The Warrior Diet Is an Intermittent Fasting Plan for Weight Loss—but Is It Healthy?
There’s no shortage of options when it involves weight loss, but one among the newest to intumesce (although it’s not actually new) is that the Warrior Diet, which involves a rather extreme sort of intermittent fasting. Here’s a summary of how the diet works, the potential pros and cons, and my bottom-line advice as a registered dietitian who has helped my many purchasers shed pounds over the past 20 years .
The Warrior Diet rules
This weight-loss plan doesn’t require fasting completely. You eat little or no for 20 hours each day , then eat the maximum amount food as you’d like during a four-hour evening window, with no specific calorie targets or limits.
In the initial “detox” week, or phase one stage, foods like broth, hard boiled eggs, raw veggies and fruits, yogurt, pot cheese , and vegetable juices are allowed in small portions during the 20-hour period, along side coffee, tea, and water. During the four-hour window, dieters are advised to eat a salad dressed with oil and vinegar, and unprocessed, primarily plant-based foods are encouraged, like veggies, beans, and whole grains.
During week two or phase two, an equivalent foods are consumed within the 20-hour period, but during the four-hour window, more fat is inspired after the salad—from nuts and animal protein, along side cooked veggies. Grains are excluded.
In the third week, the dieters cycle between one or two higher-carb days within the four-hour eating window and one or two lower-carb days over the course of every week , with the foods allowed during the 20-hour period remaining an equivalent .
Once the three phases are completed, they will be repeated, or a dieter can persist with the 20:4 timing and specialize in a better -protein, lower-carb pattern. Throughout the whole diet, processed foods are discouraged, including candy, chips, food , sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, fried food, and nutriment .
You may have heard a few simplified versions of the Warrior Diet, during which people fully fast for 20 hours each day and eat anything they need within the four-hour window. This version, sometimes mentioned as 20:4, is more extreme and risky than the first . Calories are further restricted, and a few people binge on unhealthy foods during the eating window, without regards to nutrition.
The plan isn’t research-based
The original Warrior Diet was created by Ori Hofmekler, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces , who supported a book he released in 2001 detailing the plan. Hofmekler isn’t trained as a medical doctor or dietitian; the diet is predicated on his own interest and study of nutrition. He believes the plan mimics the pattern of ancient warriors, and it’s designed to not only aid weight loss but also improve the body’s “survival instincts.” The diet itself hasn’t been studied scientifically for outcomes associated with weight loss, body composition changes, or health effects.
Exercise and supplements are encouraged
Hofmekler’s original plan recommends strength training also as speed training. He also suggests taking supplements, including probiotics and a multivitamin. The more simplified 20:4 approach doesn’t have concrete rules around workouts and supplements, but exercising during strict fasting hours can potentially cause dizziness, or maybe passing out, which may up injury risk.
Several recent studies on intermittent fasting in humans have shown benefits that include not only weight loss, but also improvements in blood glucose and insulin levels, cholesterol, and inflammatory markers. However, it’s important to notice that there’s nobody intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating protocol. Numerous variations are studied, and benefits are seen in approaches that allow a way larger eating window, including up to 12 hours.
Few studies are conducted to check a four-hour eating window. In one study only water and no food was allowed during the 20-hour period, and therefore the 20:4 pattern was followed every other day for 2 weeks, instead of day after day.
Another older study involved two eight-week periods during which adults consumed all of the calories needed for weight maintenance in either three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or one meal per day within four hours within the early evening. There was an 11-week washout period between the 2 methods.
During the one meal per day experiment, subjects had a little reduction in weight and body fat, which wasn’t seen once they consumed three daily meals. However, the volunteers didn’t become familiar with the one meal per day diet. Some reported extreme fullness after the meal and difficulty finishing the food within the allotted time. Over time, the one meal each day dieters experienced increased hunger and desire to eat, and feelings of fullness decreased. This group also had a rise in vital signs and cholesterol.
Even if weight loss is achieved on the Warrior Diet, there are several potential downsides. Nutritionally speaking, it is often difficult to consume enough overall nutrients, which may ultimately impact energy and even immunity, particularly for the newer, simplified 20:4 version. Studies also show that so as to best utilize protein, it should be consumed throughout the day in four evenly distributed meals.
Undereating during active hours can cause low blood glucose, hunger, irritability, and constipation. The pattern is additionally difficult to stay with socially and emotionally and may potentially cause or worsen disordered eating—particularly for those susceptible to cycles of restriction followed by binge eating.
Other research on intermittent calorie restriction has shown that it’s going to trigger trouble concentrating, eating-related thoughts, anger, and depression. Other potential effects include an interruption of the cycle.
Extreme fasting is certainly inappropriate for teenagers and teenagers, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with chronic medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, people that got to take medications with food, those with a history of disordered eating, athletes, and really active people.
Finally, such an extreme approach just isn’t necessary for weight loss. Some studies show no difference in outcomes between intermittent fasting and continuous calorie restriction. The latter means creating and sustaining a calorie deficit that permits for weight loss (not a starvation diet) that’s consistent from day to day and doesn’t require extended hours of fasting.
Bottom line advice
When it involves weight loss, it’s important to stay in mind that what may go for one person could also be completely inappropriate or ineffective for an additional . There’s also a difference between what it takes to reduce and what’s optimal for health, including mental well being, immunity, digestive health, sleep, and disease prevention.
As a health care provider , i would like people to reduce during a way that maximizes wellness, not compromises it. And if there’s one thing I can attest to after years of counseling clients, it’s that any method wont to shed pounds must be sustainable long-term so as to stay the load off.
While the first Warrior Diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, which is great as an overarching strategy, it’s not realistic or necessary to travel through the remainder of your life never eating dessert. The 20:4 pattern is additionally not research-backed or nutritionally optional, and it’s nearly impossible to stay with. Find an approach that permits you to securely , sanely, and sustainably reduce , supported lifestyle habits that nourish your body and enhance overall wellness.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a replacement York Times best-selling author, and a personal practice performance nutritionist who has consulted for five professional sports teams.