The Warrior Diet.
The name makes it sound super, ultra hardcore, so you’d be forgiven for expecting some sort of plan that will lead to gains the likes of which you’ve never seen before.
So sit back, grab a coffee (or a protein shake) and take a read of how the Warrior Diet could help or hinder you in your pursuit of more muscle and less fat.
What is The Warrior Diet & What Does it Involve?
The Warrior Diet has been around for coming up on 2 decades.
In the late 1990s, a guy called Ori Hofmekler did a bit of reading, and determined that the way most of the out of shape, overweight Western world was eating was not the way humans were designed to eat.
Through his research, he came to the conclusion that peoples’ over-eating was largely due to eating several meals per day, whereas the scientific literature showed that folk were far less likely to eat too many calories if they only had one big meal per day, rather than lots of smaller ones.
He set up a plan that involved skipping breakfast and lunch, and eating almost all of your calories in the evening.
In essence, you only eat once a day, in your “over-feeding” window.
The rest of the time you don’t eat. (Or at least not much.)
This means you’ll typically have between 10 and 18 waking hours per day when you’re not eating anything, which, when you include the time you sleep, means your total fasting window each 24 hours could be as high as 20 to 23 hours.
What Can You Eat?
The principles are Paleo-esque, in that you’re encouraged to eat natural foods, and base your diet around meat, fish, fruits and veggies.
Hofmekler recommends starting your evening meal with subtle-tasting items, such as lean proteins and vegetables, then moving onto the more palatable foods – your carbs, fats and so on.
He suggests staying away from alcohol and processed sugars completely, picking organic foods where possible, and taking a 20-minute break from eating after you’ve had the protein and veggies in your night time over-feeding window.
Meat and fairy should be from free-range, pasture-raised animals and all fish should be wild caught.
While the diet doesn’t make you count calories or track macros, you’re supposed to eat intuitively, and stop as soon as you feel full, hence why eating slowly is encouraged.
The only exception to the no-eating rule is that Hofmekler recommends having a protein shake after a workout.
What Might a Typical Day Look Like?
- Nothing – again!
- This meal needs to be big.
You’d start with a salad, with a dressing made from healthy oils and/ or vinegar, before moving on to a huge serving of veggies, with some lean proteins – chicken, steak, fish, eggs, or so on.
After that you can then have your carbs and fats, so beans, fruit, nuts, seeds, avocado, and possibly some more “modern” carbs like brown rice, oats or wraps, along with a little grass-fed dairy.
- You guessed it … nothing. (Unless you train early in the day, in which case, have a protein shake post-workout.)
As with a lot of primal style diets, the overall plan is pretty healthy, as you’re getting a load of vitamins and minerals.
You’ll also undoubtedly cut calories. Maybe you do have a pretty big appetite, but some of the larger humans that frequent the gym couldn’t eat a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal.
It might also help you better realise what hunger really is, as fasting can often re-set your fullness sensors, and make you realise that often, when you think you’re hungry, you actually just have a craving.
If you’re training hard, the Warrior Diet is probably not for you.
I know Hofmekler says that you should be training hard when doing this, and there is the argument that once your body adapts, you can still hit the weights completely fasted and train okay, but it still isn’t optimal.
To perform at your best, you need some food in your system, and that just won’t happen if you train at 6pm, and haven’t eaten since 8 or 9 the night before.
Additionally, the true, original Warrior Diet is split up into phases of detoxing, high-fat and concluding fat loss, which means you have a different menu, and a different food shopping list 3 weeks in a row. That just becomes a hassle!
Should You Do The Warrior Diet?
If you’re used to fasting, and it fits in with your schedule, you can probably get away with doing The Warrior Diet.
That said, it definitely isn’t optimal.
For fat loss, the calorie restriction works okay if you’re on low macros, but you’ll probably lose mass.
For muscle gain, I’d say it’s a definite “no” though.
You won’t be able to eat enough calories in your over-feeding window, and your muscle protein synthesis will drop right down.
A far better approach, if you like the idea of fasting, is to eat mostly protein-based foods through the morning and afternoon, and save your carbs and fats for later in the day.
However, it still comes down to calories and macros.
Whether you want to eat one meal a day or 10 doesn’t matter too much … just hit your macros, follow a flexible plan, and you’ll see results.