The Truth About The Warrior Diet

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The Warrior Diet might sound like something out of medieval times. If you imagined feasting on a large turkey leg from one hand and a fistful of green beans in the other, you wouldn't be too far off. However, there is a bit more to this diet — or rather, a bit less.

In 2001, former member of the Israeli Special Forces, Ori Hofmekler, created the Warrior Diet, which is built upon the premise of how ancient warriors fed — basically, overeating at night and undereating during the day (per Healthline). The program falls under the intermittent fasting (IF) category of diets as it calls for restrictive eating during 20 daytime hours, omitting all meat and adding small amounts of raw fruits, vegetables, eggs, and plain yogurts (via Medical News Today). Come dinner time, and for four more hours after, the diet allows for eating until full, making the fasting a loose 20:4 timing.

The three phases of the Warrior Diet

According to Healthline, there are three phases of the warrior diet, each one week long. The first is considered a "detox" in which during eating hours unprocessed, plant-based foods are encouraged, as well as whole grains, and salads dressed with oil and vinegar. The second phase is a high fat plan, omitting grains and starches, and adding in fats like nuts and lean animal protein. In the final phase, dieters cycle between high- and low-carb days, with an emphasis on high protein intake during low-carb days.

Once the three weeks are complete, there is an option to repeat the process or to stick with the 20:4 feeding time on your terms, with the awareness that choosing whole and nutritious foods is the most beneficial. Hofmekler's original plan calls for strength and speed training, and he suggests taking supplements such as probiotics and a multivitamin. Hydration through the day with water and natural vegetable juices is recommended as well. 

Pros and cons of the Warrior Diet

According to Health, The Warrior Diet does emphasize on choosing whole, healthy, and unprocessed foods. With the right food choices, this plan may promote weight loss, decrease inflammation, and improve brain health, as IF has been shown to provide some health benefits. While some people might reap the rewards of this diet, many will not.

The Warrior Diet may induce bad decision making when it comes to where you get your calories from. Caylee Clay, RDN tells The Healthy, "There is research supporting the fact that at night when we are tired, we are more likely not only to overeat, but to choose less healthy foods for a quick and easy burst of energy to keep us awake and moving." According to Healthline, the diet is more on the extreme end of IF, with 20 hours of restrictive eating, and it is not a plan that most people can sustain. Studies show that IF can, in some cases, lead to unwanted side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances (via Behavioral Sciences). This diet is not backed by any decisive scientific evidence. That's a very compelling reason to discuss any plans to try the Warrior Diet, or any new food plan requiring intermittent fasting, with your doctor.