What Is "The Warrior Diet" and Does it Really Speed up Fat Loss? We Asked an Expert

From Men's Health

'The Warrior Diet' is a form of intermittent fasting: that's abstaining from food, or drastically reducing your intake, for a designated period of time – anything from 16 hours to three days. The concept is nothing new, but its popularity has swelled in recent years and now every man and his spotter is seemingly singing its praises, whether for performance or for more aesthetic benefits. Here's where The Warrior Diet fits in.

What Is the Warrior Diet?

Created by author Ori Hofmekler, this diet is supposedly based on the habits of ancient Roman and Spartan warriors, who would eat very little during their active days, then reward themselves with an epic night-time blowout.

How Does It Work?

This approach to intermittent fasting might better be referred to as the 20:4 diet. Like the better-known 16:8 eating plan, it consists of a daily fasting window and an eating window. However, in this case, the eating window is much shorter and is most commonly limited to one enormous feast.

There is some scientific basis to support this practice. Not only is this likely to cap your calorie intake by default, letting your body feed on its stored energy for a period of time can improve your ability to burn fat. A study in the Journal of Translational Medicine concluded that "time-restricted" feeding can help you lose weight while maintaining your hard-earned muscle mass.

Should I Try It Out?

The problem is that – for all his personal experiences in the Israeli Special Forces and his romantic ideas about ancient warriors – Hofmekler’s diet is lacking in concrete evidence. There is scant evidence that his plan is any more effective than the simpler 16:8 diet, while chronobiologists have pointed out that humans are most insulin sensitive during daylight hours – making a large meal in the afternoon, rather than in the evening, theoretically more conducive to weight loss.

Photo credit: LauriPatterson
Photo credit: LauriPatterson

Though the warrior diet allows a small amount of snacking on nuts and fruits throughout the day, the prolonged fasting hours could cause your blood-sugar levels to drop. Researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine have found that this can increase junk food cravings, feeding your desire to indulge in low-nutrient, high-calorie foods during your end-of-day feast.

The Expert Opinion

“The average office worker isn’t a warrior,” says Daniel O’Shaughnessy, director of the Naked Nutritionist. “An ancient warrior wouldn’t have the opportunity to gorge on processed food like we do. This diet seems likely to promote an unhealthy relationship with food.” If your resolve is forged of iron and you fear no hunger, this might not be an issue. But there are easier ways to battle weight gain.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


You Might Also Like