Countless forms of intermittent fasting (IF) promise amazing weight loss results by abstaining from eating for certain hours throughout the day, or even alternating days without food entirely. However, there is one version making waves lately that allows you to eat during your “fasting” periods and still shed pounds.
The “warrior diet” isn’t new — it’s been around for about 20 years. Author Ori Hofmekler first outlined the eating plan in his 2001 book, The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse For High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body ($15.79, Amazon). Although he isn’t a nutritionist, Hofmekler is a former member of the Israeli Special Forces who has focused his post-military career on fitness and nutrition, according to Healthline. He claims to have based this diet on the science behind the eating habits of ancient warriors in history (hence the title).
It essentially breaks the days down into 20 hour “undereating” periods and four hours of “overeating.” Instead of going without food entirely, the warrior diet encourages consuming things like vegetable juices, clear broths, dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and raw fruits and veggies. This can help curb breaking the “fast” to binge by keeping you full while still providing nutrients to your body. Like other IF diets, you’ll also probably be sleeping for a good chunk of that time.
When it comes time to “overeat” at the end of the day, the diet doesn’t restrict the amount of calories you can eat, but also doesn’t recommend bingeing on whatever. Instead, it wants followers to focus on non-processed food (including avoiding things packed with sugar and fast food). The book lists a meal example starting with a salad with olive oil and vinegar, then a large amount of protein, some whole grains, and smaller amounts of veggie and cheese. Drinks like coffee, tea, water, and a bit of milk are also OK.
It’s all broken down into a three week-long phases:
- Phase 1: Detox — Follow the 20 hour undereating/four hour overeating schedule with the foods listed above.
- Phase 2: High Fat — Follow the same guidelines as the week before, but omit all grains and starches and add at least one handful of nuts.
- Phase 3: Concluding Fat Loss — Follow the same guidelines, but alternate days with high carb intake and high protein intake. For high carb days, add in a main source of carbohydrates (corn, potatoes, pasta, etc) and for high fat days, skip the carbs except for a small amount of fresh fruit to satisfy sweet cravings.
The book recommends cycling through those phases all over again when you reach the end, but you can tweak it to your own personal preferences and dietary needs.
As with other intermittent fasting methods, it not only hopes to help people lose weight, but has other perks like stabilizing blood sugar. A small study from 2017 could be used to back up the warrior diet specifically for this benefit. In it, 10 participants with type 2 diabetes fasted for 18 to 20 hours and saw a decrease in their weight and better blood sugar control. That said, anyone with diabetes should check with their doctor before drastically changing their diet.
Of course, even with the food you’re able to eat while “fasting,” the longer period of “undereating” might still seem a little extreme for anyone who’s never tried an IF diet before. With that in mind, it is probably not the best method to try as your first attempt at fasting diets. But if you’ve already been following an IF diet and are looking to switch things up, it might be worth a shot!
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