When it comes to intermittent fasting, the best protocol is one you can stick with over the long-haul. Depending on your personality and lifestyle, you may want to start slowly or dive into a more rigorous regimen. If you want to shed 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 is a 20-hour fast that begins overnight and continues into the next day. Your fast is followed by a four-hour “feasting” window in the evening. You should take the “feasting” portion of the protocol literally and consume 85 to 90 percentof your day’s food during your four-hour window. Whew! That’s a lot of food.
Origins of the Warrior Diet
Health and fitness author, Ori Hofmekler, created the Warrior Diet in 2001. Hofmekler was inspired to create the diet after years of observing the way he and his colleagues in the Israeli Special Forces ate. The warrior diet is an adaptation of his experiences as a soldier and the eating habits of ancient warriors.
Our prehistoric, nomadic ancestors scarcely ate in the mornings. They gathered and hunted on empty stomachs during the day and feasted at night. Their high activity levels combined with fasting kept the warriors so trim, they didn’t have an inch of extra body fat.
To follow the warrior fasting plan, you’ll go entirely without food until you break your fast during your four-hour feasting window.
How to Follow the Warrior Diet
Since you’ll abstain from food for 20-hours, you might be wondering what you can eat on the warrior fasting protocol. Some variants of the warrior plan allow snacks throughout the day to keep your nutrients balanced.
The plan’s founder, Ori Hofmekler, actually warns calorie counting while on the warrior diet. Instead, Hofmekler claims you should focus more on consuming lean proteins, healthy fats, and nutrients.
Your meals should be high in protein, which is essential for building and maintaining your muscle mass, a vital aspect of the warrior diet. If you feel unsure about your current meals, try tracking them in the free Simple app – you’ll get feedback on protein or fiber content and tips on how to improve it there.
Other foods you can eat on the warrior plan include:
- Whole grains
- Raw produce
- Full-fat dairy products like yogurt and cheese
However, as with other healthy-eating regimens, steer clear of ultra-processed foods as well as foods high in added sugar or sodium. These foods can be counterproductive, increase your blood sugar, and lead to an electrolyte imbalance.
What to Drink on the Warrior Diet?
It’s essential to stay hydrated on the warrior protocol. Aim to drink nine to ten glasses of water instead of your typical eight glasses while you practice this fast.
Remember, nine to ten glasses is a general recommendation. The best way to know if you are adequately hydrated is by looking at your urine color – if it is yellow, it means it’s time to drink more water. Feel free to incorporate flavor by adding mint, lemon, or cinnamon to your water, but avoid artificial sweeteners or flavorings.
You can drink any zero-calorie beverage throughout your period of fasting, including water, black coffee, and herbal tea. You can drink practically anything you like during your feasting window, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Steer clear of sugary drinks that can spike your blood sugar, and avoid diet-soda and other beverages that contain chemicals.
How to Control Your Hunger
Are you concerned about hunger cravings or worried you might over-eat during your feasting window. The trick is to utilize your fasting window to keep your blood sugar balanced and provide the electrolytes your body needs to function by consuming small portions of raw produce, hard-boiled eggs, and dairy.
Likewise, the amount of fluid you drink during your fasting-window can significantly reduce your cravings and help you feel satiated. Zero-calorie beverages like cucumber water or black coffee can help you feel full longer.
How Long Should You Follow the Warrior Diet?
How much weight you’ll lose on the Warrior plan depends on your body type, food choices, and how much extra fat you have to lose. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered those who ate all of their calories in one four-hour meal lost more weight than the participants who consumed the same calories over multiple meals.
The Journal’s study found eating the day’s meals within a short timeframe also drastically decreased fat mass while muscle mass increased. Participants following a warrior diet lost between three and five pounds of body fat over eight weeks and gained more muscle. But, they also experienced an increase in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.
What to Know Before You Begin
If you’ve adhered to an intermittent fasting lifestyle in the past, beginning the warrior diet shouldn’t be challenging. If you’ve never fasted before, you may feel the effects of the fast more quickly.
Possible reactions to the warrior fasting protocol are:
- Hunger and food cravings
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nutrient or electrolyte deficiency
- Binge eating during your four-hour period
You can avoid the typical pitfalls of the warrior diet, like hunger cravings, headaches, and binge eating, by eating intelligently during your eating window.
Choose nutrient-rich foods and drink plenty of water to help you stay full longer. As we stated earlier, this can be small amounts of raw vegetables, dairy and eggs.
You can sip on bone broth or electrolyte supplements during your feasting window as well. feasting. These liquids can help replenish essential vitamins and minerals, like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. So long as you’re making healthy choices during the Warrior protocol, you can stay on the fast indefinitely.
The Warrior Diet Compared 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 to manage hunger and cravings.
- Con: A longer eating window makes it easier to eat ultra-processed foods.
Warrior Diet v. the 5:2 Protocol: Strictly consuming 500-600 calories two days of the week.
- Pro: You can adhere to a typical eating plan five to seven days a week.
- Con: Challenging 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 typical eating plan six to seven days a week.
- Con: Makes the one day you fast more challenging.
Warrior Diet v. Alternate-Day Fasting: One-day fast followed by a day of typical eating.
- Pro: Gradually introduce less food consumption.
- Con: Skipping an alternate day can quickly derail your eating pattern.
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.
What are Potential Downsides?
The Warrior style of fast isn’t for everyone. Avoid fasting if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have a history of disordered eating
- Have diabetes or another chronic health condition
- Have poor digestion
- Are under 18 years old or over 65 years old
Talk to your doctor before you make any significant changes to the way you eat if you have these or any other medical conditions.
If you don’t plan well, the warrior plan may increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies. The food choices you make during your four-hour feeding period must be energy and nutrient-dense.
Try to include foods like fatty fish, chicken, 2% dairy, nuts and nut butter, seeds, whole grains, and lots of vegetables and fruit. Protein smoothies are a fantastic way to get nutrients and energy.
In the beginning, you might crave ultra-processed foods. To master your craving, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, eat mindfully, even if you are very hungry. You will grow accustomed to fasting.
Feedback From People Who Tried the Warrior Fast
We asked our Instagram community to share their experience and here is what they told us:
I’ve been down 25lbs+, and OMAD helps me keep my calorie intake low while still eating enjoyable foods that I prefer…I do it at least 4x a week for some weeks every day. Try it, stick with it for at least three weeks, and your body will adjust. It becomes a habit very quickly.
I do OMAD every day. I have lost about 45 lbs already. I’m a Ghanaian/African, so I eat our regular African meals. I don’t even count calories. I just eat one meal.
Works great for me; I lost 35 pounds. It’s become a lifestyle for me. I eat what I want once a day.
I do it most Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the week, it’s 18:6. My schedule is very random, so it varies. Difficult in the beginning, but now it’s fairly easy!
I’m on my second week of OMAD, and it has helped me with my binge eating issue. I feel I have more control when it comes to food (even on my treat days), and a lot of my cravings have disappeared. I haven’t lost as much weight that I would like to, but I have lost weight; I am overall really happy so far!
Read more comments on our Instagram post.
Is the Warrior Diet Right for You?
If you’ve never fasted before, try switching to healthier, whole foods before you begin a fast. Once you start, use your fasting hours to stay active.
True to its warrior roots, a lifestyle of timed eating, high protein, whole grains, and ample exercise can help you shed fat and gain energy.