The Warrior Diet is a form of intermittent fasting that is based on the diet of ancient warriors and is believed to help improve weight loss, strength, vitality and health.
Although it has a much shorter eating window than other forms of fasting, it’s appealing to many dieters because it allows you to consume small amounts of certain foods while fasting and is relatively flexible, without the strict rules and regulations found in other fad diets — all while getting the benefits of fasting.
This article will take an in-depth look at the warrior diet, how to follow it, and whether or not it’s effective for improving weight loss and health.
What Is the Warrior Diet? (How Does It Work?)
The Warrior Diet is a time-restricted eating plan that involves fasting for 20 hours a day and consuming one very large meal at night. However, the biggest difference between the Warrior Diet vs. the OMAD diet (one meal a day) is that small amounts of other foods are permitted during the fasting window, including fruits, vegetables, broth, eggs and dairy products.
The diet was created by Ori Hofmekler, who first published a book outlining the principles of the diet in 2002. According to Hofmekler, the plan is based on “survival science” and can help dieters successfully “attain enduring vigor, explosive strength, a better appearance and increased vitality and health.”
Since its release, there have been a flood of Warrior Diet before and after photos and Warrior Diet reviews online, from both proponents and critics of the plan. While some claim that eating one meal a day can boost weight loss and enhance energy levels, others note that the plan can promote unhealthy eating habits and may not be sustainable in the long run.
Are There Benefits?
Although there is no research on the effects of the Warrior Diet specifically, there are plenty of studies focused on similar eating patterns, including other forms of intermittent fasting. Here are a few of the possible benefits of the Warrior Diet.
1. Could Increase Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting has been linked to increased fat-burning and improved body composition in a number of clinical trials. It has also been shown to help reduce levels of leptin to protect against leptin resistance, a condition that can make it difficult for your body to turn off hunger cues and recognize feelings of satiety.
One study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that limiting food intake to just one meal per day led to increased weight loss, decreased fat mass and increased muscle mass compared to a control group. For this reason, using the Warrior Diet for bodybuilding has become increasingly popular in recent years.
However, keep in mind that your Warrior Diet weight loss results can vary quite a bit based on what you consume during your eating and fasting windows and may not be effective for everyone.
2. May Support Heart Health
Some research suggests that intermittent fasting benefits several markers of heart health and could help reduce the risk of chronic disease. In fact, one study out of the United Arab Emirates found that participants experienced significant improvements in levels of good HDL cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol after fasting for Ramadan.
Not only that, but these beneficial changes in lipid levels were even observed up to four weeks after fasting, which suggests that it could offer long-term benefits when it comes to heart health.
What’s more, another animal model conducted by the Department of Cardiovascular Control at Kochi Medical School in Japan noted that rats who fasted every other day were 66 percent more likely to survive a heart attack compared to a control group. According to researchers, this could be because fasting helps promote the formation of new blood vessels while also protecting against the death of healthy cells.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Acute inflammation is an important process that helps the immune system fight off illness and infection to keep your body healthy. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is thought to be at the root of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Modifying your diet is one of the easiest ways to alleviate inflammation, and some research shows that intermittent fasting could be especially beneficial. In fact, one study published in Nutrition Research found that participants had significantly lower markers of inflammation during Ramadan, concluding that intermittent fasting can suppress the expression of certain pro-inflammatory cells to attenuate the inflammatory status of the body.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Several studies indicate that the Warrior Diet results in improved blood sugar control, which can be especially beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. For example, one small study showed that fasting for 18–20 hours per day, similar to the Warrior Diet, resulted in improved blood sugar levels and decreased body weight.
Meanwhile, another study found that fasting could also reduce levels of insulin, which can help improve the body’s ability to use this important hormone more efficiently to regulate blood sugar levels.
Additionally, the Warrior Diet is much less restrictive than other methods of fasting and allows you to eat small amounts of fruits, veggies and protein foods rather than abstaining from eating altogether. While more research is needed on the Warrior Diet specifically, this may make it a better option for those with diabetes to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day.
5. Promotes Brain Function
Recently, a wealth of promising research has emerged suggesting that switching up your eating pattern could prevent cognitive decline and help preserve brain function. In one animal study out of Virginia, for instance, fasting every other day helped prevent changes in learning and memory function in mice compared to a control group.
Another animal study found that fasting could also alter the expression of certain proteins involved in the aging process of the brain.
Despite these results, however, more studies are needed in humans to determine whether intermittent fasting — and the Warrior Diet, specifically — can also help improve brain function.
Risk, Side Effects and Downsides
One of the main problems with the Warrior Diet is that it can promote unhealthy eating habits, which are often not sustainable in the long run. For instance, the diet focuses heavily on restricting food intake for 20 hours and then “overeating” and squeezing most of your daily calories into a brief window of time.
For those who have a history of disordered eating, this can be especially problematic and may contribute to unhealthy eating habits, such as binging and purging.
Furthermore, it can be very difficult to follow long term. Because the diet is centered on restricting when you can eat during the day, it can be difficult to enjoy normal social activities, such as going out to lunch or eating breakfast with your family.
Without proper planning, it can also be tricky to ensure that you meet your nutritional needs while following the Warrior Diet, as well as other types of intermittent fasting. This can cause serious side effects in the long term, including nutritional deficiencies, low energy levels, changes in blood sugar, increased hunger, constipation, irritability and more.
Enjoying a variety of nutrient-dense foods and paying careful attention to your nutrient intake can help ensure that you get the vitamins and minerals that you need as part of a balanced diet.
Finally, keep in mind that the Warrior Diet is not suitable for everyone. In fact, it is not recommended for children, competitive athletes, those with underlying conditions, such as heart disease or cancer, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some research also suggests that women should exercise caution when intermittent fasting, as it may impact hormone levels differently for some women. While the potential Warrior Diet results for females can vary quite a bit, some may experience side effects like hormone disturbances, missed periods and changes in reproductive health.
For those who want to try intermittent fasting for women, modifying your eating pattern to find what works for you or fasting just a few days per week can help prevent these adverse side effects.
How to Follow It (Foods to Eat/Avoid)
One of the biggest benefits of the Warrior Diet is its flexibility. Unlike other fad diets, there is no specific Warrior Diet meal plan to follow; instead, there are a list of loose guidelines that you can use to create your own Warrior Diet meals, tailored to your own personal preferences.
The Warrior Diet involves fasting for about 20 hours per day and only eating a small amount of certain foods during this time. Here are some of the foods that you can consume during your fasting window:
- Raw Fruits: apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, pineapples, pears, berries
- Raw Vegetables: broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, celery
- Broth: bone broth, chicken broth, beef broth
- Vegetable Juice: carrots, beets, celery, spinach, cabbage
- Dairy Products: milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Eggs: hard-boiled or poached eggs
- Beverages: water, unsweetened tea, black coffee
On the Warrior Diet, you generally consume just one large meal per day. Although there are no specific rules or regulations about what this meal should consist of, it’s recommended to limit processed foods, added sugars and fried foods.
Instead, you should enjoy a variety of healthy ingredients, including veggies, starches, proteins and healthy fats.
Here are some of the foods that you should consume during the overeating phase:
- Protein Foods: chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs
- Cooked Vegetables: cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini
- Starches: legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Grains: oats, quinoa, rice, pasta, barley, buckwheat
- Dairy Products: milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Healthy Fats: nuts, seeds, olive oil
Meanwhile, here are some of the foods that you should avoid during the diet:
- Processed Foods: convenience meals, chips, cookies, candy, baked goods
- Fried Foods: mozzarella sticks, French fries, donuts
- Processed Meat: bologna, bacon, ham, hot dogs
- Refined Carbs: white rice, white bread, crackers, tortillas
- Sugary Beverages: sweet tea, juice, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks
- Artificial Sweeteners: sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame-K
Alternative Diet Options
There are plenty of alternatives to the Warrior Diet that can help boost weight loss and improve your health, including several other fasting diet variations that offer a bit more flexibility.
For example, 16/8 fasting is one of the most popular types of fasting, which involves fasting for 16 hours per day and limiting food consumption to just eight hours daily. This type of intermittent fasting results in increased weight loss and several other improved markers of health, including reduced inflammation and enhanced blood sugar control.
Alternate-day fasting is another option. With this form of fasting, food intake is restricted every other day, and a normal diet is followed on alternate days.
This type is a good option for those who want a bit more flexibility and wiggle room during the week, as you can adjust it based on your personal schedule.
You can also try the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally for five days and abstaining from food or restricting your caloric intake for two non-consecutive days during the week. For athletes and active individuals, this can be a good alternative, as you can plan your workouts around the days that you eat to ensure that you fuel your body properly.
- What is the Warrior Diet? The Warrior Diet is an eating pattern that involves eating small amounts of certain foods during a 20-hour fasting period and eating one large meal at night.
- The Warrior Diet meal plan is very flexible, offering general guidance on which foods to eat and avoid without setting strict rules and regulations.
- During the fasting window, you can eat raw fruits and veggies, eggs, dairy products, broth and vegetable juice.
- Meanwhile, during the “overeating” phase, you should eat mostly unprocessed whole foods, including proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, cooked vegetables, dairy products and starches.
- Like other types of intermittent fasting, the Warrior Diet may help promote weight loss, improve heart health, stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and support brain function.
- However, it may not be a good fit for everyone as it can promote unhealthy eating habits and may not be sustainable in the long run.