not become dehydrated. (Although slight dehydration itself is a hormetic stressor with small benefits)
- Get Enough Electrolytes – while fasting you tend to excrete a lot of water and electrolytes. That’s why you should add some quality sea salt to your water and eat foods rich in magnesium and potassium.
- Have the Right Mindset – don’t think you’ll die, don’t make it a big deal, and don’t do it for validation. Instead, do it for the health and cognitive benefits of fasting.
- Avoid Chronic Stress – hormesis only works if the stress or toxin is intermittent, meaning you need time to rest and recover. When doing the Warrior Diet, you shouldn’t bring in many additional stressors other than training.
- Don’t Soldier Through – you have to pay attention to the signals your body is sending you as well. If you’re starting to get cold, having anxiety attacks or not being able to control yourself during eating, then you have to take a step back and allow your body to adapt.
Like I mentioned, I recently had Ori on my podcast. He has written many other books, other than The Warrior Diet and his research is fascinating.
Life is a process of stress adaptation. Living organisms adapt to the conditions of their environment and those of natural selection.
The stress that can kill you can also heal you – Ori Hofmekler
Check out my full day of eating on the Warrior Diet where I talk about other beneficial stressors and hormetic effects.
P.S. Ori said that nutritional stress is one of the most powerful triggers for longevity and sexual vitality. Ketosis is one of the cornerstones for this. I highly recommend you to check out the KETO // IF program that combines the ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting. The perfect combo of glycogen depletion and hormesis.