When it comes to intermittent fasting, the best protocol is one you can confidently stick to. For some people, that means starting small. For others, that means diving right into a more rigorous regimen. If you’re looking to begin shedding stubborn body fat and are up for a challenge, the warrior diet might be the ideal protocol for you.
What Is the Warrior Diet?
The warrior diet is a type of intermittent fasting schedule. It begins with a 20-hour fasting period overnight into the next day, followed by a four-hour “feasting” window that evening. The “feasting” portion of the protocol is meant to be taken literally, with participants consuming 85 to 90 percent of the day’s calories during a four-hour window.
For those on a typical 2,000 calorie/day diet, a feasting window can consist of up to 1,800 calories in on sitting. For those requiring 3,000 calories/day, up to 2,700 calories are consumed during the feasting window. It may be consumed in one big meal (this protocol is also called One Meal A Day) or in two smaller meals.
Where Did the Warrior Diet Originate?
The warrior diet was developed in 2001 by health and fitness author Ori Hofmekler, who was inspired to create the diet after years of observing the nutrition of himself and his colleagues in the Israeli Special Forces. The warrior diet is loosely based on his experiences as a soldier, as well as the eating habits of ancient warriors.
Our prehistoric, nomadic ancestors scarcely ate in the mornings, exercised and hunted on empty stomachs during the day, and feasted at night. Their elevated activity while fasting kept them trim to the point that it’s believed this era’s warriors didn’t have an inch of extra body fat. To follow the warrior diet, participants dial back on almost all calories until breaking the fast during their four-hour feasting window.
How to Follow the Warrior Diet Meal Plan
Given the strict calorie restriction during the 20-hour period of fasting, many people wonder what you can eat during the warrior diet. Some variants of the warrior diet do allow for snacking throughout the day to keep your nutrients balanced.
The diet’s founder, Ori Hofmekler, actually warns against calorie counting while on the warrior diet. Instead, Hofmekler claims the focus should be more on consuming healthy fats and nutrients. Feasting meals should be high in protein, which is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, a key aspect of the warrior diet.
Other foods that should be eaten during the warrior diet include:
- Whole grains
- Raw produce
- Dairy protein, such as yogurt and cheese
However, as with other healthy-eating regimens, steer clear of processed foods as well as foods high in sugar or sodium. These foods can be counterproductive to the diet and can unbalance both blood sugar and electrolyte levels.
What to Drink on the Warrior Diet?
Staying hydrated is a massive component of the warrior diet. As opposed to the recommended daily water intake of eight glasses, aim to drink nine to 10 glasses while fasting. Feel free to incorporate flavor by adding mint or cinnamon into your water.
You can drink any zero-calorie beverage throughout your period of fasting, including water, black coffee, and herbal tea. During your feasting window, you can drink essentially anything you want. However, steer clear of sugary drinks that can spike your blood sugar.
How to Control Hunger and Avoid Overeating
A large concern for those beginning the warrior diet is how to control hunger cravings or resist overeating during the feasting window. The trick is to utilize your fasting window to keep your blood sugar balanced and provide electrolytes the body needs to function. This can be done by consuming small portions of raw produce, hard-boiled eggs and dairy.
Likewise, the amount of fluid drank during a fasting-window can greatly reduce cravings and keep you feeling full. Zero-calorie beverages such as cucumber water or black coffee can assist in feeling fuller longer.
How Long Should You Be Fasting on the Warrior Diet for Best Results?
How much weight is lost through the warrior diet depends greatly on the food choices an individual makes as well as their body type. However, numerous studies have connected 20-hour fasting increments to weight loss. A study conducted by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that those who ate all of their calories in one four-hour meal lost more weight than those who consumed the same calories over multiple meals.
The Journal’s study also found that eating the day’s meals within this short timeframe also drastically decreased fat mass while muscle mass increased. Participants following a warrior diet lost between 3 and 5 pounds over eight weeks, losing body fat and gaining more toned muscle.
What to Know Before Beginning the Warrior Diet
If you’ve adhered to an intermittent fasting lifestyle in the past, beginning the warrior diet will not come as much of a shock. If you’ve never fasted before, you may feel the effects of the fast more quickly.
Possible reactions to the warrior regimen are:
- Hunger and food cravings
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nutrient or electrolyte deficiency
- Binge eating
The most common reactions to the warrior diet, such as hunger cravings, headache and binge eating, can typically be avoided by eating intelligently during the fast window. Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods supplies the body with sufficient calories and drinking enough water helps keep you fuller longer.
Likewise, opt for bone broth or electrolyte supplements to drink while feasting. These liquids can help replenish key vitamins and minerals, such as sodium, calcium and magnesium. So long as you’re making healthy choices while fasting and feasting, you can remain strong during the warrior diet.
How Does the Warrior Diet Compare to Other Fasting Protocols?
Choosing an intermittent fasting protocol is a very personal decision that relies on your individual preferences. However, to make your decision a bit easier, consider how the warrior diet stacks up against other protocols.
Warrior Diet v. the 16:8 Protocol:
A fasting period of 16-hours paired with an 8-hour eating window.
- Pro: A shorter fasting window can be easier for beginners.
- Con: A longer eating window makes it more tempting to overeat.
Warrior Diet v. the 5:2 Protocol:
Strictly consuming 500-600 calories two days of the week.
- Pro: You can adhere to a regular diet 5/7 days of the week.
- Con: Some people fight to resist binging the day after a 500-calorie fast.
Warrior Diet v. the Eat-Stop-Eat
Method: An entire 24-hour fast.
- Pro: You can adhere to a regular diet 6/7 days of the week.
- Con: Without fasting or cutting calories the other days of the week, a full day fast is difficult.
Warrior Diet v. Alternate-Day Fasting:
One day of fasting followed by a day of normal eating, and repeat.
- Pro: Gradually introduce consuming less food.
- Con: Skipping an alternate day can quickly derail the eating pattern.
Is the Warrior Diet Right for You?
If you’ve never fasted before, consider beginning with a cleanse prior to jumping straight into the fast. Once you get started, take advantage of your fasting hours to stay active.
True to the warrior roots of this diet, a lifestyle of restricted calories, high protein and ample exercise will help those following the warrior diet shed fat and gain energy.
To learn more about other IF plans please see our ultimate guide to Intermittent Fasting plans.