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Warrior Diet: How Does It Work? Pros, Cons And How To Follow

The warrior diet is a type of diet plan in which a person fasts or underfeeds for 20 hours while overeats for four hours. This intermittent form of fasting is named so as it mimics the lifestyle of ancient warriors.

In the ancient times, the warriors do either training or battle the entire day and feast in the evening. This was the secret of their powerful and muscular physique. As the importance of good physique and well-maintained body has increased these days, people are following various diet plans to keep their body in the track. And this has made warrior diet plan famous for effective weight loss. But, is it safe and healthy? Take a look at the article.


Idea Behind Warrior Diet

You might wonder why fast for such long hours when fasting could be done in many other similar ways. The reason is when a person starts doing warrior diet, their will power gets stronger in the process of controlling their urge to eat. This helps improve their concentration and focus.

Fasting for long hours also helps detox their body and stimulate repair at cellular levels.


How Does It Work?

Warrior diet, in the recent years, has become popular for various weight loss or performance-enhancement programs. This diet is not backed by science, but by peoples' experiences.

The warrior diet is based on 20:4 diet plan. Out of the 24 hours, 20 hours fasting window is meant to fast or eat less such as zero-calorie fluids, dairy products or raw fruits and veggies. In the remaining four-hour window, a person is allowed to consume whatever and how much they want.
It is good to consume healthy foods or homemade foods in the eating period and avoid fast foods such as pizza or burger as it might upset your stomach or cause bloating.

Warrior diet is one of the forms of intermittent fasting as the prior is based on 20:4 while the latter is 16:8 (16 hours of fasting and eight hours of feeding).

The best way to do the warrior diet is to fast from 7 or 8 in the evening till 3 or 4 in the afternoon. During the evening, you can eat your favourite healthy dishes.


Pros Of the Warrior Diet

1. Weight management: Long hours of fasting in the warrior diet may help reduce the excess body fat and cause weight loss. It also helps increase muscle mass instead of fat mass.
2. Controls glucose levels: Fasting for long hours with minimal eating is very effective in controlling chronic conditions like diabetes. Though the safety and benefits of the warrior diet for diabetics is limited to fewer studies, it has shown weight loss and reduced insulin requirements in many findings. [1]
3. Improves cardiovascular health: This diet plan has shown a promising reduction in cardiovascular risk in a few studies. The benefits of the warrior diet in reducing heart-related risk need more studies. However, some studies say that the warrior diet plan shows effective results later in the years.
4. Prevents inflammatory diseases: Some studies say that fasting produces an anti-inflammatory effect on the neuroimmune system (responsible for protecting the neurons from pathogens). [2] The warrior diet helps reduce the inflammatory response and may prevent related conditions.
5. Improves brain functions: As aforementioned, the warrior diet improves the will power and cognitive functions. This helps reduce brain nerve damage, enhance memory, focus, concentration, help in DNA repair and slow down age-related cognitive decline.
6. Detoxifies the body: A study says that fasting for longer triggers the production of detoxification enzyme. It modifies the microbiota of the gut, activates stem cells and increases mitochondrial biogenesis (growth and division of existing mitochondria) in nerve cells and other body parts. [3]


Cons Of The Warrior Diet

1. Not applicable to certain groups of people: The warrior diet is not meant for everyone such as people who:

  • already have preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease,
  • are underweight,
  • are old,
  • are children or teenagers (up to age 18),
  • have eating disorders and
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • 2. Comes with side effects: While a person is on warrior diet, they may feel certain side effects at the beginning such as bloating, headache, low energy, irritation, dizziness, fatigue and anxiety.
    3. Weight gain: In the feeding window, some people may hog on unhealthy foods which are fried, sugary or processed. So, the number of calories they took during the eating window may exceed the calories they lost during the fasting window. This may cause weight gain.
    4. May develop binge-eating: If a person fasts for around 20 hours a day, chances are they may develop binge-eating habits. The warrior diet requires stronger will power to stay hungry for long hours. If due to some reasons or stress it breaks, people may start binging unnecessarily, thus breaking their warrior diet rule.
    5. Deficiency of certain nutrients: As you will be eating only four hours a day, sometimes it may get hard to include all the essential nutrients in a shorter time limit. This may cause a deficiency of certain nutrients in the body.


How To Follow

People starting with the warrior diet should strictly follow the first three-weeks-rule. Each phase lasts for a week. This is essential to make your body used to the diet type without any harmful side effects:

1. Phase 1: The Detox Phase
During the 20 hours fasting window, consume up to 500-600 calories. They include:

  • Drinks limited to water, milk, tea without sugar and black coffee (no sugar, no cream)
  • Raw fruits (with less sugar) like banana, apple and watermelon
  • Other foods like yoghurt, vegetable juice and hard-boiled eggs
  • During the four-hours eating window, consume foods like salad, beans, whole grains and plant proteins (lentils and chickpeas).

    2. Phase 2: High Fat
    During the 20 hours fasting window, consume as per the aforementioned list.

    During the eating window,

    • consume steamed vegetables, proteins (6 ounces) such as chicken, fish, lean meat, turkey or shrimp
    • A handful of nuts or dried fruits such as almonds, walnuts or pecans.
    • 3. Phase 3: Carb Cycling
      During the 20 hours fasting window, foods will remain the same as mentioned above.

      The four-hour eating window will be slightly different. The seven days will be divided into high protein and high carb diets.

      For a day or two, you have to consume foods high in carbs and low in protein.
      Then, for another one or two days, consume foods high in protein and low in carbs.
      Repeat the process alternately for a week.

      During the eating window on high-carb days, eat at least one carbohydrate like rice, potato, oats or pasta along with other foods.

      During the eating window for high-protein days, eat at least one animal protein followed by other foods.

      Repeat from phase one after the completion of the third week.


To Conclude:

The idea behind the warrior diet is developed by Ori Hofmekler, a health expert, during his days in the military. It was his observation and experience for years that has led to the development of the diet. The warrior diet is very safe and effective if done properly, after consultation with a health expert. One thing to remember, the diet may not show much effect at first but in the coming years will give expected results.

Story first published: Friday, June 12, 2020, 11:49 [IST]
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